MicroConf Europe 2015 was without doubt one of the best conferences I’ve ever attended. The talks were great and so were the conversations with the other attendees. If you’re interested in bootstrapping you should definitely get a ticket to a future one.

I’d come across the conference before but wasn’t in the right place to go and get something out if it. This year I was in a good place to learn and then actually do something with whatever I learned rather than just file it away for some unspecified “future”.

What I wanted to get out of the conference

In addition to whatever I got out of the talks, I wanted to hear from as many attendees as possible the story of how they got to where they are now and what they’re thinking of doing next.

I don’t have an idea for a product I want to build so in the meantime I’m consulting and contracting while I decide what makes sense to try next. I came across the concept of stair stepping in the last year and I wanted to find out if it’s an approach people had used and what they thought of it.

Rob and Mike said at the start they like people to come away with at least three takeways and three new connections. I definitely got more than that and I’m sure other insights will pop out of my brain over the next few months as I re-read and think about my notes.

Three takeaways

1. Start shipping something

The came from Alex Yumashev’s talk but certainly others mentioned it. I don’t have a product I want to build yet but that shouldn’t stop me getting better at the kind of work I’ll need to do around a product in the future. Things like blog posts, building an email list, learning about marketing, SEO, etc. can all be done without a specific product in mind.

I already have a big list of topics I could write about so I need to get in the habit of actually writing and posting.

2. Stair stepping allows you to grow in manageable chunks

Patrick McKenzie talked about this on stage and I talked about it with everyone I met. He used a behavioral economists prediction of Japan and its surrounding regions growth as a great analogy for why stair stepping works as a way of bootstrapping yourself up from where you are to highly developed knowledge and skills.

Stair stepping makes sense as something for me as you only have to learn what you need to get to the next step and you can use the profit from the current step to finance the next one.

3. Don’t forget about physical / mental health and emotional connections

The reminder that you choose to have this kind of life to have a better, more enjoyable, more fulfulling time on this planet came up in various places and ways. The slides of the speakers kids, Dr Sherry Walling’s talk on thinking about how you got to where you got to, and Peldi’s talk are the big examples I remember.

It’s important not to get lost in the minutae involved and make sure enough time is spent away from the computer both physically and mentally. There are always more things that could be done no matter how many people are there to do them. This means some things won’t get done but rather than try and maximize the amount done, aim to do just what you need and spend the rest of the time living life.

Three connections

I met more than three people (of course), gained more than three twitter accounts to follow, and more than three new followers so I’ll just write my general thoughts on the people at the conference.

Without exception they were interesting, happy to talk about where they’d came from, and happy to talk about what they wanted to do next. There was no real ego involved, nobody saying that their way was the only way to do things or that they had some superpower the rest of the attendees didn’t.

Conclusion

There were many stories of how some conversation with a stranger at previous MicroConf’s had led to increases in sales or inspiration for taking something to the next level. If you’re interested in the topic and looking for inspiration, or have a business already and want to connect with others in the same boat as you an investment in a ticket will more than likely pay for itself.

I’ve a todo list to work through, notes to re-read multiple times, so when the next one comes around I hope I’ll have new stories to share myself.

Christoph Engelhardt’s detailed notes

This is basically all you need. Chrisoph also did an excellent job getting over twenty attendees to the same restaurant at the same time after the first day of the conference.

I liked Najaf Ali’s writeup too.