Why Bootstrapping Worked For My Company
In order to bootstrap your startup, you’ve got to create a product that solves a problem and use your internal talents to build a solution. We did that with ShortStack, and since its public release in January 2011, it was almost immediately profitable.
As a company we sacrificed overtime hours and I sacrificed a few paychecks, but we were quickly reimbursed with the capabilities it was allowing us to provide to our clients. We kept our overhead low by renting servers instead of buying them, using 3rd party services whenever possible and working a lot of nights and weekends for free. When you can develop the product with your own in-house talents, the cost savings are tremendous.
I’m not anti-VC. At a certain point in development, if more funds are needed to keep the ball rolling, then it’s certainly an option. But I believe the option should only be utilized after immense testing and proof your product solves problems and can generate income.
How to Bootstrap Your Next Idea
When someone asks me how I bootstrapped my company, there are a few main points that I always mention:
1. We created something that the company needed internally. Chances are that if you need it, there are others that could use the same thing. Starting with no expectation of creating a marketable product keeps costs and expectations low. You can always polish later, after you have a few paying customers.
2. Do everything you can to create the product with your own talents or existing in-house skills. If you have a great idea for a piece of software but you’ve never written a line of code, things are going to get really expensive really quick.
3. Focus on the product and the customers that are using it. We spend a majority of our time listening to customer feedback. Every one of my staff members is part of our “support” team that answers questions from our users.
4. If someone gives us a suggestion, we don’t just say thanks and forget it, we present it to our developers and meet on whether it is something that will benefit our users and enhance our platform. The more we enhance it, the happier our users are. The happier they are, the more they spread the word so that we can save our marketing dollars.
5. Most importantly we roll with the times. Who knows where Facebook will be in 1, 5 or even 10 years. We’ve all had those moments of “I wish someone would create this…” the key is to take the talent you have and turn those wishes into reality. The money will follow.
Photo Credit: Richards
[frame_left src=”https://yfsmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Jim.jpg”] Jim [/frame_left]
Jim Belosic is the CEO of ShortStack, a self-service social media platform that allows users to create custom Facebook tabs. It’s easy-to-use interface provides small businesses, individuals, graphic designers, advertising agencies, and corporations with the tools needed to build mini-websites within their Facebook ages that help drive user interaction and increase fan page likes.
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