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.