Starting a business without much capital can be challenging but equally, managing to grow a revenue-generating startup before any funding rounds can be a powerful thing. Nowadays, many don't even consider building a business without investment.
We got a bit spoiled by venture capital firms and Silicon Valley stories. Getting investment too early when your company is not worth much means you'll have to give up a lot more equity. But suppose you manage to have your product generate enough interest and even revenue before funding. In that case, your valuation will spike, and you'll be able to bargain better terms for investment.
So whether you want to boost your valuation, don't have the means for funding, or simply don't want someone's money. Here is my part two on how to go about bootstrapping startup with tips to get you as lean and efficient as possible. In case you missed it here is a part one where I talk about free tools you can use to keep your expenses low 👉 Bootstraping startups - part 1.
Let's first look at options for hiring talent on a budget and how to balance building your startup while working full-time in parallel.
How to hire on a budget - go remote!
It's no secret that Jexo is a remote company, and apart from my co-founder Nikki and me, no one else is working with us from the UK. And there are several good reasons for that. First, to build a SaaS product in 2021, we don't really need to be in the same room with our team to create a great culture and do fantastic things.
But most importantly, we are a startup on a tight budget, and when it comes to great talent, it doesn't only exist in the UK. So we choose to invest in people from areas where our salary offering makes a difference. You see, paying someone over here a salary of £25k a year for a job in tech is considered an extremely low, entry-level job. Not many would be happy with that kind of salary in the UK. While paying the same in, say, Mexico would be considered an above-average wage. And with the cost of living being lower in countries like Mexico, Ukraine, Brazil, and India, our team has no financial stress. While from our bootstrapping perspective, it means we can fund 10 brilliant remote team members instead of 5 entry-level people.
And as a startup that needs to move fast, the extra load of hand-holding that needs to happen with interns and super junior folk can be crippling to your growth. From my perspective, these entries roles should come in at a later stage of your business. In the early days, you need entrepreneurial people that can help you accelerate your growth.
Many founders still have this vision that they need a core team in the same office once established or funded. And if you live in a city like London, that means meaty salaries and huge office expenses just so that you're in the same room. That is one high price to pay when a good chunk of that expenditure could be put to good work in other places. And at the risk of sounding like a broken record: if you're a digital product startup, you don't need a large office and your team to be always there. Hire fully remote!
But suppose for any reason you can't do that. In that case, you can work with people part-time to start with or agree on complementing their salaries with shares in the company.
How to build a business while employed - discipline is a key!
So all of this talks about saving money while making money with your business. But you're on a 9 to 5 grind, and you might be sat thinking it is hard enough to launch your business while employed. But darn impossible to take it to revenue. And you're right. It is hard, but there are ways to make your journey bearable so let's look at it.
Probably the first piece of advice is to share the load and avoid walking the path alone. Having co-founders is not for everyone, but having a partner means distributing the workload so that the goals seem less overwhelming. In the early days, my cofounder Nikki was researching features, designing and testing the product while I was coding and dealing with business logistics. Even today, to stay as effective as we can, our responsibilities are different.
It took us 8 months to launch our first product on the Atlassian Marketplace. Our portfolio-level release roadmap tool Swanly was an MVP meant to simplify how you track releases in Jira. And 8 months to market while full-time employees was an achievement for sure. And the way we did it was by having a set routine and a lot of discipline!
This is the differentiator; many people don't have the discipline or the means to invest their free time into their business. I know you've heard this one before, but you have more time in your day than the 8 hours you work and the other 8 you sleep. And you might be coming home from work tired and not in a place to work some more or simply overwhelmed by temptations, friends calling to go out, watch a movie. But the truth is all of it can be solved.
For example, I knew that my brain is best switched for coding in the evening, while the only time I could do research or any business ops was fresh in the mornings. So I set a routine to wake up every day 2 hours earlier to give me plenty of time for my startup admin work before heading to work at 9. Then in the evenings, right after dinner, I'd play a podcast about building SaaS products in the background while coding until bedtime.
Now, this is harder when you have responsibilities like kids and family. However, I know entrepreneurs who practice a tight schedule, and, with discipline, they still made it happen.
Being bootstrapped is definitely not a walk in the park, but as you can see, there are ways to help make your journey smoother by lowering costs and effort to keep you on track. And it is probably apparent, by how much I talk about it, that this is a topic I'm fond of.
I really enjoy hearing how startups make it happen without funding and, in a gesture of support for your grind, here is a request form that will get you one full year of my work management apps completely free. Using the Jexo apps, you can plan, structure, prioritize and track the work that needs to be done to launch your product. So hopefully, through our tools, we can also help you accelerate your growth.