The first steps require a lot of manual energy, there is no possible shortcut. The right methodology is to be on the market on day 1: find a cheap, unscalable solution, fake it if needed, but go to market. Use your network to prove satisfaction Do not try to convince strangers before you convince your friends. So before buying Facebook ads, convince each and every friend that you have.
This is true as well with B2B and old colleagues. Be aggressive The only way to bootstrap a company is the collision methodology: do not wait for people to come to you, force them. Focus on people you know to get your early traction. Plus that way the service provider is aligned with your interests. And never pay people with equity because equity is forever. Pay late, collect early, sell high, buy low Startups are afraid to pay late - they always pay their bills first because they are nice and inexperienced people.
Be shameless. By the way, be hardcore with your bank. The only limit is to never put yourself at personal risk and to never accept any personal loan. Hire only who you can trust. Hire to do something you understand You must know every function before thinking about delegating it; then when you are comfortable with the work, you can hire someone who is better than you.
Delegate what you know best This way you know exactly whether or not your employee is any good. Focus your attention on what you are not good at, find a solution, then delegate it. Your ultimate goal is to delegate everything: do not keep the most important things for yourself just because you are good at it, or you will become the bottleneck of your company.
Remember: if you bootstrap, you cannot make any management mistakes, they cost too much. Do not do stupid things - outsource Outsource repetitive tasks, optimize every process. How to end the bootstrap? You have to understand that you do not decide when to fundraise. No one is waiting for you. The good moment to end bootstrapping is the moment the bootstrap ends : Just put yourself in a position where fundraising becomes obvious, where you are getting chased by investors.
The real problem comes in when you have to scale that care. You respond to problems personally, you communicate directly with them, and you build a strong relationship. Think of a multinational corporation, a telephone company for example. You know exactly how hard it is to find and keep those individuals who support you at the beginning. Heetch was a great example of this. So their founders, for years, were going out to party with people and then, at the end of the night, they made sure to get them a Heetch ride home. They were literally out there creating their community of users, demonstrating value and care for their customers.
As a startup, that level of extreme care can make you into something truly special. Making those connections can change the minds of even the most skeptical people. People remember it when the CEO reaches out to them to fix a problem. That type of care can absolutely save a startup in its early days. Why is nothing perfect in this world?
Because all the perfect products are trapped on the hard drives of entrepreneurs who never launched. So everything out there has its problems. But caring is outside of your product: you can be as perfect as possible in your caring. You can hit the magical trio of being a caring entrepreneur: be personal, be sincere, be authentic. Not by being perfect, but by being the ideal entrepreneur for a small and intense community of users. Of course, that takes time. Exceptional care means an entrepreneur has to be available: ready to respond, fast to respond, and responding at any time.
It means adapting your tone to the individual customer. If someone writes to you in a formal tone, reply to them in a formal tone. If someone writes to you in an informal tone, or in a funny tone, respond in the way that you find natural. See every customer as a potential friend. Until it becomes literally impossible to handle, an entrepreneur needs to be dealing directly with every client who contacts the company.
That hour will never be a waste of time.
We at The Family sometimes come upon a problem, where people mishear what we say. Because we are the first ones to tell you that you have to go out and be violent to have success as an entrepreneur.
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But being violent is a state of mind and ambition. If when you do something wrong, you better be ready to apologize. And to apologize sincerely. If you take on that role, where fixing problems is personal, it filters down into the rest of your company.
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Everyone in your company will see exactly how important it is to fix problems without hesitation. You should incorporate them into your processes as soon as possible, as it will make that scaling process much easier. Crisp, Slack, Front, they can all give you not only vital information about your users, but also allow you to maximize the personal interactions that you have with clients. Captain Train is one of the best examples in the last few years of this level of personal care and scaling.
They wanted to make sure that whoever they spoke to went away absolutely amazed at how much they cared. That filtered throughout the company as they scaled. Go to their Facebook page and watch what happens. Captain Train is involved in that page.
M&A in Disruption: in Review - M&A report - Bain & Company
They are responding to everything. People respond to that authenticity in a way that is incredible, to the point where Captain Train now has millions of users across Europe. And their customer support is still the absolute best that you can find. But people will come back to the next event because they found a connection there that spoke to them.
Those are users that you can recruit and use, while having a great time.
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Events also let you really learn about your users. People in a crowd will always give you more useful feedback than they will one-on-one. Basic human psychology, really. But an event can give you a space where people feel comfortable with you and they see that you are listening to their concerns.
Plan them out, know what is going to happen when. Be there yourself, get up on stage and give an introduction, meet the people who came out to see you. The only thing that matters in a startup is the result. Care at the beginning of a startup is what gives way to a caring culture as you grow. You can make different strategic decisions in order to get there, in order to push it into your team, in order to scale up. Additionally, there is no customer service culture in Europe, as care is considered a luxury feature.
At the beginning, your luck as a startup is that you have few clients and so you can do things for them that no one else can. Caring makes you special. Extreme care can be the reason why people talk about your startup and even a way to transform haters or disappointed people into fans. People always remember care. Be authentic The winning trio for successful entrepreneurs: personal, sincere, honest. Be committed Never delegate customer support and customer relationships. Everyone in the team, all departments, should receive every customer support email and read it, so that no one forgets along the way that the company exists only because real people on the outside are using your solution.
Be generous Make gifts a habit: gifts are the best marketing expenses you can have. Make your clients happy, whatever it takes. Scale the acquisition along with the care You have to be aggressive, violent in your sales campaigns, but never mean or disrespectful. Treat people with respect Ask for forgiveness rather than permission. Spam, but with fine-tuned emails and apologize sincerely if needed. Reply to everyone Emails should be sent by a real person.
Always use the tone your customer used to write to you. Consider every customer writing to you as a potential friend. Just ignore them: the upsides of a close dialogue with users are more important than the downsides. Care is not about being nice with everyone. Unsubscribe people yourself Never ask a user to do something you can do yourself. Care is not just to enroll new users You also need to care to keep them: retention is as crucial as acquisition. Email is your friend Email is a very simple way to keep in touch with everyone.
Keep replying and make it quick.
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