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30+ Lessons I Learned Bootstrapping Company Of One From 0$ to $9k MMR

  1. Bootstrapping is about launching products on existing markets (so the idea is already validated), niche it down (to reach and segment customers easily) ideally to 1000 customers worldwide (1000 x $50/m, ±$500k/y), then niche it down again, establish better execution and UX as a main competitive advantage (to attract other products refugees) and find your flywheel via semi-automated marketing (to achieve the lowest possible CPA). Don't create new markets, don't chase innovative ideas. Prefer optimisation over innovation.
  2. Bootstrapping (and entrepreneurship) is a career. Don't expect quick results. Stack bricks one by one. Stair-step rather than jump. Run a marathon, not a sprint. Do back-envelop estimations and plan to spend on one project three years rather than three months. Read/Listen Rob Walling today.
  3. You don't have a business if you don't have profit. Be always profit first. Pay yourself first, then pay your creditors.
  4. Start marketing before coding.
  5. Start write/collect your content before marketing.
  6. Recognise and write down your product value metric. Read/Listen Patric Campbell today.
  7. On-boarding should guide a user how to get value from the product in less than 30 seconds and nothing else.
  8. Eliminate as much friction as possible along the user-to-customer journey in your product. In extreme show your offer to a user right after on-boarding.
  9. Avoid trials - they prolong user's journey to your offer and put time constraints to a potential customer (we all have ADHD). Prefer freemium to trials where you could restrict user's ability to get more value from the product keeping it just on a bare minimum. The user should stumble upon the product's "value metric" every session and suffer by not able to have it all.
  10. Always collect emails. On an early stage prefer email collection to conversion. You have better chances to reactivate user with email than reactivate a lost visitor without one.
  11. Always be testing. There is always a better version of your product waiting for you.
  12. Any hype is good for your content. People usually avoid perfection. add Flaws in your content or a hint of controversy and people would be like to point it to you out and discuss. Learn on the public.
  13. Charge more, sell on value: products with product-market-fit either making money for you, saving money or saving your time. Read/listen Patric McKenzie today.
  14. Charge more, it's the easiest and most controllable way to immediately increase your revenue.
  15. Charge more, reconsider (rise) your pricing monthly while something bad won't happen (you'll see it as significant conversion drop/churn rate increase).
  16. Optimize conversion. It's the second most important way to increase your revenue after pricing. Fix your leaked bucket before double down on marketing. Squeeze any penny from the current product state before moving forward and build more features.
  17. Invest your time in 1. conversion optimisation 2. execution (UX) 3. marketing rather than new features.
  18. Don't ship features. If you are developing new features stop today and think which one to remove without losing your UVP.
  19. A new feature in your product should always serve a new segment of your potential customers. Build it just after you already optimised the previous version of your MVP. If it's not the case you probably don't have an MVP.
  20. Be able to dynamically change pricing to your service in seconds (not days) through your admin panel (or DB).
  21. Bootstrappers don't build products. They build marketing/conversion tunnels around MVPs, optimise them and replicate and double down on what works.
  22. Choose products that could be scaled horizontally to serve similar audiences. This way you could replicate the system and product relatively easy, target a different segment of customers and multiply your revenue.
  23. Build technical platforms to reuse them to multiply success
  24. Use boring technologies, that decreasing the cost of bootstrapping and code maintenance. Hack around for fun not for profit.
  25. Don't forget to use Black Fridays/XMas sales to close more deals from your mailing list.
  26. Implement cart abandoning/order cancelation logic and send 25% discount to recapture the revenue.
  27. Niche down, than niche down again.
  28. Use Unlock CTA rather than Upgrade CTA. People naturally love to unlock doors (paywalls).
  29. Charge more is not a mantra. Charge enough to get your local revenue max. Some markets (b2c) are very price sensitive so by charging more you could loose 20-25% of your potential customers. Do your math and seek for local revenue max for your traffic by dynamic pricing.
  30. Stick with one-function pluggable products (Unix approach) that solves one particular problem. They easy to market and maintain.
  31. Be accurate with owning any parts of customers design and UX in your product. It's a rabbit hole, it's opinionated and very hard to maintain. Lean towards APIs, tools to provide/transform customers data rather than build UI level on top of it.
  32. Try to leverage and grow your existing audience instead of serving a new one. It's easy to sell a new product to people who know you rather than spend one more year gaining trust from the orthogonal audience you are a stranger to.
  33. Before to start a new product always try to invalidate your idea. Some problems exist just in your head. The easiest way to do that is google for an existing solution.
  34. Try to resists shiny objects syndrome. Don't start new products, optimise what already works. The best code is the code you have never wrote.
  35. Don't compare yourself with other founders. Everyone's way is unique. Stay authentic, never copy/look for competitors. Study competitors just for copy and marketing ideas - they already done all the hard work for you so just use it.
  36. If you play and treat your business as a hobby you can't lose.
  37. Always consider opportunity cost of any decision/feature/commitment.
  38. For companies of one, the question is always "what can I do to make my business better?", instead of "what can I do to grow my business larger"? Read Paul Jarvis today.
  1. 7

    "Start marketing before coding."
    That would be a nice forearm tattoo for many of us.

  2. 1

    Great contribution.

    Good one that your mentioned that I think a lot of indiehackers, makers and no coders miss out on

    "Read/Listen Rob Walling today."

    The MicroConf videos are all now available online for free on YouTube and MicroConf On Air is a great podcast as well

    You can't go wrong spending time listening to folks like Rob, his wife, Jason Cohen, Patrick Mckenzie (patio11), Kaufman and so many others

    HUGE free value especially for bootstrapped SaaS founders

    Another gem: #28 unlock vs upgrade

    Totally genius right there

    Kudos

  3. 1

    Bootstrapping is a verb that comes from the saying to pull the bootstraps up. The idiom implies that a individual is self-sufficient, and does not need support from others. Likewise, bootstrapping defines a mechanism in the programming environment, which loads and executes commands automatically. https://beststudentadvisors.com/take-my-course.php

  4. 1

    Thank you for sharing your learning to build a profitable bootstrap business. These were some of the shorts of bootstrapped success mantras.

    One question I have regarding one of the tips "On-boarding should guide a user how to get value from the product in less than 30 seconds and nothing else."

    Do you have the resources (tool, blog post) for it, how someone can implement or improve it?

    Cheers!

  5. 1

    The 38 Commandments of Bootstrapping.

  6. 1

    This is a great list with some fantastic points. Thanks, Alex for sharing this.

    The list arrived at the right time.

  7. 1

    Thanks for sharing such amazing tips

  8. 1

    What a wonderful list with some solid points! Thanks.

  9. 1

    This is an awesome list - thanks for sharing!

  10. 1

    Some real gems in here. Thanks.

  11. 1

    Great list! Thanks for putting it out there.

  12. 1

    This is fantastic Alex! Thanks a lot for sharing

  13. 1

    Really good list here Alex.

  14. 1

    Good list, thanks!

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