How do I grow from a one man startup when I don't have the money to hire & don't have skills or time for investors?


Stop thinking you don't have the skills to do something.

You can learn anything if you decide to, but assuming up front that you can't (forever) is dangerous.


Answered 11 years ago

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.

Answered 11 years ago

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!

Answered 5 years ago

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.

Good luck!

Answered 11 years ago

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 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: and might be helpful to you too.

If you like to go a bit deeper feel free to schedule a call with me.

Answered 11 years ago

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.

Answered 11 years ago

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.

Answered 11 years ago

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:

Answered 11 years ago

In the famous words of ad man Dan Weiden, "Just do it."

Growing pains are a tell tail sign that you have the money to hire.

Answered 11 years ago

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).

Answered 10 years ago

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.

Answered 5 years ago

You have already begun the journey and stop asking about the question on how do I get the money to grow. Ones you keep to the details and the demand of that little business of yours, opportunity will surface no matter how little it may be. Consistency regardless of the size of one's capital, brings about success. Note, to be highly successful or grow a business to a revered level, one has to keep adequate record of all transactions. Call me.


Answered 4 years ago

Focus on projects with continuos earnings. I´ll need to know what exactly is your business and the possibilities of having continuos revenue for you.

With continuos revenue you can hire people and delegate/create positions to growth and work your company horizontals.

Bests of luck,

Giovanni Vaprio

Answered 4 years ago

Find the first customer, develop a strategic relationship with him and commit to each other (secure one customer), develop based upon his needs (keep a common development core and customize based upon this customer), find a network of experienced business people -readily available now- to mentor you (pro-bono or with future stakes) and provide you market access (the second customer). You can do it. It is not about more people, but taking one step at a time. Secure the first customer -what will provide you reassurance about value creation, value realization and value capture- and the rest will come. Hope this helps.

Answered 4 years ago

Skills or no-skills keep the following points in mind to become successful:
1. Delegation Identify tasks which are repeatable, calculate how many working hours go into those tasks and hire a freelancer or delegate to an agency depending on the service or product. A good way to identify such tasks is to categorise them based on which ones demoralise you more. Inculcate discipline in your working style with the help of technology. Resort to social media marketing tools, time management tools and business development software to help you get things done in the best way possible in the least amount of time. In addition, there are incubators and accelerators that not only provide funding but also help companies with their mentorship programs.
2. Determination Breakeven time for the average start-up may be quite extended. Several doubts are often cast on small businesses that have not yet broken even. While implementing the four Ds can enhance growth for a one-person enterprise, there is an optimum point after which building a team might be wiser. Starting out lean with low operation costs can help the organisation initially. Identifying the optimal point where the solo entrepreneur needs to start building a team can be evaluated on factors like growth across time zones and distances, market testing standard operating procedures for specialised roles in the company and, most importantly, when cost for internal absorption of tasks is lower than outsourcing.
Besides if you do have any questions give me a call:

Answered 4 years ago

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