When I work with early-stage startups on how they can tell their story, the traction slide is often a sticking point. How do you show traction when you haven’t brought a product to market yet, or when your revenue is more of a trickle than a downpour? To answer the question, think about what traction represents to a startup.

Traction, in a nutshell, is evidence that your company’s chances of success are increasing, while the risk inherent in the business is going the other way. Traction is proof that what you are doing is working.

I like to think about the process of building a company as staged de-risking. Perhaps that’s a way to think about your traction: Which risks have you engineered out of the business so far?

When you first founded your company, you likely started with nothing. You have some resources, like your mental capital (training and experience), your social capital (friends, contacts, people you can lean on) and your drive (the desire to run this company in the first place). You may also have a little bit of actual capital, whether this is money raised from the three friends, family and fools or your own savings. You also have an almost infinite amount of risk. At this stage, no company is a guaranteed success.