Reprinted with permission from Inc.com.\r\n\r\nI\u2019ve got a pretty good idea what makes you tick. Given your entrepreneurial bent you must be a serial optimist. It\u2019s a trait both necessary and vital.\r\n\r\nBut optimism has its limits. According to the small business stat-keepers, just half of new ventures will still be in operation five years down the line.\r\n\r\nWhat is likely missing among the half of businesses that don\u2019t make it is a healthy dose of clear-eyed pessimism.\r\n\r\nA Slow Burn Is Your Best Weapon\r\n\r\nGreat business ideas can\u2019t grow into great businesses if there\u2019s not enough cash to get them through the early gestation period. And the problem for optimistically wired entrepreneurs is a propensity to underestimate how long that\u2019s going to be.\r\n\r\nYou\u2019ve no doubt run the numbers to come up with your venture\u2019s burn rate. But exactly what are you basing that burn rate on? I\u2019d venture this is where your optimism can work against you. Ask any entrepreneur who had to close up shop what happened and you will get some version of \u201cI just didn\u2019t anticipate how slow the ramp-up would be.\u201d There are all sorts of variables at play: overshooting on the level and growth rate of revenue, underestimating on expenses, a longer-than-expected lag between when you bill and when clients deign to pay, to name just a few.\r\n\r\nRun the Numbers\r\n\r\nMy advice is to re-run your business plan numbers plugging in assumptions that are 25% less optimistic. Ratchet down revenue by at least that much, adjust growth expectations that much, and budget 25% more for your fixed costs.\r\n\r\nThat\u2019s obviously going to speed up your burn rate to a point where your cash runway is going to look uncomfortably short. Good. If you\u2019re doing this proactively in the planning stages of launching your business you may have just saved your business.\r\n\r\nNow is the perfect time to adjust your business plan accordingly so you will be able to launch with a sufficiently long runway. Maybe you need to spend another six months or a year socking away more cash before you launch, maybe you rent less space and worry about growing out of the space when the time comes, not now. And maybe you bring in more investors so you can launch with a bigger capital base. The goal\u00a0 is you make those tradeoffs now so your runway at launch is plenty long enough to give you a solid chance of success.\r\n\r\nDon\u2019t shrug this off on the assumption you\u2019ll deal with cash flow problems when the time comes. Trying to extend your runway when you\u2019re already barreling close to the end is a dicey proposition. Asking investors or banks for money when you need it most is never a great bargaining position, and if you\u2019re scrambling to come up with cash to keep the business running you\u2019re going to be pulled off of the very thing that your business needs at that juncture: you fully focused on growing the business.\r\n\r\nOne of the most powerful management tools comes courtesy of 17th\u00a0century mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal. Pascal\u2019s Wager, as it has come to be known, is all about asking yourself two questions: What if I am wrong, and what is the consequence if I am wrong? For entrepreneurs, those two questions can be a powerful check for unbridled optimism.\r\n\r\nContemplating less-robust outcomes isn\u2019t meant to kill your plan, or paralyze you to the point you give up before you start. The goal is exactly the opposite. When you ratchet down your optimism during the crucial planning stage--and make the tradeoffs to give yourself a long runway--you\u2019ve just raised the odds of your success.