Found in 22 comments on Hacker News
jkingsbery · 2021-05-20 · Original thread
Others mentioned MicroConf. The organizer of MicroConf, Rob Walling, wrote a book where he gives very similar advice:, both around starting with a market and focusing less on technology and more on sales. He is writing for a particular niche of smaller, non-VC-backed startups, but the general approach still seems similar.
Congrats on making it 'there'!

Aside from obvious advises (which i'm sure will come) on grow, VC, investment, outsourcing, scaling et cetera.

Please consider this approach:

Start Small, Stay Small - by Rob Walling and Mike Taber

Wish you all the best

garren · 2019-04-23 · Original thread
That's awesome. A couple responses to yesterday's thread regarding bookmarked hn quotes really opened up my eyes regarding building and maintaining side projects. I picked up a book, "Start Small, Stay Small: A Developer's Guide to Launching a Startup" which has been informative (if a little dated). This article is a great supplement to that book, and is inspirational to a 9-5'er like me.

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longnguyen · 2016-12-30 · Original thread
If you like the post, I recommend you to read Start Small, Stay Small: A Developer's Guide to Launching a Startup[1] by Rob Walling.

> "Start Small, Stay Small also focuses on the single most important element of a startup that most developers avoid: marketing. There are many great resources for learning how to write code, organize source control, or connect to a database. This book does not cover the technical aspects developers already know or can learn elsewhere. It focuses on finding your idea, testing it before you build, and getting it into the hands of your customers."


cschmidt · 2016-12-13 · Original thread
I think your parent was making a joke. But I thought the conference was worth it. That said, one of the two conference organizers has a book that is in the same vein. At the very least, read his book:

Start Small, Stay Small: A Developer's Guide to Launching a Startup

davidw · 2016-06-17 · Original thread
Rob Walling started out doing his stuff on his own. He's a prolific writer and podcaster - his material is well worth looking up. His book is somewhat dated, but still pretty good:
drewrv · 2015-11-05 · Original thread
You'd probably like "Start Small Stay Small" by Rob Walling.

th4t · 2015-07-25 · Original thread
How about switching your focus from tech to business? There is a great talk [1] by Jason Cohen, that might inspire you to find joy in looking at the craft from a different angle. Otherwise, in "Start Small Stay Small" [2] Rob Wailing addresses your exact issue in one of the first chapters - after a while you start "topping out" and moving from tech to tech feels like rehashing. That's one of the reasons he lists for making the switch from dev to entrepreneur. Maybe give it a read.



davidw · 2015-05-05 · Original thread
Mike's partner in the podcast - Rob Walling - has a pretty good book too:

It's also very much targeted at people doing small-scale stuff.

I'd buy Mike's book in a second if I weren't in the middle of a hairy intercontinental move.

davidw · 2015-03-12 · Original thread - this is still the book for bootstrappers, as far as I'm concerned.
davidw · 2015-01-31 · Original thread
In terms of your bootstrapped business, if you haven't already found some of these resources, have a look:

* - great weekly podcast with a transcript.

* Nice, focused, friendly forum:

* Book by the guys who did the podcast above that I would highly recommend to pretty much anyone:

Those should be enough to lead you to other resources.

davidw · 2015-01-19 · Original thread
I'd recommend this book and the bootstrapping community in general:

He could probably do ok with Ruby on Rails, Django, Node.js or something like that.

bengali3 · 2014-12-08 · Original thread
As a dev ultimately wanting to do bigger things:

Start Small, Stay Small: A Developer's Guide to Launching a Startup by Rob Walling

As a human with a curiosity:

Decoding the Universe: How the New Science of Information Is Explaining Everything in the Cosmos, from Our Brains to Black Holes by Charles Seife

itengelhardt · 2014-11-23 · Original thread
Places we hang out: - - Micropreneur Academy (

reading material: - The 7 day startup ( - Start Small, Stay Small (a bit dated, but the concepts are worth the read -

podcasts: - Startups for the Rest of Us ( - Bootstrapped with Kids (

graeme · 2014-05-05 · Original thread
In my case, I was very focussed on long term revenue that would pay me whether or not I was working. Within my niche, that took the form of print book sales, e-book sales on my own site and through partners, and affiliate relationships. I'm up to about $4,000 a month from passive sources.

You're in a good spot to have a full time job you enjoy and (presumably) pays well. For me, the hardest part was building capital. I'd recommend saving every penny you can.

As for how to start, try lots of small things. Most of my ideas that worked took, at most, two weeks to test. Many started from writing an email or making a phone call.

There are countless niches now, full of people prepared to pay money. I chose LSAT prep. I'm sure already there's thing you know how to do that people will pay for. Some ways you can monetize that:

  * An e-book guide to something, with free html articles as marketing for organic SEO and links
  * Some useful tool people will link to. Serves as marketing for either ads, a product, or a paid version
  * Videos on a topic. Can be marketing for any of the above, or lead to a paid video product.
"Authority" by Nathan Barry is an excellent book for establishing yourself in a niche. Reading that convinced me to make, which has free html versions of my books and draws many visitors which I've been able to monetize.

