The Great thing about Bootstrapping a Enterprise

“Ecommerce Conversions” is my weekly podcast interview with an entrepreneur. I’ve spoken to traders, traders to traders, wealthy ex-traders, and more.

But this episode is different. I do not interview anyone. Instead, I’m addressing a unique topic: bootstrapping, the concept of starting and growing a company without external investors. My company, Beardbrand, does bootstrapping. The benefits are freedom, contentment, responsibility and the betterment of the world – all more important than money alone.

My entire monologue – call it a swear word – is embedded below. The following text has been edited for length and clarity.

Why Bootstrap?

Bootstrapping gives owners complete control over their business. There is no one to answer to. The management can focus all efforts on the customers.

In February 2022 we will celebrate our 10th anniversary at Beardbrand. We are now often approached by investors interested in acquiring all or part of the business. We refused them. That doesn’t mean we always reject them. We didn’t close that door. But I love bootstrapping.

I love to concentrate on the customers, to improve their lives and to offer them added value with our products. I love the trip.

However, it is not easy. I started Beardbrand with a few hundred dollars. It definitely constrained growth. We couldn’t afford advertising, employees, extensive product development. Capital would have made growth possible. But it could have been the right growth now.

In addition, it is important in the early days to focus on your product and your target audience – and not to call investors to raise money. The thought process in raising money is fundamentally different from selling products and helping buyers.

Why ecommerce?

Ecommerce is easy to boot. Imagine trying to open a restaurant. It takes you a quarter of a million dollars to get the lease, fit out the interior, create the menus, hire the staff, and all. You can start your own e-commerce business with a minimal investment. Ecommerce platforms are cheap – pay monthly. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even make your own using an open source platform like Magento.

The hard part is trying to make a living on a business that generates a few thousand dollars in monthly income. You will likely need at least $ 10,000 depending on the product. Otherwise it’s a side project.

Entrepreneurship is a tough road. I’ve spoken to a lot of people who have been forced to borrow. You didn’t enjoy it. But I also know people who raised money from the outside and loved it. It was a great experience for her. You could choose partners whose interests were coordinated.

Start time

When I started Beardbrand, my wife and I had about $ 10,000 in savings. It was a fund for rainy days. I was a freelance graphic designer and marketer, doing odd jobs here and there. My wife had a permanent job that offered health insurance. I’ve made enough freelance work to survive. If it came down to it, she and I could have lived on a single income. We lived in a very humble house in Spokane, Washington. My car was paid for. We paid off student loans and some other debts. But we were very keen to minimize our obligations.

Bootstrapping is a similar process. You likely won’t be successful if you lease a fancy car, buy the biggest house you can, and live from paycheck to paycheck. So, before starting a bootstrapped business, think about taking control of the finances.

The paranoid entrepreneur in me thinks of the worst-case scenario. What if my wife loses her job or I lose my job? What happens if my warehouse is on fire and I have run out of products? How do I stay in business?

Get traction

In the beginning you have more time than money. You need to focus on tasks that take time and not money. The priority is to get your product in with potential buyers.

It only takes 10 to 20 minutes to record a video about your product and upload it to TikTok or Reddit. That brings the word out.

Search engine optimization is another option. Many brands neglect because they have money to buy ads on Facebook. These brands don’t focus on SEO – link building, articles, H1 tags, navigation. Investor-centric brands tend to focus on performance for that month or quarter. But a bootstrapped organization can focus on what will happen in, say, five years. What can I do now that will help me in five years? SEO is a great long-term investment.

Influencers can also help. Influencers love to work directly with founders, people who are enthusiastic about the products.

Email is a powerful marketing tool. SMS is a new and emerging channel. A dedicated list of subscribers generates income. Email platforms like Klaviyo are very affordable, especially considering the value they offer.

Bootstrapped entrepreneurs sometimes forget the benefits of not having a lot of money. You’re forced to complete tasks that well-capitalized companies typically can’t. Add a personal note to all orders, call customers to thank them, write an email – it’s all free and effective.

A better world

The world needs more brands and companies who care what they do and the customers who serve them.

For me, bootstrapping is nice because I can focus on my mission to make men great. We could be chasing a project that doesn’t generate instant income and doesn’t make sense to an investor. But it helps our customers and enhances our brand.

But the real secret to building a bootstrapped brand is not having to sell it. Investors demand a sale at some point. Imagine you have a brand that you love. You enjoy going to work every day. You love your people, your mission and your products. And you probably make a lot of money doing it.

Sell ​​your business and three months later you will twiddle your thumbs and find meaningful work that improves people’s lives.

Bootstrapping. It’s a wonderful thing.

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