I’ve grown startups as a solo founder, including the viral Bang With Friends / DOWN Dating App [www.DownApp.com], where our rapid marketing success led to our app with millions of users operated by only myself and a part-time team of remote developers – on a shoestring budget of < $10,000!
Throughout my journey in shaping DOWN App to be the best hookup app in the world, from its creation through its initial rapid growth, a successful company sale, repurchasing it, and now again in rapid growth, I’ve closely managed the finances to meet the moment.
In Times of Struggle and Success
In tight times, you can absolutely rapidly shift to a skeleton team, saving money and keeping only those staff members where you cannot cover the 60% of absolutely necessary tasks to keep things running. I studied Computer Science and quickly picked up organic marketing in our dire days, so when I had to save our startup money, I covered marketing, backend development, and app development! I leaned on a former employee and friend to help with occasional design help, which I purposefully kept minimal, and ran the company on barebones with a laser focus on achieving our next milestones.
So don’t be afraid to bet on yourself and call in some favours to get to the next stage of your startup! After all, necessity is the mother of invention, so see what you can take on when your back is against the wall.
In times of strong revenue, I grew the team with two goals in mind: free up my time for where I can have a bigger impact & bring in professionals who could handle their area better than I could. When planning positions & salaries, I try to allow a 30% buffer for any drops in revenue or rise in costs.
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Extend Your Runway
As a startup or a small business, take advantage of every promotion you can! A good rule is if you’re looking at paying for a service, search around for a “startup program” they may run providing substantial credits – or check with their competitors. This extended our runway significantly, as we hopped around from each provider until we found the one that fit us best.
Check with startup accelerators (both online & local), startup groups, and VC firms for what programs with which they partnered so you can get these huge savings. AWS & Azure both have generous programs like this, as do analytics platforms like Amplitude, and many other services you likely need.
Do your accounting & financing for free: we used WaveApp for the longest time, allowing us to manage our books and generate reports on where we’re spending.
Pro tip: set up alerts on your account via your accounting software or bank accounts for any new vendor or large transactions.
Finally, use global arbitrage to minimize your costs and understand where you can save money. I traveled the world mentoring startups through my Growth Consulting services, focusing on organic growth strategies using ASO, SEO, Product Growth, Growth Marketing, and more (www.ColinHodge.com).
Through these experiences, I learned that you can save your startup’s finances by plugging into the global market for services & talent in marketing, design, development, and almost anything. For example, Ukraine and Taiwan are great for finding developers, while Brazil, Indonesia, and The Philippines are great for finding different types of marketers.
The same SaaS service that costs an arm and a leg in the US may be free in other regions still, or may have suitable competitors with lower prices. Add flexibility to your sourcing of talent and services to save that crucial cash for your business!