What Bootstrapping Techniques Help Entrepreneurs Keep their Business Afloat?


    What Bootstrapping Techniques Help Entrepreneurs Keep their Business Afloat?

    Navigating the choppy waters of entrepreneurship requires wit and wisdom, especially when it comes to bootstrapping techniques that can save a business during downturns. We've gathered insights from Founders and CEOs, distilling their firsthand experiences into ten valuable strategies. From strategic cash flow management to innovating with live online sales shows, these entrepreneurial leaders share the tactics that helped keep their ventures thriving.

    • Strategic Cash Flow Management
    • Share Workload for Passive Income
    • Eliminate Middlemen to Increase Profits
    • Monitor ROI to Work Smarter
    • Learn and Adapt for Future Success
    • Forge Strategic Partnerships
    • Minimize Expenses for Longer Runway
    • Adopt Zero-Budget Principles
    • Strategize Cost Management with Resourcefulness
    • Innovate with Live Online Sales Shows

    Strategic Cash Flow Management

    One effective bootstrapping technique I've employed at RJ Living, particularly during challenging periods, was meticulously managing our cash flow and focusing on strategic reinvestment. Being bootstrapped, every dollar mattered. We prioritized investments in areas that directly influenced customer satisfaction and business growth, such as design innovation and customer service.

    We made conscious decisions to avoid unnecessary expenses, especially those that didn't align with our immediate business goals. This approach meant we were constantly iterating and improving our offerings, ensuring we provided value to our customers while maintaining financial stability. By being selective in our product curation and not overextending ourselves, we were able to sustain our growth organically, relying on our profits rather than external funding. This strategy not only kept us afloat but also fostered a culture of resourcefulness and agility within the team.

    David Janovic
    David JanovicFounder & CEO, RJ Living

    Share Workload for Passive Income

    I was fortunate during the COVID-19 years to have more business than I could handle. I know many freelance writers weren't so fortunate. That's why I was happy to share the load instead of telling clients no. It was a win-win for everyone, including myself, in that I could generate some passive income by having a team of writers helping me satisfy my clients.

    Alli Hill
    Alli HillFounder and Director, Fleurish Freelance

    Eliminate Middlemen to Increase Profits

    During a very difficult season of entrepreneurship, where I was upside down nearly $250K, I had to get scrappy and find ways to increase my per-transaction profits without negatively impacting my customer relationships. So, I took an innovative approach by eliminating the middleman. I was producing my own products by hand rather than sending them off to a manufacturing facility. While this seemed like a step backward, I was able to better control my inventory and increase my profits by $5.00 per item, which amounted to nearly $5,000 per month in savings. Once I started gaining traction financially through this strategy, I was able to add a few more tactics to further pull myself out of debt. The lesson here is: don't be afraid to get your hands dirty if that's what's going to help you make it through the tough times.

    Jason Vaught
    Jason VaughtPresident, 805 SEO

    Monitor ROI to Work Smarter

    Too many people think that bootstrapping only means working harder. But, as any entrepreneur can tell you, it's entirely possible to burn the midnight oil and get nowhere. Those after-work hours are a waste if you're not carefully monitoring your return on investment (ROI) from a perspective that includes time and energy.

    In the early days of Pender & Howe, my partners and I had to admit that we weren't always working smarter. We put effort into initiatives that didn't pay back. It was only once we began keeping careful ROI records that we were able to see what worked and what didn't. Sometimes, it wasn't what we expected. Adjusting our strategy based on this feedback helped us stay afloat without burning out during those tough early days.

    Travis Hann
    Travis HannPartner, Pender & Howe

    Learn and Adapt for Future Success

    Learn everything you can about everything it takes to launch your ideas. Learn marketing, do sales, get down to the nitty-gritty… then, when things get better, you'll be able to pass the baton!

    Julianna Melamed
    Julianna MelamedCo- Owner and head of Buisness Development, GORNPHOTO

    Forge Strategic Partnerships

    As an entrepreneur, one effective bootstrapping technique I employed during tough times was leveraging strategic partnerships. I sought out complementary businesses and proposed mutually beneficial collaborations. This approach didn't require upfront capital but offered significant value in terms of shared resources, expertise, and customer bases.

    For instance, we partnered with a company offering complementary services to our own. We cross-promoted each other's services, which expanded our market reach without the need for additional marketing spend. These partnerships not only helped keep the business afloat but also opened up new revenue streams and networking opportunities, proving invaluable for long-term growth and stability. This strategy highlighted the power of collaboration and resourcefulness in overcoming financial constraints.

    Anup Kayastha
    Anup KayasthaFounder, Serpnest

    Minimize Expenses for Longer Runway

    I spent as little as possible so that I had more runway for the business to exist. I didn't spend on marketing and advertising until many years into the business, so we could find our product-market fit. As we grew, I started deploying teams of people to help our business grow, and if we needed to cut back, we looked for outsourced teams across the world to fill the gap.

    Robert Brill
    Robert BrillCEO, Brill Media

    Adopt Zero-Budget Principles

    I've found that building on a budget of zero as a principle has been an incredible bootstrapping technique that has kept my business lean. In simple terms—is there a free tool I can use for this task that will accomplish 80% of the goal? By keeping a lean operation, tough times are manageable, and expenses are kept low.

    Matthew Sanjari
    Matthew SanjariFounder and Business Coach, PRIME Consulting

    Strategize Cost Management with Resourcefulness

    One effective bootstrapping technique I've employed at DeepPower, particularly during challenging financial periods, is strategic cost management combined with resourcefulness. This meant taking a hard look at our expenses and identifying areas where we could reduce costs without compromising the quality of our XDrill™ technology.

    A specific strategy was to leverage existing resources more efficiently. This involved optimizing our operations, such as consolidating tasks and cross-training team members to handle multiple roles. We also sought out opportunities to barter services with other companies, which reduced costs significantly. For example, we exchanged our expertise in geothermal energy for marketing services from a partner firm. This not only saved us money but also fostered valuable business relationships.

    Additionally, we prioritized maintaining a lean operation. We focused on essential expenses directly contributing to business development and growth, delaying or eliminating non-essential expenditures. This approach allowed us to sustain operations and continue our R&D efforts during tough times, ultimately contributing to the resilience and agility of DeepPower.

    Andrew Van Noy
    Andrew Van NoyFounder & CEO, DeepPower, Inc.

    Innovate with Live Online Sales Shows

    During the pandemic, we had to shut our retail store down, so we needed to figure out how to get sales with no one in our store. We decided to try doing a live shopping show online. With two iPhones, two cheap microphones from Amazon, and a YouTube channel, we were able to put on a show. It helped us stay profitable through COVID-19 and hold on to all our associates. It did so well that, three years later, we still do them monthly.

    Jeff Michael
    Jeff MichaelEcommerce Business Owner, Moriarty's Gem Art