The First Two Years of Startup Grind

The first two years of a startup are a grind, and that’s if it’s successful. If things aren’t going well, the grind can continue on indefinitely. Startups take a tremendous amount of time and energy to get off the ground, and it isn’t glamorous.

Here are a few things that are part of the first two years of the startup grind:

  • Repeated customer discovery interviews
  • Multiple pivots and iterations in the search for product/market fit (see Pivoting is More Common Than Expected)
  • Tons of administrative tasks like getting a business license, health insurance, general liability insurance, and interfacing with lawyers
  • Finding an office and getting furniture, internet, phones, and more (it’s a strange rite of passage many entrepreneurs go through dealing with the challenges of finding a good office with a short lease and flexible terms)
  • Fundraising trials and tribulations to raise money from investors (raising money by selling products to customers is always best but sometimes it isn’t possible)
  • Signing the first 10 paying customers that didn’t come from friendly introductions (think about doing Cross 10 Out of the Gate)
  • Hiring a sales assistant and acting as the lead sales person, product manager, and CEO
  • Achieving product/market fit and having confidence that it’s possible to build a repeatable customer acquisition process

This doesn’t include any personal challenges, hiring/firing issues, and more. Startups are a grind and the first two years are especially difficult.

What else? What are some other things that are part of the first two years of startup grind?

3 thoughts on “The First Two Years of Startup Grind

  1. Reblogged this on Solutions By Lex and commented:
    Customer Discovery is one of the most vital aspects of the startup grind. It’s a process involving really nailing down a legit target market, verifying a need for your products and/or services, and discovering the true pain-points for which you can provide solutions. Customer Discovery also helps in price setting and in generating effective marketing strategies.

  2. I always say the business doesn’t really get started until after a year as getting things started always takes longer than you think- getting it set up, marketing, awareness, revenue, business adaption, etc. On the positive side, this is a great time as you don’t have employees, vendors or customers distracting you. It is really a strange time, and the key is to find and build momentum! And, once you get momentum ride it. So for at least a year prepare for a get things started year and take advantage of this time, realizing this is exactly what it is for. Treat it like a true first year and be prepared to adapt the business and strategy to market niches that are identified and don’t build tech or get investment too soon. As my dad says, you got to go private before public. This means starting to make real money and becoming a real business before planning your IPO or exit 🙂 This is also a time to max out your sweat equity, conserve cash, and to hold onto fund raising until after 12 months or as long as you can last until the business is further refined. Plus, the last person to be paid should be the founders as they should all be digging deep, grinding and feeling the life or death reality of the situation. Learn to love this period of time and rally the troups as you will never have another time like this again. So instead of fighting the fear, learn to love it and thrive on it. As things will not get easier but only harder as hopefully the business grows and matures!

  3. I would add riding the emotional rollercoaster to the list! Highs and lows, rinse and repeat. Oh, and some wise words from a lawyer: “It is always too early to panic.”

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