bootstrapped startup needs to be creative about "enaging" with out of house expertise


Fanciful title really translates in simple English as this:

We are (read I am ) a bootstrapped, cash strapped startup and I need to employ the services of outsite experts but want to a). minimise any impact on my short term cashflow b). get results (that generate actual income ) for any fees I pay to said expert. I have a definite skill set - which happens to exclude anything remotely to do with sales and marketing. In all other areas though, I am good - VERY good. I have identified a business opportunity, and I am creating a business to satisfy that need.

Up until now, I thought that you "build a better mousetrap, and the world would beat a path to your door". That is patently not true. I have built my website, and realized that no one is beating a path to my door - simply because they don't know I exist.

Ok, so the reality is this: I need someone/a team with marketing/branding expertise to help do the inbound marketing, and general branding/sales/marketing related activities - which I am not good at.

However, since I am funding this from my own hard earned money, I hate the idea of forking out my hard earned life savings (thats right!), to some smooth talking sales guy/woman, who charges ridiculous fees for doing something "arty farty" that can't be quantified and measured, and then simply "waltzes off" into the sunset, leaving me with a (totally avoidable - in my view) cashflow problem.

Don't get me wrong - I LOVE paying for results. I have no problem with paying for work IF and only IF, it results in results (pardon the pun) - i.e. site membership registrations, member conversion into customers etc.

I want to work with someone/a team who is creative in their approach to new work, who don't mind putting their money where their mouth is, and share the risk with me - so that they eat ONLY what they manage to hunt (in a manner or speaking).

Finally, I have two questions:

  1. How can I structure a contract to an individual (or team), so that they either defer payment until results accrue (say past a threshold number) - the payment can be at a set % higher than what they would normally charge, as a reflection of the "risk premium" - is there standard wording for such a contract, and where may I obtain such a contract from?
  2. Are there any companies out there that are skilled in the branding/sales/marketing area that are willing to come "on board" with me on this?. Geographical location is not important since we can "telecommute"

Marketing Sales Bootstrapped Inbound Marketing Business

asked Jul 19 '11 at 21:09
55 points
Top digital marketing agency for SEO, content marketing, and PR: Demand Roll
  • user2757: Your summary is quite preposterous. I neither said (nor implied) what you distilled my question to. If that is how you would summarize my question, then there is a serious flaw in your ability to extract information when presented with a set of facts - which begs the question as to why you are attempting to answer my question in the first place. I would not be interested in any advice you would have to proffer. The fact that others have provide solutions to my question demonstrates that it is not as outlandish as your "summary" seems to suggest. – Voidstar 13 years ago
  • voidstar: you may want to tone down your comments, they read quite aggressive. user2757 was providing a valid summary of what you asked for, you are the one who read too much into it. – Alain Raynaud 13 years ago
  • @Alain: I do apologize. I did overeact to user2757 attempt to "put words into my mouth". The fact that altruism is largely incompatable with business is (manifestly) self evident, so the (implicit) suggestion that I was expecting altruistic behaviour from a fellow entrepreneur was patronising to say the least. – Voidstar 13 years ago

3 Answers



At a very high level who is the customer? A retail online surfer or a corporate account. Can your product be sold online without a face to face sales call or does it requires an involved multi stage, multi month sales cycle. If I stumbled across it online would I buy it?

If you can sell it online, there is a lot of material out there on developing your customers. Even if you are not selling online check out Steve Blank Customer Development Page and you should be able to answer a number of questions yourself as well as get comfortable with the sales process.

Like development, testing and requirements gathering sales is also a process that needs to be managed. Ultimately to assess the effectiveness of your sales partner/team, you have to sell yourself. Otherwise it will always be some dark magic that you wouldn't get. Given the picture you have shared, I would recommend that you start pitching first till you find someone who can deliver and perform.

If your product is good, designed in collaboration with customers and in demand, I am sure you can find a sales professional who is willing to work on a revenue sharing basis. How and where you find them is a function of your location, your market and your customers.

answered Jul 20 '11 at 06:06
Finance Mentor
688 points
  • @Finance_Mentor +1 (if I could vote up), for the link to Steve Blank's site. Could you please post some useful links on developing customers for online sales?. The problem is that there is too much stuff out there, and it takes a certain amount of knowledge to sort out the wheat from the chaff - thus creating a Catch-22 situation. I agree that I will have to do some of the basic stuff (article writing, forum posting etc) myself, in order to establish a "baseline" - so that I can determine if a sales person is actually adding value. – Voidstar 13 years ago
  • @voidstar As requested here are two short links to two posts that I did recently to supplement the Steve Blank material. Hope this helps. I think in addition to the SEO work you have mentioned you also need to spend sometime on understanding why your end customer would buy your product. – Finance Mentor 13 years ago


What you are looking for is a partnership with another company. Try and find a company where you offer a non-competing but complementary product. Something where they can feed you leads and pay you from those leads. If you are really lucky you may even be able to strike an affiliate deal. The better your product the more options you should have. In this method you are leveraging the marketing resources that another company may have spent years developing or is simply better at doing.

Good Luck!

answered Jul 21 '11 at 12:29
Martin Floreani
51 points


Here are a couple options:

  • There are telemarketing type companies that try and setup leads / meetings. They only get paid when they make a valid meeting or get a good lead. You could setup that type of arrangement with someone. A cost per registration, sign-up, something like that.
  • Look at recent graduates, younger people may be willing to take a risk and not get paid until results are seen. Of course they will have to be 'sold' on your product themselves.
  • I don't know any expensive marketing companies that would engage in this type of scenario. They like the option to waltz off and not be out any money ;)
  • Partner with companies that have clients similar to ones you want and have them help sell your product
  • Create an affiliate program where you can tell where people sign-up from and pay people for leads / accounts made
  • Bring in a 'business partner' with marketing and sales experience that you trust and loves your idea

If you want to create an agreement than you just have to figure out what is actually measurable and use those as your metrics to pay the person. Assuming you both can agree on what is reasonable and what should be paid for certain results it shouldn't be too painful.

answered Jul 21 '11 at 13:21
Ryan Doom
5,472 points
  • You make some very good points - especially on the third point. I don't expect any "big boys" to be interested in what I have to offer - they are far busy "ripping off" (erm, providing solutions) for companies with big marketing budgets. What I am proposing will only be attractive to a similar startup (or visionary SME), who sees the potential, and will JV with me (along with other client work) - and reap the rewards. No one's waltzing off with my money :) As an aside, I do have an affiliate programme (will be part of my JV deal) - just need someone to get the word out... – Voidstar 13 years ago

Your Answer

  • Bold
  • Italic
  • • Bullets
  • 1. Numbers
  • Quote
Not the answer you're looking for? Ask your own question or browse other questions in these topics:

Marketing Sales Bootstrapped Inbound Marketing Business