Podcast Notes: Minimal Empires

Podcast Notes: Minimal Empires

My podcast notes from Minimal Empires podcast, covering topics like SaaS, finding ideas, motivation, business structures, goal-setting, and more.

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8 min read

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I will update this post if I have notes for new episodes.

By Sumit Kumar who is the founder of Parqet and has previously worked at Stripe.

Today, all it takes is the internet to build a business empire that completely changes our lives - we just have to open our laptops and get started - That's what the Minimal Empires Podcast is all about. Whether you're an indie hacker, startup founder with investors, solo entrepreneur, bootstrapper, or side hustler - Minimal Empires helps founders with idea and co-founder discovery, business model validation, company formation, scaling, and exit by sharing experiences and learnings from successful founders. Each episode is packed with valuable tips.

Good luck with your venture!
(Translated with Hashnode AI)

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It is a German podcast πŸ‡©πŸ‡ͺ

My Notes

E2 – How do I find an idea for founding, bootstrapping, or as a side hustle?

  • Find a small niche that offers a large "piece of the cake"

    • For example, Plausible, Fathom, etc. vs. Google Analytics -> Privacy, Simplicity
  • Narrow down the niche, e.g., by geography, age, occupation, language, etc

  • Ultra-small niche can be expanded later

  • Helpful: Be part of the niche yourself (In which "bubble" / scene am I?)

    • What do people complain about? What are the pain points?
  • Book recommendations: The Millionaire Fastlane, The Great Rat-Race Escape

  • Definitely take your partner on the entrepreneurship journey

    • Why do I want this? What do I imagine?

Some Ideas

  • Website for sending faxes (including API)

  • Content: Expert in something (e.g., software: Linear, Supabase, Auth0, ... or hardware: vacuum cleaner, stove, keyboard) -> produce content and SEO affiliate and/or advertising

  • Analytics for registered users (auth provider; dashboard):

    • When do users log in? How often? How long? Retention? Devices? Which login is used?
  • Camera that streams a 24/7 food bowl (e.g., squirrel or bird) on Twitch, every tip = dispense food

E3 – Don't start a side hustle without considering this!

  • How much revenue do I need to make to work full time on my project? How many customers do I need at what price?

E5 – 12 Startups and How They Can Get Their First Customer

B2BB2C (other "Indie Hackers")
"we""I"
professionalpersonal, sympathetic
do not want to be the first customerwant to support other Indie Hackers
  • Niche first, then expand

  • Focus on one social channel

  • Where do the users hang out? Reddit? Twitter? Be active, build a reputation, don't sell directly

  • Start with free, feedback is everything, make calls: "How are you currently doing it?", "What are your pain points?", Book: Mom Test

  • Make a focused landing page, demos, GIFs, demo-account

  • Exposure: post on Twitter, GIFs, using the tool, etc.

E6 – Motivation: Stay motivated and keep motivating

  • Where do I want to go? Work backward from the goal so I know what it's for

  • Have a "compass"; not aimlessly in one direction

  • What would my ideal daily routine look like if money wasn't an issue?

  • If you enjoy the journey, you can achieve a lot. Reaching the goal gives a dopamine boost but quickly drops off; don't celebrate achieving goals too much

E7 – Tips and methods for maximizing revenue

  • Take the price you had in mind and double or triple it; people tend to lean towards pricing too low.

  • No more than 3 tiers.

  • Price the highest tier very high, so the middle one seems affordable (somewhat contradicts the popcorn pricing model in movie theaters).

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    This somehow contradicts the popcorn pricing model in cinemas: Pricing the high tier close to the middle tier so that everybody thinks the top tier is a good deal because it is only slightly more expensive.
  • Experienced a significant revenue boost when prices were removed from the website (B2B); could set individual prices and adjust them constantly.

  • Never offer "unlimited" of anything; it takes away the possibility of introducing higher tiers or add-ons.

  • Better to be a boutique with fewer customers and higher prices; less effort for support, etc., and generally less stressful customers.

  • Recommendation: Designing the Ideal Bootstrapped Business with Jason Cohen

E8 – Taking calculated risks as a small business owner

  • There are many legal "hurdles"

  • Not fulfilling everything from the beginning (e.g., cookie banner or correct legal notice/privacy policy); it's pointless if there are no customers yet; but it's a consciously taken risk

  • These things are on the to-do list but don't have a high priority

E9 – This is how bootstrappers survive and thrive despite recession

  • Build cash reserves; save costs

  • Invest in marketing to attract customers

  • Reduce or stop discounts, as these customers often leave quickly, which is especially undesirable during a recession

  • Additional revenue streams

  • Increase prices

  • Sumit has a Holding (UG) & Incubator (UG) & Parquet (GmbH)

    Diagram of a holding structure (UG) with a company (GmbH) and an incubator (UG) below it. Investments are made in the holding.

