Starting Your Business: 3 Tips for Bootstrapping Your Way to the Top
Bootstrapping a business startup does not necessarily mean that you are unable to find traditional sources of capital. It may mean that you are clever, or that you know a bargain when you see it, or that you are the type of person who derives a certain satisfaction from crafting something using your own hands and vision, from scratch. If this is the way you feel, a franchise is probably not for you. A venture capitalist, if you could even find a member of that rare species when you are just starting out, is also likely to want some or too much control, and your vision might be thrown out of the window in that scenario as well.
It's kind of the same thing when you make your first homemade cheesecake using a recipe from a gourmet magazine, and then you realize how horrible those store bought cheesecakes in a box (that you used to eat) would taste in a side-by-side comparison. Just think, if you embrace the "entrepreneur as gourmet chef" metaphor that I have suggested above, you can tell people that you are an "Entrepreneurship Connoisseur" at social gatherings and when you are seated next to other first class passengers on your next flight to someplace exciting. Not going anyplace exciting, you say? Funny you should exhibit such a lack of enthusiasm, because that leads us to tip number one:
1) You may have thought that we'd start out with some high-powered "secret" bargaining strategy for bartering or negotiating with suppliers or landlords. Well, in a way you are right. The all time top tip, numero uno, has to do with your attitude. Do you think you are "having a bad day," routinely? Maybe it's not the kind of day or days that you are having; maybe it's your contagious nasty attitude that infects everyone around you and holds you back.
Here's a technique that you can use to thwart "nasty attitude syndrome"-a vicious, virulent disease: Use a mirror. If you don't like the way that you look, imagine how other people feel. Put the biggest, nastiest snarl on your face that you can muster. Stare hard into that mirror and say, "I want the best price-now." Does the person in the mirror look like he or she would be inclined to melt before your eyes and say, "For you, my friend, I'd give you the world on a silver patter, because you are my favorite kind of person"?
Perhaps I should explain the almost magical curative powers of the mirror that you should now be holding in your hand (yes, use a pocket-sized model that you can carry along, wherever you go-on all of those exciting trips). If you will stand on your head while you are frowning, you can "turn that frown upside down." Other people will smile at you, and perhaps even chuckle, or roar out loud, rolling in laughter. Now you're getting the hang of it. A positive attitude and a smile on your face will help you start your business, get out of trouble with your spouse, or get you a date if you are single. Practice being excited, (just about) everywhere you go.
2) For anyone who has forgotten kindergarten, let me remind you that you used to be creative-maybe you still are-and creativity is the heart and soul of bootstrapping. If you have lost touch with your creative side, or it has been pounded out of you as a result of other people's efforts to turn you into a compliant drone, one who fits perfectly in a cubicle, then it's high time you start acting like a kid again.
Yes, we're talking crayons, paint, glue, cardboard, scissors, wood, and trips to a junk yard. We're talking Animal House (the movie), and good old-fashioned food fights. We're talking about imaginary worlds depicted in amusement park rides. We're talking about science fairs, contraptions in your garage, and blue-green gooey stuff oozing out of boiling pots. We may even be talking about an illustration of the product idea that you have, or a three-dimensional model of a store layout-like the one that you will implement in real life when you start your business.
If all of the above seems too silly, you are just flat-out in desperate need of the intervention described under tip number 1. You must get out of the rut that you are in. Working in a cubicle for the rest of your life is the notion that's really silly. When you leave your present workplace to go home, take a different route. You may find that by getting lost while you are on your journey, you rediscover your creative inner child, inside.
Creativity is an act, something one does, not a trait. You have to give your creative side the time and tools to act. Get yourself unstuck through lots of stimulation. Take the time to actually study innovation, invention, the future, the past, and specific creative techniques. On that last point, here's an example of one technique: think about opposites. What's the opposite of a high priced anything? An economy priced version. What's the opposite of a big package? A small one. It's chunky versus creamy. Light versus full-bodied.
There are books, Web sites, training programs, articles, and devotees of the study of creativity. It's time for you to "start your creative engine," buckle-up, and blast off to other worlds that can be reached only in your imagination.
3) Research, research, research. Study, study, study. Read, read, read. Do your homework. Remember that old adage about "location, location, location"? Well, now you can forget that one, at least for the moment. Your location, your customer base, your supply channels, your price, all of these things will become clear if you become a researcher. We are not talking about the stereotypical, wimpy, "beat me up in the schoolyard and take my lunch money" type of researcher. We're talking about a new breed of formidable, respectable, "super researcher": A guerilla fighter who takes names, observes weaknesses, and kicks booty.
