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The Harsh Reality of Running a Business


The Entrepreneur Insiders network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in America’s startup scene contribute answers to timely questions about entrepreneurship and careers. Today’s answer to the question “What are some tips for maintaining a successful startup?” is written by Andrew Deitchman, cofounder and CEO of The New Stand.

As someone who has launched a few successful startups, I know all about the late nights and diminished savings accounts. However, it is just as hard getting your business off the ground as it is keeping it there. Here are a few things to keep in mind that might help:

Be loyal to the business before any individual
Loyalty, something I place tremendous value on, should flow freely in a healthy startup. A group of people who are in the trenches together and dreaming together form really tight bonds. For me, it’s one of the best parts of being an entrepreneur. That said, too often leaders get blinded by the somewhat nostalgic connections they have to early team members. For a business to thrive beyond startup success, its leaders need to be loyal to the business first. This sometimes means reorganizing and upsetting people you feel closest to.

See also: The Biggest Problem With Outside Funding

Know how little you still know
If you’ve gotten to a stage where you’re considered a “successful startup,” you’ve likely learned a few things. You might have a good sense of your audience, revenue model, cost structure, product roadmap, etc. That’s awesome, but you should continue analyzing and refining the things you know. It is just as important to operationalize curiosity and experimentation. There’s something very humble, hopeful, and helpful in being slightly loose in how a business might evolve. I think this is true for big, established companies and certainly for those that are at an earlier stage.

Not all dollars are created equal
Whether the initial capital for your startup came from a top-tier VC or faithful friends and family, you should always be driving to make every dollar matter. So, assuming you’re still fundraising and can be selective, be meticulous in evaluating the strategic value of each dollar. How patient is the capital? Does it come with concrete resources or attached revenue? How much do you like the people and want to spend time with them? You should be factoring all of this in.


Hold off on hired guns
This one is a tough balancing act. To accelerate growth and legitimize yourself in the market, the instinct is usually to bring in an “expert,” or a heavy-hitter in areas that are not in your wheelhouse. While this type of hire can be transformative, it can also be troublesome. Keep in mind that established players will often attack problems in established ways. If your company is a disruptor, having a traditionalist in a key role too early can take you out of rhythm.