Startups and new businesses take time. They often take much longer than the CEO every thought to reach any measure of success. And of course, a bad idea is still a bad idea no matter how much time is allotted for it, but a good idea often needs a great deal of time to realize its potential.

So imagine your startup is a plane – no matter what type of plane, in fact, you won’t even know what kind of plane it will end up being for quite some time – then the runway is the amount of time you create to allow your plane to finally take off.

I wrote about this recently when I talked about the most important job of the CEO of a startup is to make sure the company has enough runway. David has written about it before, most recently in yesterday’s post titled, How Long Do You Keep Grinding It Out? I hear this talked about constantly at the Atlanta Tech Village where over 180 startups are trying to beat the odds.

For my first company, Spunlogic, it took five years before we hit  $1 million in sales. For my second company, Engauge, it took us close to four years to really make progress. With Dragon Army, well, we’re nine months in and I have no idea how long it will take us to achieve success. We’re off to a great start, but there is a lot of work to be done.

Look no further than our industry, mobile gaming, to see what I’m talking about. Many people think Angry Birds was an immediate runaway success. However, what they don’t realize is that Rovio (creators of the game) created 51 games over six years before they stumbled upon Angry Birds.

So if you want to do one thing for your startup, create enough runway to give yourself a real shot.