After my first year of college, my mom announced she was out of money. I’d have to come home and work. A year later, I returned to school knowing that no matter what happened, I’d always be able to support myself. This confidence proved invaluable when I cofounded my investment firm, Rose Park Advisors.
Many of us don’t have the money we think we need to start a business. But in my years of investing in and advising women-led companies, most recently at Springboard, I’ve found that many successful entrepreneurs are able to start their businesses with what little money they have, going after funding once they have a proven track record. Often that doesn’t take long; a lot of bootstrappers can turn a profit after a year or two. I’d say they are successful not in spite of but because of the lack of money.
“Starting a business with nothing taught me how to run lean,” says Susan Petersen, founder of Freshly Picked, which makes moccasins for babies. Her family was struggling to make ends meet, but she had an idea. With $100, she went to a garage sale and bought a huge bag of scrap leather and a sewing machine. Then she taught herself to make moccasins. She sold her first prototypes on Etsy. Today, Freshly Picked has $5.3 million in annual sales.
There are lots of ways to bootstrap your business: Use a 3D printer to create a low-cost prototype of your product; make a website cheaply at Wix or Squarespace. Hire temporary workers and borrow or lease equipment. Most important, barter. Even if you aren’t cash poor, working with what you have will prove out your business model more quickly.—@johnsonwhitney
This article originally published at MORE Magazine