Why Our Startup Went Bust. Part III is Timing

Timing better be on your side if a startup is going to succeed.  Some of timing is intentional.  Some is just your best guess.  Let’s dig in.

Intentional Timing
When we quit our jobs in September 2011 to work full-time as startup founders, we really didn’t know that our company’s busy season ran Sept 1 – Oct 31st.  Well, mabye we did, we just didn’t appreciate how significant that really was.  I once read somewhere that “information is the mother of all victories“.  We should have known that.

The flip side – Had we tried to capture that first 2011 season we would have crumbled. sorrybusOur processes, pitches, and product were not fully baked.  Having a year to build our markets, hone our pitch, and test on a smaller scale put us in a much better position to capitalize on the 2012 season.

The re-flipped side – Because we had to wait a year to “cash in” on the busy season, we burned through all of our cash reserves.  The timing forced an all-in, make-or-break situation.

Best Guess Timing
No matter what chart, graph, infographic, or article we read told us that mobile coupon adoption was skyrocketing.  We believed it all, and made our best guess that those numbers applied to our business as well.

I’m here to tell you…don’t believe the numbers from the charts, graphs, and infographics.  Ever.  They might give you comfort, but it’s false.  All they serve to prove is that you’re not a complete idiot for being a startup founder, just an idiot with an educated guess.  Use them in your pitch to investors if you must, but know they’re meaningless right now. The only numbers that matter are your own.

After we concluded the 2012 busy season, we knew our timing was off by about 3 years.  How did we know that?  That’s how long it was going to take us to start paying ourselves a salary.  Without that kinda cash in the kitty, the timing was no longer in our favor.  That’s also how long it was going to take to educate the market, which is me teeing-up Part IV: Friction.

For the previous posts on our startup going bust:
Part I – Execution
Part II – Goal Setting

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