Should I go on or abandon?

I am writing here because I would like the opinion of people that have experienced the same. I am the solo founder of a startup that entered an accelerator last year. After months of pushing through the first idea, I decided to pivot just before Demo Day.

Since then, things are going better: we have our first customer and revenue, still low (net revenue is slightly positive). However, I am running out of cash and I don’t pay myself anything from the startup. As a consequence, I am freelancing on the side to have a little income, because I have to pay for the rent & food.

I failed in finding a co-founder and securing a second round of funding (for now, we had 15k from accelerator)

I am becoming to feel really stressed and burned out (working 80h+ a week), but I don’t want to give up the baby I built and has a better chance of success now, more than ever.

Do you think that I don’t believe in my idea because I am freelancing on the side? What would be your advice for finding a co-founder?

  • What are your other choices outside of freelancing? If you were to invest all your time in this new pivot, would you be able to close enough sales to get you by? Is there a way to reduce your personal expenses?

    I’m going through a similar spot myself. I just got really creative because I realized I’d rather invest in me than anything or anyone else. I wish taking a job didn’t fill me with anxiety because I would freelance too. I also know most don’t have as high of a tolerance for risk as myself.

    Be advised – No one looks down at freelancers who run their own business. Do what you must until you can do better. However, there is nothing that more customer checks can’t cure. So if you’re in a zone of fear and safety, you may have to push yourself. As long as you are still booking customers, you haven’t given up.

  • Somewhat of a double message you’re giving us here in these words you wrote:

    I am becoming to feel really stressed and burned out (working 80h+ a week), but I —->don’t want to give up the baby I built<— and has a better chance of success now, more than ever.

    Do you think that —->I don’t believe in my idea<—— because I am freelancing on the side?

    • Hi,

      Many thanks for your answer! Yes, I know this is ambiguous and I think I am just too afraid that the company fails and see other founder completely jumping into their company without safety nets. When I see them and compare to myself, I see myself as not “convinced” by the idea while I think I am.

      Maybe too confused now to have clear ideas…

  • What happens if you took a break from your company? Could the company run on auto-pilot for a while? If you’re successful in getting freelance gigs it might make sense to use that to buffer your savings and give you some sanity.

    Honestly I’m not big on “finding” co-founders. That process should be organic (ie your former colleagues or people you know), but a place where you can quickly find if you have chemistry with is to go to hackathons – especially the multi-day ones.

    • Now, some processes are not automatized because I wanted to have first clients and then automate, so the business won’t run without human intervention. An idea would be to delegate this part…

      About co-founders, I would try a hackathon, that’s a great idea too

  • For our start-up the original founder brought a second co-founder on board and set himself a commercial milestone which they had to hit making a certain amount of profit to convince himself it was worth carrying on. It worked, and I joined after as the third person after that milestone and we then hit our aggressive target for that year.

    Worth perhaps having a similar line in the sand, which you can objectively test your faith against?

    We had all worked together before, so any former colleagues or accelerator graduates should probably be your first port of a call.

    • When, I did this too in the past. And my last milestone was to bring more than 30k to the startup, either by clients, through loans or business angels. I think I should fire me up to reach this milestone which is vital for the company.

      As for colleagues, no technical colleague 🙁 in accelerator, I have one colleague that could be interested, but he says he doesn’t like the idea of not being stable…

  • No shame in freelancing to pay the bills while working on your startup. I did the same (also solo founder). Just be efficient / disciplined about it.

    If I hadn’t freelanced, we wouldn’t have turned the corner (tho it did take a while). If you believe in it, keep going.

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