5 reasons bootstrapping is hard (but worth it)

In 2018 I started lemlist with $1,000 and very little ambition.

I just wanted to help enough people with a cold email software so I could start paying myself…

3,5 years later, it was valued at $150M when I sold 20% of the company for $30M.

Was it difficult?

For sure.

But bootstrapping has been the only way for me to keep my autonomy.

Instead of having VCs telling me what to do, I have the freedom to listen to my customers and build products that truly solve their problems.

But this came with a certain price.

In this article, I wanna share with you 5 reasons why bootstrapping a business is extremely hard 👇

(but worth it, in my opinion)

Reason #1. It can be really slow and lonely

I know we all love the “overnight” success story - but the bootstrapping route takes time.

Because when you don’t have money, you have to do everything yourself.

At the same time, it’s a blessing because you’ll learn everything about the ins and outs of your business.

But you gotta be patient.

Reason #2. There’s no shortcut

You can’t throw money at problems because you simply don’t have money.

So no press articles saying that you’re the next BIG thing.

No live shows on TV that will make your granny proud.

No “losing money” when acquiring customers because your unit economics need to work from the start…

Reason #3. Creativity is your ONLY path to success

If you’re not creative, you won’t succeed.

The biggest competitors we had with lemlist had raised 100s of millions.

How were we supposed to compete on SEO? Ads? etc…

We simply couldn’t, and we had to be creative 👇

I would answer all support tickets within 5 minutes for the first 18 months.

I built a community with people who wanted to crush it at outbound sales.

I published only no BS content with actual examples of outbound campaigns and their results.

I documented everything from day 1.

I had to be unique because there was no other way.

Reason #4. PLG (product-led-growth) is a myth (at least in the beginning)

”Build a great product, and they will come” is the biggest mistake I see people make.

Best-known products will beat the best products every single time.

That’s why in the early days you must do sales as a founder.

I know that getting rejected doesn’t feel nice - especially when we have a fancy title like “CEO” 🤣

But that’s the best way to learn and understand your customers.

Reason #5. It will feel unfair

When we started getting huge traction with lemlist, every single day, people would send me photos of the number of companies “on top” of us on Google search simply because they paid Adwords.

We had competitors cutting their prices in half to win deals simply because they had raised VC money.

We had competitors trying to hack us.

We had competitors making their employees leave negative reviews…

Some people play dirty…

And it felt unfair.

But if you stay long enough in the game, I can tell you one thing 👉 It’s all worth it!

Remember, you cannot lose if you do not quit 💪

Every week I’ll publish new articles on how to build and grow a B2B business that generates millions of dollars.

Without any BS and giving you practical templates that you can steal.

Peace, love, and profit 💰

G. ✌️