The Bootstrapped Founder

Hi! I’m Arvid.

Welcome to The Bootstrapped Founder, a resource for everyone who wants to bootstrap their own business.

The Bootstrapped Founder is the home of my book 📗Zero to Sold: How to Start, Run, and Sell a Bootstrapped Business and 📘The Embedded Entrepreneur, which is an audience-driven book teaching you how to build an audience-driven business.

I’m building a Software-as-a-Service tool for authors who care about the quality of the links in their work. It’s called PermanentLink and I am sharing my progress on Twitter and on my podcast.

You will also find the Bootstrapper’s Bookshelf, the Bootstrapped Founder Podcast, and the Bootstrapped Founder Newsletter.

The Bootstrapped Founder NFT Collection can be found here.

Learn how to start, run, and sell a bootstrapped business from the Bootstrapped Founder Newsletter.

Here are my most recent blog posts:

Building in Public: How Radical Transparency Hurts Founders

Reading Time: 5 minutes I’ve been seeing a kind of “Build in Public purism” that I don’t agree with. The narrative goes like this: We’re fed up with being manipulated and lied to. We want the businesses we interact with to be honest. For that, we need them to be radically transparent, so they can’t lie. We want that … Continue reading Building in Public: How Radical Transparency Hurts Founders

Building in Public: Oversharing

Reading Time: 7 minutes There is an inflection point in many SaaS founders’ Build in Public journey: around $25.000 monthly recurring revenue, founders who have previously been very vocal about their revenue numbers stop sharing them. Why is this? What makes successful founders retreat into secrecy? It’s oversharing, and it’s one of the most hard-to-balance activities when it comes … Continue reading Building in Public: Oversharing

Passive Income and Entrepreneurship

Reading Time: 5 minutes For many entrepreneurs, having passive income is the ultimate goal. It’s a great goal, too: having money coming in without having to do any work sounds better than selling your time and attention to the highest bidder. My entrepreneurial journey has mainly been focused on building a portfolio of income sources that are as passive … Continue reading Passive Income and Entrepreneurship

Building in Public: What to Share at Which Stage of Your Journey

Reading Time: 12 minutes There is no recipe for success while building in public, but there are a lot of tried and trusted ingredients. Let’s fill up the spice rack today and put a few cans into the pantry for later. Every business moves through several stages: we all start in the Preparation Stage, where we conceptualize and plan … Continue reading Building in Public: What to Share at Which Stage of Your Journey

Building in Public: Taking Breaks

Reading Time: 3 minutes Let’s get one thing straight right away: building in public is a performative act. It’s not something that “just happens.” It might be something that you do gladly because you love building and chatting with your audience. But whenever you act in public, either by sharing, teaching, or engaging with someone else, you expend energy. … Continue reading Building in Public: Taking Breaks

Building in Public: Balancing Building and Sharing

Reading Time: 4 minutes One of the major problems that Build in Public novices face is how to split their attention between creating their product and talking about their journey. How much do you build before you tell your audience? How much should you talk the talk before you walk the walk? The first step to finding answers to … Continue reading Building in Public: Balancing Building and Sharing

Too Little, Too Much: Advice and How to Take It

Reading Time: 4 minutes For even the very wise cannot see all ends. “For even the very wise cannot see all ends.” ― Gandalf, J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring Whenever people talk about advice, they either lament that there is too much survivorship bias (as in “anecdotal evidence of what worked for them won’t help others”) or … Continue reading Too Little, Too Much: Advice and How to Take It

Burnout

Reading Time: 4 minutes Every week, I see more people talking about burning out. It seems to be hitting anyone: from seasoned entrepreneurs with glowing track records to people scrapping their side projects because they can’t even handle their day job anymore: people are struggling. I feel it too. Being cooped up for years isn’t cool, not even for … Continue reading Burnout

