I chose to self-fund FirstOfficer.io because I wanted to have a location independent business. But that’s not the only reason. My fellow bootstrapper Allan compares his accounting SaaS to a cockroach. It’s small, but it’s virtually unkillable - watching as the competitors raise millions of dollars, whirl by and then die.
I put together my favorite bootstrapping resources, so that you can shave off some learning time and build a successful product sooner. I don’t have any financial incentive to recommend these sites and products.
Self-funding = risk management
Self-funding your product is a great way to learn practical business skills in a safe environment.
External funding is not only an accelerator. It’s a financial amplificator that magnifies everything - wins, losses and risks. If you know how to play the game and your personal goals align, it’s a great tool.
But for rest of us, funding is just a risk multiplier.
If you want to start investing in stocks, the recommendation is not to start with loan money. Yet so many people do that for their first startups. Capital is a form of debt, even when you give away equity & power. Eventually, it always translates to money - the VC investors are not stupid. They hedge their bets so that they win whether or not your startup succeeds.
PersonalMBA explains business concepts that you should know. It’s pretty much a compilation of great books, so the greatest value in this book is that you don’t have to read all those other books. The author lists the resources, so that you can dig deeper if you wish.
Starting and sustaining gives you a great overview of what it means in practice to build and run your own SaaS product.
Finding time & money
When a bootstrapper meets another bootstrapper, a common question is “How do you fill the gap?”
Most self-funded businesses go through a phase where your product brings in some money, but not enough for living. There are several strategies to fill in the gap and plan your escape from the rat race.
It’s also worth to learn to be more money-savvy, but not to the point where you lose the quality of your life. Mr Money Moustache is a nice resource for that, and lots of people enjoy using YouNeedABudget. I just use spreadsheets myself.
Try to think like an investor. Sell less of your time - invest more of it.
Finding a mentor & meeting like-minded people
Bootstrapping is a lonely endurance sport. Having a mentor shortens the time to success.
Big part of my product success is due to what I’ve learn from Amy & Alex in 30x500 - back when it was a 5-month long course. Nowadays it’s different, but I do think they take applications today, so if you want in, hurry! Amy also hosts a BaconBiz conference for bootstrappers.
They say that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. So seize the opportunities to meet other self-funded business owners.
Better yet, put together a mastermind group with 3-5 local fellow bootstrappers. I feel that it really helps to keep up the motivation when you can talk with someone about your business at least once a month, live.
Finding other self-funded businesses
Bootstrappers are active online, so hop in and meet people!
I’m in the Our Own Little Accelerator group, even though I don’t take part in their podcasts. We hang around in a chat.
I take part in a mastermind group in Solo.im, and they also have a mailing list and discussions. It’s not super active group, but it gives you access to mastermind groups that might be otherwise hard to find.
Then there’s lifestyle.io that hasn’t really taken off. And GrowthHackers that seems to have a focus in bigger businesses. Joel on Software is a nice forum too, although quite quiet and focuses more on desktop products.
There are also plenty of mailing lists and some of them delivers digests of week’s best articles so that you can find new people and blogs to follow up.
Learning from what others do
Time is a precious asset. If you want to get success in a meaningful time, you can’t afford to learn only from your own mistakes and failures.
Fortunately there are so many blogs to help you! I’m only going to list those that I love so much I read every article in them:
I think Unicornfree is the best place to get started with bootstrapping. Amy is opinionated, but she knows what she’s talking about.
A Smar Bear is probably my all-time favorite business blog. Jason has been on the both sides an built both self-funded and funded successful product businesses. This blog is a goldmine.
Patrick McKenzie, aka patio11, is known and loved by everyone. His articles and emails are full of practical information on how to make your product better. And his blog is huge! Be warned that the posts are long.
LessAccounting Blog always makes me smile. I can read between the lines how Allan loves his life and sees the business as a tool to live your dreams right now. I love that attitude. He writes on several topics, but there’s an index where you can pick just the topics that interest you.
I’ve learned so much from Brennan that I just keep following up him even though big part of his posts/emails are about freelancing. But the business stuff that appears in PlanScope Blog is super valuable.
Jarrod is a fellow 30x500-goer. His book, blog and free email course are god-sent for people bootstrapping their businesses. You don’t want to hire a designer for your baby product, but you don’t want it to look like a roadkill either. As you don’t have time to learn everything, Jarrod points out the essential things that make 80% of the difference.
In addition to these, you can easily find a mass of great blogs and people via the other links in this post.
Podcasts aren’t my thing, but one can’t really skip them either - not when they feature all the interesting people.
Good luck to your upcoming business! If you don’t want to miss my upcoming articles, drop your email to the box below: