#2: Bootstrappers shouldn't neglect their connections

#2: Bootstrappers shouldn't neglect their connections
Photo by No Revisions / Unsplash
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Product update: 2 new engine customers this week 🚀😄! yay! 

I'm fiercely independent. And I'd argue that if you're building a bootstrapped software business you probably are as-well.  

How do I know that?

Well, think about it! You have no funding, no team, and (likely) no co-founder either. If you need a logo designed, you design it. If you need a landing page built, you build it. And If you need a blog post written, you write it. And, compared to our funded counterparts, money can't do the work for you.

Despite this, our independence is our superpower. The ability to rely on nobody is essentially recession proof. It can't walk out the door someday. It can't run out of budget. And it's not going to cost more with inflation. But, left unchecked, this can become one of your greatest weaknesses.

You see, independence is empowering on the way up, but it's lonely on the way down. And in entrepreneurship it's equally as important to survive the crashes as it is to ride the growth.

This week, I had three important moments teach me this lesson.


Friday

Last Friday, I went to a cabin with some friends. We get there and start working on our respective jobs. I took the day to work on Engine. At one point, I read aloud a draft of my blog post. After hearing it, one friend said, "Wow, that's really good you should post that to LinkedIn".

And so I did.

This is something I wanted to do, but I was too afraid to. It's scary putting yourself out there. And even more scary doing it in-front of people you know. However, it doesn't take much to overcome fear. And in this case, all it took was one sentence from one friend.

Find that friend. And, maybe more importantly, be that friend for the people around you.

Monday

On Monday, I got coffee with a friend of mine who's also bootstrapping an app. He's been working full-time on his app for many months and we had some really good deep chats about that experience.

What's it like working on things all day? How do you pay the bills? What stresses you out?

And through this conversation I learned a lot. Not just the A,B,C,D bullet-list takeaways. But, the undercurrent of the conversation as-well. There was moments where he'd sigh and I could tell a certain topic was stressful. Or he'd give a look of curiosity when something struck his interest.

This undercurrent is almost non-exists during online interactions. This brings me to my second takeaway this week:

Meet people in the real world that are traveling on the same mission you are.

Tuesday

On Tuesday, I met up with two established founders in the bootstrapping scene, @robwalling and @ColinHirdman.

We talked about all-things bootstrapping and life. From ways to perform idea validation, to the interesting properties of clear ice-cubes (which being a zoomer I have never heard of before). Now, both these folks were infinitely more successful than myself, but that's a good thing!

It was an opportunity to listen more than I talked.

To pick someone's brain and not only get suggestions, but get validated suggestions in return. If I think of the advice I'd give myself two years ago, I could've been infinitely helpful to myself. There's a value to experience.

And that was my takeaway. Imagine we're all on the same line going towards a similar goal. There's others on the same journey. It can be easy to feel competitive. But, those people aren't better or worse versions of you. They aren't smarter or dumber versions. They're past and future versions.

So learn from the future versions of yourself, and teach to the past versions.

In the end, I learned that, as a solopreneur, it's exponentially more important to foster connections than you might think. It might be even more important to do this as a bootstrapper. Not just for motivation or learning, but for support.

Good friends will push you to do the things you don't naturally want to do. They'll tell you that you're awesome and motive you to go further. And great friends will even tell you when you're doing something wrong.

So, I like to finish these blog posts with actionable take-aways for other makers. On the topic of community, I want to give some recommendations.

  1. Join every online community for your niche – DynamiteCircle, MicroConf Connect, IndieHackers
  2. Connect in-person with other makers - Find people in the above groups, twitter, or local meetup groups.
  3. Feeling down on your business? You might just not have enough support around you. Solve that first.