How We Define Success

There are many definitions of success, but we thought this saying strikes very true for start-up companies: “Survival is no measure of success, but it’s better than the alternative.” So that then begs the question, what is success for a start-up? We like to think that it’s as simple as one thing: sustainable growth. Typically, that means adding team members, growing revenue and being cash flow positive. There’s a great post on being cash flow positive by Joel Gascoigne over at Buffer that I recommend checking out.

There are a lot of start-ups bootstrapping their way to success at TheCodeFactory and we’d like to take the opportunity to recognize a few of the ones who have recently become Graduates. Over the next few weeks we’re going to be releasing three success stories, complete with their lessons learned: Blindside Networks, Insight Design Labs and Nexus Digital Media. We sat down with the founders of each to interview them and get their take on what goes into making a successful start-up happen. Stay tuned for their video interviews!

What is a Graduate?

Here at TheCodeFactory we consider a company a Graduate when they’ve achieved consistent growth and moved beyond our early stage office space. We have also helped the Graduate on their path to success in some tangible way by providing flexible accommodations as they grow their business, virtual staffing or helping them find and recruit early employees. Our mission is to help our customers grow their businesses.

Revisiting the Hockey Analogy

A good perspective on when to raise funding is similar to getting drafted into the NHL. No one has ever walked into the NHL draft with zero playing experience and a pitch deck full of graphs and flowcharts showing how they’ll utilize the optimal wrist shot form and skating stride to impress the GM for a spot on a team. Pitching to get drafted with zero experience or results is no different than pitching to investors an idea and no revenue. A pitch deck and an idea can only take you so far. A better focus when you are starting out is working hard to build a base of happy customers and generate real revenue. When you are ready to grow is a good time to hit the road with your pitch deck which highlights your results rather than an idea or a forecast.

Our philosophy at TheCodeFactory is that healthy businesses are built upon happy customers. Generating revenue and building a happy customer base should be a fundamental goal of any business starting out. However, this seemingly obvious goal is far too often overshadowed by the urge to develop a pitch deck and hit the road on the quest for the start-up holy grail … funding. The harsh reality is that in Canada, unless you have a proven track record and previous success, your chances of getting funding for an idea are about 0%. Your time as a first time founder is far better spent figuring out your business model and proving you can generate revenue before looking for investment.Over the next few posts we’ll explore the success stories at TheCodeFactory and how new entrepreneurs can try to emulate that success.