Startup bootstrapping means starting a business with existing resources, usually personal funding and skills, without help and investment from investors and venture capitals.
You need more than an idea to start a business, though it is brilliant and it is your long-time passion in which you are very sure it is going to take off, solving the initial capital is all you need now.
Not all startups are fortunate of getting investment right off. Many of them are bootstrapping the business by cashing-in their own fund.
Though it is a solution, but bootstrapping is much more difficult than it seems.
And this is the moment when you realise, you need more than money to run a startup. Skills in management and technical, experiences and time are some other important requirements before getting your feet on the road.
I have started numbers of businesses within the last 20 years of my productive age, with or without cofounder. I never get any investment throughout the years, so I bootstrapped all of them.
Some of them run quite well, still far from what can be considered successful though. And many of them fail.
There are too many reasons I can lift up after evaluating them. But there are some key points, the most important ones I can share here.
1. Get Cofounders with Positive Attitude
In term of attitude, you need cofounders with positive mindset and good behaviour. Don’t mess up your startup with conflicts between cofounders.
Believe me, having bad cofounders will cause you more headache than anything else. I’ve been there a few times and it is much more difficult to handle than generating income from my startup.
It is hard to synchronize two or more brains though, but if everyone have positive attitude, things can be solved nicely and fast.
2. Get Cofounders with The Right Skill Sets
When bootstrapping, you need to keep the expenses as low as possible. That’s why it is critical to choose your cofounder wisely. Cofounders should be able to complement each other in everything including skills.
You will save much if cofounders are good at different things. At the very least, you won’t need to hire employees or outsource to freelancers to get the jobs done.
3. You Need To Learn All The Time
Do you know what is the difference between working as an employee and running a startup?
When you are employed by a company, you need to learn in order to succeed.
When you are running a startup, you need to learn like crazy in order to succeed, moreover when you are bootstrapping.
Don’t take it as one scary obstacle, but treat it as a positive challenge.
If you believe you are smart enough to run a startup, you should be confidence of your ability to learn anything.
4. Cut Unnecessary Expenses
Since you are bootstrapping a startup, you want to stop spending money on unnecessary things.
Most startup won’t earn any profits within a year or so, and you are left to work without salary.
So, either startup expenses or personal expenses needed to be cut down.
5. You Need A Business Model To Generate Income Quickly
Some startups succeed very quickly but many of them failed very fast. It all depends on their business models.
When you are bootstrapping, you need a way to earn cash really quickly, and this is critical for business survival.
Without any cash inflow, you are going to burn down your reserves, even before having the chance to gain real traction.
6. Choose Your Business Partners Wisely
When you are just starting and small, it is hard to get vendors and suppliers who want to work with you.
To work around this, you need to build personal connection with them. But still, be prepared to be ignored and rejected somehow. Don’t get emotional and don’t feel small.
Not all partners are good to work with. The ones that ignore you, are mostly not going to be your best business partners anyway, even when your startup has successfully become a big company.
So, instead of losing confidence, walk pass them and choose your vendors wisely. You will get one or two vendors you can work with after a while.
7. Be Persistent
As a business startup, your path is not going to be smooth. You will find may challenges down the road.
Whatever you are facing, remember to never give up and keep on moving. Stopping means failing.
Persistence are mostly needed when you’re bootstrapping the early stage startup.
Bootstrapping a business is not easy, but it doesn’t mean impossible. Again, you need more than cash to bootstrap a successful business.
With the right amount of passion and hard work, it will accelerate your startup, at least until you gain real traction and opportunity to go to the next stage, which is getting investment.
Wahidin Wong is a digital marketer. He is also a jazz and bossa lover.