We haven’t done this in a while, but thought why not give it another go. The team has been so busy and this small publication we started on the side has grown into something that is a bit bigger than us.

We’ve shared this story before, maybe once or twice, but here’s a slightly different look at our bootstrapping journey.

What is bootstrapping? Here’s a definition that we can consider.

Bootstrapping is building a company from the ground up with nothing but personal savings and, with luck, the cash coming in from the first sales. The term is also used as a noun: A bootstrap is a business launched by an entrepreneur with little or no outside cash or other support.

Investopedia

It is also a nightmare for many startups if you look at the current state of the industry.

The good ol’ days of unique and disruptive ideas that change the world seem to be a distant memory, as the major players in today’s market are those that can replicate and produce with more efficiency. Rather than wade through a crowded market, we decided to lace up our boots and do it the hard way – bootstrapping.

It has been a challenging, but invaluable learning experience for the team. From the beginning we were true believers in our dream. We have been remarkably frugal and smart with our spending, as well as fully appreciative of every dollar we have earned.

Here’s what else we have learned from our bootstrapping experience.

It is an unmatched educational experience

woman biting pencil while sitting on chair in front of computer during daytime

The process forces steep learning curve on you and your team, but provides you with a deep grasp of the knowledge to run your business. From coordination to accounting, research to marketing, are covered by this intense crash course.

At Tech Collective, we learnt more about finance than we ever thought possible and ever wanted to, if I am being honest. However, if we ever start something new, we have the tools and knowledge to make the process faster and easier than ever before.

You know your customer better than yourself

Since you cannot really afford to hire a bunch of sales and marketing people, you have to be the one on the ground speaking to people and launching your product.

As we were launching, our customers become our best and often only access to feedback. We spoke to investors, founders and technologists to see if what we were aiming to do was actually registering with them. We used their (sometimes harsh) feedback to tweak our concept and keep them excited about what we were trying to do.

We learnt that if you can polish your product or service through customer feedback, the firsthand data they provide to you is priceless.

It reaffirmed our commitment

One thing bootstrapping does really well is filter out those who aren’t in the game 100%.

None of us take salaries and all of us are in it for the equity. If there had been money from the get-go, we might not have known who was in it for the long haul.

Some other tips for those exploring the bootstrapping lifestyle include:

  • Find and engage the local business support services in your area. There are entrepreneurs in most communities who happily share insights and lessons with others. Reach out to them and build your network.
  • Look out for government initiatives that provide funding or support services for entrepreneurs – this can be a great and cheap way to accelerate your business.
  • If it is relevant, build your social media presence from the start and broadcast your message as far and wide as possible.
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