Start Small, Stay Small

A Developer's Guide to Launching a Startup
Narrated by: Rob Walling
Length: 4 hrs and 32 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (63 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Start Small, Stay Small is a step-by-step guide to launching a self-funded start-up. If you're a desktop, mobile, or web developer, this audiobook is your blueprint to getting your start-up off the ground with no outside investment. This audiobook intentionally avoids topics restricted to venture-backed start-ups 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 audiobook assumes:  

  • You don't have six million dollars of investor funds sitting in your bank account
  • You're not going to relocate to the handful of start-up 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 happens that most people are not in a place to do this. Start Small, Stay Small also focuses on the single most important element of a start-up 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 audiobook 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.

©2010 Robert Walling (P)2010 Robert Walling
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Profile Image for Diego Oliveira Sanchez
  • Diego Oliveira Sanchez
  • 04-12-20

The book I always recommend to get started

Me and my partner quit our jobs in finance in a large bank to start a software company funded with our savings. We were inspired by the famous tech startups, but we were also inexperienced and naive and our first attempt failed miserably. We spent 8 months building a product before even testing it with real people, and when we finally tried to get customers, we discovered that we had built a solution to a problem that didn't exist.

After the initial failure with our first business, we found about Rob Walling and this book (also about Microconf and some of its great speakers, like Rob himself and Jason Cohen), and this pretty much changed our lives. We were very glad to finally encounter a book in plain English, explaining in very practical steps how to build a real life software business. This book helped us immensely to acquire our first customers, to look for interesting markets, which numbers to aim for when researching Google keywords, the importance of market size and niches, and how to test ideas quickly before investing massive amounts of time and resources.

With the help of this book and other resources we learned to analyze markets and we considered many ideas until we narrowed it down to four. Then, within a month, we tested those 4 ideas quickly and landed on one that was clearly much better than the rest. We managed to get a few contacts and people willing to buy before even building anything. This blew my mind. We could then start developing with the confidence that our idea had a market. People were happy to tell us about their professional pains and how software could help fix them.

4 years later we are living very comfortably working in our lifestyle business, without external funding and with full control over our company. We are doing very well financially, our job is rewarding, and customers love our product. We feel very fortunate and grateful for this wonderful life. We don't come from any particularly privileged background, and I think a lot of developers can do the same we have done. Rob Walling has certainly started many companies over the years, putting to practice what he preaches in the book. He has definitely helped us with Start Small and Stay Small.

And that's the best part about this author. Rob doesn't make most of his money from selling books. I would imagine most of his income comes from the companies he has started and from investing his accumulated capital. This is not the typical self-improvement guru that wants to sell you a seminar. This is a very practical guide, almost step by step, based on Rob's real life experience (not academic theories) and on the aggregated experience of the network of founders he has access to.

If you want to bootstrap your own software or online business this book is for you. The only partially negative consideration may be that some of the specific tactics may be a bit out of date, but the key principles in the book are timeless, and it shouldn't be too difficult to adapt most of the specific figures and tools to nowadays. That's hardly a fault of the book, the internet changes fast. I wish there were more books like this one. 5 stars.

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  • craftworkgames
  • 02-03-20

it was alright

it starting to feel a little dated but some of the information is still relevant.