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What To Do When You Run Out Of Money And Time?

By Yaro Starak
33 Comments

A few months ago Walter, Mick and myself were at one of our regular Wednesday team meetings for CrankyAds, the advertising management tool for blogs that we have been working on together for over a year.

This particular meeting, I have to say, was not fun. We reached a point in our development process that was forcing us to make some hard decisions.

To put it simply, Mick and Walter had run out of the allotted time and funds they had to focus all their energy on CrankyAds. From this point forward, unless our little company was making enough to pay them for their time, they would need to take on contract work to pay the bills.

Of course when they take on contract work, they have fewer hours available to work on software development for our project. This in turn makes it harder to make any money from it, meaning they need more contract work. It’s a nasty catch-22 situation.

In order to break free from this situation we need money. Our two options to get money are either for the company to suddenly take off and bring in more cash (which hasn’t happened, although we are growing, just not quickly), or to take on investment.

We Said No To Investment

We spent many months looking at options for raising funds, including grants, private investors, incubators and angle funds. We were accepted into an incubator program, but we decided not to join because we didn’t like the terms. Preparing a pitch for the application process took time however, again more time taken away from development.

We were told by a panel of experts and investors during a practice pitch session at River City Labs, a shared working space in Brisbane we joined for a few months, that our pitch was good and almost ready to take to investors, if we decided to raise money that way.

I feel pretty confident we can get money given we have the key ingredients investors want – a good team, we are making some money, a concept with global scale and our own skin in the game. For more advice on creating a good pitch, read this – How I Created Our Pitch Deck For Investors.

In the end however, at least for now, we decided not to seek investors.

Why you ask? Because we don’t want another vested party, especially with our current direction being variable. It’s too much responsibility and pressure, and as I have written about before, I like my relaxed lifestyle. Running an investor backed startup is not conducive to relaxing.

Overseeing a startup has reminded me how much I prefer a lifestyle business (the kind of business I have had for the prior ten years or so as a blogger, information marketer and online entrepreneur). I like keeping things small. I like 2-hour work days. I like expressing myself with content and being free to explore different ideas. I also like that I can create value without needing another person.

That last point has become one of my greatest frustrations with CrankyAds. I love being creative with ideas and working with the guys, but we so rarely get to see our ideas come to fruition. We have pages and pages of features and functions we want CrankyAds to have, many of which would probably flop, but a few could really change how people buy direct ads on websites. We just don’t have the resources to make them happen.

Software Is A Complex Beast

Despite being well versed in minimum viable product concepts and the lean startup methodology, developing software is a terribly slow process. A much slower process than I originally thought.

I love it when we get to release new features on CrankyAds. It’s probably the most exciting part for me, besides receiving validation when we actually help people to make money from their website. Unfortunately we can only roll out a fraction of the enhancements we want to, and hold back on the big changes because they will take months of development time.

For the last few months development slowed down significantly as both my partners started contract work on other projects. Mick also got married and went on his honeymoon, a pretty good excuse for not working.

As a result we’ve been forced to really think minimalist and prioritize tasks based on what we can get done in short sprints. We’ve also had to make changes to our overall strategy, for example changing our pricing structure, to help us hopefully generate more cash flow.

We’ve concluded that we are in a marathon with CrankyAds and the road is changing as we run it. We’d love to bring in just enough cash to support Walter and Mick so they can develop features full time and build from there. That’s our short term goal, whether we reach it or not will very likely come to conclusion in 2013.

CrankyAds Improves Statistics

Since I am writing about CrankyAds, I can tell you about the first in I hope a series of enhancements we just made to the statistics we offer on ad campaigns.

Quite a few people were asking us for a more specific break down of ad clicks and impressions on a daily basis, rather than just a summary. I’m happy to say we have just rolled out this feature.

Sample Statistics From CrankyAds.com

You can read more about the new stats and two other new features we just rolled out in an update I made to the CrankyAds blog.

I’d like to thank the small, loyal and growing following we have at CrankyAds. I was really impressed by how much you embraced our pricing change a couple of weeks ago. It’s good to know people are willing to share some income to pay for a service like CrankyAds.

If you have yet to try us and want to sell ads on your blog, please give CrankyAds a go and let me know what you think.

