If you are a startup founder or want to be one, then you know that for every business/startup you need money to run it. But as an indie maker or as a single creator you might think that you do not have the funds, required to fulfill that dream. Let's not clear a decision that easily, have a closer look, shall we?
I truly believe that bootstrapping is an awesome approach towards funding your own startup, mainly because of external investors.
In terms of bootstrapping creators, you have many projects, some of them failed, some of them succeeded. But none of the failures are actually failures, those are also success - since you are a self-funded company and there are no expectations from that, so anything above zero is a win.
That's the best thing about being a self-funded company. No investors forcing you to reach this milestone by end of that time, etc. No! You are in full control of your pace and finances.
And it's much easier to simply "move on" in the case of bootstrapped startups, while in the case of funded ones it's a nightmare, let's not even compare.
Here are a few tips and proven resources to bootstrap your startup.
Best traffic channels for bootstrapped startups
Now since you don't have crazy VC money for running multiple Ads, and campaigns, the best channels are going to be either completely free or very cheap. So the best one is no doubt your organic search engine traffic. Since anyone can find you through a search of their problems, you have to be ready to serve them.
Next, the best channel is probably social media, mainly Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin. or even Instagram depending on your use case.
Branding your Freemium products
If you are offering a freemium service or product online, then the best thing you can do is promote sharing and affiliates. Since anyone who shares anything via your service is essentially sharing a branded "thing" to their friends, followers, etc. And anyone who finds it will know where it is shared from - since it is branded. This type of marketing is passive since you don't have to do anything, no expense, no time spent, nothing. Your users will do the work.
This also brings a good chance of virality, for example, if your service was shared publicly by one of your users, then there's a chance someone popular (who has a lot of followers) finds it somehow and decides to share it if it's relevant to them. Which brings all that traffic to your service or product.
How to deal with competition?
In an online SaaS business you will always have competitors, so don't be scared of them. In fact, it's a good thing. Having competitors proves your product has a market-ready for it, it means one of the biggest problems is already solved ("No one is buying my product").
Being a small self-funded startup, you have an edge over the other big VC-funded and hugely controlled giants, since you have the advantage of time and personal touch, which they do not. They treat their customers like "just another user", while you treat them as "the first few". That's an amazing thing!
Once your competitors become big, most of them stop their creativity wheel. While you are in your prime! Your advantage is being unique, doing something different than them, maybe even better than them.
Early on, collect as much feedback and suggestions from people around you and your first few customers, this will make you an All-Star product in your customers' eyes.
How to say NO to investors?
Once you start gaining some traction, you will be noticed in the market, and investors are always on the lookout for great potential companies. Trust me someone will reach out to you and say "Hey, your product looks amazing, let us invest in it" - I said it roughly, but that's the idea.
You need to understand the reason why you are bootstrapping in the first place. It's to have full control. With VCs especially, you're giving them control for some financial support.
How do you allocate time for bootstrapping if you have a day job?
The answer is after an all-day job there are squeezed hours that you can take out to build that side project. Now your priority should be to provide value through your creations but you also need money to be able to keep doing that, and one day being able to quit your job and do that full time.
This is why you should always charge your first customers something, even if it's a small amount it sounds big when it's the first few customers.
Don't quit your job too early as well, assess the risks and decide accordingly. This will depend on where you are currently at, and how many risks are you able to take.
It will happen with time, trust the process. Do not rush it.
The most important thing here while bootstrapping your startup is to believe in the process, enjoy the journey, take breaks, relax once in a while, and live your life.
Bootstrapping your business might not sound easy but it's probably the most peaceful way of creating an online business out there.
Hope this gave you some insights. Good luck!
Follow me at @shubmakes for more, drop me a message. Let's chat!