Book review: “Bootstrapping Your Business” By Greg Gianforte
Bootstrapping Your Business” By Greg Gianforte is an all-in-one book that takes the reader through the very beginning of bootstrapping to leveraging your company to weather the transitions of growth. It was published in 2005, so there is an element of being dated, but overall the book has some solid advice to think about. The author takes an all or nothing stance with the concept of bootstrapping. As a serial entrepreneur, I take this stance with a grain of salt. Every entrepreneurial journey is different and should be approached as such.
1. Give back to those less fortunate (pg 162) - I am very passionate about this. I believe that companies have a responsibility to serve not only their customers, but the community as well. The author takes the give your time stance for the many benefits that it has on stress and other elements an entrepreneur can be experiencing. Time is always a great thing to give, but don’t discredit how much value a check has on an organization.
2. Very practical approach to partnering with a co-founder(s) (page 12). This is my favorite section of the book and is worth a read. Co-founders, like life partners, need to be chosen carefully. This includes things to consider if you part ways. Having clear agreements ensures expectations are clear and there are less surprises.
3. Learn to sell and sell well (page 31). There is no disputing the value of every founder, employee, and even family members being able to “sell” for the startup at any given time. As a founder, if you can’t sell you will have additional uphill battles that can break your business. Think about how to deal with this, and do it early in your journey.
Leverage your unique location (page 38). Living outside of mecha start up scenes like Silicon Valley, can be a positive for many reasons. The author of the book is from Bozman, Montana and found that to be a plus when selling to customers. Local pride is to be valued and leveraged, not hidden away.
4. Become a one person expert in every area your business needs (page 49). There is only so much time in a day, week, year. Your time is worth money, treat it as such. Learning a complete new trade so you do not have to pay another person isn’t always the best solution. Choosing which “expertise” to learn is key. Learning the basics of social media marketing is very different than learning the in and outs of intellectual property law (example given in the book). Choose experts based on what you have to give at the time, and your personal interest.
5. Bartering services with other companies (page 55). I love this concept, but would warn entrepreneurs - make sure both parties truly understand the value of your services. If you are a marketing company creating a website for a restaurant: one free meal isn’t equal to 8 hours of web development.
6. Pick an advisory board (page 107). This is hard, but always worth exploring. The author doesn’t touch on ways to ensure your advisory board is invested in your success. There are many ways to incentive your advisory board: stock, cash, discounts, etc. Find out what would help that individual the most.
7. Loyalty programs (page 116). I loved the uniqueness of this and the example they gave with the dry cleaning business partnering with Delta’s mileage program. By partnering with a much larger brand, they were able to give potential an incentive to try their company.
8. Opposing outside funding (page xx) - The author’s stance is that taking a large sum of money changes the way you make decisions, and not for the better. I can appreciate the author's stance on this, but think each entrepreneur has a responsibility to make the best decisions for the company at all times. To me, blaming having funds on bad decisions is like blaming a kind person for someone taking advantage of them. Every person has a responsibility to make good decisions and do the right thing.
Bootstrapping Your Business is a quick read with many thought provoking ideas that any early to mid-stage entrepreneur can get value from. Like many all-or-nothing approaches, it’s key for the reader to pick and choose what applies to their situation. Overall would recommend this book for any entrepreneur looking for a way to evaluate their own journey and see if they can come up with new ideas on how to improve their entrepreneurial journey.