Although it can be a significant challenge for founders to bootstrap their startups, the potential benefits of full equity ownership and complete control over the direction your business takes has made it a popular approach for many entrepreneurs. However, it can also be largely mentally taxing due to the difficulty of sourcing funds and the time committed to making the endeavour a success.
Whilst many business owners opt for VC funding, it can be largely appealing for those with enough of a nest egg to build their startup from scratch using their own funds.
As the data above shows, many of the key reasons why startups fail revolve around a lack of cash, competition, cost issues, and sub-par marketing. These can be big issues for those bootstrapping their business – due to the scarcity of funds and time available for a founder to manage all the processes involved.
Despite this, there are many examples of successful startups out there that have been fully bootstrapped. So let’s take a look at some essential considerations to make when going it alone – bearing in mind that mental wellbeing is every bit as important as cash and time management.
Keep Realistic When Budgeting
When bootstrapping your startup, it’s vital to be realistic about the amount of money you need. Whilst some entrepreneurs may seek to cut corners and adopt a more rose-tinted approach to building budgets, it’s important to avoid lying to yourself about the costs that you’re likely to rack up when preparing your business for market.
Here, it’s important to take some time to consider your financial situation, and create a list of the expenses that you’ll need to cover. Be sure to cover factors like monthly expenses and how long you’ll be able to survive with no income before it starts impacting your quality of life.
You’ll also need to factor in one-off purchases. Will you need to purchase software, services, or equipment? Will you be able to manage these expenses on your current levels of income?
It’s also worth trying to work out where money can come from. Could you sell some high-value assets? Could you take on a part-time or freelance job without negatively impacting your weekly leisure time?
Build Your Own SEO
Marketing is an essential part of bootstrapping your startup. There aren’t many ways in which a business can get noticed without some form of marketing. Although this can cost money, there’s nothing stopping you from building your own presence online through the production of content and social media activity.
Try to allocate some time each week to write a company blog. It can be about anything as long as it’s relevant to your industry. You could share your expertise, provide a background on your business, or simply discuss emerging news surrounding your startup or industry. Incorporate some relevant keywords into your content and add a few external links and you may soon find that you’re building some strong backlinks to drive traffic to your site!
This approach can also be taken on social media platforms, whereby you could discover emerging news or trends and share your thoughts on them to win new audience engagements. If you have enough time, it’s even possible for you to guest post content as an industry expert on reputable external websites by simply pitching articles to editors.
The beauty of SEO is that you can dedicate as much or as little time as you want to the process – meaning that you can pick it up whenever time allows.
Be Savvy In The Resources You Use
Remember that you don’t have to spend money on the business resources that you use. When getting started, it’s perfectly fine to build your own website using WordPress and only pay for a suitable dot com name. It’s also worth using free platforms like Google Docs for the content you create rather than paying for Microsoft Word, and choosing free images from the many copyright-free libraries available online to build your online presence.
You can also pick up many relevant business materials using platforms like Powered Template, which offers 10,000s of free pre-designed and 100% editable templates for essentials like letterheads, business cards, brochures, newsletters and other content.
Remember That Things May Move Slower
Although bootstrapping means that your business may move slower than your competitors, it’s important to avoid experiencing frustration at the lack of progress in those early stages.
Furthermore, it can actually be far more healthy to embrace slower growth when starting out. This extra time allows you to deeply consider new products and to build your endeavour in a more sustainable manner.
This slow growth can allow you to become more aware of your spending patterns and can foster more caution in the decisions you make. By taking the time to fully evaluate your next move, it’s possible to become more sustainable over the long term.
If You Start To Suffer, Reassess
Whilst bootstrapping startups will invariably lead to some form of austerity measures for entrepreneurs, it’s vital that you avoid suffering for your business. Although some entrepreneur influencers have sought to glamourise hustling and struggling, it can be extremely unhealthy both on a mental and physical scale.
If you begin to notice your quality of life declining and your level of comfort diminishing, it’s important to reassess your options. Bootstrapping has many perks, but seeking funding from VCs can be a far less stressful experience should you discover that the job is becoming increasingly difficult.
The beauty of bootstrapping is that you can grow your own idea into something beautiful all on your own. Should you have the time and money to work on an endeavour yourself, it can be a truly rewarding experience.