🗞 What's New: Go to market with just an idea

Also: Focus and achieve your business goals!  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌
Indie Hackers

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Can you go to market with just an idea? - **Sell your *concept* to your user** even before you have a product. The energy you invest into your early users sets the stage for future success. - **Stay focused to achieve your business** goals. Stick to

Can you go to market with just an idea?

  • Sell your concept to your user even before you have a product. The energy you invest into your early users sets the stage for future success.
  • Stay focused to achieve your business goals. Stick to one audience, fix your marketing funnel, and share more than you monetize.
  • From zero to $22M in revenue without raising a dollar. Guillaume Moubeche wants to make all his employees millionaires.

Want to grow your business? Try running a promo in the Indie Hackers newsletter to get in front of nearly 70,000 founders.

Go to Market With Your Idea 💡

COVER IMAGE

by Meraj Faheem

As founders, when do we "go to market?"

Tools cannot solve product problems. Nothing can help you sell something no one wants. Here's how to figure out what to build, who to target, and when to GTM.

Idea over product

GTM with a hypothetical product, and sell it to your prospective future user. If they are signing up, good. The more, the better.

How well you are able to sell your concept will likely determine how successful you are going to be. Now, this is not always possible; sometimes, you’ll need an MVP to sign people up. But for many founders, focusing on selling the concept is a great start.

Build with your user

Build with your actual user.

This means talking to tons of users and building your product around their feedback. This prepares you to confidently enter the market, knowing that your product aligns with user needs.

Work on relationships

The time and energy you invest into your early users sets the tone for the strength of your network. Talk to them often, showing genuine interest and curiosity in their problems.

Being there for your users whenever they need you gives you an unfair advantage. Not everybody can put in this kind of effort. You’ll land users for life, and a strong fanbase who will go to bat for you.

Find influencers among your users. Encourage and incentivize them to talk about your product.

Product-market

0-100 users is a linear growth phase, while 100-1K is usually when your network effects are starting to kick in. At this point, you need to pay really close attention to the sentiment of your users. How much do they love your product? Are they happy paying you? What's their response to your competition? This is where your success or failure is most likely to be determined.

Also, remember that a user who comes in for a discount will go out for a discount. Price accordingly.

For more, download GMTCanvas!

Discuss this story.

In the News 📰

Photo: In the News

from the Growth Trends newsletter

👀 TikTok shares new insights on maximizing ad effectiveness in the app.

🤐 Analyzing nonverbal communication tools in text.

🔎 The five personality traits that will change how you target users.

🤖 ChatGPT is allowed to browse the internet again.

💻 10 weird things you can buy online.

Check out Growth Trends for more curated news items focused on user acquisition and new product ideas.

On Staying Focused 🎯

COVER IMAGE

by Dan Kulkov

It took us 16 months to reach $100K. Here are my 10 biggest lessons from growing MakerBox and FounderPal.

Stick to one audience

We launched 16 paid products. Only six made it.

But even unsuccessful launches brought us audience, authority, and content ideas. This compound growth pays off.

Fix your marketing funnel

At first, if a person didn't buy on the first try, we didn't do anything to convert them. We fixed that with email marketing.

Now, we have a beautiful formula: If we get X emails this week, we will see Y revenue next week.

Experiment with user acquisition

We tried many channels. Some didn't work. Others showed initial results, but quickly slowed down.

Experimenting is the only way to find out what works.

Share more than you monetize

Overdeliver for free. Build a great reputation. The money will follow.

Build simple things

Our hit products are simple. They were built in one week.

There's no technology moat. They could have been built by others easily, but they work because:

  • They solve irritating problems.
  • We charge one-time payments.
  • We nail distribution.

Don't overcomplicate it.

Find a way to charge more

Deliver more value and charge more.

What worked for us:

  • Monthly updates of new prompts (+$20).
  • Access to a bundle of products (+$50).
  • Unlimited marketing strategies (+$70).

It takes the same amount of effort to convert these customers, but we get up to twice as much profit from them.