What Founders Can Learn From the Facebook Outage

Reading Time: 4 minutes If Facebook can survive a 6-hour outage, so can you. Let’s talk about unexpected downtime, which is often a direct consequence of dependency risk. Even Facebook experiences platform dependency risk. In fact, their attempt to avoid platform dependency risk introduced a new dependency, which caused this fail cascade to happen. Because Facebook truly wants to … Continue reading What Founders Can Learn From the Facebook Outage

Copycats and Endurance

Reading Time: 3 minutes Almost every product that ranks #1 on ProductHunt eventually gets copied. Someone sees an interesting product getting traction and decides to build the same thing. They check out the product’s landing page, copy that verbatim, and sign up for a free account. If it’s a SaaS, they go through every product interface, take a screenshot, … Continue reading Copycats and Endurance

Audience-building is not Community-Building

Reading Time: 5 minutes I’ve seen people make the following observation more and more: “you shouldn’t build an audience; you should build a community!” Now, there is a lot of truth to that statement. It appears, on the surface, to redirect self-interest towards something more collaborative. It’s not about having an audience to sell to, but creating a thriving … Continue reading Audience-building is not Community-Building

Pivoting in Public: Risks and Opportunities

Reading Time: 5 minutes Pivoting a business is scary. Changing what you offer is like switching lanes on a busy motorway: there are many things to consider, and steering anywhere too quickly can create accidents. You need to understand where you come from and where you are going with your business when you pivot to something else. Pivoting in … Continue reading Pivoting in Public: Risks and Opportunities

Why Reading Fiction Is Important for Entrepreneurs

Reading Time: 4 minutes I recently heard a saying: “leaders read, and readers lead.” It made me reflect on my reading choices over the last few years and what I have discovered from switching things up a little. A few years ago, you would have been unable to find any fiction in my library. All I consumed were non-fiction … Continue reading Why Reading Fiction Is Important for Entrepreneurs

The Creeping Nature of Stress for a SaaS Founder

Reading Time: 5 minutes I did an Ask-me-Anything on ProductHunt this week, and one question stood out to me. Jon Jackson asked me about the kind of life I led while running the business, how stressful it was, and what that looked like. Doing AmAs gives me a lot of opportunities to reflect on those things. Now that there … Continue reading The Creeping Nature of Stress for a SaaS Founder

Hyrum’s Law

Reading Time: 4 minutes Removing features is surprisingly effective for a SaaS founder. But the surprise of how much less maintenance there is for the founder is only the first one of many — and maybe the only one you can anticipate. At FeedbackPanda, we tried to quietly remove a feature that we had implemented to make transitioning into … Continue reading Hyrum’s Law

What Watching Gamers Fail for Days Can Teach You About Entrepreneurship

Reading Time: 6 minutes I’ve spent most of the last two weeks watching a group of professional gamers lose. For days straight. During those many hours observing them play, I found lessons that every entrepreneur should take to heart. I’ll share them with you today. I’m a big fan of the online game World of Warcraft. I’ve played very … Continue reading What Watching Gamers Fail for Days Can Teach You About Entrepreneurship

Conversations are at the Core of Engagement

Reading Time: 4 minutes Yelling into the void won’t get you anywhere. This is particularly clear while you have zero followers, but it remains true even when you have an audience. Talking about something that people don’t expect or want to talk about is just like speaking to them in a language they don’t understand: it’s a waste of … Continue reading Conversations are at the Core of Engagement

Say Thank You

Reading Time: 4 minutes I’ve had an amazing year so far. I launched Zero to Sold a year go to great success, and in May, I launched The Embedded Entrepreneur to even greater success. I can’t adequately express how incredibly grateful I am for the support and encouragement I have received. Whenever I see someone talking about my work, … Continue reading Say Thank You

Competition Isn’t Always a Business

Reading Time: 5 minutes When founders do market research, they are well-advised to look for competition. But many entrepreneurs have a very limited understanding of what “competition” means and therefore overlook many interesting — and often critical — competitors in their chosen markets. It usually goes like this: a founder spots a niche in the market they’re interested in. … Continue reading Competition Isn’t Always a Business

