VentureHacks offered three “micro hacks” today that I thought were very good operating principles for bootstrapping ventures as well.
Don’t ask investors what they think. Ask your customers.
- It’s easier to get money from a customer than an investor.
- It’s easier to get real feedback on your offer as well.
- Customers are much less susceptible to fads and have more of a stake in your success.
Traction speaks louder than words.
Be aggressive in signing up your first paying customer. Not many prospects want to continue the conversation when your answer to “Do you have any paying customers” is “No” or “We hope that will be you.” If you want to sign up a partner, bring the first deal (typically from an existing customer, or at least a solid prospect).
Competitors copy success, not ideas.
Many new market entrants are fearful that an incumbent is going to react to their arrival with their launch or first announcement. Rarely. The first time you win an account, or take a customer away from them, many competitors will shrug it off as a fluke, or console themselves internally with “we didn’t want that customer anyway.” And if you’ve done your homework, you are aiming, at least initially, at customers that an incumbent finds less attractive. Normally it takes three wins to arouse a real competitive response. Ian Fleming’s fictional villain Auric Goldfinger advised James Bond in this regard as follows:
“They have a saying in Chicago Mr. Bond “Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. The third time it’s enemy action.”
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