Quickly, the next time you visit your neighborhood video store, count the tapes (DVD's, games, etc.) on one shelf. Then multiply the number of videos on that one shelf by the number of shelves in a display case. Next, how many cases are on one wall? Assuming four walls, how many new releases does the store have in inventory? Count the middle section, too. How many customers are in line? Do they look happy? How many employees are working? How many are loafing? What have you observed about the business? Does it look like the store's making money? (No, we are NOT "casing out the joint" for a robbery.) How long has it been in business? How busy is the store, morning, noon, or night?
Collect competitors' advertisements. Collect advertisements that you simply like (on the basis that they apparently gain attention, sell benefits, and stimulate action). Collect crummy ads, so that you won't repeat the mistakes made by others.
Bootstrappers pay close attention to what other people and businesses do, so that they might emulate good business ideas, or deviate from the norm with better ideas. It's amazing how many businesses are founded on the basis of so little research or planning. If you intend to start a restaurant, and you are willing to spend $10,000 or more on a stove or a commercial refrigerator, wouldn't it make sense to test your idea first? Prepare a meal as though you were already in business. Invite some guests to try your cooking. Ask them questions. How much would someone pay? How often would they eat the type of food that you have prepared? Conduct a survey yourself, or work with marketing students or interns through a local college or university. Ask, ask, ask, lots of questions.
Buy every entrepreneurial startup guide book pertaining to the type of business (if it is a typical one) that you are planning to develop. Go to trade shows. Read trade periodicals. Talk to people. You are a "private eye," and your client is your would-be business.
Create a "war room." What's a war room? It's a place where you put a map on the wall, and use push-pins to depict an "enemy's" location; also affix notes to catalog strengths and weaknesses that you have noticed as a visitor. It's a place where you house all of the competitive intelligence that we've been discussing. It's a place where you plot the rise of your business, from small, well conceived beginnings.
4) I know, the article title said "3 Tips." This is a bonus tip. It's a FREE BONUS tip, for those persons who are still with me in this discussion. If you can't handle the first three tips, don't try bootstrapping. You won't make it. You need an inheritance, or you should resign yourself to staying in that cubicle. Try adding some color-a candy jar, or fresh flowers-so that you'll be happier in your confinement. Hey, that would be a small step toward changing your life, after all!
Here's the actual tip: Start small, and think differently (you may have supposed that I was going to say "think big," instead-that wouldn't be a bad idea, either). Give yourself time. Not days, weeks, or months, necessarily-we're talking years, if that is what you require to develop a contagious, positive attitude; create a winning idea; and become fully prepared for your exciting journey, bootstrapping your way to the top.
Dr. Robert Lahm is the founder of several businesses and Web sites, an entrepreneurship professor, a public speaker, and a writer. His typical topics include creativity and innovation, careers, start-ups, and small business marketing. Webmasters and other article publishers are hereby granted article reproduction permission as long as this article in its entirety, author's information, and any links remain intact. Copyright 2005 by Dr. Robert J. Lahm, DoctorLahm.com.
Part-Time/In-Home Business - Low Expense and Low Risk
As a first time entrepreneur, there are a variety of franchises, dealerships, distributorships, and licensing opportunities available for purchase. Many of these you can start by working part-time from your home. In doing so, you save thousands of dollars in start up and operating costs, while at the same time reducing your overall risk.
How Entrepreneurs Succeed - The 5 Qualities Needed For Business Success
What is it that sets a successful businessperson apart from an average businessperson? Is it down to pure and simple luck, or is it all about having an amazing idea and a successful and strategic business plan in place?
Cross Polination of Innovations in the Cleaning Industry
According to the latest edition of Pool and Spa news; the costs of maintaining a pool, maintenance service averages about $30.00 to $150 per month depending on competition, size of pool and area you live in. This seems similar to maintenance costs associated with cleaning of the family cars if you hire out a mobile detailing service or mobile car wash. For this reason we have been studying their industry for parallels and ways to incorporate some of their methodology, software for scheduling and other anomalies associated with that industry for ideas to incorporate into ours.
Business Startup Checklist
Use this comprehensive checklist to plan each step of your new business and transform your dream of entrepreneurship into reality. These steps may not necessarily be completed in the order listed, however, you can use them as a guideline for completing all of the necessary business startup tasks.
