The Experiment: Can I Build a Million-Dollar Microbusiness?

It's January first, and I'm aiming to make 2024 the year that I built my side hustle into a thriving microbusiness.

Twelve years ago today, Dropped Bits, Inc. was incorporated. Domains were registered. Social accounts were created. Even business cards were printed.

And then… nothing much happened for a couple of years after that.

Eventually, some iPhone apps were launched to thunderous… silence.

Today, Per and Thought Detox have a few thousand installs, and the business is profitable, but it’s not exactly what I’d call successful. Marketing, product development, and growth of any kind has generally been an afterthought, and frankly, while I’m proud of the apps I’ve built, I have to admit: they’re utilities. They’re little apps I’ve built to scratch an itch, to learn something new, and to recoup my expenses. They are not —and this is key to understand— something that I can build a successful business around.

What do I mean by that?

Well, first, let me start by defining what a “successful business” means to me. This may be different for you, and that’s okay; right now, I’m focusing on what I want for my business.

I define a successful business by three criteria:

  1. It’s a going concern. An accounting term, this basically means that the business will meet its upcoming obligations. Dropped Bits meets this criteria.
  2. It provides value for its customers. This is pretty key; if you don’t provide value, then you lose customers. Dropped Bits meets this criteria. Sort of.
  3. It provides a reward for the owner. This is a bit hand-wavy as far as criteria go, but essentially what I mean here is that you’re happy with the work/life balance you get from the business. It’s worth putting the time into the business, because feel you get something out of it. Dropped Bits does not meet this criteria.

Digging into these a bit more, while the business is generating enough revenue to cover its operating expenses and make small capital investments, it isn’t truly providing any reward to me — i.e., real income. I admit that the title to this article is a little bit clickbait-worthy: I don’t need the business to be generating seven figures, nor am I particularly interested in the complexity that comes from a business of that size. But I want the business to be thriving, and right now it’s nowhere near that.

In 2024, my goal is to change that. That’s going to come down to developing a more compelling product for a more engaged customer base. Doing actual market research —hell, just learning about marketing and product management— is going to be a big part of that. Building in public —i.e., sharing my thoughts, questions, and solutions— will also be important.

By “building in public”, I mean that I’m going to share the progress I see, the lessons I learn, the conversations I have, and the mistakes I make, all right here. I want to share what I learn with other solopreneurs. If I can help you build a side hustle into a successful business, one that grants you more financial security and independence, then I’ll have met my goal.

(Although if I’m honest, a secondary goal for this site is to keep me accountable.)

I’m also running a bit of an experiment with this site, too. I’ll post here twice a month; on the first of the month, I’m going to share news and updates. On the fifteenth of the month, I’ll share more in the way of resources. Maybe it’ll be a review of a book on entrepreneurship. Maybe it’ll be an interview with an expert in some part of building a business. Maybe it’ll be a how to with a tool or service that can cut your costs.

While all this content will be shared freely, the community will be for paid members. A small monthly fee will unlock things for you, like:

  • Commenting on articles
  • Ask questions for AMAs
  • Receiving this content as a newsletter
  • A collection of discounts on tools that I use to run my own microbusiness
  • Other surprises

I’m still building some of these things out, and I’m excited by other things I've got in the pipeline.

It's no coincidence that I'm launching this site on January first. I don't particularly subscribe to the idea of New Year's Resolutions, but I've always somehow felt ambitious with renewed vigour as the calendar rolls over.

So, here's to 2024. I hope I can help make it impactful for you and your microbusiness!

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Jamie Larson