Bootstrapped startups and the shit I learn in therapy

At the beginning of Quarter 3 things were going well, really well. Thanks to the improvements we made earlier in the year the team was beginning to breathe again. Our profits were still strong, the team seemed to be feeling good, and we were starting to look toward the future.

Austin and I were asking ourselves, “what should the future of Krit look like? Do we try to grow the agency as fast as we can? Is it time to get serious about building a product of our own?”

We didn’t know exactly what the answer was, but we knew we wanted more of what was happening. So we decided to focus on processes (sexy, I know). We would spend this quarter doubling down and setting ourselves up so we could experiment with the last few months of our year.

Then all of a sudden…we blinked. The quarter was over.

What happened during all that time? Turns out, quite a lot.

In Quarter 3 (July, August, September) we:

  • bought (after eyeing it for 5 years)
  • launched
  • went to Vegas for our first ever DEFCON
  • met furries and learned to pick locks
  • started our largest client project ever
  • saw the Case Status team hit product/market fit
  • launched a major new feature for
  • had a team member resign to travel the world
  • hired a new team member
  • found a new office space
  • had our highest-earning quarter ever

Personally, I also held my first Startup Grind interview and jumped out of a plane with my little sister to celebrate her 21st birthday.


What does all of that mean for Quarter 3? Was it a success or a failure? Did it set us up for future progress, or slow us down?

🎯 OKRs

Objective: Nail down our processes this quarter so that we can invest in ourselves next quarter.

Key Results:

❌No more than two unfinished cards each sprint

❌$400,000 in new pipeline

✅One Roadmapping Session from content

❌9/10 client satisfaction on two launches

❌5% internal time

Looking purely at our key results, Quarter 3 looks like a failure. We hit 1 out of 5. But if you look at the larger context, it’s a different picture.

The first key result was an attempt to measure how well our project management process was working. If we accurately manage sprints, then there shouldn’t be extra tasks. This turned out to be an imperfect measure but is an indicator that we have room to improve in project management.

Our pipeline at the end of Q3 was in the ballpark of $120,000. But we closed one Roadmapping Session from content, and with a solid base of long term clients sales wasn’t a primary focus.

Our fourth key result failed because we only launched one of the two projects we had planned, and priorities shifted for one of our clients.

The final key result failed because hiring took up so much time in September that we had to cancel an internal project day.

In all, Quarter 3 felt more like a quarter where we set the wrong goals. I’m incredibly proud of the work our team did on GreyNoise and B3i Analytics, excited about our new team member, thankful for our adventure to DEFCON, and psyched to see Case Status hitting new strides. I definitely rested on my laurels a bit on the sales side. That’s okay for now, but it isn’t a winning strategy for long.

💵 Revenue

The numbers from the past 3 months tell a different story than our goal tracking. From a revenue perspective, this was our best quarter ever. We brought in $208,863 with a pre-tax profit of $48,853. That’s more than half the revenue we made in all of 2018.


💰 Expenses

Our total expenses in Q3 were $160,010. It was a weird quarter for expenses. Two of our team members hit the 1-year mark and earned raises. But the numbers were a little unusual with one of them leaving and hiring a new team member halfway through September. For comparison, our base expenses are hovering at around $51,000 at the moment. The trip to DEFCON for 3 of us came out to about $6,000 between airfare, tickets, accommodations, and travel expenses.


👥 Revenue per client

Our revenue per client for the quarter was around $26,000 or $8,000 per month.

The interesting thing about this number, as I’ve mentioned before, is that we don’t want it to get too high at our current size. We also don’t want it dipping too low.

Higher revenue per client means we need fewer clients, which makes our business easier to run but also introduces more risk (losing a client who accounts for 50% of your revenue is a lot harder than one who accounts for 10%).

$8k-$12k per month is right around the ideal spot for us right now.

👨💻 Team

Earlier this year we came up with a compensation model outlining the different levels for our team, what’s expected, and how much each level makes in base salary.

Our model plans for a 5% raise each year. We haven’t gotten into a situation yet where performance levels are different enough to warrant different raises, so we try to plan on everyone getting the same raise as they stick around and become more valuable to the company.

We also plan to introduce a profit-sharing program this year.

Here’s everyone on our team right now and their current level. We don’t yet have a track for non-dev roles. That’s next up on the priority list. Right now, Austin and I both make $72,000 per year.

Name Position
Andrew Askins Founder
Austin Price Founder
Kevin Hoffman Partner / Engineer IV
Garrett Vangilder Engineer III
Austin Carr Engineer II
Jess Mitchell Engineer II
Laura Bosco Writer
Karen White Admin

🧠 Mental health

Our team is in a much stronger place than we were at the beginning of the year. Having a team member resign would have sent me into an anxiety spiral a year ago. While I want everyone to stick around as long as possible, and replacing someone is never easy, it didn’t make me panic. I knew we were in a good place and had strong relationships with our clients, so they would understand if we slowed down a bit while we found someone new.

We hired Jess Mitchell in September, and she has been killing it. Design is one of our core differentiators, and our projects are often more complicated on the frontend than the backend. This means frontend developers like Jess and Austin (who we hired in June) who have an eye for detail add a ton of value to the team.

At the same time, the balance of the team has now shifted slightly towards the frontend (3 to 2) and that has put some additional stress on Kevin and Garrett. Our plan is to hire another backend developer to help even the load around the beginning of next year.

What other questions do you have?

What does all of this mean for Quarter 3? Was it a success or a failure? Did it set us up for future progress, or slow us down?

To be honest… I don’t know exactly. It was a financial success, but we struggled with our goals. We succeeded in some areas and failed in others. I think that’s okay because life and business are hard and we’re going to have missteps.

What’s important is that we learn from what worked and what didn’t. Moving into the next quarter, we’re keeping essentially the same high-level goal. But we’ve shifted our approach. So far it’s working well, and I’m excited to share the results with you in our annual Year in Review post.

If you have any questions about running an agency, or need help taking a product from Minimum Viable to Minimum Lovable Product let me know. My email is

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