90% of Startups Fail Within 3 Years — Here’s How I’m Staying Afloat

Discover this entrepreneur's secrets to success.

I remember how excited I was when I made the decision to start my own business. This little idea I had growing in my head of starting a financial-coaching business, backed by a blog and podcast, would become my labor of love from that point forward.

The first year, the business ran on pure passion. I had prepared myself for the reality of pouring in countless hours of sweat equity with little or no return. As I approached the second year in business, which I had bootstrapped since the very beginning, the work doubled.

Click to read more about how and where to get a loan for your startup.

Since I was still working my full-time job as a firefighter, this meant earlier mornings and later nights devoted to this little startup that had now taken full control over every thought in my mind. I remember wondering how much longer I could go at this already exhausting pace, and that’s when I came across a report from TheStartup that stated 90 percent of startups would fail in the first three years.

Statistically speaking, I only have a 10 percent chance of survival — but since failure isn’t an option for me, these are the things I am doing to ensure I make it to year three.

Be Willing to Be Terrible in the Beginning

I have to remind myself that no one started off great. Elon Musk didn’t graduate high school and create the Tesla the next day, nor did Tony Robbins become the most successful life and business coach his first year in business.

When I first jumped into my startup, I believed I would have the same success early on as those who had spent years perfecting their craft. As I continue to grow and add new things to the business though, it always feels new and often looks terrible.

However, we all travel a different path to success and we all must be willing to be terrible in the beginning.

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Put First Things First

Entrepreneurs inside a startup often behave like 6-year-olds on their first visit to Disneyland. There are so many things that pique our interest, and we believe we can do all of them at the same time.

In Gary Keller’s book “The ONE Thing,” he explains how multitasking is nothing more than a myth. Our brains simply cannot process two separate things at once and instead bounce back from thought to thought in rapid succession, with a decrease in focus each time we bounce back and forth.

Now, at the start of year three, I use a daily planner to plan out my most important things I need to do first. I hold myself accountable to my one to three things I must get done before I can move on to the next item.

The results have surpassed my expectations. The things I said I would get done now get done, and at the end of the day, I feel accomplished.

Join a Mastermind Group

Being an entrepreneur can often be a lonely place. The nonstop swirling of ideas in your head becomes your best friend, and if you’re not careful, this can lead down a path of failure.

Every entrepreneur needs a group of like-minded people who are there to allow you to unload your thoughts, dreams, goals and everything in-between. Whether you are starting your own mastermind group or joining an existing one, the key is to surround yourself with people who will continue to challenge your every thought or idea in order to make you better.

Today, I can tell you my startup would have slowly died away like the other 90 percent of startups do if it weren’t for the people I had to carry me through those rough times every entrepreneur faces.

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Mandatory Daily Fitness

One of my mentors told me the secret to his success was daily physical fitness. He had one hour set aside every single day for physical fitness and he would intentionally work his business around the time he required in the gym.

As a college athlete, physical fitness was already part of my life, but it wasn’t a priority. After getting that advice, however, I made the decision to remove two hours from each day to include a warmup, a cool down and the travel time to a CrossFit gym. To my surprise, the growth inside the business has seen a drastic increase since implementing this strategy.

When you plan your work around your fitness, your fitness will work to improve both your life and business.

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Get Uncomfortable as Much as Possible

One of the worst things we do as entrepreneurs is becoming too comfortable. We all start off with a ton of energy and excitement inside our new business because we aren’t quite yet sure how everything will work out.

But, over time, as we start to feel success, we also start to feel a higher level of comfort and this can become a handicap for growth.

One of the challenges I have implemented for year three is to step outside of my comfort zone and do things that may actually scare me. For me, this is speaking in front of larger audiences, taking on larger calculated risks, investing more capital inside my business and reaching out to influencers inside my niche who feel way out of my reach.

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Your Next Step

As somebody who has defied the odds and lived to talk about year three of a startup, I have the utmost respect for anyone who calls themselves an entrepreneur. In my opinion, it may be one of the most challenging roles you will ever play in life but it will also be one of the most rewarding things you will ever experience.

The odds are stacked up against all of us, and there’s a choice of whether or not we want to succeed in year three. So, ask yourself, what is the one thing I will start today to solidify my spot in that 10 percent?

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