Stress! We all have it to some degrees or another, but others have more than some. Let me tell you, as a startup founder, I would like to talk about stress and what I’ve been going through lately since I started my startup TechSnips. It’s been a while since have I been here, but I wanted to check in and tell everyone kind of where I’m at in my TechSnips journey and kind of how I’m doing these days.
So, if you’re not familiar, I recently quit my job about seven months ago or so. A really high paying job and decided to start my own startup TechSnips. We build videos, articles, lots of different content. Get them published on TechSnips.IO, we provide content for content marketers, product marketers, and also training companies now.
One-Hundred Percent Focused!
Ready to stop reading and start learning about PowerShell, DSC, Windows Server, Sharepoint, IIS and dozens of other categories? If so, check out the hundreds of free technical demo screencasts available on the new, IT career development platform TechSnips.
It’s been crazy, to say the least. My wife tells me I’m 100 percent focused 100 percent of the time, and that’s true. You know normally in a day-to-day when you’re working in your day job you have those times where you know your kind of bored. You want to take a break, go check Twitter or play around on YouTube or Facebook for a little bit. I’ll be honest with this, there is always, something to do and there is always something to improve on. There is always something to spend your time on other than “taking a break”.
It’s an insane firehose of things to do and things to address. Emails to answer, products to work on, new clients to approach, work on marketing, trying to figure out if I should do Twitter Ads or Google Ads. There are so many different things that you can be doing at one time and for me personally, I never have the inclination to “just take a break”. There are times for mental health reasons I have to, but I constantly drive to do more and more and make this as successful as I can and just give everything to this. So that’s one difference I found so far between a job and my own startup.
Next is figuring out the position that your company is going to hold in the market. I’ve pivoted multiple times in my short startup life so far and it’s just trying to read the market and read what people will actually pay. If TechSnips was not here to make money I would have lots of different options. I would go a completely different way than what I’m going now, but you have to decide on what would you like to do, what kind of vision you want the company to go, and plus you have to make money as well.
Shifting of TechSnips Model
So, we kind of changed our model a little bit within the past few months focusing more on courses now. TechSnips, when it started, was anti-course and it still pretty much is. The TechSnips mentality, there’s a TechSnips model of these small bite-sized snackable videos. But a good income stream that I found is building all these snips and all these demos and things that we’ve done in the great community that I built into courses, and fortunately training companies want to pay for courses. TechSnips.IO will probably never have courses (we can never say never) but, for the most part, courses are not in TechSnips.IO game plan.
With the great community that we have, we were able to build the various course and get them out to clients and make money. So that’s a new thing.
Another new thing is the money stress situation. I was talking a venture capitalist the other day and he was saying that the two things that a startup needs more of, is time and money and it’s true. I have been putting all of my time into TechSnips, as much as possible and I can always have more time to do more things. There is always something else to add on to my plate. However, I can’t just generate more work to equal more money. I wish it was the case, I’d probably a rich man by now, but I am NOT. So, money situation as a bootstrapped startup like TechSnips is, it’s all the money comes from the founders. It’s coming from my savings account, my family’s savings account and fortunately I had a fair amount saved up through my last job, but you know that started to really get down there. I tweeted something the other day about the actual monetary figures we were losing every month and it was not pretty.
I mean, just seeing the hard numbers kind of led to some family strife I guess you could say and leads to a little bit of stress. Well, a lot of stress for me to try to figure out “okay if this startup is to succeed, how is it going to make money? It has to make money.” That is the core focus of the startup at this point is just getting the amount of capital allowing us to survive as a company. As a company, we’re pretty profitable. I mean, not counting my labor, we actually already are profitable. The problem is when it comes down to the founders actually trying to live off of the money, me actually pulling out money, a fair waged whatever you want to call a fair wage, you know when it gets to the fact that we definitely not profitable. You know putting in the 70 hours a week or so that I’m putting in for the past six months because if I would pull out the typical wage that I would normally get, the business would be bankrupt, and it would be no more.
Survival Mode Activated
So, you see after a while in a bootstrap startup in this situation I have found that at first, you are just kind of going along, kind of working out what you want to know, what you think is interesting, me being an automation engineer I really like building the product and then building all that up at the same time. At some point you kind of hit this feeling, I guess you would say this kind of do-or-die thing and you don’t have any money, without money you can’t survive, so you get into this survival instinct mentality of “we have to make money now at all costs, we have to make money to survive.”
We’re in survival mode, and that’s how it is from what I’ve been reading for a lot of different startups where a lot of people are in a worse situation than I am. They have hired a lot of employees, they’ve accumulated debt. I don’t have any debt, maybe that will come into play at one point, I don’t know yet. Right now, we don’t have any debt, we don’t have any employees. Everybody’s a contractor, so that good. I still have to pay everybody per month but fortunately, all the contributors that contribute to TechSnips are based on the royalties based on the performance of the company.
That’s one of those mentalities the culture things I really wanted to diffuse early on. So, if you are a TechSnips contributor and helping out with the company I want you to be on board. I want you to succeed whenever we succeed and flourish a share of the money but at the same time if TechSnips is not doing very good I would like for you to feel that pain with me. To have a sense of ownership, it’s not going to be all rainbows and unicorns all the time but sometimes it is sometimes it’s not. That’s just the fact of the matter of being an owner. That’s just kind of how it is.
I say right now, how I feel about the company and feel about the startup? To be honest with you, there’s been times that I’ve been thinking about this as a startup thing for me. You start questioning yourself, you start questioning if the company is going to be successful or not because you kind of see the light at the end of the tunnel and you can see the train coming through the tunnel and you’re thinking, “how much time do I have, before that train hits me?” I’m kind of in that position right now, where I’m just trying to think, “will that train hit me in a month?” You kind of see how fast it is going. “Maybe a month and a half?” Okay, what is going to happen when the train hit me? Well, I’ll be financially bankrupt, lose the house, you know all that’s awesome and I think maybe I need to keep my options open for a full-time job consulting or that sort of thing. I don’t know, we’ll see how it goes.
Doing All I Can to Succeed
I’m kind of in that period still doing everything I can to make TechSnips succeed but a twinge of doubt I guess is starting to creep in. At first, I was just pro-TechSnips, let’s go, let’s go, when you have plenty of money in the bank and you realize that “I got plenty of time, let’s just go full in and we’re going to make this succeed eventually.” And eventually, if you don’t start making the money to support the business and to support your personal life you start to have that twinge of doubt and I’m kind of in that area where I’m thinking, “yes, I’m still in this ninety-nine percent now but that 1% is creeping in.”
So, time will tell if I’m able to pull this off, we are able to get more contributors to TechSnips.IO/join-us by the way if you want to contribute we’ve greatly appreciated that. The more people we have the better we can all be, and the company can survive. But that pitch aside, we’ll see how it goes. Time will tell, still doing all I can to make things work so we’ll see.