Bootstrapping, not an excuse for being cheap


I witness the scenario on both sides of the table.  A startup provides a solution to a problem; solves it elegantly. And makes it seamless for its users. They use a few other products too – that solves some of their non-core functions elegantly. They grow out of its free usage, but they don’t pay.

And they sit and break their heads, day in and day out as to why on earth,  many of its heavy users not converting. I too do wonder why.

Karma, is a bitch.

We don’t negotiate with the entity that provides the electricity, nor the ISP who provides the pipeline, nor the bank who keeps our accounts, or the lawyer who manages our legalities, or the accountant who keeps our day sane. Why then are we being partial to teams solving our operational headaches with tools they built, burning midnight oil? Especially if its a tool that does its job and is a revenue expense for you.

We don’t bicker about the sunk costs, but are cutting corners on the revenue expenses. You understand how that makes no sense whatsoever right?

If you really want to throw around bootstrapping as an excuse, take a lower bandwidth plan and save costs. Buy a Dell or a Lenova and not a Macbook Pro (or one with a retina display). Keep a feature phone, nor a smart phone. Work out of your bedroom, and not a fancy office. Print your business cards on modest paper, and at your corner print store, rather than throwing around Moo cards; catch the train or the bus instead of flying around or travelling in luxury. After you’ve followed all this, if you still are short, then use a hack – use google docs, notepad, or one of the many free tools out there which do the job, will make you put in twice in amount of work and time – because it looks like time is the only currency you have. If your time is precious and you value it, and you are a growing business, then you have no excuse to be a cheapo.

You can spot a good team, by their ability to differentiate, what’s their core competency, where they can make a difference, and what is non-core and can rely on dependable tools, and pay for it.

Next time, you look at the conversion funnel and ponder why your customers are not converting, make sure you are not looking at a version of you on the other side. Bootstrapping, and being a cheapo, are two very different things.



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