OK, but happens when your search finds something that starts to look like it might be repeatable and scalable? From the murk and experiments of startup land there starts to emerge things like income, customers, maybe even a vaguely working product! Sure you're not Apple or Google yet, but are you still a startup?
More importantly, should you still be working the way you have been to date?
Some of the startups I’m working with are at this stage and it’s quite a jolt. On one hand it sure is nice to have validation that it wasn’t such a dumb idea. On the other hand many of the practices that worked well in startup mode start to misbehave.
For example, in bootstrap mode you probably were two founders and maybe an intern or two. No probs, as most of the stuff you were doing was made up as you went. But now you are missing stuff and doing stuff twice. Whose job is it to do the invoicing? I thought you did it? Did you email potential investor Jim? Oh bugger, so did I…
From founders and interns to, oh no, real employees?
From everyone doing everything to job descriptions and org charts.
From reactive to proactive.
From no idea what will happen next to at least some idea.
From improvisation to proceduralisation.
From a wide focus to a narrowing focus.
From no customers to customers. How much of a problem could that be?
Initially it was terrifying – it might all amount to nothing or evaporate. Now it is terrifying in a different way – you have obligations and expectations. And it still might evaporate!
From having no money to actually having some money. Although usually not enough...
From flying under the radar to hitting regulations you never imagined.
From working from home, cafes and co-working spaces to needing more permanent premises.
From no record keeping to the horrors of financial reports, oh the horror.
From a focus on tomorrow / next week to a focus on next month / next year.
Just don't think it will be the same as before.