How to Build a Startup Empire without Selling Your Freedom

Ali Mese
Ali Mese
Mar 27, 2018 · 8 min read
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Joel’s self-funding journey.

Small is the new big

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Analytics & SEO? Ahrefs’ crawler is second only to Google’s.

Email Marketing? MailChimp has over 14 million customers.

Data collection? JotForm has 3.2 million users and +100 employees.

Productivity? Todoist is the market leader.

Project Management? Basecamp has offices in over 30 cities around the world.

1. Quitting your job vs. ramping up your side gig

1. Start by ignoring the “haters.”

2. Next, quit your job.

3. Now, hustle 80 hours a week.

Ahrefs…

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JotForm…

“I’d wake up at 6 am, answer customer questions, and then go to work.

It took me another five years to quit my job and start my own company — even though I already had a successful product.”

2. Slow growth is the new hockey stick curve

Revenue first vs. profits first

Focusing on profits, however, creates freedom.

“I know that spending quality time with my family won’t land me at the top of TechCrunch, but it’s a personal measure of success.

I’ve grown my business slowly and spent 12 years building a stable business that can function without me.”

Aytekin Tank.

Hiring, firing, and sane startup culture

3. Create value first and valuation will follow

“What’s better than an exit strategy?

It’s a long-term mission that your company truly cares about.

It’s focusing on building a company that can outlast you and creating something of true value.”

A fat bank account isn’t a recipe for success.

“Every time we sat down with potential investors, they never seemed to understand small business. Something in our gut always said that didn’t feel right.”

— Ben Chestnut, MailChimp founder

This post is part of a series of stories that explore the fundamentals of escaping competition and building a business on your own terms in the most cluttered marketplace in history.1. To build a business empire, own an opinion (not a marketing budget)
The goal is not to sell to everybody who needs what you have.
2. How we got 11.3 million pageviews without the growth hacking bullsh*t
Growth begins with words.
3. Don't build a startup, build a movement
How to move the masses by going beyond selling just software
4. How to escape competition (and build a business on your own terms)
A practical framework to build your unique selling proposition
5. Growing startups when the product sucks
Don’t hurt your company by focusing on growth too much, too soon.
6. How to build a startup empire without selling your freedom
Small is the new big.
7. Sell something bigger than your otherwise boring business
Don’t sell boats. Sell time on the water.
8. Long-term thinking is most powerful when everything is falling apart
Lessons from founders who built their empires over the last decade
9. I can’t tell you why our business is growing
Kill your conversion funnel.
10. The consumer isn’t a moron
On having an obsession for growth before retention.
11. The future of growing startups
Growth doesn’t happen overnight.

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Ali Mese

Written by

Ali Mese

Founder of The Startup pub + Growth Supply storytelling studio. I write essays that help you to get better at building your thing: https://GrowthSupply.com

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +683K people. Follow to join our community.

Ali Mese

Written by

Ali Mese

Founder of The Startup pub + Growth Supply storytelling studio. I write essays that help you to get better at building your thing: https://GrowthSupply.com

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +683K people. Follow to join our community.

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