Seek harsh feedback

Beta test and ask people to verbally destroy what you've built.

Get honest feedback, ignore your ego, make revisions, and launch a better product.

I can't stress enough how important this step is.

Find out what is not for you

Finding your "no" is usually more important than finding your "yes."

Limit your work hours

My first business failed because I worked too much.

Now, I work less and make sure to constantly try new things.

Iterations > aimless grind.

Be patient

It's a long marathon. Don't rush.

Enjoy the journey!

Discuss this story.

Give Your Startup an Advantage 🤝

COVER IMAGE

This issue is sponsored by Mercury Raise

Even with big ambitions, only a small percentage of startups make it.

Mercury Raise is here to change that. Introducing the comprehensive founder success platform built to remove roadblocks at every step of the startup journey. Get the connections, network, and guidance you need to turn your startup into a success story.

Cashing Out Brought Structure and Freedom 💰

COVER IMAGE

by James Fleischmann

Guillaume Moubeche founded Lemlist, a tool that helps you find and convert buyers. In just five years, he has grown the company from zero to $22M+ in revenue, without raising a single dollar in funds. In the process, he has acquired two SaaS companies, taken a multimillion dollar cash-out deal, and currently employs 86 people.

The numbers

  • ARR (as of July): $22M+.
  • Business bank account: $6M.

lempire revenue

  • Office space: $50K per month.
  • Salaries: $800K per month.
  • Tools: $250K per month.
  • Total expenses: $1.1M per month.

Bootstrapping is king

When I first got started, I thought raising funds was the only way to build a successful company. I tried to get in touch with as many VCs as I could, but I kept receiving rejection messages.

Some were nice...others weren't!

hard feedback

After spending time building pitch decks, I realized I was wasting time on things that weren’t bringing direct value to the business. So, we started with only $1K. This meant we had to be profitable from day one, so we focused on product-led growth. Profitability is the most sustainable way to grow a business!

It gives you the freedom to pivot, experiment, and make decisions based on what’s best for the company, rather than what’s best for investors. Look for cost-effective solutions, leverage free or open source tools, and continuously seek innovative ways to solve problems.

Also, prioritize investments that have a clear and measurable impact on growth.

Cash-out

As a company grows, the risk of failure gets smaller, but on a personal level, the risk level increases.

You find yourself with increased pressure and responsibility: Your clients expect top notch services, and your employees rely on the company's stability for their livelihoods. At the same time, a high valuation doesn’t mean you have money in your personal bank account.

That’s why we decided to opt for a cash-out deal as we reached a $150M valuation in 2021. I took $30M in cash, as did my two cofounders, and Expedition Growth Capital got 20% of the company and one seat on the board.

Since the deal, we now have a board meeting once every quarter, and share our financial reports monthly. However, our investors don’t interfere in any way with the daily business operations.

Making millionaires

For me, success is about helping others. That’s why, over the next five years, I plan to make all my employees millionaires. To start, I gave all of my permanent employees shares in the company.

To make them millionaires, we need to build a billion dollar company, which will require new revenue streams.

We love to create new products, and I think when you already have a strong community, building a product makes sense. But we often underestimate the actual time it takes to build and sell a SaaS product. Shipping rapidly is doable, but generating real traction from a product that can actually scale is extremely difficult.

So, we also plan to enter new markets by acquiring other companies targeting SMBs, especially profitable, bootstrapped businesses that generate more than $40K in MRR.

Discuss this story.

The Tweetmaster's Pick 🐦

Cover image for Tweetmaster's Pick

by Tweetmaster Flex

I post the tweets indie hackers share the most. Here's today's pick:

Enjoy This Newsletter? 🏁

Forward it to a friend, and let them know they can subscribe here.

Also, you can submit a section for us to include in a future newsletter.

Special thanks to Jay Avery for editing this issue, to Gabriella Federico for the illustrations, and to Meraj Faheem, Darko, Dan Kulkov, and James Fleischmann for contributing posts. —Channing

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