I’ll continue to write more about CrankyAds here on EJ when I feel it makes sense to do so and when I can use it as an example to help pass on what I am learning. Even if CrankyAds doesn’t find a way to become a viable company, it has, and will continue to be a tremendous learning experience – and a whole lot of fun too (it’s great having two business partners to joke around with and still call it work).

That’s it for now.

Yaro Starak
CrankyAds Founder

About Yaro Starak

Yaro Starak is the author of the Blog Profits Blueprint, a report you can download instantly to learn how to make $10,000 a month, from only blogging 2 hours per day. You can find Yaro on Facebook, Twitter and .

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33 Comments

  • love the conscious decision to select lifestyle over an influx of capital. shows you know what you want and what is high on your priority list. all initiatives provide a learning experience, and there are an unlimited amount of projects one can take up at any point. there are some key underlying “life lessons” embedded in this post which i fully concur with.

    all the continuing best with this particular initiative. i am enjoying following the cranky ads evolution and look forward to hearing more about it Yaro.

    • Thanks for the kind words Sunil. I have to admit talking about CrankyAds is hard sometimes from the point of view that it has been a frustrating process. Internet marketing in general can be frustrating because you always have more you can do, but software is a whole different kettle of fish.

  • I love the attitude and tenacity with which you are confronting the challenges of your venture. All startups face challenges. It’s how you manage them that will determine your success.

    • We do what we can Freddy! I can see CrankyAds potentially becoming a profitable enterprise, the only reason it may not is whether we are willing to run it for a loss long enough, doing work for no financial return, to reach profitability.

  • It’s interesting how you have a love/hate relationship with having partners. Frustrated that you can’t have all the awesome features, but enjoying the fact that you have other people to joke around with.

    The lifestyle vs investor decision is something that I faced this summer. I decided to go without one as well. I realized that I would have one other person that I would have to make money for. I also reasoned like you did, that it would make me less mobile. So I decided not to as well.

    • Oh I enjoy having partners, for the jokes and because they can do what I can’t.

      The part that I get frustrated with is because there are things that I rely on them for 100% I can’t jump in and “help out” to move the ship forward quicker or get something I really want to see created finished.

      I guess I wish I was brilliant at everything and had time to express my brilliance everywhere too!

  • GiiGii

    Thank you for sharing this information for it was very inspiring. I was laid off work Oct. 11th 2012 and your post time surely hit home. I will also have to say it was a wake up call for me. You made a comment that you “like expressing yourself with content and being free to explore different idea” and that seem to describe me as well.

    I have put up blogs took them down, put them up and took them down several times because I run out of money to fund then or my time run’s out at my corporate place of employments but this post has help motivate me to get back at what I love doing and that is expressing myself through my talents – which one is writing and what better platform to utlize – blogging.

    My goal is to get started and take one day at a time. Learn from my experience and continue you reading your material. As I subscribe to your posts and save your emails in a folder called blog mentor (s). I am deeply honored to be able to connect with a visionary suchas yourself. I have been told often I too am a visionary and someday should write a book.

    Thanks and please keep up the wonderful work you do. I ask that you receive blessings beyond measure for pouring “life” into so many other’s life directly and indirectly.

    God Bless You!

    • You are welcome GiiGii. Just keep working at it and something will click. Make sure you look after your income sources as well, there’s nothing wrong with keeping a part time job while you get your blog going so you don’t have to pressure yourself to make money with your blog from day one.

  • Helpful post Yaro,

    What i like about you is your determination and focus, i am really trying to imitate you in one way or the other because you know what you’re doing.
    I enjoyed the post, keep it up.

    • Thanks Theodore, determination and focus definitely make a difference, with a little bit of flexibility thrown in for good measure :-)

  • Hi Yaro,

    Great post…I am currently involved in 3 different businesses, one of them been an IT startup like yours…though we have quite a number of projects/ideas to develop.

    Just like you we face a major dileamor with resources and funding.

    We have so far kept it self funded, but to keep our projects moving what we do is the agile process of development…small incremental enhancements…always adding features continuously, nothing too big that will prevent us from continue development and improving. Sometimes it is mearly an additional field on the screen.