Selfish vs. Selfless: Self-Promotion in Communities

Reading Time: 4 minutes I used to think all self-promotion was wrong — at all times. Being raised in Germany, I developed a severe case of tall poppy syndrome — the phenomenon of people holding back so they wouldn’t stand out from the rest. It’s an eclectic mix of jealousy and self-limitation, and I have realized just how destructive … Continue reading Selfish vs. Selfless: Self-Promotion in Communities

Properties of an Interesting Problem

Reading Time: 5 minutes Let’s look at what makes a problem interesting enough to note it down in our search for the perfect business opportunity. Different people will define the word “problem” differently. I think that a “problem” is anything that stands in the way of people accomplishing their goals. If they feel some sort of pain you can … Continue reading Properties of an Interesting Problem

The Line Between Stealing and Being Inspired

Reading Time: 5 minutes This week, a Twitter friend reached out to me and asked this question: “where’s the line between being inspired by the competition and stealing?” That got me thinking. We don’t have a clear code of conduct for this in our community. You often hear phrases like “ideas are worth nothing, execution is everything,” suggesting that … Continue reading The Line Between Stealing and Being Inspired

Audience-Building and Relatable Content

Reading Time: 5 minutes When you’re building an audience, people will resonate with your content differently over time. In the beginning, when you don’t have too many followers, your reputation within the community may not yet be established enough to get away with controversial manifests and content that claims to be the end-all of knowledge on any particular topic. … Continue reading Audience-Building and Relatable Content

Platform Risk and the Three Kinds of Audiences

Reading Time: 3 minutes Imagine waking up one morning only to find your Twitter account suspended. If you’re trying to build an audience on Twitter, this is your worst nightmare. And it’s an entirely possible scenario. It happened to Jack Butcher just a few weeks ago: Twitter suspended all of his brand accounts, including @visualizevalue and @value, the visual … Continue reading Platform Risk and the Three Kinds of Audiences

Entrepreneurship, Job Security, and Wealth Creation

Reading Time: 6 minutes Being a founder is hard. It’s a well-known trope in the business world that giving up a comfortable job with a reliable salary is a risky move. Whenever I talk about how entrepreneurship is a desirable way of creating wealth, I find someone responding that “some people just prefer security over risk.” It’s all about … Continue reading Entrepreneurship, Job Security, and Wealth Creation

All That Glitters Is Not Gold: Navigating Bootstrapping Advice

Reading Time: 6 minutes A few years ago, I was spending three hours a day sitting on a train, zooming through Germany, commuting from my home to work and back. During those days, I would consume a lot of podcasts, books, and blog posts. I was looking for advice. I wanted to learn everything there was about starting and … Continue reading All That Glitters Is Not Gold: Navigating Bootstrapping Advice

Audience Graduation

Reading Time: 4 minutes A third-grade math teacher is particularly good at teaching one specific audience: third-grade math students. Every year, a new group of students appears, and they receive a top-notch math education. Private math tutors, however, have to teach students of all ages. They have to educate a very diverse group of people, using many different educational … Continue reading Audience Graduation

Lifetime Deals and SaaS Businesses

Reading Time: 8 minutes If there is one polarizing topic in the bootstrapped SaaS space, it’s running lifetime deals for a subscription business. Founders either love the idea of offering a one-time-payment for “forever access,” or they hate it. It’s right up there with the question, “should you take venture capital funding?” — an equally divisive topic. Michael Aubry … Continue reading Lifetime Deals and SaaS Businesses

The Shape of a Problem in the Wild

Reading Time: 6 minutes The wonderful thing about humans is that they have a hundred different ways to talk about their dreams, desires, needs, and challenges. No two people will talk about their experiences the same way. Thankfully, we can group these messages into several easy-to-recognize categories while we observe our potential customers in their communities. Here’s an important … Continue reading The Shape of a Problem in the Wild

