Seems like every day there is another huge news story buzzing around the startup world. Somebody just filed for an IPO, so-and-so raised $100M in funding, Company X acquired Company Y for $1.5B, etc. If you follow the startup scene at all, you’ve undoubtedly seen these stories. They all tend to glamorize startups, entrepreneurship, raising VC money, and ultimately getting rich.

As a young entrepreneur, hearing about all the success can give you a sense of awe and inspiration to do whatever it takes to get your own startup VC backed so you can reach that mega exit. But in reality, startups are so much harder than they look, and not even millions of dollars in funding will make it easy. In fact, raising a ton of money too early can actually be the worst thing to happen to a young company. Here’s why.

Funding is Not a Measure of Success

There’s no doubt that raising money validates your concept to some extent. If an investor (especially one that isn’t a family member or friend) is convinced that your company is on the right track, there’s a good chance that it actually is. But, there will almost always be aspects of the business model that are still unproven at that point. Chances are, your company is anything but successful.

Meanwhile in the media, 7/10 startup articles are just stories about who raised money from whom, giving people the false impression that raising money is an actual measure of startup success. It’s not, so don’t treat it that way. Look at all the startups that raise money, and then look at how many of them ultimately become successful and how many more of them fail. You will quickly see that raising money does not equal success.

Your focus early on needs to be on customer development, finding product market fit, finding effective and affordable growth channels, and finding a business model that works repeatably and is scalable. Raising money is really just a distraction from all these things, which are the real heart of growing a business.

Having Money Leads to Careless Spending

Successful businesses are built on cashflow and profits. In other words, it all boils down to the ability to make more money from customers than you spend in the process of acquiring those customers and delivering goods and services to them. Simple enough, right?

The problem is, when you raise a ton of money, it becomes very tempting to go out and spend it. This causes problems for startups, where products and processes aren’t exactly at the point of maturity yet, and everything costs twice as much and takes twice as long as you think it will.

Too many startups take their money and go out and lease a big, expensive office or rush to hire a bunch of employees that aren’t the best fits (or both). Committing to a major, ongoing expenditure like a lease or employee salary is a huge decision to make, and one that can be vital in determining whether your company stays afloat or not.

When you have too much money too early, it’s easy to make these kinds of mistakes without thinking about the consequences. When you don’t have money, you’re forced to be frugal and stretch every dollar to its absolute limit, and then some. Maintaining laser focus while you’re on limited budget leads to better decision making, and ultimately helps you figure out how to make your company a success.

When You Have Money, You Lose Some Inner Drive

Startups require scrappiness, grit, passion, and hustle. As an entrepreneur, you have to be completely self-motivated and driven. No one can make your company succeed but you. And you’ve got to be committed for the long haul because nothing is an overnight success. No, not even Instagram.

When you raise money too early, the natural tendency is to relax a little. You take your foot off the gas a bit because now you have money to put to work for you. You start to feel more at ease, and you start to forget that you are the only thing that can make your company succeed.

It’s kind of like in professional sports, when a player lands one of those unheard of, hundred million dollar multiyear contracts and then two years later isn’t even a contributor to the team. Something about the money just takes a slight edge off – that killer instinct.

It partly comes from the media-driven “raising money equals success” mentality, but it’s deeper than that too. In the early days of a startup, you need every little bit of hustle and drive that you can conjure up because you are literally creating something from nothing. For whatever reason, money just seems to eliminate some of the fire burning inside. Just look at the turmoils of Color and Clinkle and other companies that raised massive amounts of money early on, but haven’t shown much promise since, and you’ll see exactly what I mean.

Don’t be in a hurry to raise money for your startup. Money is great, and it can make a world of difference when the timing is right, but it’s not what you need to succeed as a startup. So in the early days, forget about raising money and stay laser focused on the things that really matter. All you really need is a strong entrepreneurial spirit…hustle…grit…drive…passion…whatever that thing is, whatever you want to call it…if you’re bound to be a successful startup entrepreneur, it’s already inside you.