    We both developers, however we decided to go on the Ruby on Rails path, which is rather unfortunate for me, just like you team I am .Net C# boy.

    Too bad you in Brisbane … I moved to Sydney 10 years ago ;) but grew up in BrisVegas.

    Good luck with your project…I be reading your blog for years…just really much of writer ;)

    Norm

    • Thanks Norm, and good luck with your project too. If you ever feel like donating some C# coding time, CrankyAds would be glad to have you ;-)

  • Hi Yaro, Interesting that you chose lifestyle over having an investor, wouldn’t an investor get the job moved on so much quicker that the returns would give you that full lifetime of relaxing and fun?

    The fact that you realise that CrankyAds is a marathon goes to show that you are in it for the long haul and dedicated so you have certainly given every angle a lot of thought which is good, an investor can start to ask for changes to be made or want to go down directions you wouldn’t like and possibly risk alienating your customers so in the long run no investors could be the best decision.

    I am certain you didn’t just ‘toss a coin’ while relaxing on your sofa :-) I look forward to future updates on CrankyAds and seeing how it is all unfolding.
    Cheers
    Andi

    • Yaro do you have an affiliate set up for promoting CrankyAds?

      • And our affiliate program is on our list, just not at the top of priority, although it is getting higher up now that our payment system is starting to develop.

    • Hi Andi,

      Getting an investor would definitely help push the business in the right direction, which theoretically could lead to a more relaxing lifestyle, but probably only after we sold out. Between now and selling out would be a huge workload.

      If we took money on now we would have to spend time hiring new developers, integrating them into our team, monitoring their work, and most importantly, making sure the work they did move us forward.

      As a result of having the investor the onus to increase our profits quickly would see me putting in a lot more hours in order to drum up business, find advertisers, convince sites to use our service, etc

      Don’t get me wrong, all of these things are good ideas and good for the business, but the investor makes them all an immediate priority in a much shorter timeframe. You have responsibilities to more people, so 14 hour days become the expected norm.

      I think the reality is that a startup is not a lifestyle business, it’s way more than a full time job. You really have to want to spend your entire day on it, and weekends, and nights, where I like mixing my day up with many different things and I have other responsibilities.

      Hence we are taking the slow incremental path with CrankyAds. That of course may change if things to pick up and we get enough money to have Walter and Mick focus all their time on the project. If that was the case, new feature roll out would be quicker, and I’d have more things to promote, but we’d still be doing it at a pace we were happy with, not what someone else wants.

  • Olga

    Yaro,

    That’s a terrific post! It also came across as very positive and uplifting because it felt like, at least in my reading, that you are reconnecting with what you truly want to do.

    From my perspective, I used to live in “the world” of thinking and people that having a job was not only the default but the only way. I somehow didn’t even question it and was convinced that any kind of “self-employment” is for the people having some sophistical companies and businesses. After I finished my education (which was some years as I have multiple degrees, enjoyed being a graduate student, and was making enough as a part-time graduate assistant), I tried the full-time “real” job type of life. It was misery, to put it mildly. It took several years of trying to live like the other “employees” etc until I finally came to the point-of-no-return realization that having a “job” and being an “employee” is out of question for me.

    Now I am self-employed. To be fair, right now I am making less than what I used to. But I also work less, am pursuing some non-paying interests, and, most importantly, my freedom and flexibility and happiness are simply priceless. The interesting thing, by the way, is that once I switched to self-employment, somehow I am now surrounded by loads of self-employed people.

    My point is: It is important to grasp fully what works best for you (or whoever) and then live it that way. It is your life after all! :)

    To change the subject: It seems like you’ve learned so much from the start-up experience that perhaps it is one of the things you can teach and/or consult other people who are contemplating or starting out on that path. It is the kind of experience that unless you go through it yourself you wouldn’t know. Perhaps offer consulting or seminars to others?

    As an example: A friend of mine has had for years a bar, meaning she owned and managed it. It is a very hard business, and it was starting to wear her out, especially when business went down given the poor state of economy. To cut a long story short, she sold the bar business. And now, actually following my suggestion since it never crossed her mind, she provides consulting to a couple beginning bars (incl. to the people she sold her bar to) on various aspects of the bar business. Now she is a happy person, she doesn’t have her own money in this and all the responsibilities and risks, but gets to share the things she has learned over the years.