On Re-Using Content

Reading Time: 5 minutes Creating valuable content is hard. Producing it reliably is even more challenging. Many creators are holding themselves back by believing that they need to create original work at all times. They think that re-using content is a cardinal sin. I believe differently. There is incredible value in re-using your content. There is a misunderstanding of … Continue reading On Re-Using Content

Audience Discovery: The Importance of Budget

Reading Time: 5 minutes When founders are looking for that perfect target audience for their business, they often get many things right. They pick audiences that they know intimately, that have interesting problems to solve, and that they really care about helping. However, I see too many founders struggle with a vital part of the Audience Discovery process: making … Continue reading Audience Discovery: The Importance of Budget

What founders can learn from Twitch streamers about building in public

Reading Time: 7 minutes I’m an avid Twitch viewer. While writing, coding, or just researching, I quite often watch someone playing video games. I could play those games myself, but I wanted to spend time on my projects without dedicating my full attention to a game. Twitch allows me to participate in the gaming experience without losing my focus. … Continue reading What founders can learn from Twitch streamers about building in public

The Emotional Journey of a Bootstrapped Founder: Fear of Disappointing Your Customers

Reading Time: 7 minutes Over the last few weeks, you will have noticed that I have started talking more about the emotional impact of entrepreneurship. I talked about impostor syndrome, people cloning businesses, the loss and grief of selling a business, all topics that most people keep quiet about. I remember keeping quiet about this myself a few years … Continue reading The Emotional Journey of a Bootstrapped Founder: Fear of Disappointing Your Customers

Jargon and Community

Reading Time: 4 minutes I’ve been thinking a lot about the understood meaning of terms in quickly evolving industries this week. I even chose to make a major pivot because of this in renaming the book I am currently writing. I’ll get to this in a minute. But first, let’s take a little detour into the world of… Opera. … Continue reading Jargon and Community

The Grief and Loss of Selling a Business

Reading Time: 5 minutes This week, my partner, co-founder, and love-of-my-life Danielle Simpson appeared on the Software Social Podcast hosted by Michele Hansen and Colleen Schnettler. In a remarkably open and honest conversation, Danielle touched upon many different topics regarding our journey with FeedbackPanda, but one thing stood out to me: her story of how she dealt with the … Continue reading The Grief and Loss of Selling a Business

How I Use Twitter

Reading Time: 7 minutes Today, I want to talk about how I leverage Twitter to build an audience, build relationships, and find opportunities. I’ll talk about my overall strategy and the little day-to-day things I do, and which tools I use. I started using Twitter regularly to engage with other founders and talk about my work in October 2019, … Continue reading How I Use Twitter

On Offering Public APIs for Your SaaS

Reading Time: 4 minutes Many bootstrapped SaaS founders see other successful SaaS businesses and think, “Hey, they offer an API, I should do the same” — But should they really? I believe that there are two answers to this question, and they’re determined by which phase of your business you’re in. For companies in the Survival Stage, adding public … Continue reading On Offering Public APIs for Your SaaS

Motivation Will Eventually Go Away: Build Accountability Systems Instead

Reading Time: 3 minutes Motivation is a powerful initial force. It provides momentum. When we start projects, we need that momentum to push us through the initial collision with reality when we learn of all the complex choices we have to make to get things off the ground. It’s the motivation to learn, to discover, and to create that … Continue reading Motivation Will Eventually Go Away: Build Accountability Systems Instead

Open-Source and Bootstrapping

Reading Time: 4 minutes This week, a few remarkable things happened in the open-source scene. First, Mapbox decided to change the license on their popular Mapbox-gl-js library, used by many to power their fancy in-app maps. They went from the very permissive BSD license to one that contains these fragments: “This license allows developers with a current active Mapbox … Continue reading Open-Source and Bootstrapping

The Rewards and Perils of Being Your Own Customer

Reading Time: 6 minutes There are many risks and advantages to being your own customer. Today, I want to talk about how I am doing this with my current business, PermanentLink, and how Danielle and I did this with our previous company FeedbackPanda. So, what do I mean by being customer #1? I’m talking about using your own product … Continue reading The Rewards and Perils of Being Your Own Customer

