In today’s news, we see investments and funding as the goal of starting a business. However, what we tend to miss are thousands of great businesses grinding through the day without the benefit (and headache) of investor money.
Founders are almost being pressured into raising venture, rather than being able to focus on building a great business. What many media organisations tend to ignore is bootstrapping and how that can be the path for your business. Maybe it is not the most fascinating or jaw-dropping business, but it does make a good success story against the odds.
We explain why we bootstrapped Tech Collective instead of raising funds to get it started. This isn’t the first time we discussed this, but it is an important topic to re-address.
We hate sharing our equity – no seriously, we do
Ask yourself this question:
Is it worth giving up so much of your business at an early stage rather than retaining it now, putting in the work and getting the benefits of owning a much larger piece?
By bootstrapping we were forced to put in the elbow grease and really understand the business from top to bottom, because we couldn’t afford to hire people to do it for us. Of course, we do not judge or look down on venture-backed startups and companies, but we do think it is important for companies realise there are other options.
We were more comfortable with being lean
We started Tech Collective with a grand total of US$1,000 split between the founders. A lot of the initial expenses were out of our own pockets, but we knew that there would be good returns if we stayed the course.
We did not invest in a large team and developed the content ourselves, while at the same time looking out for great writers and editors we could work with. Through some luck we chanced upon great partners that have helped us build content partnerships with KrAsia and SBO.sg, as well as become a content partner themselves.
However, by keeping the team lean we are more flexible and have developed a nimble content strategy that has helped us grow over 100% readership month-on-month.
We wanted our growth to be sustainable
We’re not going to throw any company under the bus and say that they manage external investment unwisely (Honestbee… cough). However, companies with investors tend to be pressured to reach unsustainable growth numbers that require a lot of said funding to reach.
We focused on building a sustainable business that provided quality to our readers and clients. This doesn’t mean we ignored targets, but they were reasonable and we are still on track to show a profitable year in 2019. If we had received investment early on, we might still be hyper-focused on growth and be consistently losing money in an effort to buy readership.
By bootstrapping we were forced to build a real business that makes a profit, otherwise we’ll all be eating food from a tin can by a fire made from old tires.
Our readers come first
As a technology publication, we answer only to our readers. If they hate what they are getting, then chances are they will stop reading and find somewhere else to kill time on their daily commute.
This honestly forced us to really understand what our readers wanted that they could not get from any other publication out there. If we had money, there is a chance we may not really be so focused on our readers, because we may feel that we have the resources to grow even if we are not retaining readers.
Because we bootstrapped, we are always hyper-focused on reader feedback, statistics and numbers that show us what our readers like and what they actually hate.