By: Dexter Braff

Happens all the time.

As you iterate your initial idea into a viable revenue-generating product, your cash reserves begin to reflect the extended timeline.

You need a quick hit.

So, you take on take on a customer that needs more customization than intended.

Sweet relief as cash begins to flow through your company’s veins (keeping that metaphor going).  But the distraction puts you a little further behind schedule, and before long, you need another fix (of cash).  Well, you were successful in the last highly customized installation.  Why not take what you learned and leverage it to land another cash paying customer?

You fall further behind and need even more cash.

And suddenly, you’re hooked.

With additional deployments, you begin to make a little money.  And after bootstrapping for four years, a little profit feels pretty good.  Before long, services begin to crowd out the technology you were originally developing.  You wind up with a profitable venture – but one that is far, far, less valuable than the SaaS-based product you were initially developing.

So how do you stay off crack?

At last year’s Rock Health Summit, one of the most insightful comments a panelist made on this type of scenario is that the best companies “institutionalize a culture of urgency.”  They establish and widely report and promote progress on a series of small milestones.  They champion the wins.  They assign a rescue squad to the losses.  They know that just like a marathoner who’s hit the wall at 19 miles knows there’s no way they can run another 7, they know they can run 100 yards.  And another 100 yards.

Baby steps.

A small success inspiring the drive to take more baby steps.

You get the picture.

Live, work, and breath urgency well before the need is, well, urgent.

Say No to Services.

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