24 Months to Get the Startup Going

When first-time entrepreneurs set out on a new startup, there’s a desire for immediate results and expectations for quick success. Only after a few set-backs – everything takes twice as long and costs twice as much – does reality start to take hold. Then, it feels like this thing is never going to make it, often called the trough of sorrow, where it even gets worse. Finally, things start to pick back up (hopefully!) and there’s nice steady growth.

Here’s what the first 24 months might look like:

  • 6 months – Tons of conversations, administrative work, product exploration, and a few beta customers
  • 6 months – Product and messaging refinement, more customers signed, and stronger focus (or, things aren’t working and you start back over from scratch a.k.a. the pivot)
  • 6 months – Approaching product/market fit, more confidence, and more customers
  • 6 months – Product/market fit and the start of a repeatable customer acquisition process

So, if everything goes well, the business will feel like it’s starting to hit its stride, albeit with modest revenues, after 24 months (see SaaStr on the 24 months timeframe as well). Even with more money and more team members, it still takes 24 months to really get the startup going.

What else? What are some more thoughts on the idea that it takes 24 months to get the startup going?

3 thoughts on “24 Months to Get the Startup Going

  1. Great post and definitely triggered some reflecting on my first six months. I do disagree to some degree, I think that the first 12 months could be condensed down to 6. Provided you have the right team and work effectively. In terms of my own business I have found that the conversations initially should be about product and messaging refinement and then to truly test your idea turning those conversations into customers. In terms of the last 6 months i totally agree and maybe even longer to really solidify your place in the market.

  2. This makes a great point about flexibility. If you don’t have the flexibility to pivot and throw away your existing concepts, it will lead you down a long (often unsuccessful) path. Two of the retrospectives will be “we took too long to grow” and “we never hit product market fit”

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