How far out do you block your time?
A month? A week? A…day?
There’s no shame in living for the moment. Life is better when it’s spontaneous, after all.
But tunnel vision is no way to run a successful company, particularly not one you’re planning to grow for the long haul. If you’d like to be around for the next 10 years, you’d better be gaming out the next one, three, and five years to start.
It’s easier than it sounds. Start with these six strategies to set your company up for long-term success — and increase the chances that you’re around long enough to show the next generation of founders how it’s done.
Understand Your Exit Options From Day One
It’s never too early to begin thinking about the next step. For founders and early employees with substantial equity stakes in their firms, this means getting started on exit planning as early as possible. The more you understand about your possible exit options from the get-go, the better positioned you’ll be to turn them from “possible” to “probable.”
Learn to Tout Your Own Successes
Your organization needs to toot its own horn, or at least know how to do so when the occasion calls. This doesn’t mean you need to seek publicity for publicity’s sake, nor to subscribe to the “all press is good press” fallacy. But it does mean you need to position your firm to capitalize on good news, such as the announcement of a withdrawn and dismissed lawsuit or a blockbuster quarter that beats analysts’ expectations.
Have a Clear, Compelling Plan for Sustainable Fundraising and Cash Flow
There’s no way of knowing how well your next fundraising round will go, to say nothing of three rounds hence. What’s indisputable is that your organization needs a clear, comprehensive plan for sustainable fundraising now, not two rounds from now. Part and parcel of that plan is a realistic long-term cash flow projection; you can’t grow without cash to burn.
Don’t Give Away the Farm (Or the Crown Jewels) Too Early
Speaking of fundraising: Resist the temptation to take sweetheart equity deals too early in your organization’s development. Giving up your controlling stake might make sense at some point, but it’s probably not necessary at the pre-revenue stage. The longer you have to build out your vision without red tape or pushback, the likelier it is that your firm will survive well into the future.
Here’s to a Prosperous Decade
These four strategies won’t guarantee that your company is around 10 years from now. The world is a far too uncertain place for such assurances. Besides, you might want your hands to be washed of your current enterprise by then; that’s why it’s so important to understand the legitimate exit options at your disposal from day one. With those caveats aside, keeping these strategies in mind will increase the chances that you’ll be able to assemble, grow, and exit your company (if you so choose) on your own terms. That’s reason enough to keep them front and center now, tomorrow, and far into the future.