When Privacy and Customer Value Clash

Reading Time: 5 minutes This week, I want to talk about a critical decision in the life of my new SaaS project PermanentLink. I’ve been doing some research on competitors and competitive alternatives. I looked into link forwarders, link shorteners, link branding services, pretty much anything that could technically compete with my core product, which boils down to branded … Continue reading When Privacy and Customer Value Clash

Sunk Cost Fallacy Engineering

Reading Time: 4 minutes While working on permanent.link this week, I ran into the same issue twice. I had built something that was working great, only to scrap it for another solution a few days after. The first time this occurred, I had just finished my infrastructure for allowing custom domains to be used for permanent links. The other … Continue reading Sunk Cost Fallacy Engineering

Customer Lock-In and “Insurance Features”

Reading Time: 4 minutes Over the last week, I have metaphorically left the building and had several conversations with the audience for my most recent project permanent.link. Since this is a product aimed at authors, I’ve been chatting with writers about their experiences with links in their work. My service can theoretically solve any number of problems, but I … Continue reading Customer Lock-In and “Insurance Features”

Limiting Beliefs

Reading Time: 4 minutes Throughout most of the last two weeks, I have been working on a new software project. It’s called permanentlink, and it’s a SaaS tool for authors. When I published my book Zero to Sold, I ran into one particularly annoying issue: after the book was out, many links that I had put into the book started … Continue reading Limiting Beliefs

“Audience-First” Is Not Just “Building an Audience”

Reading Time: 4 minutes We live in overly practical times. More and more entrepreneurs have been conditioned to look for the quick fix, the growth hack that will get them months’ worth of success within a single day. Many founders are looking for immediately actionable tactics, ignoring the long-term strategies in which those should be embedded. That approach has … Continue reading “Audience-First” Is Not Just “Building an Audience”

Finding an Audience for Your Side Business

Reading Time: 16 minutes A step-by-step guide to building your first product, audience-first You can listen to this article as a podcast episode here: In this article, you will learn how to use a data-driven method to find an audience for your side business. I’ve seen this approach work for several founders, allowing them to discover an audience that … Continue reading Finding an Audience for Your Side Business

Preparing for the Sale From Day One: Getting the Documentation Right

Reading Time: 4 minutes Before any acquisition can happen, many prerequisites need to be in place. There will be an extensive due diligence process. Commonly, “buyer-side due diligence” is the procedure of an acquirer making sure that everything is in order with the business they are about to acquire. It’s a detailed investigation, making sure that everything you claimed … Continue reading Preparing for the Sale From Day One: Getting the Documentation Right

At a Crossroads: The Different Kinds of Exits

Reading Time: 5 minutes Companies get acquired for a few reasons: they’re interesting economically, they’re interesting strategically, their employees are attractive, or they are a thorn in the eye of the acquirer, a foe to be vanquished. Depending on why someone wants to buy your company, the deal and the whole process of selling the company may be radically … Continue reading At a Crossroads: The Different Kinds of Exits

A Unified Voice: Staying Consistent When You Grow

Reading Time: 3 minutes At a certain point, it won’t be just you talking to your customers anymore. Your employees will be the first touch-points for customer interactions, co-founders and directors, and partners and other businesses. What once was a unified voice—your voice—is now a chorus. If you want to have a company that is consistent and aligned, you’ll … Continue reading A Unified Voice: Staying Consistent When You Grow

How I Self-Published Zero to Sold, a Bestselling Book on Bootstrapping

Reading Time: 21 minutes On June 29th, 2020, I self-published a book called Zero to Sold: How to Start, Run, and Sell a Bootstrapped Business and released it on Twitter. Within twenty-four hours, I sold 350 copies. Within another twenty-four hours, the book was #1 on Product Hunt and already a category bestseller on Amazon. After a week, 1000 … Continue reading How I Self-Published Zero to Sold, a Bestselling Book on Bootstrapping

