A friend and business partner, Beth Schoenfeldt, from Collective-E, just asked me a couple questions about bootstrapping for a webinar. I thought you might find the Q&A helpful:
Beth: Can you name any big brands that were originally started by bootstrapping?
David: Apple, YouTube, Facebook, Yahoo, Microsoft, Google and Whole Foods all got traction via bootstrapping before raising significant outside capital.
Beth: What are a couple great ways to get services or products for less?
- Hire less experienced employees with raw potential. Train them yourself (but avoid giving them inflated titles). Bring in top talent later. Use freelancers where possible – especially for one time or part time needs.
- Forget the pr firm. Instead, use social media to create your own voice to the public, via blogging, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. Establish yourself as an expert, and develop a rapport with bloggers and journalists so they reach out to you when they need your POV.
- Syndicate. Tap into other properties with audiences you’d like to reach via guest blogging, active postings on message threads.
- Barter. Find products or services you can provide with minimal / zero cost, that other companies may find valuable. Got an email newsletter or website that makes money from advertising? Give away some of your inventory (better yet, unsold inventory) in exchange for products or services.
Beth: What if you have bootstrapped it for a while now and feel stuck, any suggestions?
David: You can always raise capital after boostrapping. In fact, it’s often better to bootstrap your way until you’ve made significant progress (e.g. revenue) BEFORE raising capital. Having that traction will make it faster and easier to raise money, and usually lets you keep more equity.