A startup CEO has three responsibilities: Acquire customers, recruit talent and maintain enough capital to pay the bills.
If you consider yourself unable or unwilling to do these three things, you will fail. The only exception to this is if you're a brilliant engineer or designer. In that case, the simple answer is you must find a co-founder who is comfortable taking on the three above responsibilities for your venture.
I speak from experience when I say that single founders often lack an ability to delegate and trust others, which is *generally* perceived to be a character flaw, not a character attribute.
If the reason you don't have time to find investors is because you're busy building product, there may be hope for you. But if you're not building the product, with this attitude you have zero hope of success. Anyone capable of raising money and recruiting a team will want to do so for their own idea, not someone else's.
I'd be happy to schedule a 15 minute call with you to see where you're at and give you candid feedback about what it will take for you to pursue this dream further, once I know the specifics of your personal situation.
Ok first lets talk about one man startups:
Jeff Bezos - Amazon
Elon Musk - SpaceX
Larry Elison - Oracle
Sound familiar? Some of the most incredible startups have been started by one person!
If you don't have the skills, you need to either learn them or convince someone else to join your startup for some equity in the company.
If you don't have the time for investors, then consider joining an accelerator program. If you are accepted they will give you some initial funding so you can free up your time to run the startup and talk to more investors.
Everything has a trade off. As a one man startup you have 100% ownership in the company. With two founders you might have 50%. Sometimes founders will find another co-founder for their first startup. Then after their first startup is successful the next one they do they may do it alone.
Don't give up!
I think perhaps for the first time in history, one-man startups such as you describe are a real possibility without the need for much capital at all.
As long as you can develop your product/value proposition you can pretty much farm out the rest to other 'building blocks' out there.
You have ZenDesk for customer support, Highrise for CRM, Asana for project management, twitter bootstrap for websites and the list goes on. Most of the building blocks are free to acquire/use (until you reach noticeable traction).
All you have to do is build the core product for which you will have to learn the skills but it's a worthwhile investment.
1) Focus and decide what to say No to: this will help you create time.
2) Hire only for specific tasks or projects through outsourcing. You can use tools like Elance.com to find the right people. In that case you will hire only when there is revenue involved. A good rule of thumb here is to hire for tasks where you can earn more than the contractor costs. Example: I just hired an audio editor for my upcoming podcast to edit the first episode. It took her 3,5 hours to do the editing. I could probably have done it myself, but it would have taken me way longer than 3,5 hours as it is not my speciality. Now I could be billable at the same time myself for a higher rate than the contractor costed.
Earlier this year I wrote a blogpost about my 7 lessons as entrepreneur. I had to think of that post w.r.t. your question. It is here: http://bit.ly/pjs-7lessons and might be helpful to you too.
If you like to go a bit deeper feel free to schedule a call with me.
You need to start by identifying why your product is unique or different, and the reasons customers would be interested. This provides the foundation for your Website, and sales and marketing collateral, elevator pitch, etc.
Next, I would focus discover your core customer - who's going to buy it, what are their needs and points of pain, what's the buying cycle, where do they find information, etc.
Third, you try to get business traction by combining your story with your customer personas. Hopefully, this starts to get your business traction, which could attract investors.
There's a bounty waiting as your company grows beyond that one man startup but also a lot more stress. But it's that very Stress which will enable you to grow. So embrace it, buckle up and work your ass off.
1) I also suggest partnering with pros that need YOU and develop a service bartering agreement.
2) Network like hell for contractors before a job surfaces, it's usually too late to spec jobs and kick off projects safely.
3) Do only what you're GREAT at and this will afford you more time to work on projects.
Over the years I have been listening to professionals struggle with how to get their message out there into today’s marketplace that is interrupt-driven. So much noise, so many outlets to participate in. Who has the time or the expertise to find their online audiences, deliver their value propositions and respond to inquiries? My thoughts continue here: http://mvb.me/s/51dfd5
Believe it or not, at the size of 20+, I'm asking myself the same question. How do we grow more. There's just one answer, when you plan to bootstrap (which seems you do): product.
Focus on your product, try to reach PMF or at least a healthy cash flow every month, that would allow you to bring more people in your team (as partners, as employees or as a service provider - agency, freelancer).
Simply look for best freelancers in the market try to connect with them understand their work strategies and their portfolio. It will help you understand the quality of work delivered by them. I work with a few startup companies in US, UK, Canada & Australia and have been serving them with all their technical business needs at an good hourly rates. They've even given me remarkable feedback on my LinkedIn profile. I'm happy doing business with them so far.