"Start small, stay small" by Rob Walling is an excellent guide to bootstrapping a business. Possibly the best. It's aimed at software developers, but I was able to use it as a non-developer for guiding principles and marketing.

The Moz guide to SEO is a very useful intro to how SEO works. Essential reading if you're planning on going the free marketing route.

Lastly, the Four Hour Workweek is what got me started, and it's a great overview of the hacker mindset applied to business. For me, the idea was not "hehehe, how can I be lazy and work only 4 hours". It was "how can I make a business that can keep running even if I choose not to work on it". I do work quite a bit, but I don't HAVE to now.

(Note: This last book rubs many people the wrong way. If a specific situation irks you, ask what principle he was applying, and if it could be applied to a situation that doesn't annoy you)


Start Small:



davidw · 2014-04-16 · Original thread
Just as the ever-increasing low cost accessibility of technology has made YC possible in that you can give someone just a little bit of money to build something, self-funded startups are also becoming possible for more and more things. Here are some resources: - lots of information on the recently concluded MicroConf with patio11 and many others from HN.

And Rob's book, which is a great starting point:

Granted, bootstrapping is not viable for some things, but for many others, it's a good path.

graeme · 2013-09-02 · Original thread
Are you a fan of rob Walling? If not, you should look him up:

dpeck · 2013-07-22 · Original thread
Largely the message of Start Small Stay Small,

I've played around with it a bit, though haven't followed through heavily on any of my PoCs so far, but the market first idea seems to be quite useful for a lot of areas. Enjoyed the book quite a bit, was not a fan of their startup academy at all.

snitko · 2011-08-21 · Original thread
Yes. Also, I don't know if you would agree, but I think any hacker bootstrapping a startup should instead read this book: It's written by a developer (a real one, who can actually code, not just talk about startups) who has really done it on his own - filled with valuable advices and thoughts. Every time I see someone talks about some startup book written by a marketing guru, I can't help but recommend this one instead.

As a side note, I'd like to point out that a lot of scam books appeared on amazon in the marketing and startup sections lately. The worst thing, they all got fake 5 star reviews, so it's not always clear right away this is a scam.

urza · 2011-05-14 · Original thread
Description from amazon:

Start Small, Stay Small is a step-by-step guide to launching a self-funded startup. If you're a desktop, mobile or web developer, this book is your blueprint to getting your startup off the ground with no outside investment. This book intentionally avoids topics restricted to venture-backed startups such as: honing your investment pitch, securing funding, and figuring out how to use the piles of cash investors keep placing in your lap. This book assumes: * You don't have $6M of investor funds sitting in your bank account * You're not going to relocate to the handful of startup hubs in the world * You're not going to work 70 hour weeks for low pay with the hope of someday making millions from stock options There's nothing wrong with pursuing venture funding and attempting to grow fast like Amazon, Google, Twitter, and Facebook. It just so happened that most people are not in a place to do this.

edw519 · 2011-04-11 · Original thread
That was a pretty good post, csomar, but I'm going to critique it anyway. (If it was a crummy post, I wouldn't even bother.)

What I like about it: You're focused on building something that supplies an actual demand. Good!

What concerns me about it: You're still too focused on yourself. Every one of your bullets was about what you want your business to look like.

I think you're focusing too much inward when you need to be focusing on your prospective customer and how they will benefit from the value you provide them.

Examples are everywhere, just a few off the top of my head:

  - salons that wants to optimize their scheduling
  - retailers that want to improve one on one communication
  - actors/artists that need better portfolios
  - shopkeepers who want to capture more POS info
  - teachers who want to play bingo in class (never mind)
Get out of your office and find people like this first. Ask them, not us, what they want. Then figure out how to provide them with what they crave. (Once you find one niche and get going, you'll be surprised how much fun it is and how well it works out.)

The rest (your bullets) will take care of itself. The shape of your business will be the byproduct of doing whatever you must to satisfy your customers' needs.

One great resource that will probably help you:

I've been studying this for a while, and the topic is personally very important to me, so I'm going to plug three books (affiliate links ahead, just google the titles if you want)

The first is the "E-Myth" -- great book on the difference between a manager, technician, and entrepreneur. Start here for the vocabulary and basic concepts you'll need:

The second is a little-known personal favorite, "A Good Hard Kick in the Ass". It's a little dated, but it's a great book about generally separating what's important from what isn't. I found it was a good book to learn attitude.

The last book is the book I'm currently reading: "Start Small, Stay Small" I haven't finished it all yet, but the entire premise of the book is the move between coder and entrepreneur. It exactly answers your question.

From there, you can move on to blogs (which are great, but I find them a little too much in bulleted format for my tastes) or books about the nuts and bolts of what makes a great startup, like customer-driven development, or lean startups, or how best to handle yourself during the development process, like that stoicism book I read last year. Another awesome book. Lots of other great material out there. Too much, in fact.

Hope that helps you get started. I've got an entire site dedicated to answering the question of how hackers become entrepreneurs, Might want to check that out too. The initial book list was generated by a google search on Hacker News (hence the "hn" in the title) for books that we consistently recommend to each other here. Your question, or variations on it, is one of HN's recurring themes.

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