It seems to me these days that every other article about business and entrepreneurship is on the topic of funding. Who just received this funding? How to get funded? Why funding is so important?
We are quickly creating a perception that entrepreneurship has a huge barrier to overcome in order to be a success. This barrier is money. This overemphasis on funding gives the impression that a large amount of money is necessary to start a business. For me, it takes away from a core concept of what being an entrepreneur really means. This is the ability to be resourceful.
If you look back at early inclinations of entrepreneurs, and yes I am going to go Only Fool and Horses with it, the Del Boy trader types. The grafters. The people who took what they could get and sold it on for a profit. This existing stereotype and culture is in a sharp decline. The typical picture of an entrepreneur these days is those that sit on top of a pile of money that they received from a venture capital firm.
Now don’t get me wrong, I completely understand and appreciate the funding culture. But why are we not putting more emphasis on the stories where someone took the little resources that they had at their disposal and created something spectacular, with little or no investment.
Long live the bootstrappers
A great example of this is GoPro Inc., the high definition action camera company. Started by Nick Woodman after getting an idea of a wrist strap for a personal camera during a surfing trip to Australia. He initially funded the business by selling bead and shell belts out the back of his VW campervan. He moved back in with his parents at 26 and started developing his idea. He didn’t have the skills to design the product using a computer so his early R&D efforts where spent crafting the wrist strap by hand. The company is now worth $2.5 billion. Find out more about the GoPro story from this Inc. article.
This story is awe inspiring and made even more so by the fact that Nick bootstrapped the company for 10 years before it really took off. He is not alone, other notable bootstrap stories included GitHub, PlentyofFish and TechCrunch.
Why bootstrap your business?
Apart from not giving away complete control over your business, here are some of the other benefits to bootstrapping for both the entrepreneur and the business.
Developing new skills
You want to save money where you can so you don’t want to pay people to do something that you can potentially do yourself. Even if this takes a bit of time to do, you will benefit from a completely new skillset that is going to come in handy for your business.
Sometimes you are going to have to get creative. Perhaps the normal way of doing things is going to cost too much or you simply don’t have the resources to do it in that way. This will force you to think differently and solve your problems with a novel approach.
If you have managed to get a business up and running with little capital, then you know you have a good business model and idea. If people are buying your products and services, then you can be sure that you have created something great.
Just like John Wayne and Jeff Bridges, you will stop at nothing to make the thing you want a reality. The long nights, the setbacks, the stress. After you have successfully bootstrapped a business you are going to know what true grit really means.
Let’s get bootstrapping
Above all else the absolute best thing about bootstrapping your business has to be the feeling you get when you secure your first customer, your one hundredth customer, and when you realised you have created a self-sustaining business. And you did all of this with little or no capital. All that hard work, determination, long nights and stress have all been worth it because you did it, you have a business.
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