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How I don't want to run my business
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How I don't want to run my business

I've had one of those weeks where things popped up all day everyday which needed my attention. It's Friday and I feel like I've had an unproductive week just putting out non-crucial fires. All this guilt over a side project (Makerpad) which has brought in $20k this month (my 'real' job is investing in bootstrappers @ Earnest Capital). So no, I shouldn't feel shitty or unproductive at all.

I saw Derrick Reimer post about "Finding My Next Bootstrapped Business Idea" where he talks about his process of thinking for his next idea. Justin Kan also wrote a short Twitter Thread "Here’s how to build a company (or really do anything challenging) while being happy". This spurred me to think about this in my context and write my thoughts down.

I often revisit what I'm doing and the tasks I have to do for my side-project. I then write my ideals of what I want to be doing in my notes and keep as my mini-blueprint of 'wtf I'm doing'. After this week and those posts, I've got more thoughts than usual so I thought about writing them here.

My process of how I DO want to run my side-project/business/startup (call it whatever you want)

What is it

Makerpad is a no-code focused platform for professionals & creators. This is what they can currently do:

  • Explore no-code tools
  • Access tutorials and templates
  • Get training, applications and automations built
  • Hire experts to help you with tools like Zapier, Airtable etc
  • Find and apply for jobs in the no-code community

I won't go into the backstory of Makerpad, I talked about it in other places which you can see in the About section.

What do I want/my motivations?

Earn a comfortable living with some degree of predictable revenue

Money earned does not equal my time

Work on what I love, find interesting and gives me energy. Anything else should be automated through something like Zapier or passed on to a helpful girlfriend.

Shut the laptop at 7pm

Tasks should not be mostly reactive

Avoid scheduling/taking calls at all costs (I run 1-1s with Earnest portfolio which I love, most other calls are unnecessary)

Do not want to rely on employees/contractors

Do not want investment

Do not want growth goals ($30k/mo for 12 months shouldn't be viewed as a 'no-growth' year)

$300k/year - yeah, that is my $ goal. I feel with that income all my money troubles would be gone

Doubling my customer base should not require double the input from me

Sales process should be quick and repeatable (less than 2 weeks to close, with ~2 stakeholders involved and less than 6 emails)

Majority of sales become inbound

Focus sales to businesses and let the consumer memberships grow organically

Continue in the no-code market which is smallish but growing. I also think the wider market is there but untapped yet

Features and new ideas should be shipped within 5 days, preferably a few hours (Makerpad Hire took an afternoon to put together)

Audience is an extension of my twitter following

'Distribution' on twitter shouldn't feel as such. I like sharing about the possibilities and successes of others (in no-code) - think how Austen from Lambda School tweets.

I don't think about tweeting as marketing and would never want that to change

*Compromises will be made some of the time which is fine as long as it remains some of the time.


Here are the sources of revenue I have set up right now:

  • Company profiles with job posts and educational content (tutorials/walkthroughs)
  • Sponsorships on the homepage and newsletter
  • Custom applications, automations and training made
  • Expert marketplace - ??? (not actually set up yet)
  • Job posts
  • Consumer: Users pay for a lifetime membership to access tutorials and templates

There's too many and many of the above do not coincide with my above principles of what I want. Here are some thoughts I'm having - feel free to tweet me your suggestions while I work through these.

  1. Job posts - do we need another place to find jobs?! My focus is on no-code companies (Webflow, Airtable, Boundless, Zapier etc) and they have technical roles to fill too (~24% of the Makerpad community are engineers). Does combining job posts with company profiles (to give potential candidates a look into the product and what content they put out to help other no-coders) make it different enough to matter?
  2. Sponsorships are time consuming unless they are inbound. They likely become more inbound when your traffic and market share increases
  3. Building custom applications/automations/trainings can be long processes. I could link this with the Experts marketplace where others pitch to do them
  4. Expert marketplace - there's a ton of ways to monetise this, which makes most sense (if any)?
  5. Consumer: do I ever add smaller payments (per tutorial) or per month pricing? I don't do per-month pricing because: it's easier, less churn, people already have to pay for lots of products monthly, value of membership increases over time BUT doesn't *need* to every month, feels like the right thing to do, easier to manage and no stress
  6. SaaS-ifying: Look to build and run automations which are run on Zapier for niches (e.g helping musicians sell courses, build email lists etc)

Any thoughts on any of the above? I'd love to hear them