Here are my notes on Liz Fraley’s briefing on “Bootstrapping an expertise-enabled startup” at the Tue-Feb-21 Bootstrapper Breakfast in Sunnyvale.
Elizabeth Fraley, CEO of Single-Sourcing Solutions & TC Camp offered her perspective on bootstrapping her business. Liz Fraley founded Single Sourcing Solutions in 2005 with a team of experts who understood “single-sourcing” or the creation of multiple versions of complex technical content from a master document. In 2007 they formally aligned with Arbortext to deliver dynamic information product delivery systems.
Liz shared her experiences managing a team of experts offering complex solutions in a demanding and dynamic environment.
Some Key Observations on Her Entrepreneurial Journey
- Life as value added reseller is like watching professional hockey: every year there is a new team that suits up to support you. The jerseys are the same but it’s different people.
- Be prepared to explain how you add value to your partners and prepare for turnover in their field and partner personnel.
- As engineer and technical professional she had to learn how to hire and manage sales professionals.
- She learned that sales is hard in different ways from solving technical problems but it’s a profession in it’s own right.
- You have to learn how to translate between business concerns and technical issues.
Bootstrapping An Expertise-Enabled Startup
- Identify and align: it’s easy as a small firm to get blown in different directions by opportunities so it’s important to know yourself–your team’s strengths and weaknesses–and to know your customer.
- Who do you want to serve? How do you translate their needs and constraints into products and services that you offer?
- You need to match your strengths with customer needs by starting with the customer’s situation.
- You need to recognize when you need to develop new capabilities or new offerings to provide a better match with customer requirements.
- Nothing stands still: you have to evolve as your environment evolves. This means experimenting and learning from failures and successes: however unexpected either were. Always have a plan so that you can exploit your successes but be prepared to adapt it to what you learn as you go.
- Getting smarter is optional, but then so is survival.
Some Background on Liz Fraley
- BS Computer Science, BA and MA English
- Founded two companies, one a non-profit
- Board member for 3 non-profits
- Products: TC Camp (unconference), TC Dojo (user-driven webinar series), Arbortext Monster Garage (advanced techniques community webinar series), and an Arbortext On-Demand video series, TC Dojo Conclave
- Provides active support for the Arbortext user groups (Meetup, Facebook, LinkedIn)
- Publications: paper, two books, 1 ebook
- LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/elizabethfraley
- Twitter: @SingleSourcing and @lizfraley
- Website: single-sourcing.com
Links for activities and initiatives
- Monster Garage: http://amg.single-sourcing.com
- TC Dojo: http://www.tcdojo.org
- TC Dojo Conclave: http://conclave.tcdojo.org
- TC Camp: http://www.tccamp.org
- Arbortext On-Demand video series: http://arbortext.online
- User group “Community Projects”: http://social.single-sourcing.com
- Complete list of presentations and publications: http://pubs.single-sourcing.com
- Official published books site: http://arbortext.training