OK. So I have customers who pay for my services and from there I built a website, then I am slowly hiring two other people who believe in the cause and would like to help. I guess it's a little bit of a jump, I have an idea, and now I have customers! In very small numbers but we're growing.
I got burned by a company who wanted to steal my ideas but don't want me on-board, so I decided I want to make my own company. But it's a little bit difficult due to limited funds and I am still working a day job and do this on the side. But I want to succeed. I just don't know how. What's next? Funding? Finding a technical co-founder? It's very overwhelming.
Not enough information here to advise on funding. I have started most of my service (and a couple Agriculture ventures) companies with very little to NO capital.
What do you want to grow?
Despite what you read and hear funding is not that easy to get. Service your customers, they will teach you what to do.
Congrats on getting paying customers! Everything you do solves a problem for them. To grow, talk to them & find out what would help solve the problem better. The best way to do this is talk to them in person, on the phone, or via video call. Aggregate their answers to find trends that highlight website issues. This drives part of your roadmap.
Also, look at your website analytics. Are people doing what you expected them too? If not, why not? Are you wrong with how you thought they'd proceed or do they not know they should click a button? Use this data to drive another part of your roadmap.
Finally, brainstorm and mesh these ideas against the above 2 parts. Features that complement customer feedback & data are 💯.
This is product management. Welcome!
Yes it is overwhelming. The idea of been taken over by some well funded business can be scary. But your advantage is you have identified your customer base. You know who you wanna sell and approach too. At this stage, I feel like you are diverted. If you are working, quit it. Give your business idea the best shot you ever got. Ask a skilled person to join you. Organize your resources as much as you can. Then only decide.
Check out Gary Vaynerchuk if you dont know him already. He gives some great business advice for aspiring and new entrepreneurs. If you have a day job (regular income) and have the bandwidth to make your company grow as a side hustle then keep doing this!
Ask yourself where you want your company to go over the next couple of years, identify your KPI (key performance indicators) and map your strategy and effort to this. Hopefully before long your profitable enough that it will demand you leave your day job to focus on your own company.
Getting a stunning web presence is kind of mandate these days. Paying customers are going to be the greatest boost for you as they will refer your services in their circle with real life testimonial. Getting a website will help them with the referral process too.
Moreover you can showcase a lot of stuffs on your website.
You need to find an agency who won't charge you much, will never still your idea (get a Non-disclosure agreement signed before sharing the idea) and will work as partners and not as an agency. Must try BrandzGarage .
Great job on the initial customers. That's AWESOME. Very hard stage for startups.
To answer your questions, first and foremost, you don't need a lot of money to get the basics going...
For a website, start with a "Presence" website to get the message out. Use a service like Wix.com (I have no stake in this recommendation) or one of their many competitors. GoDaddy (I'm a customer) also has a bunch of offerings. Which one fits your need? I don't know... but you don't have to hire people to build you a website.
If you are selling stuff on your website, e.g., want an ecommerce website, there are also a ton of service providers that you can use without knowing the tech details.
As for the basic business services, GoDaddy offers a turnkey solution with email, Microsoft Office, etc. but for a monthly fee. Again, I don't have any relationships with them - just a happy customer.
You can also use Zoho - which has a range of freemium products for small businesses, from email, to CRM, etc.
There is also Google Apps but that's a bit more complicated for non-technical people, although certainly not impossible with a little bit of patience.
Beyond the above minimum, you can also use Skype or Slack for real-time chat/collaboration. Both are very easy to setup and may even have a free version.
Whether or not you need a technical co-founder is a function of the nature of the product or service you WANT to have - which is probably an expansion of what you NOW have. If the only reason you were thinking of a technical co-founder is to build the website and the minimum business infrastructure, see above. You probably don't need one!
The decision on funding will wholly depend on your growth potential, within the market you are in. That's a much longer discussion.