We have a saying in the publishing world: "Any author worth her salt can give you five book ideas by breakfast." It doesn't mean that ideas are worthless. It means that ideas are not the key to your survival.

Similarly, a brilliant concept will not help you survive entrepreneurship. A great app, smart idea or strong audience will not sustain you. If that was the case, then wouldn't we see many others thriving in the business world?

The trick is that you should be creating a strong foundation well before you pursue your business idea. Looking at my own path, I see how I was fortunate enough to have these in place before I started - and how I could have done a much better job of fostering them.

Here are three foundational things you'll want to have in place to be the best startup founder possible:

Maximum passive income: This is the money you do little or nothing to bring in. You can leave for a week and still see your bank account rise. For me, royalties from my 15 books and profit-sharing programs helped bring in money as I worked on my two first startups, So Quotable and Cuddlr. For you, it may be YouTube videos, web advertising, online classes or other self-driving platforms.

It's important because your hands need to be on the wheel of your startup, not your financial engine. We bootstrapped Cuddlr to a successful acquisition, but that meant that we weren't officially getting a paycheck for nearly a year as co-founders. Passive income helped keep the lights on.

Minimum active income: Some people seem to be born entrepreneurs, but one gift late bloomers like myself have is that we have made a living in other ways! By nature, entrepreneurial money is unstable. Having and staying involved in your previous profession can be a solid source of income if you are between startups or need a financial boost.

For me, journalism has been a reliable income stream. Be warned, though: You do not want your active income to be all consuming in energy or time. Freelance journalism is flexible enough so that I can create more assignments based on the moment. If your active income isn't malleable enough, then it can easily take your focus off of your main business.

A personal board of advisors: I call it a brain trust. Others call it a trusted network. You absolutely need to have people in place to give you advice, support and resources. The two big keys, though, are to have diverse people in your life and to have them in place before you need them.

First, there are few worse things than having a network that has the same strengths you do. Why? Talking to them would be like talking to yourself: No help. In my world, I am close with corporate lawyers, building contractors, VCs and school teachers, and their expertise has been invaluable along the way.

Second, build and connect with people now before you are in a jam. My last startup went from 0 to 100 real quick, switching from a vague concept to Apple's number one app within a matter of weeks. Potential success can come knocking quickly, and you may not have time to find people quickly enough to consult when you are in the need of guidance - and they may not appreciate you calling them only because you need them.

Published on: Jun 7, 2016
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