Business for Bootstrappers

Michele’s Customer Research Guides

I love helping people figure out how to do customer research. But I find myself without one book to send people to help them get started and gett over that initial hump of finding people and figuring out *exactly* how to talk to them. So I’m going to start writing some more blog posts. They won’t be in a particular order, and maybe I’ll turn them into a book one

Software Social Nominated in Three Categories in SaaS Podcast Awards

Over 50 podcasts were nominated in the 2020 MicroConf SaaS Podcast Awards, and Software Social made the top 5 in three categories. See the full list here. Best Episode: “The Feelings Episode” Michele and Colleen dive into striking a balance between business, founder, and lifestyle fit, and the trade-offs of running your own business versus working for someone else. Best Hosts Best Podcast for SaaS Founders

How We Bootstrapped: The Nitty Gritty

The first year of a business can be the most precarious. You don’t know if things work. You don’t know how you’ll pay for them. You don’t know how it will turn out. So it makes sense that there is intense interest on how companies got started. I get questions about this often, so I wanted to break it down — with real numbers and cents — exactly how we

Health Insurance Options for Bootstrapped Entrepreneurs: A Guide

This post is a companion to the Software Social episode on Health Insurance for Bootstrappers. There’s no getting around it: health insurance is a huge hassle and expense in the US. The number #1 thing that kept us back from going full-time on our then-side project, Geocodio, was the scary part about dealing with health insurance. I had previous experience buying health insurance on behalf of an employer, and I

Build Better Software Podcast

Integrating customer feedback — whether it’s from interviews, usability sessions, or testing — can be tricky. Not because the methods are hard… but because of people. Many people resist new things and things that challenge their existing ways of doing things. We also talked about Jobs to Be Done and how to validate product ideas — and how to find problems when you don’t have users. I talked about how

How to Sew Cotton-Flannel Face Masks

Over the past few months, I’ve enjoyed the challenge of working with a physical product: face masks. A couple of people have asked me for my pattern and supplies, so here you go! I’ve included dimensions for child-sized masks, too. According to a study cited by the Boston Globe, a well-fitting cotton/flannel mask can filter as well as an N95, so I’ve been making mine from a cotton/flannel combination. Sometimes

Guest Post for Girl Scouts: “I Held My First Virtual Meeting and My Daisies Earned a Petal. Here’s How We Did It.”

I wrote a guest post for Girl Scouts on hosting a virtual meeting during the Covid-19 crisis. I think we underestimate how much children pick up and how much they are capable of understanding. My co-leaders and I felt like this was an important thing to discuss with them and dovetailed nicely with the Responsible for What I Say and Do petal. The pandemic is going to be a major

Washington Post highlights Maywood Response

In early March of 2020, I started organizing my neighborhood to help prepare for Covid-19. We ended up building a group of volunteers to get groceries, medications, and other supplies for high-risk neighbors. The effort was highlighted in the Washington Post: The brigadier general in the Virginia operation is Michele Hansen who moved into Maywood two years ago and runs a geocoding software company with her husband. Her sister is a nurse

Using Customer Portfolio Analysis to Weather the Storm as a Bootstrapper

It’s been a hell of a week. I will not mince words: the news is all-consuming right now. And if your brain is like mine, when it takes a break from thinking about our public health emergency it jumps to the next big risk: the economy. And our business. And how things will go. And it’s scary to think about. We all knew the risks of working for ourselves. But

Struggling with How to Fix a Product? Start Here.

The DC Metro system is an unenviable product to have to fix. For years, the system was reliably unreliable and could be a downright unpleasant experience even when it was supposedly functioning as normal: delays, outages, overcrowding during rush hour, and a lack of air conditioning on trains during DC’s blistering hot summers were all par for the course. The Metro’s problems are so bad that there’s a Twitter account