You might now realise it yet, but your heroes are out there changing you. Every news you read. Every social media profile you follow. They reinforce (or break) an ideology in your monkey brain. And that’s not really a bad thing!
If you are a startup business owner, your heroes are probably Techcrunch & Producthunt. Funding news. VCs on Twitter. Other startup CEOs. And once in a while, you should change those heroes. Get out of the bubble.
2016 was a painful year for me. After raising $5 Million for my startup (Localoye), and growing to 250+ employees, we had to lay off 90% of the company in one week. And eventually shut it down fully. I took some time off, and came back to realise something. Every other startup founder around me was talking about valuations, blitz scaling and raising funds. And they were all making the same mistakes as I did - bad culture, wrong unit economics and a degrading customer service. Not to forget bad personal health and broken relationships.
I knew it was time to change. Clearly not every business owner in the world lives like this? There must be a different way to find success! And that is when I discovered the world of:
- Indiehackers and bootstrapped startups
- Micro SaaS (software businesses that capture underserved niches)
- Solo makers like Pieter Levels earning $400,000 per annum
- 4 hour work weeks (this one is slightly icky territory so proceed with caution)
Twitter is a great place to do this. You have 100% control of what you consume. Follow devs to learn code, or follow photographers to get inspired for a new hobby!
Here is what I did:
Unfollowed every startup CEO, VC and techcrunch author I was following. Started following bootstrapped entrepreneurs & indie hackers that are building profitable businesses. And before I knew it, I was a convert. I was following their careers, and learning from their best practices. I had subconsciously started building a picture of my ideal future. The kind of company I want to build. Some of the people who have inspired me, and still continue to do so:
- Arvid Kahl (bootstrapped a $5Million+ education SaaS with wife)
- Andrey Azimov (learned to code and built an app doing $5000+ MRR)
- Tyler King (founder at Less Annoying CRM)
- John Nolan (building Ghost, open source CMS doing $4Million ARR)
All of these people were doing great at business, and still had enough time to live a good lifestyle. Sure, they will never build the next Uber. But the work they were doing is globally impactful & fulfilling. My new heroes!
A small caveat
I am fully aware that I might just be in a new bubble of bootstrapping now. But who knows what the future holds? Strong opinions, loosely held, I guess :)