Originally, bootstrap refers to a loop or handle at the top of a tall boot (see photo below) that allows one to use fingers to pull the boots on. This additional strap of fabric makes it easier to wear boots. Relating this with startups, bootstrapping is a sort of self-help and/or additional external help from family members and friends you could use to keep your startup running before you get funding from any investor.
Bootstrapping is mostly about being prudent with what you have, and extracting maximum results from it. It is synonymous with the acts of the biblical good servant who is prudent with little money, and has shown he can turn something ‘little’ into something ‘big’; and similarly when given something ‘big’ can turn it into something ‘large.’ Before we go further, it is pertinent you do not misconstrue a startup referred herewith for a one-man-squad. If your startup’s only team member is you, then good luck with that.
According to the online business magazine Entrepreneur, bootstrapping is one of the most effective and inexpensive ways to ensure a startup stays positive; and that means less money has to be borrowed. In addition, given the prevalent mentality of most people who are of the belief that founding a startup is an easy getaway from present hardship, bootstrapping also means living a lean lifestyle, keeping expenditure at the shoreline, avoiding unnecessary ‘street credibility’, and focusing more on building a strong team that would key into the vision for your startup.
In another perspective, bootstrapping also means ‘stretching’ your money. Think of this as getting the best value for stuff your startup needs at the lowest price possible (or even for free); running your startup from your parents’ home, private apartment, or even a room; having friends who own a car and are willing to give you a lift at their expense, as opposed to renting a taxi; hire purchase of very essential equipment for your startup needs (should you have a guarantor and are credit-worthy), this also includes ‘managing’ your very s-l-o-w laptop unless your friend is willing to help out with his or going for second-hand/used equipment, whatever the case maybe.
It’s never easy stretching finances in a startup but there is one word I suggest you keep in mind – Surulere. It means ‘patience is rewarding.’ In the end, bootstrapping begins and ends with one question: “How careful are you with managing your cash?”
Till next time!
Article written by: ChuQ Dennis