The Art of Projecting

September 5, 2006 at 2:18 pm 3 comments

So much is said about how critical it is to be scalable, but probably equally, if not more important, is not over investing in infrastructure. As a startup CEO, some of the most difficult issues that you must consistently grapple with are projections. Most startups live and die by their monthly burn rate, and so keeping costs under control is paramount. At the same time, most purchasing and hiring decisions have to be made a few months ahead.

What this means is that startup companies are always pressed between projecting growth and containing costs, and even the slightest mistake will derail the entire operation. In our early days I was much more optimistic about our projections and tended to plan accordingly. This meant that we had excess office space, staff and hardware capabilities, and it almost killed us. 

At the same time, under planning is equally as dangerous and much harder to swallow. It could potentially lead to the business dying because it couldn’t grow fast enough. That is like loosing out on the lottery because you didn’t have enough gas in the car to pickup the winnings.

After it became evident that our projections were killing us, we tightened all of our metrics, assumptions and growth rates and we gained experience. We also put a lot of emphasis on our projections and assigned responsibility and accountability for the numbers we were getting across our small organization. Over the past few months we have been getting better and better at projecting not only revenues and costs, but also users, bandwidth, hiring needs, and everything else that we depend on. 

If you are just starting a company, I strongly recommend that you do everything you can to manage projections, and to work as hard as possible to make sure that you have a good handle on them, because your business will live and die by them.

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Entry filed under: Start-up.

The Popcorn Moment True Scalability

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Terry Gold  |  September 5, 2006 at 9:54 pm

    Hi Eli,

    I discovered your blog through the My Way, The Entrepreneur Network rss feed, of which I’m also a member blogger. I started my current company when you were five – wow, that puts it into perspective just how long I’ve been slogging it out. You show great wisdom in each of your posts that I wish I had when I was a year into my business as you are. Great writing, good luck to you, and I look forward to being a new subscriber to your blog.

    Terry Gold
    http://www.terrygold.com
    http://www.goldsys.com

    Reply
  • 2. Freedomworker  |  September 6, 2006 at 4:59 pm

    Great ideas. I think it points to the fact that starting a business and maintaining/growing one are 2 different stories. Managing the metrics takes work and smart people. I think that sometimes we can get caught up in these overnight successes and forget that people have to really keep there eye to the numbers.

    Reply
  • 3. Faxing Software  |  February 16, 2010 at 10:11 pm

    Great post.. Came across your site on Google and I have to say I’m very impressed. Keep up the good work and I’ll be coming back for more updates. Thanks again!

    Reply

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About

Exactly one year ago I set off on the most exciting journey of my life; I started Emerging Demographics Inc (the parent company of HireWorkers.com).

Along the way I was selected as one of the top 20 young entrepreneurs by BusinessWeek.com and the 21st coolest young entrepreneur by Inc. magazine. I have also appeared in ABC7, Telemundo, NPR, and been quoted in StaffingIndustry.com, WorkforceManagment.com, Entrepreneur Magazine, and various other publications.

Over the next few months I will recount some of the stories and lessons learned from building, developing and creating a business from scratch.

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