You only have so much time and money, so everything must be brutally prioritised – with lower priority items dropped for the time being. Focus is now your mantra. Think of your top goals for the company and make these your only investments.
Related: Bootstrapping a Business
2. Share equity
Try to find a co-founder and employees who will work for equity. Be generous, because sweat equity is hard earned. Offer a generous package with both the amount of equity and the vesting period. I would also suggest not eliminating the vesting period or cliff completely, or you run the risk of losing part of your company.
3. Plan for your salary
Bootstrapping means no salary from the new business for some time. Will you work your day job at the same time or do you have savings? Will you do consulting part time? If you have children, what is your childcare plan?
4. DIY but know when to ask the expert
Whenever possible, do it yourself in the beginning. Learn how to create your own WordPress website, file your own trademark and copyrights and do most of your own product development. But don’t skip the experts, be smart about it.
Join developer forums to answer tech. For the legal paperwork, hire a law firm to give advice but draft the documents yourself. For product development, licence a platform to get yourself started.
5. Co-operate with other entrepreneurs
You might have friends or colleagues who have started companies. If so, see how you can help each other. Trade Facebook posts or marketing leads. Give your friend tips on articles you come across that would be great for her social media platform. Also, look at swapping skills.
6. Scrutinise expenses
Negotiate contracts. Buy cheaper pens. Fly economy, or better yet, skip that trip completely. Whenever there’s a way to do something for free, try it. Be sure to tell potential vendors that you are bootstrapping so that they don’t quote you inflated prices.
7. Build audience early
While in stealth mode, consider content marketing, such as a blog, to build your audience ahead of your product. It doesn’t have to reveal what the product will be.
8. Don’t skimp on PR
You can have the best product in the world, but if no one knows about it, your business will fail. Reporters receive many more pitches than they can possibly write about. It’s an important to market your story to the media as it is to your customers.
9. Soft launch of first product
Even Microsoft and Apple have bugs in their first versions. The quieter launch – whether based on the time of year or because you didn’t have the capacity to build your audience in advance – can give valuable customer feedback to improve your product.