How to work out your runway for non-accountants

One of your main goals on this journey should simply be to stay alive – the ability to cover your bills, rent and food.

  • It’s simply budgeting over time
  • Here is why it’s useful
  • Revisit it monthly
  • Here is how to build a basic cashflow thats easy to understand
  • Here is how to extend your runway
    • Lower costs
    • Sell more
      • Optimise your funnel
      • Old fashioned sales
      • Ebay stuff you don’t need
    • Take a loan
      • I recommend avoiding this at all costs, you are simply pushing back the expense, but it can be useful if you get your unit economics under control
    • Take on investment

A Warning

Being a hustler is not for everybody. It has some highs and incredible lows.

I once read a tweet or blog post where the writer said every entrprenue they have met has physcological issues. I have to say in my experience this is true. There seems to be something about the torture of running a business, the stress, the inability to accurately estimate risk and even worse – ignoring risk completely for the sake of their world view being correct – lying to themesleves or others.

To give you a few examples of just a few of the people I have met along the way who have stuck to running a business and met dark times…

Sleeping problems

Most of the people I have met who own or run businesses do not sleep well. In some cases it will come up as a passing comment or they will say something stupid like “I am a workaholic”, this is celebrating something that is known to be a form of torture and is linked to mental health issues like depression.

Sickness from stress

I know of one guy who was so sick with stress that his body started to break down and ended up suffering from Diarrhea. Which was a shock because he’s known for living a healthy lifestyle.

Incredibly bad decisions

I know another guy who I haven’t seen for years. In the process of making millions of pounds he broke the law and is now on the run from the FBI and others. I mean literally.

Are you stong enough to look a room full of employees in the eye, knowing you can’t pay them at the end of the month and their rent/ mortgages are at risk?

Fuck your good idea

You do not need a “good idea” and, “follow your passion” is terrible advice.

Your aim is to match a product or service with an audience who want it. This might seem like an obvious thing to say and you might know it already, but when you step back and think about what I am going to tell you in the rest of this book, it should become clearer as to what I am saying.

To illustrate why I want this at the front of your mind – when most people meet someone who they hear is a business person, they ask – what is the person selling? How did they make their money?

What they really should be asking is: “what audience did they match to a specific product and how did they reach them cost effectivly”.

The thing is, even if you are taking the “good idea approach”, you still need to find the customers at some point, and you will have to pay to get in front of them, one way or another.

If you can simply get a list of products that are already for sale with the process of attracting the audience clearly visible, this will tell you a huge amount of what you will have to work out at some point. Jumping straight to it will save you a huge amount of time and effort.

For example, you might sit at home trying to come up with a new concept for working out, this means you will then have to find out who wants to try your concept, you will have to educate them to the value of your concept and you will have to try and convince them to test your concept now.

Alternatively, if you can see the guy on the beach selling ice cream from a truck with a huge queue lining up to buy the ice cream, you will have found demand, product and a solution for getting it to them.

This doesn’t mean you are out of the woods, I have seen many business running but actually losing money on a daily basis, either savings or venture capital.

The Customer Education Problem

From a Funnel Persective

With customer education and outreach

  • Cold email or ads
  • educational content
  • get them to come back
  • they research multiple options
  • they decide on the option (might not be you)
  • Then they buy

Problem already being searched for with intent based keywords

  • They google search
  • Your add is at the top
  • they sign up

The theree most important fundamentals for building a business

Clear product market fit

Customer CAC v LTV

  • This is simply a game of CAC/ LTV – simplify everything down to this.
  • Getting this right allows you to flip
  • Look at Uber, here in the UK the referral fee would be: £10 credit for new user, £10 for the affiliate who referred them
  • If they used Google ads, it wouldn’t have been as trusted as a referral from a friend
  • If you end up making 3 rides and they are more than £10, then assuming they make 30%, then they will get that back in 3 trips
  • They don’t make 30% – Sales tax, driver fee…
  • So ideally, you want to pay to get a customer once and keep making revenue from them, because it’s normally cheaper than buying new customers
  • This is why when there is a new customer acquisition channel, while it’s cheap all of the savvy marketers work as hard as they can to milk it while it’s cheap to get people onto mailing lists and keep them engaged
  • Sending out an email on a mailing service like mailChimp is like £1 / 10,000 emails
  • When you look at a social media influencer, who has 10,000s followers, they are doing the same as people with a mailing list.


  • buy for £1 and sell for £3
  • This allows you to buy 3, then make £9
  • Then you buy 9 and make 27
  • Which is not totally true, you need to set some money aside for marketing, this means you might only be taking £1 out of the deal
  • Obviously, you want to be doing this with £100s
  • So lets compare this with an eBook at £7, you might have a budget of £6 for buying customers
  • £30 a month, £360 a year, leaving £359 for customer acquisition
  • If you have a SaaS platform for £300 a month, then that’s £3,600 a year so to put a £1 in your pocket, you can spend £3,599 on customer acquisition
    • Imagine how shit you can be at marketing, how much room there is for trial and error

A simple way to think about being successful in business

There are many things that hold a business back but, the main one I come across when talking to people who are struggling is their product or service.

That’s to say they have invested in a product or service already, but it’s not as profitable as they’d hoped.

This creates a challenge for me. I have to subtly convince them that allocating time and resources to promotion, might not be a great idea. This is because they are struggling to prove that people actually want their product.

To illustrate what they should be trying to achieve with marketing and, more generally in business, I like to use the example of “Alberts Apples”.

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