When I first heard the term bootstrapping it happened to be raining outside. A lot. Turns out to be a good illustration of the concept. Bootstrapping IS all about picking yourself up by the handles on the sides of your boots – and getting on with it! And it’s something that too many people are NOT considering.

Why bootstrap?

1. Force focus. If you are spending your own money and time (or that of the people you want to keep as friends and family), you are forced to focus your efforts.

2. Reality trumps fiction. Showing actual customers vs. “theoretical models” are always better for later investors.

3. More for me. Why give away parts of your company to an investor when you can keep all the goodies for yourself?

When I started my first business four years ago in microfinance, wordpress was new and not as flexible as today. We needed a tech contact and we could not get it. Our solution? Enter a business plan competition, win and have the money to hire one. (Easy, right?)

Fast forward a few years, working with other entrepreneurs and a new business idea – now, I’m all about the bootstrapping.

What’s the difference? I am going low tech and proving the idea in it’s simplest form. Plus, technology is a lot more do-it-yourself…even the programming part. Wordpress, Tumblr, Blogspot – all have capabilities for serving up sites that have more than blog posts. There are a number of themes available for free – or designers who will create new ones very cheaply. But if you know a tech guy (make them an offer they can’t refuse) – I mean, get them involved.

“Leave the gun, take the cannolis”

Design and layout sets the tone. Spend the money and get that right. Then use the functionality that already exists (including password-protected areas for registered users) to build out your idea.

The heart is most important; your mind will not go to waste in the meantime

Knowing what you are building and exactly for whom is the heart of your business and the key to success. New ideas will keep coming – note them down! And then get back to how you can build the heart of your business, even without the bells and whistles. If that works, then you can start collecting money (yes, there are apps/plugins/programs for that!) and worry less about additional funding.

Who knows, if you do it right, you may not even need other investors! <Here endeth crazy talk…>

Entrepreneur Magazine also had a great article on bookstrapping and going it alone.

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