Leo Exter is a creative thinker, serial entrepreneur, co-organizer for the Startup Weekend Brussels, founder of Bizcamp Belgium and founder of WeStartup, an initiative that we would like to introduce as Brussels JUG partner project. From time to time, Leo will give us some insights into “startup-ing” and entrepreneurship. A subject that, we think, is interesting and rewarding for many of us.
To my surprise, a lot of startups I come across aren’t familiar with the term. Strange (and unfortunate), considering how important bootstrapping can be for any entrepreneur.
Here’s why it’s important: many business angels and venture capitalists I’ve come across will be very reluctant to seriously consider investing into an early-stage company that doesn’t have a proof of concept. If you’re looking for an investment, business plan is important. Working prototype is crucial.
It may seem to be a vicious circle (you need money to build a prototype, whatever it may be – a website, a first sample of your product, first copy of your book… so you could get more investment money) but it’s not. Bootstrapping is the answer.
Let’s start with a Wikipedia definition:
Bootstrapping in business is to start a business without external help/capital. Startups that bootstrap their business fund development of their company through internal cash flow and are cautious with their expenses.
Don’t spend any further time in Wikipedia – it won’t get any clearer.
If I were to define bootstrapping, I’d say: “simplify everything you do – and every time you are about to spend a penny ask around for a creative way to save it instead”.
I realize that’s not helping either : ) So, have a look at this blog post: 46 Ways To Start A Business With No Money by Brian Armstrong – it is full of concrete examples which will illustrate the above definition.
Many of the tips Brian shares are not very applicable in Europe – that’s fine. At the very least they will give you interesting ideas and a starting point for asking around for more tips.
Here’s one tip, on the house: if you would like to play with Google Ad Words, register for http://www.entreprendreondernemen.be/ which will take place in Brussels on March 30 and 31. Registration and participation in the event is free, and it comes with a € 75 voucher for Google Adwords. All you need to do to collect your voucher is just show up at Tour & Taxis and go inside.
Speaking of coworking spaces…. they offer an excellent, cost-efficient option for when you decide to move your business out of your living room. In Brussels, visit Beta Group Coworking and The Hub, in Antwerp – Aspace and Burooz.
There is of course a lot more to bootstrapping – there’s a whole growing body of knowledge behind it (Lean Startup), but that is for another blog post.
Note: check out as well the free WeStartup Members Night happening the 22th of March in Brussels. More info here.