by Rebeka Shols
Here’s what to expect at a Bootstrapper’s Breakfast meeting:
Instead of having a main speaker or panel, these meetings are set up as a round table discussion, where anyone can ask questions and anyone can give their input. Even the more introverted people can feel comfortable here because you can choose to speak as much or as little as you want. The meetings usually only include 8 to 16 people, so everyone gets a good amount of time to ask questions and address different issues and also get valuable advice from fellow entrepreneurs.
The focus of each meeting is not on fundraising and finding investors, but the best ways to grow your business organically. According to Sean Murphy, founder of Bootstrappers Breakfast, “We do talk about investment, but encourage entrepreneurs to consider it when they have a business that not only requires it, but merits it.” Entrepreneurs should start the focus on what they are creating and how to make it better, not how to fund it.
These meetings are open to anyone in any stage of entrepreneurship, whether you’re merely curious, just starting up, or have been in the business for years. “We get a pretty diverse audience: folks in their 20’s through their 60’s, men and women, entrepreneurs visiting Silicon Valley from all over the world, and an interesting mix of entrepreneurs based here.”
While attending one of these meetings I learned 3 key things.
1) Entrepreneurship is Counter-Cultural
Entrepreneurship is unique in business because an entrepreneur starts with a “real job,” one that pays the bills and sustains their livelihood. Then, they start building their own ideas in hopes of growing their own business separate from the job they originally had. Sean describes this as a difficult and lonely road.
Sean told me that entrepreneurship goes against the grain because instead of paying people money, you are figuring out the best way to convince people to pay you.
2) Don’t be afraid to “Go ugly early”
You can’t be shy when it comes to failure. Sean says that when it comes to marketing your product, particularly webinars, “you suck the first three times anyway.” Get those first few learning stages out of the way and don’t be afraid if it doesn’t go as smoothly as you thought.
Many teams work hard on polishing their first marketing piece, whether it be a blog post, video, sales pitch, or data sheet. However, the longer they take to do so, the faster they reach the point of diminishing returns. Sean says to not be concerned about getting everything perfect, feedback is much more important. The best way to quickly get feedback is to output it to a small audience in a small, controlled release and then closely listen to what they have to say. This way, you can quickly learn what works and what doesn’t, without wasting your efforts on perfecting your pitch.
Sometimes teams are eager to get their ideas out there and immediately reach out to their most promising prospects. However, this is risky because your first pitch can have a wide range of defects that you are projecting to your primary target audience. If you first go to a small audience, Sean says that “they can still give useful feedback on at least 80% of what may be missing (or less useful) about your pitch.” That way, you can catch those mistakes early and not lose any major opportunities.
3) Find what makes your product/service unique
Unfortunately, no one is going to want to pay extra money for something that gives them no added benefit. If your software is built to do exactly what 10 other softwares are doing, you aren’t bringing anything new to the table. The best way to get customers interested in your product is to find your target audience and shape your product in a way that caters to that specific niche.
Entrepreneurship is about having something new to offer and these entrepreneurs need to be creative and imaginative in order to launch their business off the ground.