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We're not "doing a startup"

We're not "doing a startup"

My talk from re:build 2014 about building profitable bootstrapped business and side projects.

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Rachel Andrew

April 18, 2014
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Transcript

  1. We’re not “doing a startup” How to cut through the

    hype and build your side project into a profitable business. Rachel Andrew, re:build 2014 Friday, 18 April 14
  2. grabaperch.com Friday, 18 April 14

  3. G.K. Chesterton “I owe my success to having listened respectfully

    to the very best advice, and then going away and doing the exact opposite.” Friday, 18 April 14
  4. This is a marathon, not a 5K. Friday, 18 April

    14
  5. Friday, 18 April 14

  6. It’s not about the money (until it is) Friday, 18

    April 14
  7. Getting started Choosing the perfect product to bootstrap as a

    side-project. https://www.flickr.com/photos/joeshlabotnik/7276841268 Friday, 18 April 14
  8. Walt Disney “The way to get started is to quit

    talking and start doing.” Friday, 18 April 14
  9. • for an audience you are already part of •

    that can get to a shippable version 1 quickly • that solves a problem people will pay to have solved • that does not need a lot of traction to be useful • that has existing competition A product ... Friday, 18 April 14
  10. A product for an audience you are already part of.

    Friday, 18 April 14
  11. Solve problems for your own community. Friday, 18 April 14

  12. Look for problems close to home Friday, 18 April 14

  13. The worst that could have happened with Perch? No-one would

    want it but we’d have a useful tool for our business. Friday, 18 April 14
  14. With a track record in a community you will already

    have trust. Friday, 18 April 14
  15. A product that can get to a shippable version 1

    quickly. Friday, 18 April 14
  16. John Radoff “The goal of a startup is to find

    the sweet-spot where minimum product and viable product meet – get people to fall in love with you.” Friday, 18 April 14
  17. To launch with a small product, you need to find

    a problem that can be solved with a small product. Friday, 18 April 14
  18. Perch v.1 • A simple content editor • No way

    to add new pages • No API • Images could be uploaded - but not resized Friday, 18 April 14
  19. The Problem Client requests that an already developed static site

    be made editable via a CMS. Friday, 18 April 14
  20. The Solution A simple CMS that turned static pages into

    editable pages by way of dropping in a couple of PHP tags. Friday, 18 April 14
  21. A product that solves a problem that people are happy

    to pay to have solved. Friday, 18 April 14
  22. Money is the only validation Friday, 18 April 14

  23. A product that does not need a lot of traction

    to be useful. Friday, 18 April 14
  24. “Social” or “community” products need a large user base to

    succeed. Friday, 18 April 14
  25. Where do your initial users come from? What will they

    cost? Friday, 18 April 14
  26. A product that has existing competition. Friday, 18 April 14

  27. Perch competitors at launch • WordPress • ExpressionEngine • CushyCMS

    • PageLime • Joomla • Drupal Friday, 18 April 14
  28. What problem is your competition NOT solving? Build it. Friday,

    18 April 14
  29. New concepts will require you to educate potential customers as

    to why they even need your product. Friday, 18 April 14
  30. Finding the time How to make time for side-projects. https://www.flickr.com/photos/mybigtrip/6111406

    Friday, 18 April 14
  31. Malcolm S. Forbes “One worthwhile task carried to a successful

    conclusion is worth half-a- hundred half-finished tasks.” Friday, 18 April 14
  32. Sir John Lubbock “In truth, people can generally make time

    for what they choose to do; it is not really the time but the will that is lacking.” Friday, 18 April 14
  33. Get set up to be able to pick up and

    work on your side-project quickly - whenever the time is available. Friday, 18 April 14
  34. Your product must be a first-class citizen alongside your other

    work. Friday, 18 April 14
  35. Set aside time and plan in advance what you will

    do with it Friday, 18 April 14
  36. Diana Scharf Hunt “Goals are dreams with deadlines” Friday, 18

    April 14
  37. There is power in setting a goal, writing it down,

    putting a date on it Friday, 18 April 14
  38. How to get started • Choose your goal • Define

    what it is you are going to create • Put a date on it. Friday, 18 April 14
  39. Brian Casel http://casjam.com/the-cascading-to-do-list-or-how-to-get-big-things-done/ “In a nutshell, the idea is to

    start with the end-goal in mind, then divide it into smaller and smaller increments. Plan all of the actions in detail beforehand, then get to work.” Friday, 18 April 14
  40. Be realistic about how much you can achieve. Feeling as

    if you are falling behind can demotivate you. Friday, 18 April 14
  41. If there is not enough time ... • Either revise

    your end date • Or, remove elements of the project - pushing them into a post-launch phase. Friday, 18 April 14
  42. Be ruthless in cutting features that can be added post-launch

    Friday, 18 April 14
  43. The “missing” features at launch will seem far more important

    to you than to your customers. Friday, 18 April 14
  44. Describe the product as it is now. Sell the solution.

