I'm working on a startup that is providing web-based application. We have over 600 paying customers, which is 5% market share in that particular niche. It takes 2 persons to drive this business, but the revenue covers expenses of only 1 or 1.5. As we have been doing this for four years already the enthusiasm is starting to wear off. What to do in this situation?
Take an investment. There are actually no obstacles to achieve bigger market share and there is no direct competition either. But we have been doing this for four years already, maybe the problem is us or the market? We have decent CTO and CFO, but we are missing natural sales person and an executive type. And the market is adopting our ideas slowly. Maybe it's time to let it go.
Refresh the team. Hard to achieve. The revenue hardly pays our bills, hiring a new person seems too much risk. Its also hard to offer partnership, because we already have 4 co-owners of the company. Adding another person would require lots of negotiation between current owners and I'm not sure the resulting percentage would be motivating. Two of our partners are inactive, so buyout could be solution. But then I would need to justify this investment to myself, see previous point.
Sell the company. We all know, that nobody is buying piece of code from you. They are buying access to users or market share. I'm not sure, that 600 customers or 5% market share is enough.
Drop the idea That would be disappointing for our existing customers. Of course we could open-source the software and turn management of the service to non-profit organization.
If you are an active type like me, than you have several new business ideas every day. So you could guess, that I feel kind of stuck with current idea, which is not really bad, but is not flying either.
EDIT: Many people asked about the actual product, so here it is - it's a specialized accounting solution for condominiums (apartment houses) in Estonia. The website is http://www.korteriyhistu.net/, but it is entirely in Estonian, that's why I didn't publish it at first place. Similar softwares in US seem to be Condo Manager and The CondoKeeper. Also Strataware in Australia.
The business model is, that you can register on our website and start using the application right away. First three months are free, then it's $0.50 per apartment per month. User guides and training materials are freely available on our website to remove all obstacles from starting.
Most of our competitors are standard accounting software providers. We differentiate from them by being web-based and allowing apartment owners to access the system. We pride ourselves for transparency - apartment owners can see how their money is spent.