Bootstrapping a new business and growing it to a sustainable level is hard, because it takes a long time and it requires mental and emotional endurance. And luck.
Trying to do that without some financial foundation will make that 100 times harder.
You could do all the forecasting you want or give yourself a deadline for getting to revenue, but the truth is, there is no way of knowing if and when your startup will start bringing you enough money even for you to survive.
The stress of seeing your money running out is not to be underestimated. It's debilitating and it will affect your ability to make progress with your startup. And it's a guaranteed way to kill creativity.
I've been there, and I can tell you that it's not fun. I had huge debts and I was running out of cash. Even when I was making some progress with my startup, knowing that I will soon have to borrow more money weighed really heavily on my mind. It took away all the joy of working on my own business.
So when that startup closed, I decided to return to being a contract software developer, with two goals in mind:
- To pay off all my debts.
- To save enough for me to work on my next idea full time for a year.
If you're in a similar situation to how I was, do yourself and your startup a favour and give yourself some financial peace of mind. Here are some suggestions, depending on what your income situation is:
If you have zero income, get a job. Now a full time job will suck most of your time and energy, so be prepared for slower progress on your startup. A part-time job is preferable.
If you do have a job, don't quit it yet. As above, see if you can reduce it down to part-time so you can give yourself time to work on your startup.
If you freelance, then you may be able to dip in and out of work. Go and get yourself a 3 month full time contract then get back to building your startup. And when money is low, find another contract. This is my current mode.
A lot of IndieHackers now work on "side hustles" and only quit when their side hustle income exceeded their job's income regularly for a few months straight.
Luck plays such a huge part of whether your business succeeds. You just don't know when it'll be a success. Meanwhile, you still need to feed yourself and your family.
So take that stress away and stay liquid while you're building your startup.