The One Thing Your Startup Really Needs to Succeed

It's not a business plan, or even a killer idea. Can you guess what it is?

learn more about Gene Marks

By Gene Marks

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Your startup is not special. You are not going to get the big bucks from investors. You did not go to Stanford and are not located in Silicon Valley. You have no track record of running a business, and your business plan is based on made-up numbers and hoped-for assumptions.

All you have is a good idea -- and you know that history is littered with failed startups that were born of good ideas.

You suddenly realize that no more paychecks are coming in. Your friends who cheered you on when you launched your startup have disappeared into their own problems. No one is knocking on your door or offering help. You start to realize that people promise things and then don't deliver. You don't feel like you're accomplishing anything.

You look around and find that there are many others like you -- people dreaming of business success. And you know that most will fail. Will you?

Related: Want to Turn Huge Startup Profits? Here's Why You Need to Be Patient.

Don't panic. Your startup can still succeed. But it will depend on one thing and one thing only. Can you guess what?

Customers.

Really? Doesn't this sound obvious? It is obvious. And yet, I meet so many "entrepreneurs" that get so wrapped up in being an "entrepreneur" and monkeying around with their spreadsheets and pontificating about their grand plans that they forget that in the end they're supposed to be running a business. And a business simply needs customers.

Your startup will likely need one or two years to be profitable. During that time you must bring in work. That means that while you're building your product you're also hiring yourself out as an engineer at an hourly rate. Or while you're developing that new killer application you're doing some other programming work on the side. Or while you get that shop set up you're selling your products on eBay or Craigslist. You will lose money, but you will learn and build some history.

Potential investors and lenders don't want stories, they want results. They're interested in an existing, viable business that needs their help to grow. They want to see real financial statements showing revenues from live customers that you're turning into a future model rather than fictional plans and ideas based on assumptions.

I'm sure your idea is good. And I'm sure your plans are fine. Just don't spend too much time obsessing over them. Build a business -- go out and get some customers with what you have.

Related: Find More Work With These 4 Pointers

Gene Marks

Entrepreneur Leadership Network VIP

President of The Marks Group

Gene Marks is a CPA and owner of The Marks Group PC, a ten-person technology and financial consulting firm located near Philadelphia founded in 1994.

Related Topics

Business News

4.9 Million Bottles of Fabuloso Cleaner Recalled Over Contamination Concerns

Manufacturer Colgate-Palmolive said the recalled units could contain bacteria dangerous to the immunocompromised.

Business News

Hermès Wins Trademark Case Against Artist Who Sold Birkin Bag NFTs

The case was deemed a critical examination of how a company can enforce intellectual property rights in relation to virtual assets.

Business News

'Ultra-Luxury' Real Estate Influencer Busted for Stealing $381,000 in COVID Relief Funds — To Fund Her Lavish Lifestyle

Daniela Rendon, 31, allegedly used fraudulently obtained money to lease a 2021 Bentley, rent a luxury apartment, and pay for cosmetic surgery.

Money & Finance

What Is NFT Art? Everything You Need To Know.

Are you interested in art and the metaverse? If so, you're in the right place. NFT art is the merging of both worlds. Keep reading to learn more.

Productivity

Here's How to Add Music to Your Instagram Story

Want to know how to add music to Instagram stories to maximize their appeal? Here are a few ways to add music to Instagram content.

Money & Finance

What Is a Dividend and How Do They Work?

Looking for a way to invest in a company? Dividend stocks might be a good place to begin. Read about what a dividend is and how it works.