Bootstrap Anti Patterns roundup - the first 10

Published November 29th, 2005 edit replace rm!

I’ve been writing these anti patterns since I started this blog and in honor of Evhead’s 10 rules for web startups I wanted to create an overview over them mostly for my own sake but also for newer readers of my blog.

An Anti Pattern is often talked about in the software development world. WikiPedia says the following:

Anti-patterns, also referred as pitfalls, are classes of commonly-reinvented bad solutions to problems. They are studied, as a category, in order that they may be avoided in the future, and that instances of them may be recognized when investigating non-working systems.

It isn’t just programmers who repeat mistakes, entrepreneurs do the same. Bootstrappers fall into a slightly special category of entrepreneurs who really can’t afford to repeat too many of these mistakes so I am collecting ones that I myself have done and also that I have seen other people do.

1. Bootstrapping a business vs playing a business

Many small businesses bootstrappers included, get caught into the trap of making yourself looking like a business. This is a big an often expensive mistake, focus on your business instead.

2. Solo techsupportitis

Many techies get so caught up in tech support for themselves, that they don’t have time for the business.

3. The evils of business plans

I have seen many startups die, because the founders spent all their time working on their business plan and not on their business.

4. Funding by plastic

Many business magazines have romanticized the idea of funding your million dollar business by applying for 20 credit cards. The only problem is that you are actually more likely out of business sooner than later as you need to make the monthly payments.

5. Believe you will succeed but don’t let optimism blind you

You should be optimistic, but you should also realize when you need to step back for a minute so you can keep your battle going tomorrow.

6. The snowblind solopreneur

More than most people solopreneurs and bootstrappers need to listen very carefully to our users. We don’t have a bunch of partners or investors to slap us in the face when necessary and believe me it is necessary at times.

7. Searching for the team

This is closely related to #3. Please, please get on with your business. The only people who are interest in you building a team are a bunch of VC’s who aren’t going to invest in you anyway at this stage.

8. Focusing on an imaginary 3 year revenue goal

As a bootstrapper you need to be focusing on small steps such as paying the rent. No one believes in these 3 year revenue goals, you shouldn’t either.

9. Using We when you should be using I

If you are a solopreneur, people will trust and respect you more being honest about who you are. Most people start writing “We…” everywhere about your services. Why not use the cluetrain to your advantage and be your own voice.

10. Talking legalese in User Agreements

If you are a software developer, you probably have a user agreement. Whatever your lawyer says, I think it is more important to respect your relationship with your customers and write in English.

Send me yours

I will no doubt think up more of these. If you have some of your own blog them or email me at [email protected].

Posted November 29th, 2005

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My name is Pelle Braendgaard. Pronounce it like Pelé the footballer (no relation). I live in wonderful Managua, Nicaragua. I work with Clojure, Bitcoin and Ethereum.

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