How Long is Your Startup’s Runway?


For a startup, the runway can best be described as the cash flow you have to keep operations afloat. The use of the airplane runway paints a vivid picture because once you reach the end, you are forced to either take flight or crash and burn. Unfortunately for most startups, they usually result in the latter. However, choosing the right plane and having a clear flight plan may help you avoid tragedy.

Like all things in life, if you have cash (or credit), then you have some wiggle room to make things happen. Without cash, nothing happens. On the flip side, if your runway is too long, it’s also possible that nothing may happen. A plane that never takes off is basically a bus… and no one gets excited about hopping on board a bus.

The trick to making a startup work is to make sure you can create a reasonable runway for the startup you want to take flight. Obviously if you want to fly a Jumbo plane, you will need a longer runway. If you only have enough money to maintain a short runway, you will have to reevaluate your plane; this means shaving off nice-to-have features and focusing on the core necessities (e.g. the engines and the wings).

Realizing what you need to shave off early on will help significantly as you will *hopefully* end your project with a lite but fully functional product instead of a half-completed, bloated pile of junk. Obviously, you can’t fly a half completed plane so what’s the point of trying? Surprisingly many startups do just that… They dive in and just build and build without looking at the whole picture and the length of their runways.

It makes you wonder don’t it?

So, how long is your runway?

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