  • Exit the incubator in a timely manner, as otherwise, there will be high taxes (if approaching 10,000 EUR per month) or restructure the incubator and create a new one

  • Holding also has real estate, investments, shares, etc.

  • Real estate: The company can also buy property (can be purchased from the company's gross income) and rent it out cheaply (about 30% below market) to the owner

  • GmbH for the company when partnerships are important (reputation); with Parquet: with banks

  • Sumit would always go directly for UG instead of GbR if serious

  • Holding structure is only worthwhile if serious and initially comes with costs (e.g., for tax consultants)

  • If planning to emigrate, a different setup is better (with GmbH & Co. KG)

  • YouTube recommendation: Warum die DOPPELTE HOLDING die beste Rechtsform ist! Steuerberater Christoph Juhn (the channel in general)

E11 – How I set personal and business goals + my 2023 goals

Personal

  • lifetime goals, have North Stars

  • "shoot for the stars and reach the moon" (not necessarily for habits)

  • build habits

    • start small, e.g. create time and go to bed early before a huge morning routine, or go to the gym first instead of training for 1 hour 5x a week right away
  • when the habit is established

    • already "on-track"

    • maybe more challenges, e.g. 200kg deadlift, or running a marathon etc.

Business

  • not directly targeting revenue or profit

    • can favor bad decisions
  • Goals that favor good decisions and indirectly lead to profit, e.g. number of customers

E14 – 6 Reasons Why You Haven't Started Your Business Yet

1) Legal hurdles: Register trademark? Start a company?

  • First focus on initial customers

  • Some legal things can be focused on later (e.g. cookie banner)

  • A corporation can be backdated (but invoices already issued)

  • Just get started

2) Imposter: Me/Product not enough

  • It's good enough for someone; it doesn't have to be the best

  • Big-Bang a la Apple products not good for bootstrappers; start imperfectly

3) Fear that idea will be stolen

  • The idea on its own has no value, execution matters

  • Hundreds of others probably have the same idea; but who implements it?

  • Don't be afraid of building in public

4) Can't build the product / I lack a skill

  • No money yet to hire a developer or similar

  • 2 options:

    • Learn it yourself

    • Co-Founder

  • 2 important skills needed: Tech + Sales/Marketing

5) Have many ideas & can't decide

  • Possibly test 12 startups in 12 months or similar; ideas with product-market fit will emerge

  • Again: Idea has no value without execution

  • Just start with one

6) Don't know if anyone would buy it / if the idea makes sense

  • Validate product beforehand

  • Book "The Mom Test"

  • Don't ask friends & family if the idea is good

  • The best validation is payment data; possibly collect payment data on a landing page until enough is available and then start

  • Instead of asking if the idea is good / makes sense, ask questions about the problems to be able to offer a better solution

E15 – Open Startup: Advantages, Disadvantages - is the era over?

Open Startup: Sharing company metrics openly (e.g. revenue, profit, churn, MRR, employee salaries, etc. etc.). Not everything needs to be published; for example, Parqet does not publish churn.

Example company: Ghost

Advantages

  • Trust

  • Accountability

  • Community

  • Content

Disadvantages

  • Encouragement for copy-cats & competitors

  • Insights that competitors can use

  • With poor numbers: harmful to trust

TLDR; Advantages outweigh disadvantages, especially in the beginning. Eventually, disadvantages increase and advantages decrease.

E16 – Successful Side-Hustle: Time Management Strategies for Entrepreneurs

  • Know your "Why": Extra income? A salary increase would be easier. As a first step into full-time business? What should your ideal day look like?

  • Get your partner on board; partner must know the "Why". There will be sacrifices (in relationships, etc.) to start/grow the side hustle.

  • Use the time when you have energy and leave the employer "the rest"; better to hustle before work rather than after with the remaining energy.

  • Where does the time come from?

    • Reduce consumption time; possibly go to bed earlier if unproductive in the evenings and then get up earlier.

E17 – Top Business Models for Solopreneurs or Solo-Founders

  • It doesn't have to scale exclusively through time; not 10x income through 10x time; there's a limit

  • B2C is more difficult than B2B, as customer support can consume a lot of time

  • boutique more suitable than cheap

  • Suitable: content (newsletter, YouTube, blog), affiliate, SaaS, plugins (e.g. WordPress, Shopify, etc.)

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