Bootstrapping your business

Read Time: 4 minutes

Bobby Rae

Bobby Rae

Updated: Aug 23, 2023

Old woman

Bootstrapping is a business strategy where you start and begin to grow without taking on any outside investment. This is a great technique if you don't have a lot of money to invest or if you want to maintain control over what you do and the decisions you make. A lean start-up model has some real advantages.

There are a few things you need to do in order to bootstrap your business successfully. 

First, you need to have a clear business plan. This should include your goals, market research and your marketing strategy.

Second, be resourceful. This means finding creative ways to save money and get things done. There are a number of resources available to help you bootstrap your business, such as online forums, books and workshops.

Third, be patient. Bootstrapping takes time and effort. Don't expect to become an overnight success. Just keep working hard and stay focused on your goals. The right idea and focus will eventually achieve success.

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Actionable advice and examples of successful bootstrapped businesses

If you want to have a successful bootstrapped business there are a few simple things you can do to get started.

Set realistic goals. When you're bootstrapping, it's important to know what you can achieve for your business. Don't try to do too much too soon or you'll end up overwhelmed, burnt out and discouraged. Start with small, achievable targets and then build on your success as you go.

Be creative with your marketing. There are a number of ways to make people aware of what you’re offering without spending a lot of money. Try using social media, email marketing and word-of-mouth to reach your target market. You could also offer free trials or discounts to attract new customers.

Don't be afraid to ask for help. Reach out to people you know and also consider networking. There are also a number of resources you can try to help you such as online forums and books. You can also get help from government agencies and non-profit organizations.

So you have the advice, but what kind of companies have made a success of bootstrapping? Let’s look at a few:

Mailchimp: An email marketing service that was founded in 2001. The company bootstrapped its business for the first 10 years and it now has over 10 million users.

Airbnb: Now world-famous as an online marketplace for short-term rentals. The company was founded in 2008 and it bootstrapped its business for the first three years. Airbnb is now worth over $31 billion.

Under Armour: A sportswear company that was founded in 1996. The company bootstrapped its business for the first five years and now has over 3000 employees.

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Creative financing and resource management 

These are big things if you want to adopt a bootstrapping model. Here are some tips on how to focus on creative financing and resource management to help achieve your goals:

Be frugal. This means cutting costs wherever possible. You can do this by negotiating discounts with suppliers, using free or low-cost marketing tools and finding ways to automate your business processes - such as scheduling.

Be resourceful. This means finding creative ways to get things done. Use resources that can help you learn and develop plans to move your business forward.

Be patient. Bootstrapping takes time and effort. Amazon and Google didn’t become what they are overnight. Keep focused on what and where you want to go. Success is possible if you work for it. 

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