Do You Have What It Takes?
I think it's fair to say that not everyone is cut out to be a successful business owner, now some of you maybe disputing this statement but hear me out.
Ex-Yankee Pitcher Pitches Barter As Powerful Business Tool
Mission Viejo, CA - June 14, 2005 - Bob Meyer, a former major league pitcher in the 1960s who signed four-consecutive major league contracts with the New York Yankees, is now the most visible spokesman for the worldwide commercial barter industry.
Build Your Own Board Of Experts
The most successful entrepreneurs rely on their advisory boards to help spot new opportunities and potential pitfalls.
Have You Been Thinking About Owning Your Own Business? Or Becoming An Entrepreneur? Part 1
Almost every day, I talk with people who want to start their own home-based businesses. I receive an interesting reaction when I ask people, "What are you looking for in a home-based business?" The most common response I get is, "Umm, well . . . I don't know." Keep in mind that these people have requested information about starting a home-based business. They have taken time and effort to go online and fill out a form, or do some research. And yet, they don't know what they want.
What Kind of Business Should I Start?
It's not uncommon to reach your 30s, 40s or even 50s and still wonder, "What do I want to be when I grow up?" Few people are fortunate enough to be certain of their destinies early on and the rest of us are forced to do some soul searching.
History of Enterprise Car Rentals
So few really understand the drives and motivations of entrepreneurs. Many write about them, some lecture and teach about what they are, how they operate and what they have achieved; yet so few really understand them. So many fail to realize the dedication and sacrifice it takes to win at that level and the super stars are so rare that one just has to look in awe. One of the greatest stories of Entrepreneurial success is that of Jack Taylor who founded Enterprise Rent-A-Car. I therefore recommend this book about the History of Enterprise Rent-A-Car Book is;
Be An Entrepreneurial Artist: Paint A Picture, then Commit It to Canvas
James had an original concept and he needed an investor. He had a compelling business idea that was a sure winner with the right financial backing. James painted a great picture of the vision he had for his business, but there was just one problem: James wanted to be a businessman, when he needed to be an artist.
Confidence = Preparation + Courage
It always amazes me when I see someone on television holding a press conference ? a lawyer outside a courtroom, a businessperson at the launch of a new product. Reporters ask hardball questions. The answers are given with conviction, without hesitation. The person being questioned exhibits supreme confidence. Where does that confidence come from? How do they get it? What lessons are there for those of us who also have to face difficult circumstances and need that same, high level of confidence?
Questions For The Entrepreneur To Be
Isnt it Time You Started to Fly?
I am going to begin this article by sharing a shocking fact...
Which Niche To Conquer?
I'm sure that you've heard about how many start up companies fail when they first begin, and the reason that most (if not all) of their failures is because they don't create a good fountain to build on.
How A Woman Became A Successful Bill Collector In A Mans Industry And How You Can Too!
I have worked in the credit industry for over 17 years now. When I first started out, I only knew a very few women in the industry. That number has grown over the years, but not by much. Being a bill collector has always been categorized as a "man's industry".
Top 10 Business Plan Myths of Solo Entrepreneurs
Don't let these stop you from having a business plan for success!
Mobile Car Washing Long Term Opportunities in the Market
The long-term outlook for the Mobile Car Washing industry is positive. It is ripe for savvy company to develop regionally or nationally to dominate the market. Currently in the mobile car wash industry there is no well-known companies as is the case with other service businesses such as Domino's Pizza, Midas Muffler, Thrifty Rent-A-Car, and Jiffy Lube. These companies will be able to develop revenues and market share sufficient to sustain franchisees as local leaders in their fields. The Mobile Car Washing Industry awaits a company, which can standardize the industry and allow for consumers to know what to expect.
What It Takes To be An Entrepreneur Series: Action
Many people have the professed desire to be their own boss, start their own business ecetera, ecetera...
Rambling Confessions of a Recovering Entrepreneur
I told my family that I finally accepted that my passion had become an ob- session, and you could even call it an addiction. They all laughed. What had taken me 25 years to accept, they had known for years.My wife detected my addiction as early as our honeymoon in Paris. All I wanted to do was spend time at the Bourse trading francs on the spot market. She kept on nudging me to see some old picture in the Louvre.
|© Athifea Distribution LLC - 2013|