    Friday, 18 April 14
  45. • Start Small • Get feedback from paying customers •

    Improve and add to your product based on their needs balanced by your vision. Friday, 18 April 14
  46. Minimum Viable Infrastructures Friday, 18 April 14

  47. Own Your Own Data Friday, 18 April 14

  48. Launch and beyond Managing a growing side- project alongside an

    existing job or business. https://www.flickr.com/photos/nasamarshall Friday, 18 April 14
  49. Winston Churchill “Now this is not the end. It is

    not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” Friday, 18 April 14
  50. • We launched Perch at the end of May 2009

    • At launch we were still 100% booked out on client projects • Income from Perch was initially reinvested into Perch • January 2013 we made the decision to stop taking on new client work Our timeline Friday, 18 April 14
  51. A successful side-project should be given more time as it

    represents a higher % of your income. Friday, 18 April 14
  52. Not making a profit? • Are you pricing too cheaply?

    • Are you reliant on expensive services? • Are you attracting customers who need a lot of support? Friday, 18 April 14
  53. The slower growth curve of bootstrapped products gives you time

    to fix problems before they become BIG problems. Friday, 18 April 14
  54. Managing growth • Never promise a specific timeframe • Collect

    use cases not feature requests • Delight customers by solving problems • Protect the core use case • Make frequent, small releases • Don’t be led astray by a noisy minority Friday, 18 April 14
  55. Never promise a specific timeframe to customers Friday, 18 April

    14
  56. When your product is a side-project you have even more

    things that could cause you to push back a feature. Friday, 18 April 14
  57. We don’t publish a roadmap • It allows us to

    be flexible and react to customer needs and changing trends in web design. • It means that customers are not relying on the launch of feature X in order to complete a project. • It means that we can hold back a feature until we are absolutely sure it won’t cause anyone a problem. Friday, 18 April 14
  58. Use Cases not Feature Requests Friday, 18 April 14

  59. Find general solutions that will benefit many customers rather than

    adding very specific features Friday, 18 April 14
  60. Understanding the problem means we can help the customer now

    and optimize the solution later. Friday, 18 April 14
  61. Delight customers by solving their problems and letting them know

    when you have done so Friday, 18 April 14
  62. Protect the Core Use Case Friday, 18 April 14

  63. Your product will benefit by being owned by someone who

    will say no. Friday, 18 April 14
  64. Make Frequent Small Releases Friday, 18 April 14

  65. Small releases • Fewer changes = fewer things to go

    wrong • Easier to isolate the issue if a problem does occur • Get features to customers more quickly • For our customers, less of a dramatic change that they need to communicate to their clients Friday, 18 April 14
  66. Don’t be led by a noisy minority Friday, 18 April

    14
  67. Seek out the opinion of those customers you never hear

    from. The happy majority are often silent. Friday, 18 April 14
  68. Marketing How to tell people about your product, when you

    have no money to burn. https://www.flickr.com/photos/brent_nashville/5284764031/ Friday, 18 April 14
  69. Seth Godin “Marketing is no longer about the stuff that

    you make, but about the stories you tell.” Friday, 18 April 14
  70. You have made something that genuinely solves a problem. Go

    tell people about it! Friday, 18 April 14
  71. Pre-launch of Perch • A month before we put up

    a landing page and email signup form • About 500 people signed up • We emailed the list on launch and those people represented enough sales on launch day to pay back all pre-launch costs. Friday, 18 April 14
  72. Your reach will give you your initial customers. Then what?

    Friday, 18 April 14
  73. Content Marketing Friday, 18 April 14

  74. Write blog posts and articles on the things your potential

    customer is interested in, not about your product. Friday, 18 April 14
  75. Sponsorship Friday, 18 April 14

  76. Perch sponsoring the Unfinished Business podcast Friday, 18 April 14

  77. Paid Advertising Friday, 18 April 14

  78. If you cannot track it do not pay for it

    Friday, 18 April 14
  79. Target the “long tail” keywords Friday, 18 April 14

  80. Research smaller sites visited by your ideal customer, advertise on

    those less expensive sites. Friday, 18 April 14
  81. People love Perch - http://grabaperch.com/people-love-perch Friday, 18 April 14

  82. Create your own definition of success Friday, 18 April 14

  83. The work is always worth it. Friday, 18 April 14

  84. Thank you Rachel Andrew me@rachelandrew.co.uk @rachelandrew http://rachelandrew.co.uk Friday, 18 April

    14