I have been a bootstrapper from day one since I got bitten by the entrepreneurial bug. I learnt important key lessons from my first Startup that I applied in the next to optimise the chances of its success. Based on my learning, am sharing the following strategies for bootstrapped startups,
1. Network hard and get connected, but work the ways on your own. Look for business mentors, hire experts, and the rest ‘Do It Yourself’. Remember that all other kinds of help and support costs money that you don’t have. It’s fine that you are a rocket scientist, a specialist, but you can train yourself to do marketing, sales pitch, finance, websites, and other work that will help your Startup grow.
2. Rent for office space is one of the biggest expenses for any Startup. Till you start making money from your business, try to work from a home office. Rent that garage the Bill Gates way. Work virtually. Spend the rock bottom minimum money to keep your Startup running. Look for innovative ways through which you can cut down your costs, be it setting up fees or the operational costs.
3. You don’t need to start taking huge CXO salaries the moment your Startup starts making money. Take out survival money and re-invest the rest of profits back in your Startup. Before you get into the bootstrapping mode, plan your survival finances for 12 months, instead of the mythical 6 months break even period. Believe me, in most of the cases you are not going to see any real money coming to your Startup in its first year.
4. You will have to constantly find ways to market your Startup creatively. Use social media to its fullest. Don’t go for the glittering marketing expenses, which are huge and will eat up your initial money that may not bring results to keep you and your confidence afloat for a long time. Either find interns from graduate schools around who can do marketing for you through twitter, Facebook, e-mail, LinkedIn etc or just do it yourself.
5. They key to any bootstrapped Startup is perseverance. If you don’t have patience and want to strike the jackpot from the word go then either you have to be the luckiest person around or you are living in a utopian world. For the real people, steady persistence with focussed course of action leads to desirable results and success.
So keep a tight lid on your costs, trust your gut feeling, and march forward with all the passion in your dream. The growth may be slower with bootstrapping, but it’s all yours. All the very best in your endeavors!