I have always wondered at what point is the right point to “give up” on something. Not just business either, but personally also. There are so many instances where doing something feels like you are pushing a snowball up a massive hill; each step you get closer to the top but each step makes the snowball bigger. This is so evident in sales cycles for enterprise b2b company’s.
Billaway sells into large entities. We have done a pretty good job of it and in 2018 we have already launched ten new clients with the goal of getting 3-4 more live. These are not tiny engagements mind you. They are large entities with ten or hundreds of millions of consumers. The sales cycle is soooo long though. Out of the ten so far launched this year, only two had a sales cycle of less than a year. Think about that. In what other realms would you have to stay on people to accomplish a goal that long? I suppose there are more, but for me, each day is moving a lot of tiny snowballs up the hill. Each day, they get closer to the top and get bigger as far as commitment and execution.
What I love about startups is a simple “fact”; if you don’t close, eventually you will be successful. Billaway has been around for a while now and it is a testament to the people who have worked there. Recently there was an article in the Boston Globe about a company that is close to our space. They raised over $90 MILLION dollars and are now looking to either pivot or worse as most of their employees were let go. Billaway has raised about 7% of that and we expect to be cash flow positive this year. I often get asked why we never took the institutional money and this is the poster child reason for why. When you accept an investment from an institution, you have to use it. You have to scale and you have to run as fast as you can at the light at the end of the tunnel. My experience is that unless you are holding the light, it is usually an oncoming train and not the answer.
It took us almost four years to fine-tune the business where we knew what that light represented. Don’t get me wrong, we have had our challenges and have monumental ones as we speak, but we know what we are doing and as we grow into 2019, I expect to accelerate our growth through new partners (funding and other) and new executives.
2018 will go down for me as a year where I have said “enough” a couple of times both professionally and personally. Enough chasing clients that are not worth chasing, enough taking shit from people I do not respect and enough learning what we need to know. We know what we need to know and it is time to really scale.
On a recent visit to a warm place with warm, nice water, I had the opportunity to swim in the ocean, hike in the hills and relax at a pool, all in one day. It gave me clarity that we are now putting into practice. A clarity that will accelerate the growth rate of the company. As companies grow, the roles people play adjust and we are no different. “Enough” means a lot of different things to people, however for me, the word means it’s time to adjust.
People who run startups must think about if they are at the point of “enough” in all walks of life. While I don’t know the ins and outs of that company profiled in the Boston Globe, I can say that in all my years of running startups, not saying “enough” in time will kill you. Same in real life!