What are creative ways to pivot or find partners/co-founders for a viable bootstrapped business that, due to outside factors, is in decline?

So, I have an online, digital product based business. The business went through a difficult troll lawsuit that set it back quite a bit. Trying to recover from this situation has been.. well.. difficult. The funds needed to do the proper marketing and advertising have not been there. In the meantime, while trying various low-cost pivots, most of which have not worked, debts have risen. The business has slowly declined, but IMHO that is largely due to the lack of funding for consistent marketing/advertising. We have gotten by the last few years with barely any marketing and advertising and the things we have done have primarily been inexpensive to free methods like blogs, etc. There is inherent value in this business in the customer base, content, products, user-base, etc. It's getting to the point where I need to do something. I have watched similar companies go through VC rounds and buyouts who did not go through the same troll suit we did. Investors seem unlikely (I would think) just because we have been in decline. I was thinking that possibly we could locate someone who understands our space and therefore can understand our value who could possibly just come on and assume part of the company for a percentage. Or, maybe we could find another business in our same marketplace who already has a team in place who would want to come alongside us for a percentage of the company who could put in maybe some money, but also the sweat equity to do the marketing and advertising needed. I am looking for creative ideas or input from others who have been in similar situations and how they were able to revive their valuable business that 'appeared' un-valuable solely based on balance sheets. I am open to any numbers of creative and out-of-the box ideas. Thanks!


It is very hard to give actionable feedback without more details.

You asked about creative, "unseen" opportunities on your balance sheet.

Also make a list of things you and the team, or your product, are good at.

A great example of this is the story behind Slack, it was just an internal communication tool for a gaming company. When the gaming company struggled, the released the communication tool and it took off as its own business.

Inventory what you have, what works well, what needs your clients have, and what you can offer to solve those problems.

I'm happy to schedule a call to discuss more.

Answered 7 years ago

Without specifics it's hard to say, but in general I advise clients to consider where revenue is coming from, what assets already exist, and how to leverage those assets into addition revenue in different forms. Existing users, especially who have paid, should react well to new offers if the offers are segmented and presented properly.

On the strategic or equity partnership side you're obviously going to want to look for businesses who have what you need and who want what you have. There can be a structured research project for that.

I'd be happy to talk with you about this. I've bootstrapped all of my startups and some of them had to be "merged" or dissolved into other entities as you described. I was able to engineer fairly strong deals in each case that, while not always cash rich, did advance the agendas of everyone at the table, and did have strong PR spin that allowed us all to move forward well.

Answered 7 years ago

Unlock Startups Unlimited

Access 20,000+ Startup Experts, 650+ masterclass videos, 1,000+ in-depth guides, and all the software tools you need to launch and grow quickly.

Already a member? Sign in

Copyright © 2022 LLC. All rights reserved.