I love the idea of bootstrapping a business, and it’s how I have grown my companies throughout the years. It forces you to get in the trenches and work extremely hard. While funding from an investor sounds great, it can sometimes have two negative setbacks -- you have to give up part of your company and it can make you lazy.
When you are bootstrapping your growth, there is no room for error or laziness. Alexandra Cristin knows a thing or two about bootstrapping. As the founder of Glam Seamless, she used $1,500 to build her company into a seven-figure business in less than two years.
She did it all on her own -- no business partners and no investors. Below are five components of bootstrapping that she credits to her success.
1. Don’t overthink -- just start.
The easiest way to fail at a business venture is by not starting it. A lot of would-be entrepreneurs never get their idea off the ground because they overthink the process in the beginning. They aren’t sure how they will fund it and grow the business.
“When starting a business, many entrepreneurs ask themselves questions like 'Where will I get my customers?' and 'How will I fund this?' While these are great questions, focusing on what you are selling and perfecting your delivery is more important. Sales cure all, and you can figure out the rest along the way. You have to just start, even if you don't have a concrete business plan in place. Starting is the first step to creating a business,” says Cristin.
2. Outsource to contractors.
Cristin leveraged outsourced talent to help her in the beginning. “Outsourcing to contract workers is a great way to propel your business forward quickly without the added expense of full-time employees," she says. "When I started my business, I couldn’t afford full-time employees, so I hired contractors to handle the tasks I wasn’t experienced in, like marketing and operations. Contractors have expertise in specific areas and you can hire them on an hourly basis.”
I’ve used outsourced talent several times in the past myself, and it can be a huge money-saver when you are able to connect with the right contractors. Just make sure you take a few things into consideration before hiring contract workers.
3. Don’t think of starting small as a disadvantage.
Not every entrepreneur is going to launch the next unicorn and build a multi-billion-dollar company that grows overnight. While it’s only natural to want to build a large business, there is nothing wrong with starting small. Cristin is a real-life example of how starting small can quickly turn into a much larger operation.
“It’s perfectly fine to start with just a few products or services until you prove your concept. In fact, if you are self-funding the business you should start small to protect your assets. It’s the perfect way to launch your business and test the market. Sure, you might want to eventually sell 50 stock keeping units (SKUs) or offer five services, and you can eventually get there if you prove the business model works,” explains Cristin.
4. Always innovate and try new things.
Cristin credits constant innovation as a major key to her success, saying, “If you settle and start to get comfortable because things are going good, your sales will eventually go flat. You always have to try something new for the business to continue moving forward. You should always be asking yourself what is next and strive to be a cutting-edge brand in your industry.”
You essentially have two options: stay still and let the competition blow by you or constantly try new things to help propel you further ahead. Those who constantly innovate within their industries will always have more success.
5. Focus on the process, not the numbers.
“The best advice I can give someone who wants to bootstrap a seven-figure company is to keep your focus on the process rather than the numbers. Numbers should be in the back of your head, but not necessarily your daily motivation. You have to focus on the process of the business -- focus on perfecting your sales process. When you do this, the numbers follow,” suggests Cristin.
Entrepreneurs who start with a focus on money rarely find success. When you find something you truly love doing, pour your heart and soul into the business. Lead with passion and an emphasis on process and the money follows naturally.