Why startups should focus on staying alive

For the first few years of any company’s existence, people are naturally skeptical of its ability to endure. Especially in the B2B space, Enterprise and SMBs have no desire to purchase from a young company that may fold up shop as soon as the ink dries on the contract. The stakes of this skepticism are even higher for bootstrapped companies that lack the helpful TechCrunch or VentureBeat articles which highlight their latest funding round to aid in credibility.

It’s been my experience that, provided you create something of value for customers, after a certain threshold of time and energy, your endeavor starts to gain legitimacy on its own to the outside world by the sheer force of its continued existence.

After a certain amount of time investing energy and passion into a startup, something wonderful happens. The skepticism begins to fade. The exact amount of time and energy varies between products and founding teams (as some “products” shouldn’t exist in the first place) but the company starts to make leaps organically.

Potential customers begin to trust you can deliver what you promise slightly sooner. You notice sales cycles begin to speed up. No one moment is the precise cause, instead, it’s a sum of the total input from the organization. These moments inspire the team to keep going, and often open additional doors for the growing company. For new products, the sum of these moments often manifests as “finding product-market fit.”

In the early days of 3DPrinterOS, these leaps of credibility made all the difference. While our competitors would throw spaghetti against the wall hoping something would stick, we focused on delivering an awesome product for schools and gained momentum one school at a time. This focus and passion to survive led to 3DPrinterOS making it through the 3D printing crash of 2012, and to this day they are still adding schools and establishing further credibility.

At Wami, we’ve seen these moments manifest in a variety of ways. It’s the customer who lets us know they felt comfortable purchasing our handwritten notes after researching us online. It’s also the initial case studies from our first customers showing that our handwritten notes did indeed make a significant impact on customer retention.

None of these moments happen if you fold up shop during the early difficult times. The longer your company can exist and compete in your respective market, the better chance at finding a positive outcome. It seems like common sense, yet we see other companies burn cash way ahead of their revenue pursuing growth in unhealthy and unsustainable ways. Don’t be those companies. Stay alive.