Advice for Bootstrap Startups


  1. Get out of your head and onto the phone. Send emails. Interact with other people. Light up other people’s radars. Business is generated through conversations.
  2. Don’t trust your newbie pricing instincts. Find out what mark-ups are for comparable products or services and screw up the courage to ask for them.
  3. Pay your vendors what they are asking or find new vendors if you can’t.
  4. If you don’t have a partner, then find a friend in business who can coach you through negotiations. You need somebody to back you and to talk to between rounds. The guy/gal not negotiating can see it clearly.
  5. If you are working with others, take the time to have the uncomfortable conversations up front about equity, roles, and dissolution. Get the agreement on paper and file it away forever. Your ability to have uncomfortable conversations is a key measure of your business potential.
  6. If it doesn’t feel good in your gut, don’t do it. If the deal makes you feel crappy in any way, walk away. It is a legitimate — and powerful — strategy to say you don’t agree because it doesn’t make you feel good. Besides: opportunity is everywhere there are problems.
  7. If you don’t have a partner, find somebody who can hi-five you and celebrate your wins. The hi-fives are huge. They may be worth 50% of your precious bootstrap equity.  Have people around you that you admire and have skin in the game.
  8. Learn how to use LinkedIn, guru.com, and craigslist
  9. Be trustworthy. Be generous. Be grateful. Apologize whenever necessary.
  10. Get to market with 70% of the dream. People get better in public much more quickly than they get better in private.
  11. Fasten your seat belt. There are some 3AM scary bits when you will not know if you have what it takes.