Denver Startup Week just wrapped up, and this week our CEO and founder, Jeff Gladnick, spoke to a full house of startup founders in a panel titled, “Bootstrapping: Three Founders, Millions in Revenue, Zero Funding”.
Some topics that were covered:
- Standalone vs. co-founders
- Reputation and lead building
- Making sure bootstrapping is right for your business
- Weighing the obstacles with designing a service versus a product
- Hiring your first employees
- Breaking into a target market’s community and gaining trust
Eight Bootstrapping Tips from Our Founder
- Make sure you know what you’re getting into
Starting any business poses a level of risk, and bootstrapping a business is all the more risky. Make sure you are prepared for years of instability, rough patches, and long hours.
- Choose your co-founder carefully
Even if your closest colleague is reliable, sharp, and hard working, those traits don’t necessarily mean that the individual is the best choice for your co-founder. Specific expertise is key; if you’re building a tech product, be a tech person or choose your co-founder VERY carefully. The wrong choice may destroy your business’s foundation.
- Make sure that bootstrapping is the right fit for your business plan
You can still raise money later under more favorable terms.
- Understand the scope of your ambition
Simply put, you are not likely to change the world off of a bootstrapping budget, but you could very well make someone’s day a little easier and keep them happy with your product. Start with reasonable goals and build on them.
- Be prepared to wear a lot of hats
YOU will be in charge of sales and marketing initially, regardless of where your expertise lies. Get creative with free sources of clients, prepare yourself for rejection, and keep trying. Eventually, through trial and error, you will gain the experience to smooth out these processes.
- Hire contractors first
Wait to hire full-time employees until you are 100% financially stable enough to do so, and then some.
- You will have to get somewhat creative to pay the bills
This could include side jobs, consulting, and (initially) remaining at your current job. If
possible, take on work that advances your main goal instead of settling on what is quickest and most profitable. Don’t create reasons to lose focus.
- B2B relations are generally easier and cheaper than selling to the direct public
Businesses purchasing a service or product is often an investment. If you sell a product or service that makes other businesses increase cash flow, it’s easier to gain trust and make a sale.
- Patience is the ultimate key in building trust within a community
Immediately trying to sell to a community is the biggest mistake new businesses make. The trick is to get to know the community, make yourself present, take notes, and genuinely care about providing something of worth to that industry based on concrete needs.