Bootstrapped Giants

The Most Important Thing to Do Before 2024...

Published 4 months ago • 2 min read

Ok, Story Time!!

The year is 2017. I'm on the phone with Ric Elias, Billionaire Founder of Red Ventures who had recently invested in my company Ampush. We were having a shitty year.

Me: I'm debating what's the right move… should we retain smaller clients or sunset them to go for bigger fish, how should I think about this? Did you ever face something similar?
Ric: I think that's the wrong question, Jesse.
Me: Well, what question should I ask?
Ric: What do YOU want next year?
Me: How does that matter? I'm trying to figure out the right answer for the business, the right strategy to take us to the next level.
Ric: But Jesse, its YOUR business. As the Founder/CEO, you can't disconnect strategy from yourself. It's impossible to separate and even if you could, you're more a effective leader (which is better for the business) when the strategy follows YOUR wants.

My head exploded. 7 years in and I had never actually asked myself that question. Nor did I understand its significance until Ric put it into words. In fact, I had always considered myself subservient to what the "business" needed. Ric encouraged me to do the EXACT opposite: "Make Ampush your platform for whatever you desire and if you thrive, it will thrive."

I start with this story because it was a CORE lesson for me on building a BOOTSTRAPPED GIANT. Maybe some VC backed founders can do the above and it still works (the best certainly CAN), but for most if you take institutional money… You have to get the answer "right." For a BG founder, the whole POINT is to retain your sense of freedom and flexibility. Yet, I did not do that. And most BG founders I know don't do it either… the second the business becomes something, they forget themselves.

So lets change that, today. Its the LAST DAY OF THE YEAR.

The most important thing you can do: ASK YOURSELF WHAT YOU WANT!!!

Seriously though, do your own personal reflection today if you haven't already. Here's a link to my favorite version of this which my friend Ashley Fina gave me. Download it, print it out two sided, grab a coffee, and set aside half a day and get to reflecting. I'll share some of my actual reflections in one of my January emails!

If the PDF is too much, here's my "quick start" list of a handful of questions:

Backward Looking:

Pick the biggest milestone by quarter or by month (for you personally/professionally)

  • When did you feel most alive/energized this past year?
  • What most depleted your energy?
  • What are the 3 biggest successes (professional, family, health)r?

Forward Looking:

It's January 2025 and you just had the best year of your life, WHAT HAPPENED? (Be as detailed as possible).

  • What would a 10/10 look like for you every day in 2024? (In family, business, personal?)
  • What 3 areas do you want to grow/learn the most in?
  • What are the 3 most important things you need to do to get your 10/10 or dream 2024?
  • What 2 habits can you develop/change that will have the most impact on your life?

Once you've completed this exercise: look at your strategic plan for 2024 and ask yourself what Ric asked me… What do you want? If your company's plan doesn't make your 10/10 or let you grow in the ways you want, CHANGE YOUR PLAN.

"You own your business, your business doesn't own you."

That's all folks, happy new year!!!


PS - Read Atomic Habits if you haven't. A few others: Great CEO Within, Traction, 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership and Double Your Profits

Bootstrapped Giants

Jesse Pujji

Bootstrapped to an 8 figure exit @ampush. Now building a $1B+ bootstrapped venture studio @GatewayX and sharing everything I learn along the way.

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