Positioning Is Where It’s At

Reading Time: 5 minutes You can position your product in different ways in many different markets. You may have started describing your product in a certain way, only to find that your customers understand it very differently. Many first-time founders make the mistake of iterating on their product but keeping their positioning the same. Even if they’re capable enough … Continue reading Positioning Is Where It’s At

You Want a Tribe

Reading Time: 4 minutes According to Seth Godin, a tribe is a group of people that are connected to each other, an idea, and a leader. Tribes are supercharged communities. They are dense networks of people who bond over specific interests or goals. These interests range from the mundane to the most personal and exciting topics. No matter if … Continue reading You Want a Tribe

When You Reach Your Limits: Growing a Company Beyond the Founder(s)

Reading Time: 4 minutes If you’re coming from a professional background in salaried positions, the chances are that you’ve never hired anyone before. And even if you have, hiring someone for your own business will be a daunting task. It certainly was for me. I thought that I could manage all that work by myself just fine, so why … Continue reading When You Reach Your Limits: Growing a Company Beyond the Founder(s)

The Power of Omission: Killing Features for Fun and Profit

Reading Time: 7 minutes If you add features to your product indiscriminately, you will end up with a gigantic bloated mess of software. One way to deal with this is to be very careful when deciding if new features should be added. Another rarely used approach is to remove unused and outdated features. Removing the cruft from your SaaS … Continue reading The Power of Omission: Killing Features for Fun and Profit

Made to Stick: Shaping an Extensible Product

Reading Time: 8 minutes It won’t take long before customers start asking for one particular kind of feature: integrating into other tools that they use all the time. They have adopted your product into their routine and their workflow, only to notice that something is missing. Some steps need to be taken to get your product to seamlessly join … Continue reading Made to Stick: Shaping an Extensible Product

Standard Operating Procedures: Managing Your Future Self

Reading Time: 5 minutes Delegation is most effective if there is an Operations Manual for the company. Michael E. Gerber calls this the “Turnkey Revolution” in his book The E-Myth Revisited: the idea of documenting your business like a franchise. Build your business in a way that you could hand it over to someone else, and it would still … Continue reading Standard Operating Procedures: Managing Your Future Self

Customer Exploration: Seeing Through Your Customer’s Eyes

Reading Time: 4 minutes At this stage of your business, you have a mostly mature product that is used by many customers. You can expect that for most of their use cases, it is good enough. But instead of guessing, I recommend setting aside some time every few months to do some customer exploration.  Consider it to be continuous … Continue reading Customer Exploration: Seeing Through Your Customer’s Eyes

Being Small Is a Benefit: How to Leverage Being a Bootstrapper

Reading Time: 6 minutes Many founders feel they need to act bigger than they are. They expect only to be taken seriously when they appear to be a mature company. It turns out that this is no longer the case in many industries. Depending on the size of your customers, the fact that you are a small business with … Continue reading Being Small Is a Benefit: How to Leverage Being a Bootstrapper

Spreading the Word: How to Do Marketing on a Shoestring Budget

Reading Time: 5 minutes One beautiful thing about a niche is that there is a certain similarity between the people in it. They are likely to frequent the same social media, read the same blogs, visit the same websites. They often are organized in communities where word of mouth spreads quickly. You can leverage the density of these networks … Continue reading Spreading the Word: How to Do Marketing on a Shoestring Budget

Seller Beware: Pricing Models That Can Break Your Business

Reading Time: 5 minutes There are a lot of great ideas when it comes to optimizing your pricing to attract more customers or keep them retained. Two pricing models can be hazardous if not implemented carefully: freemium accounts and lifetime accounts. The Risks of Freemium Accounts A freemium pricing model can be great to get people to use your product, integrating … Continue reading Seller Beware: Pricing Models That Can Break Your Business

