November 18, 2022

What Makes A Startup Grow? Lessons Learned From 120+ Companies

Times like these demand war-time CEOs. Even if you're running a 1-person business, now is the time to prioritize serious growth over 'winging it' and throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks.

Who better to learn from what works than the collective knowledge of 120+ startups?

No matter if you consider yourself a startup or not, you're not alone in your need for marketing, growth, and generating stable revenue.

Daniel Pirciu from The Bootstrapped Way has collected insights from 120+ founders and summarized over 40h of growth stories into actionable strategies.

You're about to read an interview we did for The Uncommon Solopreneur. At this point, I'd like to thank Daniel for taking the time to do this and recommend that you follow him on Twitter and check out his database.

You’ve built The Bootstrapped Way and analyzed 120+ startups, gathering a serious amount of data. What common patterns do you see in startups that succeed?

Most startups balance a short-term growth strategy, like launching a Lifetime Deal on marketplaces like AppSumo, with a long-term strategy, like content marketing and building a community.

Regardless of their early-growth strategy, sooner or later, most of them start creating content, written or video.

Recommended reading: What Content Creation Tools Do You Need To Succeed?

And another thing most successful founders do is consistently share their journey with their clients and on social media. This is what we call “build in public”.

How did the economic crisis impact business growth from your perspective?

Even though the economic crisis hasn’t actually started, it’s clear that businesses without a clear growth strategy are the most affected. 

On a positive note, I believe the products with built-in growth loops will still manage to grow.

You’re a big proponent of no-code tools, is your entire business built on those?

Yes, I absolutely love no-code tools. For this project, I’m using Airtable as a database to store all the insights and Systeme.io for everything else - website builder, email marketing, affiliate, blog, etc.

Other tools that I’m using: Hotjar (for heatmaps and recordings), ParityBar (for discount codes based on location), Plausible Analytics (alternative to Google Analytics).

What advice do you have for solopreneurs for choosing the right no-code tools in their stack and not wasting any money?

In the beginning, go for all-in-one solutions, like Systeme.io. Even if it’s not the best in every aspect, in the end, it provides the best value for the money. 

You don’t need a robust website builder like Webflow, a CMS like WordPress, or a CRM like Hubspot. Until you reach at least $2-3K in MRR you need to keep your data in one place and your tech stack should have a flat learning curve and cost less than $50/month.

What lessons did you learn yourself in launching TheBootstrappedWay.com?

I started this project to scratch my own itch, actually. Working with startups, I didn’t have enough references to back-up bolder, newer growth strategies and tactics I wanted to test. Like launching a Lifetime deal, which is a big thing, or going product-led growth.

TheBootstrappedWay.com is helping me way more than I thought to generate leads and position myself as a growth consultant, it gives me credibility and expertise, and it showcases in-depth knowledge.

The most important lesson or experience is going through this early-stage hustle to get your very first sales.

Aside from this, it also kick-started other side projects, like The AppSumo Breakdown where I’ve gathered revenue numbers from 50+ Lifetime deals launched on AppSumo (and forecasted the revenue for 900+ other startups).

If you were to start a business from scratch, how would you do that?

I would definitely try to build an audience or expertise in that area first by writing content ahead of time, being active in a couple of important communities, and engaging with top influencers in that niche. Also, I would work more with VAs (Virtual Assistants) or just project-based freelancers on Fiverr to build some info products faster and test the demand for my solution.

I’m a big believer in sales first and then analysis. After doing soo many user interviews, I’ve noticed that analyzing the market pre-launch too much doesn’t make sense all the time, people need to see your product, to reach that AHA moment to decide if they are willing to pay or not.

Recommended reading: Why Your Subscribers Don't Buy And What To Do About It

So, the short answer is to build credibility with info products and content marketing, be active in relevant communities, engage with top influencers, and launch as fast as possible to test the willingness to buy.

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