Colin McAtee
Colin McAtee's Blog

Colin McAtee's Blog

What I've learned so far bootstrapping a SaaS business as a solo founder

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Colin McAtee
·Sep 7, 2021·

3 min read

As you already know, bootstrapping a SaaS company is both difficult and rewarding.

Since 2018 I have been trying to bootstrap a SaaS product to profitability. I finally achieved that last year after I launched ProductiveRecruit. Since then, I have grown to $1,200 MRR while working on ProductiveRecruit part-time — alongside my full-time dev job.

I am by no means an expert yet, but I have learned quite a lot on my journey so far. Below are four key learnings that are especially helpful to solo founders working on the side.

It's ok to go slow

If you scroll Twitter long enough, you will see success stories of founders hitting $10K MRR (or more) after a few months. It's so easy to get caught up in others' success and compare it to your own. As a competitive person, it's super easy for me to be hard on myself for not hitting certain goals more quickly. It is important to pace yourself (and maybe stay off of Twitter) to avoid burnout and fatigue.

Try to avoid vanity metrics

We all want more Twitter followers, but does that help us grow our business? For some, building in public for the tech community is super beneficial to the growth of their product ( Ex: Kenneth Cassel & Slip ). However, for others (myself included) posting more on Twitter does not add up to more revenue.

Focus on the customers you have

We all want to grow our business more. Sometimes this means focusing more on marketing. Other times, we need to focus more on products or sales. While marketing and growth are super important, it is even more important to keep your current customers happy.

I have learned so much from my early adopters and talk to them weekly. This leads to gaining valuable feedback, new feature ideas, and forming stronger relationships. The more you truly listen to your customers, the faster you get to product-market fit. The benefit of moving slow and talking to my customers has been very low (or even negative) churn. In fact, I have seen net negative churn since April due to expansion revenue from my current customers.

Learn to say no

I have already made the mistake of being a "yes man" too many times while working on ProductiveRecruit. If a customer request doesn't fit your vision for the product, it is ok to say no. Customers have their own perceptions of how your app should work. A lot of the time customers do lead you in the right direction, but they aren't always right. You need to think of your entire customer base when making any product decision and it's ok to communicate this to them.

What do you think? What would you add to the list?

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