Bootstrapping an Online Startup

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Cory Miller, founder of iThemes.com and StartupSofa.com, shares lessons he's learned starting an online, digital product company.

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Bootstrapping an Online Startup

  1. 1. How to Bootstrapan Online Startup
  2. 2. What kind of startupam I talking about?#startupsofa @corymiller303
  3. 3. The Bootstrapped Startup Online only No physical location or goods Digital Product Software File (i.e. Templates)#startupsofa @corymiller303
  4. 4. Our Startup Formula#startupsofa @corymiller303
  5. 5. The product#startupsofa @corymiller303
  6. 6. What the product really does ... Products must be solutions to people’s problems Find the pain points and common problems Real pain = real need Champion a cause and compelling vision The cause and vision is a ‘better way’#startupsofa @corymiller303
  7. 7. It’s all about the solution ... What do you possess that people would willingly pay you for? (Skills, knowledge, etc.) What is the core irritation? The deep pain? What could be substantially improved? What is the “secret sauce” that would be remarkable, maybe even life changing? What offers freedom, saves times, makes someone more money, look better or do more?#startupsofa @corymiller303
  8. 8. Narrowing in on THE solution ... Build a laser beam Aim it at a narrowly defined problem within a niche Pick a ripe existing market w/ easily reachable customers Find an easy win FIRST to prove the concept Don’t eat an elephant - Try a monkey instead#startupsofa @corymiller303
  9. 9. Everything will change.#startupsofa @corymiller303
  10. 10. Ultimately, go with your gut.#startupsofa @corymiller303
  11. 11. Launch and improve#startupsofa @corymiller303
  12. 12. Launch and improve Dusty products are failures and suck Shelved products are fancy narcissistic art sculputures Perfectionism is evil poison to startups Get something ‘good’ out to let customers Give them the opportunity to react and respond Let them mold it for you - they ultimately pay the bills#startupsofa @corymiller303
  13. 13. The champion, you#startupsofa @corymiller303
  14. 14. Champion the cause You are champion of the cause Products champion the cause too - they are the CURE Champions are storytellers Need to be crystal clear and be able to communicate Champions know the story, the characters, plot Champions bleed the brand#startupsofa @corymiller303
  15. 15. Marketing it#startupsofa @corymiller303
  16. 16. Guerrilla marketing No money, no worries Use your time, energy, skills and knowledge aggressively Start where you are .... start now Build an email list for launch YESTERDAY Blogging, Videos, Webinars, Social Media Buy Content Rules book today - soak up & do it#startupsofa @corymiller303
  17. 17. Email marketing Don’t underestimate the value of email marketing Email is still king Email is not dead; we launch with 400 people or less Write emails like you write personal replies Think of a person; Build a relationship (ref. the cause) Email news features, new launches, new tips#startupsofa @corymiller303
  18. 18. Service is marketing Customer service and support IS marketing Your first customers become your raving fans Ravings fans are the best marketing (word-of-mouth) Underpromise and overdeliver Be personal and human Build and foster community#startupsofa @corymiller303
  19. 19. Selling it#startupsofa @corymiller303
  20. 20. On sales emails Contact form is THE primary sales tool Reply fast Use questions to improve sales pages Create a cheatsheet to copy and paste Start a FAQ page and build it over time#startupsofa @corymiller303
  21. 21. On sales pages Sales pages help people make informed decisions Give the right information most buyers would need Better sales pages cut down on emails Use good product images, videos, demos SHOW them the product they are buying Instill confidence#startupsofa @corymiller303
  22. 22. On sales pages Focus on benefits over features What does the product do for them? Use FAQs and list product specs somewhere Test and refine - see what works Go to your sales pages once a week (I don’t do this enough)#startupsofa @corymiller303
  23. 23. On pricing#startupsofa @corymiller303
  24. 24. How do you price it? More art than science Review and compare what others are charging & how Ponder what your ideal client would pay for it What time do you have in development & supporting it? Don’t underprice yourself! Unless you’re iTunes, you’re not making money on $1 Build biz on higher priced items & those custmoers#startupsofa @corymiller303
  25. 25. Supporting it#startupsofa @corymiller303
  26. 26. Taking care of customers There is ALWAYS support - no matter how good your widget is People have questions - sometimes obvious ones Passive income biz don’t exist - SORRY! Being responsive & helpful builds fans#startupsofa @corymiller303
  27. 27. Supporting your community Forums are most efficient way to support Not always liked but realistic in digital products Answering questions for everybody’s benefit Leveraging community - find ambassadors Our best moderators can as customers Repost common questions as blog posts & documentation#startupsofa @corymiller303
  28. 28. One last thought ...Always be improvingand innovating#startupsofa @corymiller303
  29. 29. @corymiller303

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