    By the way, my image of Australians (don’t know any personally) is from the ones I encountered when I traveled along the Red Sea coast in Egypt. They had all those small town along the coast – and lots and lots and lots of Australians and New Zealanders who come there with a backpack and a small amount of money and just take it easy for several months. Speaking of a relaxed lifestyle :) You’d hardly ever see an American doing that :)

    It’s great to see, Yaro, that you are posting more on the EJ! Thanks for all your effort!

    • Thanks for contributing such a thought provoking comment Olga.

      I’m not sure I am in a position to talk about start-ups just yet, not at least without one or two big successes under my belt. There are many others with far more experience, especially in silicon valley, who know what it’s really like. I think lifestyle design business is more my speciality.

      It’s interesting how you mentioned once you became self employed more self employed people turned up around you. Are they people doing similar types of work or completely different?

      You should also include a link to your website Olga so people can see what you do.

  • Jon

    Tackling a tech start-up with minimal technical skills to back it up is a real challenge! Good for you for tackling it.

    Were you not in the financial situation you are personally with multiple revenue streams, do you think you would have made a different decision about the capital?

    • Jon, I put some of my own money in to start with, but it quickly became apparent that you can easily churn through a lot of cash without having much to show for it, so being frugal is a better option. It also forces you to find ways to make things work, or at least test if they do (the lean method) if you have a small budget.

  • Olga

    Yaro,

    As another thought: It seems like one of the issues is that perhaps CrankyAds could benefit from more direct marketing and sales pitching to prospective customers. It also seems like it is relatively straightforward to identify quite a lot of prospective customers by simply getting lists of the top blogs in different areas, most use WordPress (and it is easy to figure out whether or not they do). Then simply contact them. You can easily offer value to them whether or not they sign up with CrankyAds. – You can simply develop some free training on How To Maximize Ad Income From Your Blog/Website type of a thing and offer it to them. You could put it together as some well-rounded training so that it is not just about CrankyAds. These bloggers are experts in the areas in which they blog, many of them simply don’t know much or haven’t updated for some time regarding maximizing their ad income. (I read some popular blogs in different areas and frankly, many strike me as totally clueless in terms of getting most mileage out of their blog.) You have a product and there is nothing wrong with pitching this product directly to prospective customers, we all get such sales pitches all the time. Plus you will be offering to them value via that free training. You can also offer them some follow-up training at a cost. :)

    • Olga – yes you are quite right, and we have started this process already with a report on how to make money with advertising on your site, taken from a 3 part series of articles on the CrankyAds blog.

      There’s an endless array of options when it comes to promoting CrankyAds, but that’s not really the issue. The problem right now is getting some core features done so that when we do go out and tell people to use CrankyAds, they decide to stay with us. I need to know we have hit the sweet spot for a core group of users and that our technology is reliable in serving that sweet spot.

      We are getting close to it each month as we establish core features like statistics, payment management and soon affiliate program. Of course all of this has to translate into income for everyone involved otherwise we are not going to be able to keep the service running.

  • Hey Yaro, nice to see this new feature getting integrated into CrankyAds. I must say that CrankyAds is growing day by day at a rapid pace, I have seen so many well off bloggers using this plugin on their blogs and that’s why gave it a shot for my blog too. After using it for a while, I have already sold out an ad on my site. But I guess you should improve the marketplace, and make it more convenient for advertisers to buy ads as it includes just a single page, you should add pages for each category, something like the BSA marketplace. Anyways, best of luck with your journey.

    Cheers
    PrIyAnGsHu

    • We are working on it PrlyAnGsHu (yikes!). You have to realize that just a few changes to the CrankyMart might be two weeks worth of development time for Walter. That’s for only a minor improvement to the overall platform.

      The challenge right now is picking what improvements to work on that matter the most to the viability of the business.

  • I’m going to be blunt and say, change the name to start with. It has way too many negative connotations, and it just sound cheesy. I wouldn’t look at it twice with a name like that. Sorry to be blunt, but it’s the truth.

    • That’s your truth Simone. The important thing is that people remember it, so even if you deem it cheesy, if you keep seeing it everywhere you will begin to think that all these people must be using it for a reason.

