In business have you ever come across the term Bootstrapping? Well the official definition from the Business Dictionary is…
‘Building a business out of very little or virtually nothing. Bootstrappers rely usually on personal income and savings, sweat equity, lowest possible operating costs, fast inventory turnaround, and a cash-only approach to selling. In fact many of today’s largest corporations (Apple, Coca Cola, Dell, HP & Microsoft) began as bootstrapped ventures. And most of the world’s startups still follow this road; either because there is no alternative, or because of the unmatched control and independence it offers’.
But Bootstrapping is not just about when you first start out. My team & I are strong believers in operating our business as if its future is always on the line. As if something could happen at any moment to threaten our survival. Bootstrap mode is always on. Bootstrapping is a mentality, a set of habits, a way of operating based on self-reliance, ingenuity, intelligence and hard work.
Because when you stop bootstrapping, organisations can grow fat and sloppy. they resort to buying in solutions to problems instead of working them out themselves. They assume they’ll be in business forever & take the future for granted. Their eye comes off the ball. Costs rise. They get caught up with other stuff rather than growing the business. Suddenly their business doesn’t have much of a future anymore.
But on the flip side. Bootstrapped companies like us are resourceful, accountable and careful. They build loyal customers, partnerships, and recurring profit streams into their business model. They gradually grow their marketing and sales, as they scale up when they have the funds. They learn lessons the hard way and become better business people because of it.
Bootstrapping brings out the best in entrepreneurs and their teams, too. It makes them enthusiastic, passionate and relentless. They don’t give up on their dreams, never stop trying and never stop learning. They end up learning loads about themselves & accomplish more than they ever imagined.
Bootstrappers wake up earlier. Spend longer on work. Keep their wits about them even under pressure. Eliminate unnecessary distractions & are very productive. Bootstrappers are natural savers. Go hungry waiting for profit. Naturally minimalist in their outlook & committed to the long-term.
Bootstrapping requires you to amass a wide variety of skills. Defy tradition. Network like crazy. Innovate & solve problems. Bootstrapping also requires guts and passion. Bootstrappers risk everything and learn to barter when they don’t have cash. They learn to stretch what resources they have to get what they need. They hustle. They create. They make whatever is required happen.
Bootstrapping requires a very different mindset than a company with investors. Bootstrapped companies must focus on profits and have the pig headed perseverance to keep on going. They have no outside investors willing to pump money in to fund growth. Bootstrapped companies can’t afford to waste money. They must make money if they are to survive & grow.
Bootstrapping requires you to be innovative with the products you develop too. They have to deliver real value to customers (savings & operational improvements) and provide a regular cash flow stream to the organisation too. We do this through our printer, photocopier & telephone solutions. Which all provide savings (guaranteed fixed prices) & operational improvements. Whilst giving us a regular stream of monthly subscription fees.
There’s no quick growth plan for a bootstrapped business. We know (without investors) its going to take us longer to achieve our goals. But we are in it for the long haul. Our bootstrapped businesses expects to be around for a long time, slowly and quietly growing as we go about our business of helping organisations (business, schools, charities & homes) gain certainty of cost for all their office solutions.
What do you think of a bootstrapped business? Are you one too?