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We're Not Doing a Startup

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My talk for Shropgeek Revolution on creating profitable, bootstrapped side projects.

Resources can be found here: http://rachelandrew.co.uk/presentations/not-doing-a-startup

Published in: Business

We're Not Doing a Startup

  1. 1. We’re not “doing a startup” How to cut through the hype and build your side project into a profitable business. Rachel Andrew, #revolutionconf 2014 Friday, 26 September 14
  2. 2. grabaperch.com Friday, 26 September 14
  3. 3. “I owe my success to having listened respectfully to the very best advice, and then going away and doing the exact opposite.” G.K. Chesterton Friday, 26 September 14
  4. 4. This is a marathon, not a 5K. Friday, 26 September 14
  5. 5. Friday, 26 September 14
  6. 6. It’s not about the money (until it is) Friday, 26 September 14
  7. 7. Getting started Choosing the perfect product to bootstrap as a side-project. https://www.flickr.com/photos/joeshlabotnik/7276841268 Friday, 26 September 14
  8. 8. “The way to get started is to quit talking and start doing.” Walt Disney Friday, 26 September 14
  9. 9. A product ... • 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 Friday, 26 September 14
  10. 10. A product for an audience you are already part of. Friday, 26 September 14
  11. 11. Solve problems for your own community. Friday, 26 September 14
  12. 12. “Are you a Ruby developer? Then serve Ruby developers. Are you a UX designer? Serve UX designers.” Amy Hoy Friday, 26 September 14
  13. 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, 26 September 14
  14. 14. With a track record in a community you will already have trust. Friday, 26 September 14
  15. 15. A product that can get to a shippable version 1 quickly. Friday, 26 September 14
  16. 16. “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.” John Radoff Friday, 26 September 14
  17. 17. To launch with a small product, you need to find a problem that can be solved with a small product. Friday, 26 September 14
  18. 18. Perch v.1 • A simple content editor • No way to add new pages • No API • Images could be uploaded - but not resized Friday, 26 September 14
  19. 19. The Problem Client requests that an already developed static site be made editable via a CMS. Friday, 26 September 14
  20. 20. The Solution A simple CMS that turned static pages into editable pages by way of dropping in a couple of PHP tags. Friday, 26 September 14
  21. 21. A product that solves a problem that people are happy to pay to have solved. Friday, 26 September 14
  22. 22. Money is the only validation Friday, 26 September 14
  23. 23. A product that does not need a lot of traction to be useful. Friday, 26 September 14
  24. 24. “Social” or “community” products need a large user base to succeed. Friday, 26 September 14
  25. 25. Choose a product that is as useful to customer #1 as customer #1000 Friday, 26 September 14
  26. 26. A product that has existing competition. Friday, 26 September 14
  27. 27. Perch competitors at launch • WordPress • ExpressionEngine • CushyCMS • PageLime • Joomla • Drupal Friday, 26 September 14
  28. 28. What problem is your competition NOT solving? Build it. Friday, 26 September 14
  29. 29. New concepts will require you to educate potential customers as to why they even need your product. Friday, 26 September 14
  30. 30. Finding the time How to make time for side-projects. https://www.flickr.com/photos/mybigtrip/6111406 Friday, 26 September 14
  31. 31. “One worthwhile task carried to a successful conclusion is worth half-a-hundred half-finished tasks.” Malcolm S. Forbes Friday, 26 September 14
  32. 32. “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.” Sir John Lubbock Friday, 26 September 14
  33. 33. Get set up to be able to pick up and work on your side-project quickly - whenever the time is available. Friday, 26 September 14
  34. 34. Your product must be a first-class citizen alongside your other work. Friday, 26 September 14
  35. 35. Set aside time and plan in advance what you will do with it Friday, 26 September 14
  36. 36. “Goals are dreams with deadlines” Diana Scharf Hunt Friday, 26 September 14
  37. 37. There is power in setting a goal, writing it down, putting a date on it Friday, 26 September 14
  38. 38. How to get started • Choose your goal • Define what it is you are going to create • Put a date on it. Friday, 26 September 14
  39. 39. “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.” Brian Casel http://casjam.com/the-cascading-to-do-list-or-how-to-get-big-things-done/ Friday, 26 September 14
