I invested my savings to build a media brand from scratch. How much is this price?

When you start a new business, you should decide how much of your personal savings to invest?

For the first time, I used my substantial amount of money to launch a new business.

I’ve developed media companies before, but never got my hands on my savings. A decade ago, I ran a boutique service agency, and we reinvested a portion of our revenue into another branch of the business, a website for writers. I believe this is one of the best ways to start a company if you don’t have money in the bank yet: by providing services that bring in cash flow and invest over time in the development of new assets. .

Then I went to work at a personal finance media brand called The Penny Hoarder (they bought my agency). That company was also new, but the founder had been developing it for 5 years before I joined as a third employee, and we have such good resources that our growth is suitable. at the fast pace of a funded startup.

So when I started building a new media company last year, I had enough experience to know how I wanted to do it. I will start – I appreciate autonomy – and I have money to invest from the mid-six sell a website content years ago, the website for writers we launched during my agency days.

Invest in a new media brand

Why would you spend your own money to start a company, someone asked me, when can you run Substack or get a job at a media company?

Because building something from scratch – something bigger than yourself – is exciting. I have a writing skill, but my real superpower is building: spotting an opportunity, putting all the pieces together, and sticking with it long enough to create something of value.

There’s also the financial benefit of running a scalable business that doesn’t rely solely on me and the freedom to play by my own rules. If you are an entrepreneur, you understand this well; can’t stay away from the next challenge. Every small victory is a thrill.

So I started working about 30 hours a week (that’s my version of full-time work now that I’m married) on my new project in September 2021. I called it. to be They got it.

Through our news, we share stories of online companies that have sold for six, seven, or as low as eight figures, exit patterns that don’t usually attract media attention but can be life-changing. life for founders, especially those who start or raise only minimal capital. We’re also building resources to help entrepreneurs sell their businesses, including a database that tracks acquisitions of this size.

I chose this topic because it tackles a pain point I’ve experienced: both times I sold my business, I didn’t know where to turn for advice or experts to help. Most of the information I can find is geared towards much larger sales. And I took the “compare” or sales comparison, manually – because no one tracks them for deals of this size.

So I set out to build this resource for entrepreneurs – but it turns out that investors, M&A professionals, and entrepreneurs looking to acquire businesses also crave this information.

By the time we launched in February 2022, we had an email list of about 1,000 people, and we spent about 30,000 dollars. Most of that money goes to content creation, website design, and building.

While I’m our only employee, I work with a team of freelancers who do a lot of the heavy lifting: reporters, researchers, podcast producers and designers, plus with an operations manager. My goal is ultimately to hire a few employees, but I don’t want to build a huge team. My preferred model — and this is doable in large part because it’s an online business — is lean, big-revenue team.

Fast-forward to six months after debut and I public sharing What do our numbers look like? This runs until the end of July 2022:

Spent: $115,000

Revenue: $42,000 (reinvested in the brand)

My investment: $73,000

It’s scary to put your money on this brand. But even scarier? Tell others how much I have invested.

Is it too much or not enough?

It’s easy to share these types of numbers publicly once you’ve succeeded and look back on what it took to get there. But transparent about my investment when we are not yet profitable? I find that even scarier.

Others might look at what I spent and say it’s too much. I should have spent less on an MVP to find out if anyone was interested before putting serious money into it.

Others may say it’s not enough. Some of the media startups I follow Twitter raised millions of dollars to fund their first years of growth. How would I make a dent for only $73,000?

However, that transparency felt important, both to show others what it really takes to launch a business, and because it aligns with our brand ethos. We ask entrepreneurs to share sensitive information with They Got Acquired, metrics about their business, or behind-the-scenes details about the hardest parts of their acquisition experience. They trust us with that information because they know transparency will help other entrepreneurs succeed; It’s a small way to pay it forward.

So, by sharing my own scary milestones, I’m putting into practice what we preach. That investment, while high for some and low for others, is right for me. By putting these dollars in, the brand was polished enough at launch to be taken seriously.

The hardest part for me when deciding how much to invest is not the initial investment, but the commitment to invest more as needed. My initial plan was to call for a $60,000 investment to get our operations up and running, with the hope that soon, we would have revenue funding.

After launch, we had some great wins. We grew our email subscribers to several thousand organically, with open rates well above the industry average. We already have sponsors who want to reach our audience of acquisition-minded entrepreneurs. Ours resounding mission.

Of course, I don’t want to suggest it is easy; There are also many challenges. It’s hard to hire good reporters with the right skill sets even though I have a background in content team building. And my expectations of how quickly we can grow don’t always match the size of our team and resources.

However, we had traction, so I decided to put in more money. And I’ll continue to do so if needed because we’re in a different place right now than when I drafted my pre-launch strategic plan.

Now I don’t just believe this idea will work – I know it will.

Towards profit

My goal is to bring in enough revenue by the end of the year to cover expenses. Our monthly burn rate is currently $10,500/month, but things change quickly at startup, so reality may be different next month.

I had to push myself to share those numbers publicly – but the reaction when I did was overwhelming. Other bootstrappers have been grateful for the transparency. We often hear about the successes of a new company, but the details around what investments to make there tend to be hidden. My fellow entrepreneurs are relieved to hear someone say, I put my own money in, and this is scary. They feel seen.

Yes, it’s riskier to invest your savings than to raise money and pass on at least some of that risk to someone else. It’s certainly not a risk everyone should take, nor is it a risk everyone can take.

But for me, at this stage of my life and career, betting on myself is the right way to go.

Alexis Grant is a media entrepreneur and founder They got it.

Opinions expressed in commentary are solely those of their authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and beliefs of Luck.

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