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How We Achieved $6M in ARR, 100% Bootstrapped?

Adriane Schwager, CEO of Growth Assistant

We crossed $6M in ARR, 100% bootstrapped with only 5 US full-time employees, and within 21 months after launch.

Here are my top 11 learnings on growing a startup!

1. Making a Decision is Challenging But a Lot Better than No Decision

  • A "bad" decision is painful but outweighs no decision every time.

  • Learn from it and move on.

  • With time, you will get better at making "good" decisions.

2. Ups and Downs Don't Go Away

  • Even after growing and seeing success, it's still a nerve-wracking roller coaster.

  • The great things aren't as great as they seem and the bad things are usually not as bad. Keep calm and move forward.

3. Leverage a Remote Global Workforce

  • 20+ people in the Philippines support our US team of 5.

  • We reached $3 M in ARR before our first full-time US hires.

  • My US team focuses on the strategic tasks, while our Philippines team takes care of operation and execution.

4. When You're growing Quickly, Everything will Start Breaking Down.

  • Regularly or every 6 months or so, you'll have to recreate most of your company.

  • Adjust systems and processes. Find new tools.

  • This isn't really avoidable, so fix it and keep moving.

5. Competition is Great

  • It shows that you've picked a good market.

  • Many businesses have outright copied ours.

  • But we don't obsess over them. We obsess over the customer.

  • This is how we win.

6. Clear Bias to Action

  • Planning is okay, but getting started is more important.

  • Planning ahead of action is just speculation, but doing it will help you understand it.

  • Plus analysis post-action can be driven by real data.

7. Invest in Training and Development

  • Hard skills and soft skills, both for yourself and the team.

  • This provides high leverage and high RoI.

8. Never Be the Bottleneck

  • Too often, I slowed us down because I had to make the final decision.

  • Hire the right people, give them the support they need, and trust them.

  • It's scary but necessary to grow.

9. Trust Your Gut When It Comes to People

  • Without fail, whenever I hired someone with doubts it backfired.

  • It's tempting to hire someone to fill an urgent need.

  • But the little voice telling you "it's not a great fit" is often right.

10. Fire Fast

  • Related to point 9, if at any point you think in your head, "this person is not good, we should let them go," then you are probably right.

  • Try to do it as soon as possible but compassionately.

11. You'll Make Lots of Mistakes

  • Lots. Forgive yourself and keep on chugging.

  • Try not to make the same mistake twice and you should be fine.

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