I have been helping lots of startups and I often see common problems that are shared by many. Probably the most frequent problem is that of inadequate focus, that in turn, is related to understanding and selecting the right priority for the tasks at hand.
For most startups, the single most important short term objective is SURVIVAL. Often, the entrepreneur sees the solution through raising investment capital, but as many have found, this isn't as easy or as quick as one might hope. Therefore, finding alternative paths to cash flow break-even that might involve doing some short term consulting, or being a bit more creative with early customers so as to encourage early payment are essential alternatives that must be considered.
A good example can be found in one of my last coaching sessions. The entrepreneurial firm has one customer, albeit an enormous one, that is just about to close a deal. The first deal will provided necessary revenue to pay for the management team plus outsourced development.
While they are waiting for this deal to close, the CEO has been involved with an expensive process of investing in marketing and sales outreach in order to find additional customers. Her concern is that she doesn't want to be "too dependent on a single customer." While that's an admirable goal, her priorities are misplaced.
It turns out that this first customer is large enough to bring the company tens of millions in revenue if they are successful with the first engagement. My advice is that she needs to focus on closing the first deal, and then making sure that the customer's experience is so positive that they quickly move on to deepening the engagement, building cash flow with a minimum of marketing and sales investment.
My suggestion is that she, for the short term, abandon all marketing and sales outreach, and simply focus on her first customer. Her concern about their leverage on her business is fair, and eventually building additional customer relationships is important, but not now. Now is the time for focus.