Not All Subscriptions Are Equal: Offer Yearly Plans from the Start

Reading Time: 3 minutes Most bootstrapped businesses offer monthly subscription plans. The revenue that is generated from your customers that way is incredibly reliable. If you know how many customers you have, you know exactly how much money will come in this month, next month, and the future, provided you keep your customers or replace the ones that quit … Continue reading Not All Subscriptions Are Equal: Offer Yearly Plans from the Start

Not All Subscribers Are Equal: How to Deal with Plans That No Longer Work

Reading Time: 3 minutes You may have started with subscription plans that turn out to be problematic. At FeedbackPanda, we had started with a $5/month plan. After a few months of offering that, we sunset that plan because we noticed that it attracted a kind of customer we did not want to serve: bargain shoppers. The customers on that … Continue reading Not All Subscribers Are Equal: How to Deal with Plans That No Longer Work

Profit-Sharing as Employee Compensation for Bootstrappers

Reading Time: 5 minutes We don’t often talk about employee compensation in the bootstrapped space, as many businesses have few employees, and only start hiring when it’s absolutely necessary. So making sure our employees are properly compensated for their work beyond their regular salary isn’t one of the most prominent themes we have to think about. In a recent … Continue reading Profit-Sharing as Employee Compensation for Bootstrappers

Price Is Not Set In Stone: Strategies For Increasing Your Revenue

Reading Time: 7 minutes It’s important to understand that you can always change your prices.  You own your business, and you can change everything about it. Most payment providers allow you to have an infinite number of plans, and you can add (and remove) as many as you like at any given time.  There is no reason to stick … Continue reading Price Is Not Set In Stone: Strategies For Increasing Your Revenue

You May Be Barking Up the Wrong Tree: Re-Evaluating Your Audience

Reading Time: 6 minutes While most of your customers will likely enjoy your product, some won’t. Some customers will be complaining a lot, asking for features that you don’t intend to ever build, or are generally very hard to please. When you notice that something is wrong, you can usually trace it back to one or more of your … Continue reading You May Be Barking Up the Wrong Tree: Re-Evaluating Your Audience

Build for Value, Not for Applause: Product Management Under Heavy Constraints

Reading Time: 5 minutes A bootstrapped founder will have very little time to devote to building things that don’t matter. Everything you do in your bootstrapped business should have a meaningful impact on moving your company towards a state of stability and growth. Bells and whistles are the least of your concerns when you’re trying to get to profitability. … Continue reading Build for Value, Not for Applause: Product Management Under Heavy Constraints

First Things First: Feature Prioritization Frameworks

Reading Time: 6 minutes A business is an ever-evolving thing. Luckily, you will be at the steering wheel as the founder of your business. You will adjust your processes as needed along the way, and you improve your product over time. Often, inspiration strikes at the most random times. You read an article on an industry blog, or you … Continue reading First Things First: Feature Prioritization Frameworks

Our MicroConf Europe 2019 Talk “Optimizing Your Way to a Dream Exit”

Reading Time: < 1 minute Danielle and I had the wonderful opportunity to give a Attendee Talk at MicroConf Europe 2019 in Dubrovnik. We spoke about the many optimizations and processes that we implemented during our time growing FeedbackPanda to $55.000 MRR, and how those affected the sale of the business. A recording of this talk is now available in … Continue reading Our MicroConf Europe 2019 Talk “Optimizing Your Way to a Dream Exit”

Forget Goals, Create Systems: Foundations of a Sustainable Bootstrapped Business

Reading Time: 7 minutes When you’re starting with your business idea, you will be looking at how successful businesses have accomplished their success. You will see a lot of different sizes, markets, and business models. But they all have one thing in common: they’ve built a system that works. Their long-term and short-term goals may have changed through the … Continue reading Forget Goals, Create Systems: Foundations of a Sustainable Bootstrapped Business

The Boring Truth of Successful Products That Survive

Reading Time: 6 minutes Most products that you will see staying on the market have something in common: they do one thing very well. And not much else. Weber sells grills that are fantastic at grilling. The furthest they strayed into new territory so far has been by adding an app-readable thermometer. Still, that gimmick and anything else about … Continue reading The Boring Truth of Successful Products That Survive

