What got you $500K won’t get you $5M. The evolution of a bootstrapper: Master these 5 roles to scale your startup:
Growing from concept to millions requires adaptability — in mindset & skillset. Especially from the founder, who needs to shift his/her daily responsibilities with growth. Casey Clark from Cultivate Advisors created this roadmap for bootstrappers: ⬇️ ⬇️ ⬇️
1. Hustler In the early days, with no money or network, founders need to do everything. Flush with passion, the challenge at this stage is knowing how to channel energy into results. To graduate from the hustle phase, spend 70% of your time on sales.
Reading too many (or the wrong) business books encourages founders to focus on the wrong things. You don’t need systems to scale or perfect OKRs (yet) — you need sales. Become a master of selling & set the foundation for growth.
2. Experimenter You’ve proven that this idea has legs. Now how can you optimize your offering and your processes? -A/B test your offer -Add employees & vendors to fulfill tasks not in line with your strengths -Find ways to lower customer acquisition costs before scaling
3. Visionary Ready for scale, founders need to delegate. Many bootstrappers get stuck in this phase because it’s uncomfortable relinquishing control. It’s difficult to shake the desire to “protect” what we’ve built. It usually unfolds like this…
Like many before me, I’ve found delegating to be the hardest phase. It requires putting your ego aside and empowering others to perform. I’ve found that with a singular focus, the person appointed to a task ends up being more effective.
4. Systemizer With a fully functioning team, you need to add management to replace yourself. It’s challenging because it’s expensive, risky & will remove you from the day to day. But it’s essential to pave the way toward giving the company what it needs:
A CEO focused on strategic initiatives to guide the company forward. This phase includes letting others control budgets, make hiring decisions, and design processes (without your input). On the other side of systemizing is the opportunity to scale for years to come.
5. Influencer You’ve built a product with demand, attracted talent & built systems. Amplify everything by becoming a respected voice in your industry. Use social media to build a following. The earned authority and trust will attract customers and talent.
Also, position yourself to be a keynote speaker at industry events. Being an influencer gives you the inside track on acquisitions & opportunities for growth that others will miss out on. This has been a driving force behind my recent Twitter growth.
Self-awareness is key: Which phase are you at, and what does your business need you to be at this moment? If these aren’t aligned, you need to evolve — no matter how uncomfortable it may be.
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