Tips for dealing with a startup slump

Five tactics to help beat the startup slump

When you first set out on the startup path it can look like paradise – the pace is fast, you control your own destiny and there are endless new avenues to explore.

Unfortunately, no honeymoon can last forever. The reality for many startups is that a slump will set in when the long nights, stressful decisions and deadlines begin to take their toll. This is not a sign of failure. This is something that almost all successful businesses will go through.

Here are some tips to try to avoid that startup slump and then to beat it if it hits!

1. Plan ahead

When you start out you want to grow quickly and take advantage of every opportunity to thrust your business straight into the spotlight. This is completely natural and that energy and desire are crucial to the success of any business. However, taking on too much too early can also lead to a big crash if you or your resources are spread too thinly.

Taking on a contract you simply won’t be able to meet (or at least not without working 24 hours a day for months on end) or expanding into too many markets can make the slump hit sooner as you get overloaded with work. Ambition is great, but just make sure you don’t run before you can walk!

2. Build a team

Building a team is vital. It helps not only in terms of carrying the workload but also in sharing the mental and decision making load that businesses at this stage require. You don’t have to fill an office – even having a team of one or two sta can be infinitely better than doing it alone!

Having a marketer or a business developer on board will not only help you in that specific area but will also give you someone to bounce ideas off, prepare for big events with and maybe even spend those coffee and pizza-filled late nights in the office with.

3. Set clear goals (and reward yourself when you hit them!)

Setting clear and realistic goals is important, whether these are for increased revenue, a growing client base, more customers or even a more specific target to achieve one goal (i.e. winning a particular client or launching a new product etc.).

When you hit the goal, take a break. Whatever you need to relax your mind and body, whether that’s a spa weekend or going out for drinks, do it. Then when you’re ready, and only then, come back and focus on hitting your next goal with a fresh mind and a fresh approach.

4. Try something new

Talking about fresh approaches, a huge part of the rush at the beginning of a startups existence comes from the fact that everything is new. This is true not just in terms of actual new events, but in terms of the fact that these force you, and your team, to think in new ways.

It can be easy to fall into a rut after finding some techniques and practices that seem to work well. Don’t fall into this trap. Continue to innovate, to question and, perhaps most importantly, to test.

You might have an email campaign with open and click-through rates that you’re happy with. But why should you settle? That email will still be there and you might be able to do better. Coming up with new ideas and testing them will keep things fresh, new and exciting. Even if it ultimately isn’t as good as the email you already had.

5. Talk to others

Chatting with others is an excellent way to refresh, whether you attend an organised networking event or just have an informal chat with another business contact. It can help you come up with new ideas, think about things in a new way or even just help you remember why you started the business.

Talking to a friend about how much happier or more enthused you seem now you have started your business or hearing from a customer about how your business has helped them in their life can reignite your motivation.

At this point, I can only wish you the best of luck with your business! Use these tips to try to avoid the slump if you can, but always remember that this is something most startups will face at some point – don’t worry too much, you will soon get out of it and back on track ready to turn the slog back into the dream!

The Pitch is an annual programme of events to support startups. The top 100 entries go to free boot camps to work on their pitch and learn skills essential to starting up. More than that, it helps provide a peer network to test your ideas and get support. Find out more and apply here.

Raj Dhonota

Raj Dhonota

I am an early/seed stage start-up investor looking for people with great ideas.

If you have a great idea for a new venture but need investment to make it happen, then please get in touch.

The Pitch winner gets a money-can’t-buy package of mentoring and support. The top 300 go to free boot camps and everyone that enters gets access to exclusive deals.

Let’s do this!