People build startups to get rich, but I'm building a startup and I keep getting poorer

But hey, at least I love what I'm doing, that's something...eh?!

What keeps you motivated?

  1. 13

    I have started working on my stuff full-time five months ago, and I also become much poorer since then: no job, have to pay the bills, and support my family.
    But I feel that I am at a place where I always wanted to be. It doesn't matter if I will be rich or not (I probably won't). What matters is:

    • I am free: I set my own timeline, I make the crucial decisions
    • I am growing: I learn something new every day. I used to be an SWE, but now I am learning marketing, sales, accounting, product management, and many soft skills.
    • I am building: I cannot imagine a better way to spend my time than making things. I was always fascinated by the process of converting a thought, an idea, into something valuable.

    Sometimes I get demotivated, especially if I face something seemingly overwhelming. At those times, I always try to remind myself why I am doing what I am doing. If I wanted money, I would have kept my lucrative job in Silicon Valley.

    1. 1

      I couldn't agree with your three points. Especially point #2, whenever I'm completely overwhelmed and feel like it's going nowhere, I remind myself that amount of skills I've accrued over the past nearly two years is WAY WAY more than I would have ever learned at a normal job. My new skills combined with the connections I've made makes my feel confident that even if it doesn't work out, I have the skills to get a great job if need be.

    2. 1

      You'll probably find you're WAY MORE motivated the minute the money starts coming in. Is there any way you can fast forward to the first bit of income?

      1. 2

        I feel like that as well. But I'll let you know once I've actually made money... haha!

  2. 4

    you're not alone!

    I'm at the exact same spot.

    saying it's not fun would be an understatement. it's a lonely place where almost no one in my immediate social circle (friends & family) would understand it.

    it can definitely be hard to stay motivated, that's why working on something you care about (not enough. we're doing business -> what the market is like) and having a vision of where you ultimately want to take it are so important.

    and thanks to the rising minimum wage, the inflation would eat away your saving faster than you anticipated unless you took that into account when you quit your job.

    I like that you are trying to help the environment, but be careful, test your idea: are the customers willing to pay and all that. There's a reason why Facebook is a juggernaut while some good-to-the-world businesses could not reach that (not great but the game is set up as such).

    Also, it's ok to have a smaller user base, but I think you need to charge more. The landing page could be even simpler. I suspect if ppl have the patience to read every text on the page.

    Good luck with your business!

    1. 1

      This response is amazing, thank you for taking the time to make it!

      Pricing is interesting, isn't it. I "validated" my idea by running a bunch of surveys. In the surveys, people were totally amped and "willing" to pay for a product like this. But my beta testers (the people I thought would be most keen to pay) have shown me that most people don't even want to spend $1. I get it, I'm a startup and the issue is probably more about connecting their banking information to a new company, little do they know I never see their info, but I understand. I think breaking that barrier is going to be my biggest challenge.

      I think you're right on the landing page. All the text after the header and intro paragraph is kind of vague and I could see people losing interest. I start questioning what the product does when I read that section haha.

      Thanks again!

      1. 1


        Yes, it is really tricky. Surveys are not great for validating ideas because it's easy for ppl to "lie" in surveys, but when they have to take out their credit card, they would think much harder if it's something they really want to get.

        What you said could also be true, but it really depends on the demographics of your user. Then you would have to know if it is solvable (they have bought online). If it is, maybe give them the confidence to trust you?

        A good book for talking to the customers: https://www.amazon.com/Mom-Test-customers-business-everyone/dp/1492180742

        As for the landing page, it could be that you are too used to seeing it and know your product very well, so it's harder for you to know.

  3. 2

    Hey Scott, I feel your pain! I took on a full time job again since I had too much anxiety about spending money and not making much. Now back to juggling a bunch of things at the same time, but less worried about money.

    What helped me is maintaining patience for the baby 🐣 project and finding the goals beyond money (as you said: building skills, growing, helping people, working on a mission driven product.

    I am working on "bundling" together multiple eco-friendly products Indie hackers are creating. This would look like a unified source of knowledge and sustainable actions for customers, where we (creators) can share our skills (I am a UX/UI designer), our experience, our customer database etc. Would you be interested in uniting to be and feel stronger?

    1. 1

      I would definitely be interested! Send me an email with more info at [email protected]

  4. 2

    This is more common than you suppose, I went from having a modest retirement amount to totally bankrupt

    1. 1

      I imagine it is. Did you at least learn a bunch of new skills, skills that helped you get a good job in the market?

      1. 1

        I suppose I did, but there are a million times of better ways to do it. Which ones? Get a job in the specific industry you want to enter, you will get paid while learning. Limit, really limit your investment to a small fraction of your net-worth, especially if your age or NW are high. Get funded.

  5. 1

    That's the spirit @theactiveconsumer! Keep up the hustle.

    For me, it's the exact same thing - doing something what I love. Because the excitement that I get out of working on something like that keeps me happy and enough to stay motivated in this journey ✨

    1. 1

      Truth! Are you working on anything new and exciting right now?

      1. 1

        Ruttl - It's literally everything for me right now haha 😄

        1. 1

          That looks really, really good. It's only for websites you have access to, correct? Sorry if that's a silly question.

  6. 1

    This is a great idea! Keep going strong! We need more environmentally focused startups these days.

    1. 1

      Thanks for the encouragement! The IH community, alongside some of my networking apps are really keeping me motivated and optimistic about the future of environmental sustainability!

  7. 1

    Off topic, but your landing page is great. I got the hook immediately - the hero image, the H1, all excellent. I'm not quite sure how it works..

    The way I might want it to work, without thinking too much, is that I've got a dedicated credit card, and for each type of spending, and/or each specific vendor, I've preset where the extra money goes as an offset. It would be really cool that if I start switching my spending off of the "negative" products and vendors, as I become more aware of the impact, and onto sustainable vendors that there would be matching funds as an incentive to switch, beyond ethical drive.

    Anyway, nice page!

    1. 1

      Thank you!!

      Your spot on with the way it works. The only thing is you don't need a specific card, it links straight to your bank account (using Plaid for security purposes). And yeah, you select where you want your spare change to go and whenever you make a relevant purchase, your spare change automatically donates.

      The Active Consumer, our overall brand, is about teaching people about switching to "sustainable vendors" by being conscious consumers. By consciously consuming and actively engaging in the economics of consumption (thus our app), consumers can become Active Consumers ;)

  8. 0

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