  40. 40. Be realistic about how much you can achieve. Feeling as if you are falling behind can demotivate you. Friday, 26 September 14
  41. 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, 26 September 14
  42. 42. Be ruthless in cutting features that can be added post-launch Friday, 26 September 14
  43. 43. The “missing” features at launch will seem far more important to you than to your customers. Friday, 26 September 14
  44. 44. Describe the product as it is now. Sell the solution. Friday, 26 September 14
  45. 45. • Start Small • Get feedback from paying customers • Improve and add to your product based on their needs balanced by your vision. Friday, 26 September 14
  46. 46. Minimum Viable Infrastructures Friday, 26 September 14
  47. 47. Own Your Own Data Friday, 26 September 14
  48. 48. Launch and beyond Managing a growing side-project alongside an existing job or business. https://www.flickr.com/photos/nasamarshall Friday, 26 September 14
  49. 49. “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” Winston Churchill Friday, 26 September 14
  50. 50. Our timeline • 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 Friday, 26 September 14
  51. 51. A successful side-project should be given more time as it represents a higher % of your income. Friday, 26 September 14
  52. 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, 26 September 14
  53. 53. The slower growth curve of bootstrapped products gives you time to fix problems before they become BIG problems. Friday, 26 September 14
  54. 54. Never promise a specific timeframe to customers Friday, 26 September 14
  55. 55. When your product is a side-project you have even more things that could cause you to push back a feature. Friday, 26 September 14
  56. 56. 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, 26 September 14
  57. 57. Use Cases not Feature Requests Friday, 26 September 14
  58. 58. Find general solutions that will benefit many customers rather than adding very specific features Friday, 26 September 14
  59. 59. Understanding the problem means we can help the customer now and optimize the solution later. Friday, 26 September 14
  60. 60. Delight customers by solving their problems and letting them know when you have done so Friday, 26 September 14
  61. 61. Protect the Core Use Case Friday, 26 September 14
  62. 62. Your product will benefit by being owned by someone who will say no. Friday, 26 September 14
  63. 63. Make Frequent Small Releases Friday, 26 September 14
  64. 64. 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, 26 September 14
  65. 65. Don’t be led by a noisy minority Friday, 26 September 14
  66. 66. Seek out the opinion of those customers you never hear from. The happy majority are often silent. Friday, 26 September 14
  67. 67. Marketing How to tell people about your product, when you have no money to burn. https://www.flickr.com/photos/brent_nashville/5284764031/ Friday, 26 September 14
  68. 68. “Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell.” Seth Godin Friday, 26 September 14
  69. 69. You have made something that genuinely solves a problem. Go tell people about it! Friday, 26 September 14
  70. 70. 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, 26 September 14
  71. 71. Your reach will give you your initial customers. Then what? Friday, 26 September 14
  72. 72. Content Marketing Friday, 26 September 14
  73. 73. Write blog posts and articles on the things your potential customer is interested in, not about your product. Friday, 26 September 14
  74. 74. Sponsorship Friday, 26 September 14
  75. 75. Perch sponsoring the Unfinished Business podcast Friday, 26 September 14
  76. 76. Paid Advertising Friday, 26 September 14
  77. 77. If you cannot track it do not pay for it Friday, 26 September 14
  78. 78. Target the “long tail” keywords Friday, 26 September 14
  79. 79. Research smaller sites visited by your ideal customer, advertise on those less expensive sites. Friday, 26 September 14
  80. 80. People love Perch - http://grabaperch.com/people-love-perch Friday, 26 September 14
  81. 81. http://tractionbook.com Friday, 26 September 14
  82. 82. Create your own definition of success Friday, 26 September 14
  83. 83. Revenue that is not worth chasing for a 60 person business can be life-changing for the solo founder. Friday, 26 September 14
  84. 84. Is the grass greener on the product side? Friday, 26 September 14
  85. 85. The work is always worth it. Friday, 26 September 14
  86. 86. Thank you Rachel Andrew @rachelandrew http://rachelandrew.co.uk/presentations/not-doing-a-startup Friday, 26 September 14

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