Great respect is due for anyone starting a venture. A tremendous undertaking in leadership is
entailed. Here are some ideas in bootstrapping
which have been helpful to me, and which I hope will help anyone growing their own
Don’t ever stop
bootstrapping. My point is, always have your ‘skin in the game.’ Keep
your expenses down. Care about your costs. Don’t rest on your
laurels … and keep caring about how that dollar is spent on Day One as Day 2,555 (seven
years, which is the average start-up mode). Why would you ever stop caring
about hard-earned dollars?
That doesn’t mean you can’t think big. Garner more
resources. Attain significant investments from major investors. But
always care. Don’t lose your “bootstrap caring.” Everyone has put forth
some serious investment to make their money. Respect their money as you
do your own.
2) Family and Friends
Keep those close supporters for family and friends —
close. It’s not just financial support. It’s ‘history’
support, emotional support, track-record support, ‘wisdom’ support of someone
having seen you build something from scratch–and maintain it. Keep
those people who respect you very near with great, great ongoing
appreciation. For some years after that initial investment, it may
be more that they continue to be a sounding board or a positive cheerleader as
you make advancements. As you grow your business, they might jump back in
financially at a needed time. If you’ve kept them educated and inspired,
they understand your need and will most likely help.
3) Share, Incubate
UniversalGiving is a part of The Hub, a worldwide
organization that brings together entrepreneurs from all over the community.
There are socially conscious forprofits, nonprofits, independent workers. We have a shared kitchen, and “Super
Salad” days where chefs come in and make salads with grilled tofu and
almonds and fresh fruits and vegetables. You can participate by helping create
it, and pay $5 for a healthy lunch. Milk and coffee, conference rooms,
printing, faxing stations are all shared, which reduces costs for each
entrepreneur and has minimum footprint for the earth. I think we
have a shared printer and fax for about 40 people–what a great use of
one machine! The Hub is designed to
encourage sharing and networking among entrepreneurial individuals and organizations.
Incubation is an option.
Shared office space to cut costs and increase camaraderie with another
entrepreneur. Or you can even ask a larger company if they have extra
room. The point is, get into an environment that will help you, and your team,
succeed more rapidly.
Remember as an entrepreneur, you may not ‘see’ your
environment. I didn’t when I was building UniversalGiving. I was in
my home for 2 years with printed three-year budget and contingency budget
scenarios all over my roommate’s living room. When I cofounded VolunteerMatch,
I worked alone in a one-room brick office with no windows.
We entrepreneurs just want to get things done. We have a
vision and we are stepping into that reality urgently. Who cares if there
are no curtains, the rug doesn’t match, my bed isn’t made … ? Or, my
favorite, it’s too taxing for me to think about clothes so I end up
wearing the same thing two days in a row … 🙂 We need to create!
So the point is …
Not everyone is like that. Your team may need a more
supportive and inspiring environment. And, it’s good to treat yourself to that,
Let’s keep some of our entrepreneurial motives throughout
the longevity of our organization. As entrepreneurs we can commit to
caring about our resources and relationships well beyond startup mode.