Making Tech Choices: Don’t Add Risk to an Already Risky Business

Reading Time: 7 minutes As technical founders, we’re supposed to choose the technology that works best for us and our business. But we often let the cargo-culting around the newest, hottest tech stack get to us. Many technical founders see a new startup as an opportunity to figure out a modern tech stack. That is a dangerous move. Not … Continue reading Making Tech Choices: Don’t Add Risk to an Already Risky Business

Surviving a Recession as a Bootstrapped Business

Reading Time: 13 minutes Just a few weeks after the beginning of the Coronavirus outbreak, the first SaaS businesses are reporting cancellations. The bootstrapped SaaS world may not be affected by the pandemic as much as other industries, but we are already seeing second-order effects appearing. For example, you may not be affected by the temporary closure of bars … Continue reading Surviving a Recession as a Bootstrapped Business

How to Release as a Bootstrapper: Often, Early, and Safely

Reading Time: 11 minutes We had “Software is never finished, only abandoned.” While this is true, it doesn’t tell us anything helpful. So let’s rephrase this into something we can act on: “Software is never finished, only released.“ Let’s talk about releasing your product, and what makes this process special for bootstrapped founders. In most cases, technical founders will be … Continue reading How to Release as a Bootstrapper: Often, Early, and Safely

The Do’s and Don’ts of the Minimum Viable Product

Reading Time: 9 minutes Leonardo da Vinci supposedly said, “Art is never finished, only abandoned.” This is definitely true for software as well. The only antidote to abandonment is to put your work in front of other people, even when it’s not perfect yet.  The startup industry has coined the term of the MVP, the Minimum Viable Product, to … Continue reading The Do’s and Don’ts of the Minimum Viable Product

The Myth of The Finished Product

Reading Time: 11 minutes Before the internet made transferring large amounts of data cheap and easy, software used to be distributed on CDs or DVDs. For any given application, there was the “Golden Master,” a final version of the software, ready to be copied millions of times. These days are over. Every day, millions of software updates get dispatched. … Continue reading The Myth of The Finished Product

Solution Validation Doesn’t Happen In a Vacuum: How to Talk To Your Future Customers

Reading Time: 7 minutes As entrepreneurs, we are good at coming up with ideas. We envision solutions to the problems that trouble the audience we have chosen to help. We think deeply about a problem, mentally shape a product, and see how much it would benefit the quality of life. Then we get to work and build the prototype, … Continue reading Solution Validation Doesn’t Happen In a Vacuum: How to Talk To Your Future Customers

Make It Sell Itself: On Referral Systems

Reading Time: 12 minutes One year into running FeedbackPanda, we released a referral system. It was an immediate success, and it stayed that way ever since. When we sold the business, around 40% of new signups came through our referral system. Immediately after turning on the user-facing parts of the referral system, we started seeing results. Our social media … Continue reading Make It Sell Itself: On Referral Systems

Problem Validation: Making Sure You’re Talking To The Right People

Reading Time: 8 minutes “Talk to your customers,” they say, “because that’s the only way to build something people want.”  The collective wisdom of the bootstrapper scene is not wrong. But talking to your customers is only half the truth. It’s just as important to speak to the right kinds of customers as it is to ignore the rest. … Continue reading Problem Validation: Making Sure You’re Talking To The Right People

Finding the Most Painful Problem in a Market

Reading Time: 10 minutes When you’re looking at a niche market, you will find many people having a large number of problems. However, people will only pay money for a tiny subset of those: the excruciating problems. You can solve many problems but still fail to build a business if you’re solving the wrong ones. Your chances of success … Continue reading Finding the Most Painful Problem in a Market

The Power of the Niche

Reading Time: 9 minutes If you were to found a company that makes and sells beer today, you would probably start a craft brewery. You’d start a small operation, find the people who enjoy your product and slowly expand your business. You would not try to compete with Bud Light and Heinecken for shelf space. You would prefer to … Continue reading The Power of the Niche

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