When you first start your small business, chances are, especially if you are bootstrapping, you're focused on getting started, and getting through the first year or two. That is, after all, as we've all heard, when most small businesses fold, isn't it?
Your first goal will, as it should be, be to bootstrap your business into profitability. You'll probably also be plowing most of that profit back into your business, keeping it going,, nurturing it, and making sure that it grows from infancy into something substantial.
Because you're a savvy entrepreneur, and because you're putting your all into your company, chances are that it will reach a plateau. A point where there are two choices — stay small, or scale things up, and grow your company. It may seem impossible when you first start bootstrapping a company, but that point actually comes a lot sooner than you'd think. Here's a quick guide to how to get from bootstrapping to profitability and scalability, without tearing your hair out.
Set Realistic Short, Medium and Long Term Goals
Too many entrepreneurs shy away from bootstrapping because they are so focused on the big, expensive long term goal that they don't see the short and medium term possibilities.
Maybe you want to own a boutique or a restaurant, or any other kind of expensive to set up business. It's unlikely, if you're bootstrapping, that you're going to be able to do that right from day one. But you could design and manufacture clothing to sell on a local flea market, or start a food delivery service in your area.
The key to bootstrapping, as most of the successful entrepreneurs within the NYC entrepreneur community will tell you, is to find a way to start working on your big dream now. That means scaling down a lot, and finding something that you can start with little or no money, that will allow you to save for the big dream.
While it's useful to start working in the niche you've bootstrapping towards, it's also not essential. You could start doing just about anything that turns a profit, and use some of those profits to save towards starting something bigger and better. There's something out there that everyone can do to make money, if they look hard enough. Find your something, and get started!
Start With Services
It's a known fact, among entrepreneur communities around the world, that service businesses usually cost a lot less to start than those that manufacture, or even retail. The reason for this is also simple: service businesses require less, in terms of stock, storage space and equipment. So, if you dream of one day opening a pet store, get started by walking dogs. There's no outlay, and all you're selling is your time.
Make Use of Entrepreneur Resources
When most of us think about starting a business, the only entrepreneur resources we really worry about are things like finding funding. However, there are plenty of other resources that an entrepreneur who is bootstrapping his business can make use of. For instance, there are agencies that will help you set up your business plan, or offer you office space and equipment at a very low rate. All of those cost saving options mean that you, the bootstrapping entrepreneur can hold on to more of your most precious resource — cash.
Mingle With Your Peers
Bootstrapping can be a lonely business. I know. I've spent the countless hours at my desk, trying to figure out how to make everything happen with very little budget. The good news is that you're not alone.
Find out when entrepreneur meetups and networking sessions are happening in your area. These types of events put you in contact with other people, just like you, who are bootstrapping their business dreams into reality. Not only do entrepreneur meetups offer you a chance to mingle with people who understand, however, but they can also offer valuable business leads. If just one of the people who attends knows someone who might be interested in your business, then it was worth the time and effort.
Make Sure You Plan for Growth
Last, but not least, on your path from bootstrapping entrepreneur to scalable business owner is to plan for growth. It's all very well starting a successful business baking muffins in your kitchen. There's going to come a time, however, when demand will outstrip your ability to supply. And let's face it — you can only bake so many muffins in a day.
Make sure you have a plan in place that will allow you to increase production, no matter what you are doing, and you can be sure that your business will grow over time, and that you'll be able to cope. That could mean hiring extra staff, or finding a business premises. Whatever it is, plan for it while you're in the early stages of bootstrapping, and you'll be ready when the time comes. After all, as they say 'those who fail to plan, plan to fail.'
As a successful, under-30 serial entrepreneur, Gary Whitehill's game-changing endeavors have been featured on television and in magazines and newspapers across the nation. Read more about Gary here.