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Bootstrapping isn’t about one’s inability to raise funds – it’s a choice you make. To play the game you want to, by not depending on investor money – but on customer money.
That is, you can’t afford to have fancy metrics for customers. But, you just want to focus on building products your customer wants to buy from you.
Assuming you are a happy bootstrapper, here are some survival and growth tips for you (fyi : I have been bootstrapping for the last 6 years. We said NO to several investors, primarily because we wanted to be in the control of our journey).
Wants vs Needs
When you are funded, you can afford to spend money on things you don’t need – fancy office, furnitures, stationary etc etc.
When you are bootstrapped, focus on things you need. Wants come later – you can always have fancy office, furnitures, stationary etc etc at a very posh location – but it’s time to focus on building products and solutions that matter to your customer.
So hold on to your wants and focus on needs. Having said that, don’t be stingy. Spend where it is important – but do ensure that you aren’t trying to be somebody else.
Don’t read too much of funding news.
You aren’t chasing the funding beast – so don’t read a lot of funding news. It might just make you a bit more insane.
Better – read up about your industry and be in the know of important trends, customer movements and activities.
Remember : you aren’t in the cool zone. You need to build and sell. You can’t afford to take your eyes off the revenue target.
Involve your team. Be transparent.
While you are comfortable with your bootstrapping status, your team will be impressed by the glitz that funding brings. Fancy office, furnitures and salaries too.
As a founder, it’s your responsibility to ensure that the team knows why the company has chosen to take the bootstrapping route and not raise funding.
The impressionable minds might just think that the company failed to raise funding – so be transparent about the internal goals, the roadmap and spend time with your team
Celebrate small wins
As a company, you will have your own share of hits and misses. More misses than hits (let’s be practical).
Celebrate wins with your team – no matter how small they are. Again, you don’t need to go to a pub for each and every small win. Learn to be frugal (have ice creams) but ensure that you celebrate each win – big or small (they all count).
This keeps the momentum going and keeps the team motivated.
Remember : bootstrappers need to take the entire team together and make them believe in the bigger cause. Unlike your funded counterparts, you have lesser ammunition – but it’s not the size of dog in the fight, but the size of fight in the dog that matters.
Make it count!