The one thing you should do if you’re thinking of bootstrapping

Written on August 24, 2015

So you want to build a SaaS app? We all want that elusive reoccurring revenue that magically frees up our schedule and gives us the life we always dreamed of. I won’t lie to you, it’s actually possible. It can be done. You can have that dream.

But it’s harder than you think you think it is. 3 to 5 times harder. I’m not writing this to scare you off — I want you to do it! I just want to prepare you with one piece of advice that will be a game changer for you.

Put it off 6 months.

That’s it. Don’t start it today. Please don’t open that code editor or a fresh Sketch document and start hacking away.. For the love of your future fledgling app, stop yourself right now.

Put that date on your calendar 6 months out and start the countdown timer. It’s going to happen, and it’s going to be great. But you don’t get to start it yet.

What to do while you’re waiting

Now that you have 6 months of free time, of available nights and weekends, of waking moments not flooded with ideas, features, stress, worry, excitement, regret, and relief, here’s what you’re going to do.

Raise your rates and bust your ass.

If you’re freelancing/contracting and your rate is $60, you now charge $80. If you’re charging $80, you now get to charge $100. If you’re charging $100, guess what? Your new rate is $125.

Start hustling. Drive down every lead and get the contract. Crank that work out. Start billing 40 to 60 hours a week. Cram as much client work as you can handle into your schedule until you feel sick. You’re going to hate most of it, but this is the last client work you’re ever going to have to do again, right?

Eat lunch at your desk and keep billing. Skip the movies on Friday night and keep billing. Launch so many websites, apps, or whatever it is you do that you lose count of them. Make clients happy. Put smiles on other peoples faces while you weep alone in the dark to the soft, unnatural glow of your Macbook screen.

Half-way through, if you can manage it and you have enough work coming in that you’re turning down projects, raise your rates again. I’m really not kidding.

Hang in there. Just hang in there, this is only going to last 6 months.

The end is now the beginning

If you actually listened, you should have raked in somewhere between $50k-$200k. Congratulations, you now have seed capital. If you have debt, pay it off. You can now quit your client work and focus 100% on your great new idea.

If someone beat you to market in the last 6 months, don’t sweat it. Study their product and how they launched and re-position yourself to beat them. First to market doesn’t mean industry leader. And if somehow they really cleaned up, well good on them. Come up with another idea.

Also, you learned how to work really hard. You’ve refined your craft, learned to work harder, faster, longer, and more efficiently. You’re going to need those skills.