Here are some notes shared at the Tue-Jan-17-2023 Bootstrapper Breakfast Online. This is not meant to be a detailed recap of the meeting, just high points, resources, and tips you may find helpful.
Notes from Tue-Jan-17-2023 Bootstrappers Breakfast Online
You cannot sell ideas that you have not reduced to practice. It needs to address a clear business need and have demonstrated utility. Alberto Savoia refers to this as “thoughtland” where everything works “in your mind.” See his XYZ model at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4sZMHAMN0DQ for a good approach for bootstrappers. I blogged about a different aspect of “Thoughtland” in “Don’t Explore Thoughtland in Customer Interviews.”
Niche Market: one rule of thumb for niche markets comes from Bill Davidow’s “Marketing High Technology”
- Market Share Funds The Whole Product: by picking a niche with barriers to entry formed by specialized expertise you make it more difficult for well funded competitors to chase you–at least initially.
- Just message to the market on the benefits you offer using domain language. This makes it harder for non-experts to detect and tells your prospects you understand their business.
- Don’t brag to the press or investors about how lucrative the market will be or how much money you will make. This just invites competition.
- Need At Least 1/6 Of A Niche To Survive: Critical Mass If You Are First
- 1/3 Share Normally Very Hard To Dislodge
“Innovation is the First Reduction to Practice of an Idea in a Culture.”
James Brian Quinn
- Stop Working From Idea To Culture
- Start With Culture (Niche)
- Analyze Needs (Pain)
- Determine What Constitutes Proof
- Find an “In Culture” Partner Willing To Help Jointly Reduce To Practice
It never gets easier
The first trap is feeling that now you can relax. You told yourself that all you needed to do was get x–get that funding round, get that big deal, or whatever. Then everything would fall into place and you could relax a bit. So when the startup finally gets x, founders think they can relax. But they shouldn’t. If you find yourself feeling you can relax, that means you’re overlooking something, because the one thing all the most successful founders we’ve funded agree on is that it never gets any easier.
It doesn’t get any easier. It gets different. As your company grows, things stay as hard but the nature of problems change. Startups are a long haul. Pace yourself. Because you can’t keep burning the candle at both ends forever
Jessica Livingston in “Subtle Mid-Stage Startup Pitfalls“
Livingston identifies three key traits of successful entrepreneurs:
- Committed to making a difference, which she terms perseverance
- Comfortable with rejection and “being wrong” for an extended period of time
- Adaptability and improvisation
This matches with my experience. I think many successful entrepreneurs see a problem they would like to solve or a customer they would like to serve and they manage the uncertainties of the “how” for an extended period of time as they explore for people who can use what they have as they tinker with improving it.
Related Blog Posts
- Don’t Explore Thoughtland in Customer Interviews
- Mark Williamson, CTO of Hanzo Archives, on Validating Startup Ideas
- Lighting The Way For Your Competitors Just as a self-check, the next time you tell yourself “no one else can do what we’ve done” realize that the fact that you have solved the problem will change a potential competitor’s perception of what’s possible. The bigger risk is in not having a plan for exploiting your breakthrough and building rapidly on your initial successes. The more that you can be seen to be continually raising the bar, the more uncertainty you introduce into potential competitors’ plans as to what the target is that they have to meet or exceed.
- Serge Toarca Offers Three Reasons To Bootstrap In a Small Market