Pretty sure that phrase has been heard around the web, but I recently got to hear the guy who said it first - Mike Lazerow - give a talk on the subject.

Some may disagree. “Startups are fun, you make your own hours, you build what you want, you have no one to answer to and you usually get to play some ping pong along the way…”

But you also don’t know what you’re doing, don’t know how to pay the rent and the competition is bigger and stronger than you (they better not be faster, or you’re toast).

What Mike really means is that being a startup - by the true definition of the word, a company in search of a business model (and thus meaningful revenue) - isn’t where you want to stay. Sure, be a startup for a while, but figure it out fast and then be a real company with real customers, revenues and returns.

His advice for getting there was pretty simple.

“1. Never run out of money. 2. Never run out of money. 3. Never run out of money.”

Sure, it seems like a joke, but it’s important. If you need money, you have no leverage. Take what money you have and search for a model as fast as you can… 

Then, "once you have a model, scale faster and louder than anyone else… because the difference between #1 and #2 is HUGE.“

Simple yet salient point and great advice for entrepreneurs. Be a startup until you find your secret sauce, then scale like a bat out of hell.

For more reading, definitely check out Mike’s post "How to raise venture capital (without losing your soul). Easily one of the best posts I’ve ever read on the topic, and it’s all from the entrepreneur’s perspective.