After a few years of careful planning and some initial investments, Taimer was corporatized in 2013. There were also a handful of customers involved from the beginning. Even though there was interest in our company, we decided to take care of the company’s financing without an outside investor. We considered that option as well, but financing the company on our own seemed like the right choice for us at the time.
But why did we decide to follow that path? An investor can significantly speed up the founding of a company, offers resources and contacts that facilitate growth and often provides valuable opinions and insights into the field. This absolutely holds true, but there is, however, a flip side.
You see, finding a like-minded investor can be mission impossible. It goes without saying that the situation is ideal if you manage to find your soulmate, and I do encourage you to meet with as many investors as possible. But if you and your investors have drastically different ideas about the direction of your company, you might just replace money problems with a whole new set of problems. For example, you may feel pressured to develop your product in a completely different direction or far too quickly.
In addition, financing your company out of your own pocket makes you fight for every single cent you make. You need to give your all attention to your company. I strongly believe that all entrepreneurs should go through some rough patches in their life. Setbacks and pitfalls grow your hunger to succeed, grow you as a person – and grow you as an entrepreneur.
Self-financing turned out to be the right choice for us. Taimer has organically grown into a real success story without any help from outside investors.
If you have a fantastic idea for a new startup, our way might well work for you, too. Here are eight tips that can help you build your dream company without the help of an outside investor.
1. Find a good partner
You shouldn’t start a company by yourself. Running a business with a partner is significantly more fun and efficient than trying to do it alone. A good business partner compliments you – when I first met my associate Eero Saarinen, I immediately knew that we would achieve great things together. We can both focus on our strengths and trust that the other half takes care of his part with skill.
2. Assemble a great team
In addition to a partner, having a great team plays a big part in a company’s success. When developing a product, new ideas get thrown around constantly and you need to be able to make all sorts of decisions on the fly. The right team helps you separate the wheat from the chaff, boosts marketing through sales automation, and takes product development to a whole new level. We are lucky to have been able to put together such an excellent team of programmers and salespeople. Without their help Taimer as you know it wouldn’t exist.
3. Put enough money aside
Money is often the number one obstacle for a startup entrepreneur – there never seems to be enough of it. Unfortunately, the truth is that you shouldn’t try your hand at entrepreneurship if you don’t have any money. You don’t have to be a millionaire, of course, but you should have a buffer for at least one year’s worth of expenses if you’re planning on getting started without an investor.
In addition to investment companies, business angels and crowdfunding, there are great public sources for funding that are well worth looking into.
Careful planning helps to pinch pennies, so…
4. Plan, plan… and plan some more
Well planned is more than half done. But you shouldn’t get too attached to the best case scenario plan, because things don’t always go off without a hitch. Go through every possible high and every imaginable low and create a plan B – and a plan C – so that you’ll be able to make it through even the most surprising twists and turns.
5. Be prepared to work long hours
If you’re not prepared to work 12-hour-days every day of the week for the first few years, you might not have what it takes to be an entrepreneur. An entrepreneur wears many hats, so you will have a ton of things to take care of in order to make sure that everything falls into place, the product is ready and business gets rolling.
6. Focus on sales and listen to your customers
As you might have guessed, the best way to cover your expenses is sales. So, to make sure your sales get off to a flying start, you should make sure that the product is appealing and the customer understands its value. It may be a good idea to first create a light Minimum Viable Product that you can test on potential customers before putting on the finishing touches. You should also consider the scalability of the product beforehand so that you can take over the world as smoothly as possible when the time comes.
At the same time, you should also make sure that when you are finally ready to release the product, it’s finished to perfection. If the product isn’t ready to hit the market, the future of your company may be on thin ice.
7. Keep reinventing your company
A company needs to constantly reinvent itself in order to succeed in the changing market landscape. An intelligent startup can sense a change from a mile away and is agile to adapt. This calls for smart leadership, a clear vision for the company’s direction and a good nose for what the customers will want in the future.
8. Utilize your network
Don’t be afraid of networking. Events are a great way to do this – for example, we have been going to Slush for the last three years to meet up with fantastic people in the field, be inspired and find new partners. You always go home with quite the stack of business cards, and many of them may well be of use in the future.
Finally: being an entrepreneur should be fun. You need to have passion and unwavering faith in your vision to be able to survive the pitfalls of uncertain everyday life. Without those things, we would not have made it.
I hope these tips will help you with the exciting first leg of your startup journey. Now go and be an entrepreneur!
Try Taimer so you can see how it works for your own business!