Bootstrapping 101 (and beyond)
Send this to bootstrappers who need inspiration
By Bob Hiler
Ideas are a dime a dozen.
That’s why VCs won’t even consider signing an NDA. An idea with no traction is just another idea. Who cares?
But an idea that has traction isn’t an idea anymore. It’s a business.
Getting traction is as simple as building a product that customers actually want and are willing to pay for.
If you listen to your customers, you don’t have to take large business risks. And if everything you do is a slam dunk, you don’t need to raise huge amounts of capital to get traction.
And getting traction without raising capital is the definition of bootstrapping.
Let’s see how these Mixergy interviewees did it.
Introducing the Bootstrapper Series.
- Matt Mickiewicz of 99designs didn’t start with an idea and hope customers would like it. He found some designers on one of his forums were already creating and competing in their own design contests for fun. He created a new vBulletin forum for them and charged people $20 to post a project. Eventually, that forum became 99designs. By demanding that their business prove itself and earn money at every step, he created the closest thing to a risk-free bootstrap ever featured on Mixergy.
- Once upon a time, Joshua Baer was just another bootstrapper. He started by fiddling with an email server program and participating in that product’s email Listserv. The company started referring small consulting gigs to him. One of his clients said “Hey, instead of me paying you every time my server breaks, how about I just pay you 50 bucks a month and you run it on your server and you keep it running all the time and then I won’t have to worry about it?” And that’s how he got his first company SKYLIST off the ground.
- Jason Fried of 37 Signals believes that a bootstrapped business is better than a VC-funded business because it forces you to focus on building something that works. There’s nothing like having to make payroll to focus the mind on meeting customer’s needs. Jason shares other bootstrapping tips, like teaching for free customer acquisition and selling subscriptions instead of one-off products.
Bootstrappers, get Mixergy’s Lean Startup Guide, and see how lack of funding can be your best asset. (Now free)