We’re major advocates of bootstrapping. The lessons learned along the way are priceless, and we own 100% of Tech Collective. However, we do admit that bootstrapping is also extremely difficult.
For us, we preferred not having debt or the stress of investors pushing us in different directions as we focused on growing the brand.
Apart from not taking salaries, we’ve had to put every dollar we earn back into the business and focus on building a sustainable and successful business. Here are five tips on how you can successfully bootstrap your business to profitability.
Get out there and sell
We did not have a product to sell other than our publication and readership. As with any publication, at the start absolutely no one reads your articles. So we did what any good entrepreneur should be doing. We literally went out knocked on doors and call whomever would pick up the phone.
We sourced for interviews with founders and entrepreneurs to build our editorial capacity. Built partnerships with related brands and companies providing editorial support and revenue-sharing, because we had nothing else to offer. Within six months and only receiving about 10,000 visitors a month, we were able to generate revenue, because we went out there and fought.
Now we’ve more than tripled readership organically and have a slew of brands that work with us, providing sustainable revenue for the publication. But, we’re still going out there and knocking on doors almost daily.
There’s no substitute for passion
If you’re building a brand from scratch, it makes sense that you should love what you’re doing. We genuinely believe in our mission to bring real news to the region through Tech Collective and focus on ignored industries, markets and trends in the region.
If we did not believe in our mission and have the passion within ourselves, it is more than likely we would have folded at the first sign of hardship. The team has been together since the start and we’re committed to staying the course.
Surround yourself with winners to get that winning mentality
One thing we learnt along the way even before Tech Collective is that if we surround ourselves with doubters and slackers, we tend to find it easier to adopt those attitudes. This is the same when you surround yourself with winners and leaders – you adopt these successful traits.
We work with numerous partners and have built a strong network. We look for people who have a similar passion to us and forge partnerships that work for both sides. This has helped sift out negative influences and move us in the right direction.
Be flexible and learn fast
In the beginning, you have to do everything yourself. We handled website development, content writing, SEO work, partnership, sales, admin, finance and pretty much everything else that running a company requires.
Bootstrappers like us have no time to think that anything is beneath them if it benefits the company. The moment you think that you’re too good to be doing this or that for your company, then you’ve already given up and should find another job.
Learn to adapt and take on many roles at the same time. This helps you save money and also teaches you important new skills that can benefit you beyond your work. For example, after running finances, I now know how to bargain better and understand pricing.
Just have fun
We genuinely like (or love) what we do at Tech Collective. Every time a new report or an exciting new startup crosses our paths, we get excited and keep a look out to capture their journey.
This keeps things fresh and fun for us every single day. We do not get to go home and forget our worries at any point, because this is not a 9-to-5 job, this company defines us and what we do.
I’ll leave you with this quote from Github Co-Founder Tom Preson-Werner.
Bootstrapping is the way to do something about the problems you have without letting someone else give you permission to do them.Github Co-Founder Tom Preson-Werner