Bootstrapping: What it is and how to do it.


Photo by: Ben Cooper

We all have great ideas floating around in our heads but how do we get them out into the world without any help and startup cost/outside help? Bootstrapping. This is a term that is thrown around a good amount with start-ups and is not something that is “explained”. Wikipedia defines bootstrapping as:

Bootstrapping or booting refers to a group of metaphors that share a common meaning, a self-sustaining process that proceeds without external help. The term is often attributed to Rudolf Erich Raspe’s story The Surprising Adventures of Baron Munchausen, where the main character pulls himself out of a swamp, though it’s disputed whether it was done by his hair or by his bootstraps.

Now that we know the definition we can now venture into achieving the goal. Bootstrapping is a way for you to start your company or your app (or anything else) without any outside help. This is VERY important CRUCIAL when you have an idea in your head and want it to be successful and get it into the public.

Key Points:

1. Be Prepared

This is something that should not be taken lightly and as with anything that affects your finances and your lively hood every possible solution should be explored before you “jump” into it. Now it may seem from first glance that Bootstrapping (since it requires no outside help) would be very easy for any sort of savvy person to just whip up something and sell it to the public. Not the case.  In a previous post: Launching Your App: Are you Committed? I talked about several things that sometimes people over look and this is not an exception. Make sure you have a timeline laid out even if its just rough. Make sure you know what the desired outcome is and work backwards and most importantly: Make sure you want to do this. This may sound dumb however, I can’t even think about how “cool sites” I have wanted to make  and start then think “I really don’t want to do this” and I give up. Make sure you have all this sorted out from the beginning.

2. Profit

I listened to Noah Kagan (worked at Facebook back in the day) speak at Awesome Inc. about his failures when he first started. He talked about how he bought $15,000 Dell servers because he thought he would need them. Til this day he still has the dell servers and they are collecting dust in a rack somewhere. He was never able to use them. Point of this story? Concentrate on what makes you money so you can get on with what you are doing. Focus on getting money through the door so you can gain steam by getting the small fish that pay quickly instead of the large ones, that are slow to pay but pay big money.

Quality Resources:

There are more than two points in how to bootstrap because it is a very broad topic. However, many knowledgeable people/sites have contributed to the topic and in order for content to be the best it can, here are resources for you to refer to.

Bootstrapping Your Startup – David Worrell, Entrepreneur

No, you don’t need investors to start your dream business. Here’s how to make it happen with your own money.

BootStrap Austin – Bootstrap Austin

I started the group to save myself some time – I was meeting with my fellow-entrepreneurs for coffee and lunch and thought it would be easier if we all just met up together! I also faced a distinct lack of support for bootstrappers and the bootstrap approach to building companies.

How To Bootstrap Your Startup - Read Write Web

The aim of many entrepreneurs is to take a business idea and convert it into a professional and functioning business on a low budget. This is typically called “bootstrapping” and it is fraught with potential pitfalls and dangers. But when done well it can really help get a company going fast, professionally and without the founders having to give up much (if any) equity – or bankrupting themselves.

The Art of Bootstrapping – Guy Kawasaki

Someone once told me that the probability of an entrepreneur getting venture capital is the same as getting struck by lightning while standing at the bottom of a swimming pool on a sunny day. This may be too optimistic.

The Cost of Bootstrapping Your App: The Figures Behind DropSend (part one) -37 Signals, Ryan Carson

I bet a lot of your are thinking about building your own web app. But how do you get started if you have no idea what it’s going to cost you? How can you budget for the unknown?

Overnight success? – Seth Godin

The goal, I think, is to be an overnight failure, but one that persists. Keeping costs low, building a foundation that leads to the right kind of story, the right kind of organic growth.

How to bootstrap your startup

The aim of many entrepreneurs is to take a business idea and convert it into a functioning business on a low budget. This is typically called “bootstrapping” and it is fraught with potential pitfalls and dangers, but when done well can really help get a company going fast, professionally and without the founders having to give up much (if any) equity or bankrupting themselves.

How to Bootstrap Product Sourcing for Your Online Retail Store

Retailing is one of the hardest hit industries in today’s recession. However, retailing plays an important role as one of the driving factors in economic recovery. Whether you start your retail store off line, online, or both, you need to have a long list of products for sale, as retailing strength is in product variants. However, the costs related to off line retailing are very high, these days. Today, the key word in retailing is bootstrap. Probably the best way to bootstrap is by moving your retail store operation online.

Designer, Maker of Things | Creative Director – @boomtownroi

 

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