- Building on the backs of clients. Instead of reaching out to investors for financing, land a customer willing to pay some or all of their fees up-front. Use the cash from the fees to cover operating expenses, and repeat.
- Ham-and-egging. Microsoft is one of the largest companies around, but it didn’t start that way. Bill Gates was actually a master BootStrapper – at least before he made all those billions. He approached the then-mighty IBM, and sold them a software platform to go on their new personal computers. Thing is, he didn’t actually have the software platform. But he found someone who had built it, and got them to agree to sell it to him for $50,000. Only catch was, he didn’t have the money. So, he convinced IBM to give him an advance of $50,000, used the money to buy the software, and sold it to IBM as MS-DOS. Working both sides of a deal that way is often called “ham and egging”.
- Moonlighting. During the early days of a BootStrapped startup, most founders can’t pay themselves much. Many take part time or consulting work to pay the bills, and maintain interaction with the world beyond their startup.