noun boot·strap ping ˈbüt-ˌstrap- ping
- Building a business out of very little or virtually nothing. Boot strappers rely usually on personal income and savings, sweat equity, lowest possible operating costs, fast inventory turnaround, and a cash-only approach to selling. Most of world’s startups still follow this road; either because there is no alternative, or because of the unmatched control and independence it offers.
- A type of business funding that seeks to avoid relying on outside investors.
The term derives its meaning from the expression “lifting oneself up by one’s own bootstraps”, referring to raising oneself up by one’s own means. Also called bootstrap funding.
THE AH-HA MOMENT
Have you ever had one of those ah-ha moments that set off a tsunami of brain waves so large you just had to take immediate action? Well, that happened to me recently. I was reading a book my brother gave me for Christmas titled “Raise Capital on Your Own Terms – How to fund your business without selling your soul” by Jenny Kassan. She writes:
“You probably picked up this book because you are getting tired of bootstrapping. You’re tired of working long hours because you can’t afford a web designer or bookkeeper, forgoing a salary, and monitoring every penny your family spends. You’re tired of not being able to give the best possible service to your customers because you can’t afford the highest-quality equipment and suppliers or because you’re so busy dealing with administrative issues that you don’t have time to stay on top of new developments in your field.”
Wow! Jenny, thank you. You just threw cold water on me and made me face my own reality. I tell prospects all the time how we can handle their accounting more efficiently and accurately than they can which will save them time and money. So why didn’t I realize I was doing precisely what I tell them not to do? Probably because I’m so busy trying to keep all the assorted balls in the air that I didn’t even think about doing things differently.
A PARADIGM SHIFT
Not anymore. I’ve made a paradigm shift. I see the wisdom of her words and how so many of us small business owners are holding ourselves back by thinking the only way to run our businesses is by bootstrapping. Hey, I’m not saying there isn’t a time and place for it. We wouldn’t be celebrating our 7-year anniversary this month if it weren’t for all the bootstrapping I’ve done. I’m just realizing it’s time to grow up. It’s time to move beyond struggling constantly to have enough time, energy and money. It’s time to invest in my business and shake things up. It’s time to expand my limited thinking and allow this little business to blossom and grow. It’s time to make changes that will allow me to focus on the pieces I’m good at and outsource the things I’m not.
CHANGE YOUR PERPECTIVE
So, what about you? Are you happily bootstrapping it or is it time to change your perspective? I know I constantly remind people that most small business owners aren’t qualified to handle their own accounting, and most of them don’t enjoy it (unlike us geeks at SFF who love doing it). But, given the option of feeding one’s family or struggling through it, they chose to feed their families. I get it. We all have to make tough choices.
LET ME CHALLENGE YOU
But, let me challenge you to reconsider your perspective for a moment. What if, you took out a loan that allowed you enough breathing room to outsource that thing that you hate doing the most, or just know you aren’t doing well? Would it change your business? Would it create new business, give you the freedom to increase your inventory, or help clarify where your business really stands so you could make better decisions about the future? I think it’s worth exploring. Stop and contemplate for a few minutes. Give the other perspective a chance. Maybe, just maybe, these folks who get big quickly, do it by funding their growth instead of struggling along at a snail’s pace believing that one day they’ll be able to take a real vacation and leave the business to run on its own.
What is it you want your business to be? If you’re happy bootstrapping it and don’t want more, that’s fine. But if you have visions of expansion, growth, or greater financial success, then consider what I’m saying. If you’re feeling daring, pick up Jenny’s book and see what she has to say. Or, call meand we’ll talk about how to take your business to the next level. We can venture out into unknown waters together. I’m plunging in, are you ready to take the chance?
Sherry Lutz Herrington is the owner of Sherrington Financial Fitness, a business consulting and accounting firm specializing in strategic business planning and solid financial accounting for businesses. She is also the author of Strong Women Thriving (https://strongwomenthriving.com/), a blog which focuses on empowering women to be financially savvy, particularly after experiencing financial abuse. Sherry is currently writing a new book that both shares her personal story and addresses financial abuse. She can be reached at email@example.com.