      Out of curiosity, what name would you suggest?

  • Hi Yaro,
    One of the fundamental keys in school of exploits is willingness to learn, expand and push boundaries. Keep on keeping on! There is no challenge free path in life…….victory is sure.

  • [...] been busy, really busy! My favourite blog post this week is the one about Cranky Ads. Its a venture Yaro is involved in with 2 others and he talks about not rushing into investment [...]

  • Hey Yaro, what a great question you have put as the title of this post!

    Well, despite the fact I am still no a millionaire or billionaire entrepreneur yet, I am glad to be able to share with you something that’s very simple and extremely beneficial that I have lately learned from some of the most successful entrepreneurs on my journey to become one.

    One of the first things that have come up to my mind is the importance for each of us to continually remind ourselves on our greatest passions especially during those times when feeling a bit down, disoriented or in your case, when being left with no money and time for achieving your goal.

    After my 7 year long painful time wasting and “cancer sufferering like” struggles while persistently trying to figure out how to make money online and at the same time having my bank account’s balance “dancing around” that threatening and scary ZERO, I have lately determinedly decided to “unlock the code” of how I could get to live an amazingly fulfilled, happy and wealthy life as effortlessly as the most successful people do.

    By the way, the main emphasis or weight here is the word “effortlessly” that always makes me very excited when imagining my ideal or dream life.

    This is how I have discovered the advice and solution for it after having stayed up that whole night before I’ve found it. Now, I must warn you that some points that I am going to share with you here could already be known to you.

    However, I’ve thought there is one of them that might well be worth our attention especially in those situations where we desperately seek a way out of a difficulty or trouble.

    Now, before I come to that critical point that I’ve thought it’s well worth remembering in order for us to easier recognize the right solution to our existing problem, I’d just like to very briefly remind you on the two deciding factors that help to powerfully maintain our focus on the things that really matter to us.

    And, these two things are as follows:

    1. Intention – Consciously stating what you choose to create in your life is the first step in manifesting it.

    2. Attention – Your life becomes exactly like that on which you put your attention. In other words, if you give attention to that which you choose to create in your life, it will begin to show up. Or, to be even more precise here, this could also be said in the following way:

    “Whatever you put your attention on grows stronger and stronger in your life.”

    By the way, I have learned about these two factors as well as the one that I’ve thought might perfectly fit in the context of this post as the key solution from the bestselling book called “The Passion Test: The Effortless Path To Discovering Your Destiny” by Chris and Janet Attwood who have, by the way, interviewed and worked with a number of super successful entrepreneurs such as Jay Abraham, Jack Canfield and Bob Proctor prior to creating and publishing this book.

    So, what’s that important last point that’s designed to help us successfully find that remaining piece of the jigsaw puzzle that might well be associated with the situation of completing our current project that we are stuck on?

    Subsequently, that third deciding factor recommended in this book is described as “No tension”. What does this actually mean?

    “No tension” means as follows. When you are open to what’s appearing in this moment, you allow God’s will to move through you. When you hold tightly to your concepts of how things should be, you shut off the flow of life, which in return prevents you from enjoying the fulfillment of living your personal destiny.

    Yaro, your meeting with your partners around the CrankyAds project has also reminded me of another meeting around a business project that’s mentioned in this book where we all could actually learn how important it is to follow not just one but all of these three factors for the successful completion of any of our private or business projects.

    Hope you have found this post as a kind of life-transforming eye opener when it comes to reminding ourselves on how important it really is to keep our minds open while being in search for the solution to our problem no matter what it is.

    Please, feel free and welcome to visit my personal blog and leave your comment there.

    In advance many thanks.

    Bruno Babic

  • Hi, I really liked your story and got some inspiration as well, its really an irritating thing when you dont have funds and have to pay expenses / bills, Internet marketing also takes some time to make you revenue, i have just started a small website and signed up on couple of marketing network, let see what comes, hoping for the best, thanks for sharing your story as well. i give you 10/10

  • Olga

    Hi Yaro!
    CrankyAds Plugin works with the platform blogger.com?

    • Not yet Olga, we hope to have that feature ready for next year – at the moment it is wordpress only.

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