Without a doubt, the scariest thing for me about running a start-up is that all the money needs to either come from sales I've made or from my bank account. I'm not interested in investors (not that I think that they'd be all that interested in me), largely because, this time around, I'm not trying to build a business that scales to hundreds or thousands of employees. If Hopara gets up to 10 total employees, that would be wildly successful in my mind. Right now, we're at 1.2-1.5 including the part-time help I have.
I've been very lucky in starting this company in that we've been cash-flow positive since month one, including covering our start-up expenses. That's no small feat, and I'm pretty proud of it. I've still got a lot more to do and a lot further to go, but it's been a good start.
That doesn't mean that I don't look at the bank account with a sense of dread each morning. Let's be real: I've gone from being the primary breadwinner in my family as the CEO of a decently-sized company to being the primary breadwinner as the founder of something that barely exists. I've still got to pay the mortgage, pay for after-school activities, and pay for all of our food and other stuff. We made a lot of drastic cuts as soon as I started Hopara – our monthly credit card bill went down by 50% – but there are some fixed costs that can't be cut that easily.
So every time I look at the bank, even though it's ok today, it just feels like a massive amount of pressure. It's the kind of pressure I'm not sure will ever go away, even if this company is successful beyond my wildest dreams, because I've already built companies like that, and I know that the truth of running a company is that you're always reinvesting in it, and every dollar I take out is a dollar that could hamper the business' growth. So the ATM stays scary... way scarier than zombies.