Bootstrap or Bust

bootstrap or bustI saw a video the other day with my good friend and mentor Mike Michalowcz and it got me thinking…….

How can bootstrapping really make you a better business woman?

A lot of us dream of a big investor coming in (our knight in shinning gold coins) and solving all our problems, bringing a lot of savvy to the table, helping the business run more smoothly, and giving us that long awaited salary……right? Hey, I have been there with you……several times……in fact, I did bring on investors, and did hope they’d do all those things I mentioned above.  But did they?

Not really.  I did get a salary for a short while, and that was fabulous and all, but my business was still in it’s terrible state of being mismanaged.  All the money really did was give me a longer leash to keep doing more of the wrong things the wrong way.

If I’d never gotten the money, I know I’d still be in business today!

Bootstrapping really does keep you thinking on your toes (all the time), and in a different way than you would if the sand wasn’t pouring out of the hourglass.  Being honest with yourself, and your bank account, is one, if not the most, important thing about your business.

Bootstrapping doesn’t mean you can’t grow.  It just means you grow more slowly, which believe me, is usually better.  Being “forced” to be more creative with your money, usually results in you becoming more innovative. Perhaps you are inspired to contact old friends with influence, approach the famous person you see at the drugstore, reach out to the unreachable, take that leap of faith your family thinks you are nuts for doing.

In order to find the things that will work for your company, you must be committed to trying everything.

As a true bootstrapper you will:

Only use the money you have in the bank today
Brainstorm creative sales strategies
Call buyers more than once
Present incentives that a buyer cannot turn down
Create more interesting press releases
Print and package everything yourself
Reexamine your production costs more often
Call the people you can ask for free advice (even if they never offered)
Drive the extra mile to save on your bottom line
Work late into the night
And pay yourself at least 10% of every dollar you make

What are your Bootstrapping tips?

If you want to check out the video with Mike…….It’s worth the 3 minutes.

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    Written by Sarah Shaw

    There are 8 comments

  • Anna Eves says:

    Great advice Sarah! Bootstrapping makes you use your money more wisely and sets you up to be a cost effective business. When we were looking to upgrade our printing we looked at a lease to buy option that would have gotten us a new printer faster but in the end would have cost $17,000, we waited 4 months found a great deal on the best printer on the market paid cash $5,000 and made that back in two months. We would still be paying off the lease to own on the other printer and might not have had cash available for the other upgrades in computers we have been able to do. We are growing our business slowly but debt free. Doing this allows us to focus on using the best quality materials and producing a superior product because the cost of the product is only the materials and labor used not interest rates and loan repayment. We are able to expand faster without leaving a trail of debt behind us. Lean and mean is the way to go!

  • Suzi West says:


    Couldn’t agree more. Learning to live and work lean is one of the most important lessons I lecture when mentoring entrepreneurs.

    !. Always review why you began your business in the first place.
    What is the foundation of your brand or business or service?
    What pain point were you trying to solve when you first launched.

    We sometimes in our growth forget what the original concept entailed and start to veer off of the road. Revisiting your initiatives is very important. Even if you are reevaluating- you still need to recognize what you were pursuing in the first place.

    2. One of my favorites from an early mentor: “Today’s Peacock is Tomorrow’s Feather Duster.” So many messages in that statement. One is about humility. The other is about how things can shift from one concept to another!

    At any rate, to me, it is a message about keeping your pencil sharp. I call it the hustle. When you are bootstrapping, you think about basic accounting. Money in/Money out. I need to make this sale, to make this rent. Simple. Its like being just out of college and living paycheck to paycheck.

    3. Distortion and Priorities. A successful business leader that I worked with once told me “If you have three kids and can only afford to send one to college – send the smart one.” I have never forgotten that all important lesson. In our businesses, everything seems important and everything seems to cost money. Pay attention to what will get maximum results.

    Thanks for your time,
    Suzi West
    The Retail Sherpa

  • nice I like this advise!

  • Love the last point! Pay yourself at least 10% of every dollar you make! I’m guessing that means on profit! Tricky to do this in the first few years of a business, when everything is going back into the the biz! Would you agree?

  • Sarah Shaw says:

    Christy – I actually mean on the entire gross sale………. Then you do what you need to with the rest. If you start now, you will instill BEST work habits.

  • Alana Lea says:

    Hi Sarah,

    I find bootstrapping is a great way to lose weight! Has anyone else discovered how long you can live on those little seaweed thins and mineral water from Trader Joe’s? And, they always have great snacks being served! : )

    Honestly, I’m super appreciative of EVERYTHING that comes my way, and helps me take the next steps toward the fulfillment of my company’s mission. I have become unstoppable, while fitting into smaller clothes!

    With $ padding, one can afford to relax a bit about the urgency of one’s mission. I’m looking forward to that part of the journey too…

    Wishing all entrepreneurs for the Good, my very best…


  • Lill says:

    As a bootstrapper, this is encouraging to keep pulling myself up by …. well, you know… Thanks Sarah!

  • Smart3DWeb says:

    It is punishing to have to work in your off time every day for years to complete a new business idea. I do agree that it keeps one hungry for success but a little assistance from interested angel investors seems like a win-win situation that is not necessarily linked to how well one does at a given time managing the day to day operations. Great site and commentary from those who have succeeded. Thank you.

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