The word Bootstrapping has been around since the nineteenth century referring to doing impossible tasks like pulling oneself across a yard’s fence using one’s bootstraps.
The founder of a popular hosting service for software development services GitHub, Tom P. Werner actually turned down a six figure salary from Microsoft to work on his own venture. He had to bootstrap GitHub for about five years before accepting a large investment funding.
“Self-sustaining” is the word, you must be able to start off on your own before anyone takes you seriously. No one will be willing to support you if they see you’ve not paid any price to get your ideas off the ground.
Let your dreams inspire you to make necessary sacrifices or adjustments to start up somehow. It may not look perfect or exactly how you want it to be, but seeing the promising picture in the future should spur you to cut down on some luxuries, give off some assets for cash, work for someone to raise money if need be and any other legitimate means to get what you want.
Verify from anyone who has bootstrapped any successful business even the ones that failed along the way. A similar response is that they both had it tough. Knowing what to expect at every phase makes the journey a lot easier. For example the story of Darby and his uncle during the gold rush days in Sacramento California.
These guys gave up on a large deposit of gold that would have changed their lives forever by failing to endure. They gave up their search for gold just three feet away from the gold deposit only to sell off their machine for a few dollars to an astute scrap man who got an engineer to explore the gold site.
The engineer eventually directed his search to that same spot Darby and his uncle called off their search. The astute business man profited millions of dollars from that move.
It’s not going to be that easy as I’ve experienced. It takes determination, focus, calmness, the right information and money.
To bootstrap, you’ll have to learn to do more with little.
Do more with little
It’s only an African man that has experienced acute food shortages that can rightly teach a child how to eat four wraps of ‘Fufu’ with a meagre portion of ‘Egusi’ soup without grumbling.
How else can you appreciate “plenty” if you’ve never experienced lack of some sort? This is not to say that only the disadvantaged have greater chances of survival and success in life.
The Nicole and Giovanni (N&G) story of stocks to socks is an inspiring story of a young and enterprising Nigerian, Segun Abiona. He currently produces his own fashionable coloured socks for men. He was inspired to create a durable, colourful and trendy sock while he was in England on a little savings and his personal bank credit cards meant only for flight trips in and out of Nigeria.
N&G faced its share of challenges from cash flow disparity to high import duties, Forex challenges and other salient operational issues.
Segun’s business eventually gained traction as he was able to save up some more money from the bank job he had at the time to complete some required business obligations. Segun in an interview with the Entrepreneur hub Magazine in March 2016 accepts he’s an advocate for starting with little and also living with little as this attitude helps checkmate living an excessive luxurious lifestyle.
Understand what you’re getting into
Being the boss appeals to everyone especially if you’ve experienced a 9-5 job, it’s a getaway I must say.
No more queries, deadlines and targets you were yoked with as you drooped about the office in less than a corporate suit frowning all day.
The presumed breath of fresh air appears to have set you on a footing for succeeding on your own. That’s true, but there’s still a lot you’ll need to know before you advance into full time entrepreneurship.
On the average, most entrepreneurs sleep less than 6 hours each night; they barely have weekend to themselves, public holidays are taken as workdays.
You might not be psychologically prepared for this, never mind, your passion for your idea will automatically tune you to do this even without knowing it.
Here’s a brief of what to expect:
I’ll like to start with the not so good Part –
Starting a business is like hiking alone especially if you’re going solo at the early stages before introducing a partner later on.
It may be lonely from the onset, here’s what to expect:
- A life fending for yourself.
- No business, No pay.
- Little or no medicals, insurance and pension to say the least during the start-up phase.
- No planned out leave days.
- Your business will always need money.
- You will wear a lot of operational hats – assume responsibility for most operational tasks.
The Good part:
- The Founder/CEO title to start with.
- You’ll determine your working hours.
- You’ll determine your own pay.
- No more yelling from the boss, you’re in charge.
- You have the right to choose who to work with.
- You set the tone, issue policies and govern as you please.
- You determine who stays and who gets fired.
- You go on vacation at will.
Getting to the good part may take a longer time than your envisaged depending on a lot of factors, but it’s possible to get there sooner than you expect when you do what works.
Factors like industry, product, pricing, capital, government policies, and other macroeconomic indices pose a challenge to many start-ups. Without backup plans or programs, failing to anticipate any of these threats could spell disaster.
Aim to get it right from the start and move fast. However if you’ve started and got it mixed up halfway, pause and check for areas you’ve done wrongly. Resolve to change and retrace your steps. No matter how long you continue in a wrong direction, it still will not make it right.
To effectively bootstrap, you need to know what you’re getting into by evaluating the “Good” and “Bad” days as you move up. You cannot predict when they’ll show up. Keep an open mind while you get prepared psychologically for likely pressures that would come. I trust you’ll come out on top having done all you should do.