I started and bootstrapped my second tech startup 8 years ago. We saw constant growth and reached just under 2M in sales until 2012 when we were hit by some challenges out of our control, including a bogus patent troll suit (which was eventually dismissed). Being bootstrapped, we just didn't have too much of a safety net in place to deal with these issues. While I have been able to hold things together from then to now, it has been more 'survival mode' than anything else. I have tried a LOT of things, but it's all been on the cheap. Advisors have told me to cut back which I have. Since then it has been a constant struggle and sales have been heading downward. I am pretty much alone as I have no investors. While I still think our company has a lot of potential, I have not yet been able to make a rebound happen. Our direct competitors are funded companies, and it's tough to go up against them without any funding and in a defensive position. The investor types I talk to have always communicated that we make too much for an angel and not enough for a VC. I have cut back pretty much all I can (we have always been pretty lean anyway). I have what I think are some great and innovative ideas, but I don't feel I have the time and funding to make them happen. On my own, I am feeling less and less we will be able to bounce back. I have no idea what I will do if I have to shut things down. I have literally poured my life into my business to keep it going, so stakes are incredibly high for me and my family. I want to be pro-active and make sure I have things in order so that if it gets to the point where it needs to be shut down, I am not scrambling to find a plan B. Additionally, I am not even sure how to shut down a business of this magnitude with many nuts and bolts. Does it have to go bankrupt? Do you just shut down the website? Has anyone else gone through something similar?
Your company has reached Aha moment, and there is no turning back now. You must fight it out and fight hard. There are so many companies that undergo this moment and only a few among hundreds and thousand get over it. So here are certain tips that would help you bring your company back from the edge.
1. Start with your vision: Your vision sets the direction for where your business is headed. It also determines whether your business will thrive or fail. Take time early on to polish your vision, analyse your strengths and weaknesses, define the marketplace. These key pieces of your vision will provide a true north for the rest of your strategy.
2. Go goal-first: If you are not a natural goal-setter, you can become one. Define a few short-term goals that align with your strategy, and then create the steps needed to achieve them. Goals give your daily work purpose. There is so much to get done in start-ups that you will forget why you are working on specific tasks. Having a goal-first approach helps align your small, daily actions with the reason why you built your start-up in the first place.
3. Solve one problem: Start-ups often feel like they are flying blind; there is much to get done in extraordinarily little time. But trying to multi-task by solving all problems at once is guaranteed to lead you off course. Instead, identify the one problem you want to solve for customers and align all of your actions towards achieving that goal. You will quickly find that when you focus all your efforts on solving one problem, additional problems will present themselves.
4. Be responsive: At Aha! we are interruption-driven and respond to requests with urgency. We do this because answering people while requests are still fresh aligns with our most deeply held values. Our customers know they can count on us to offer crucial guidance.
5. Spend wisely: Many start-ups waste too much money on the wrong things. If you are running out of cash — or have yet to receive any — you must make some tough decisions. These choices might be painful now but will likely be best in the long run. Be stingy with your budget early on. Spend money only when you absolutely must, and prioritize what will create the most value for the business.
6. Treasure your time: Time is your most precious resource. And there are many ways you can spend your time as a founder. By far the best way you can spend it when your business is in trouble is refining your strategy and goals. Time and experience have taught that this approach wins in the long run. Clear your schedule so you can focus your time, attention, and energy on what matters most. Once you develop a clear vision for your business, you will see the opportunities and challenges ahead. This will help you breathe easier. You might even beat those stiff odds and become a start-up success story.
Besides if you do have any questions give me a call: https://clarity.fm/joy-brotonath