How to Bootstrap Your Startup for Years Without Funding

When starting a business, it’s typical to look for venture capital, angel investors, as well as co-founders to help have the company ready to go. While funding is necessary for almost all companies, seeking it out your self isn’t fundamentally the right path for everyone. Instead, knowing how to bootstrap your startup could be a better option.

How to Bootstrap Your Startup

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When you bootstrap your startup, you retain full control of the new business. You don’t have to worry about securing and keeping funders happy. If bootstrapping is right for your enterprise, the following tips might help you through the process.

Get Creative With Startup Funds

It takes money – sometimes a lot of money – to start any business. So, your initial funding has to come from somewhere. But that doesn’t signify you need to give away equity in your company or search for external funding. During early stages of one’s business, it’s possible to rely on bank cards and the private savings of startup founders as you receive things ready to go.

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When launching a bootstrapped startup, you may need to get creative. Design your company model to enable you to quickly start selling products or services to establish cash flow. Taking the time to write up reveal business plan outlining all your expenses might help you better envision the expenses that’ll be involved, along with the time it might take to pay back those bank cards.

Focus on Your Customers

When you’re dealing with limited resources, one of the best things bootstrappers do is concentrate on clients from the very beginning. Engaging with potential customers on social media might help inform sets from your online strategy to your product design and launches. The better connected your organization is to your customers, the more aware you’ll be of what they’re looking for and how they’ll respond to your business, and products or services.

It’s just as important to focus on providing effective customer care. When your organization is willing to beat to develop a positive customer experience, you are able to build customer loyalty in addition to valuable customer referrals. Increased referrals can expand your company without boosting your marketing budget.

Consider Outsourcing

You may reach a point where your startup needs more team members, nevertheless, you don’t have the finances or stability to hire anyone full-time. During this growth stage, consider outsourcing some of work to talented freelancers or independent contractors. When you hire freelancers, you can usually save money within the cost of hiring a genuine employee, because you don’t have to pay into the Federal Unemployment Tax or be worried about contributing to employee benefits.

If you decide to outsource some work, be deliberate and cautious along the way. Outline the types of work that you desire to outsource and determine the skills and experience that you would want to see in a freelancer. There are many platforms, like Upwork, and you’ll discover freelancers, but this can be hit-or-miss in terms of finding talented, reliable help. Instead, try to network with other companies to see if they have a favorite freelancer they would recommend.

Hire for Attitude

Chances are that your startup won’t have the funding to hire top-tier veteran talent, however when it is time to hire employees, hire for attitude, rather than experience. Aytekin Tank, CEO of JotForm, advocates for this plan, and it’s paid off for JotForm.

“We’ve sort of adopted a belief at JotForm that we don’t necessarily hire superstars; we grow them. We hire for attitude and make sure we treat the standouts well with more responsibility and good pay. This has reduced turnover and kept our production consistently high.”

Look for potential employees that are invested in your mission, and who understand how to bootstrap your startup too. They’ll be a powerful investment while they learn face to face, and bring genuine passion and hustle to their work.

Embrace Slow Growth

As an entrepreneur by having an exciting business idea, it’s easy to get frustrated when you’re forced to grow your business more slowly because of limited funding. But according to Tank, reducing can be a gift in disguise.

“We’re methodical about how we expand our team and add new products, and over time we’ve built something incredibly sustainable. We also always have a rule only to add new employees if we have the money to pay their salaries for an entire year.”

The forced slowed growth you’ll experience as you bootstrap your startup could make you more aware of how you’re spending cash. And, you’ll become more deliberate and cautious in your company decisions. Taking the time to step right back and evaluate each move can help make sure your business is wisely built, encouraging its chances of achieving success.

Be Patient – and Appreciate How it Helps

Finally, remember to be patient and relax.

“Bootstrapping is a long game,” Tank says. “So take time to unwind and appreciate what you’re doing so that you don’t burn yourself out. I’m much better nowadays at taking vacations and breaks at work. I also encourage the same from our employees. It keeps us more productive and fresh, not to mention preserves our sanity.”

Bootstrapping may take time, but be patient and revel in the experience to build something great, all with your own personal funding.

John Boitnott

CEO, Boitnott Consulting LLC

A journalist and digital consultant, John Boitnott has worked at TV, print, radio and Internet businesses for 25 years. He’s an advisor at StartupGrind and has written for BusinessInsider, Fortune, NBC, Fast Company, Inc., Entrepreneur and Venturebeat. You is able to see his latest work on his blog,

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