Startup Founders Guide

04 June 2022 ยท 6062 views ยท Updated 30 July 2023

In a world where everything is behind paywalls and subscriptions, we should have helpful and freely available resources. This guide is one of those resources that should give you the tools and skills needed to start your new software venture.

The media is often guilty of presenting startups in a way that makes them seem like a sure bet for success. They make it look like all you need to do is raise a ton of money, hire some top notch developers, and work around the clock and you’re guaranteed to become the next big thing. But the truth is, the odds are stacked against you from the start.

Bless the friends that support you no matter what.

Most VC funded startups don’t make it, and even for those that do, the founders often don’t see much financial success. In their hyper-growth phase and run for the money founders get watered down from 50% to 30% to 10% to 1%.

You don’t have to play the VC game to be successful. You can build a great company without all the bells and whistles – the bootstrapped indie way.

Why did I write this guide?

I wrote this guide for a few reasons. First, I think it takes a lot of effort to write a book, and even more effort to think you know something well enough to share it with others. But I got amazing feedback on my first article, so I thought, why not write a full guide?

Most successful people I know learned everything they needed to know through practice. So even though this guide might be useful, you’ll still need to apply the knowledge. There’s also the assumption that what worked for me will work for you. Probably not. Time changes, so it’s impossible to put all the factors that contributed to my success onto paper. I don’t want to give you false hope.

In short, this guide won’t be a cure-all silver bullet solution, but it might provide some helpful information for you as an indie founder.

All of the sections combined are about 30’000 words. Hope you enjoy it.

๐Ÿ“™ Table of Contents

Some of the topics that are yet to be added are:

  1. Market Validation 101 – how to validate your idea
  2. Building Product 101 – how to build a small SaaS in a weekend.
  3. Monetization 101 – How to monetize your SaaS
  4. Tools to run your SaaS – a small guide on what tools can automate your business.

Also, once you’re done with the main content, look at the Q&A section โ€” quite a few questions related to the startup life were answered.

Going Indie & Bootstrapped

A different approach to VC games โ€” is to “bootstrap” it. This means that you’re self-funded, self-everything and you use the resources you have at hand to grow your company. While this approach is longer, it can be very rewarding. Not only will you have complete control over your company, but you’ll also have the satisfaction of knowing that you built it from the ground up.

Making SOME revenue is more important than making MILLIONS of revenue.

The goal of bootstrapped indie startup is not to “win it big” it’s to develop a sustainable business that allows you to be financially independent. You’re not chasing the hockey-stick growth, but building sustainably over time.

Building everything yourself does not exclude hitting it big and selling your startup for $$$. You can grow it to $50’000 MRR and sell it on MicroAcquire and make enough money to live off happily for the rest of your life.

And yet, for some reason, it’s not the cool way to do startup. The cool kids are still chasing investment dollars and talking about “disruption.” But that’s starting to change. Slowly but surely, bootstrapping is becoming more mainstream. And I realllyyyy hope that this will eventually become “the way” to build a startup โ€” a sustainable business that brings happiness to everyone involved.

Tenacity and Unfair Advantages

Building a startup is hard work. There’s no way around it. And even if you have an unfair advantage, it’s still going to take a lot of time and effort to make it successful.

It’s important to be realistic about the process. You may need ship 2 to 5 products every year, before you release something truly awesome. It’s a numbers game where the odds are stacked against you.

As I don’t want to overpromise anything:

  1. There’s a high chance you will not make it and won’t be successful.
  2. By failing, you might “get” what works and what doesn’t, so your next venture might be more successful, but again see 1.
  3. It’s not about the end result, it’s about the process. If you see something is not working โ€” pivot.
  4. Life is not fair. There are people with more unfair advantages than you.

As Pieter Levels, one of the successful bootstrapped founders, said: ๐Ÿšข Always keep shipping

Be prepared for ups and downs.

Startup, web/mobile app, product

As you read the guide, you’ll notice that these terms are used somewhat interchangeably. And that’s because, for the most part, the theory applies to all of them. They all mean “mostly” the same thing โ€” a startup, which is simply a business that is in its early stages of development.