Bootstrapping your way to Series A; tips and tricks to self-fund your venture
Building a startup is both challenging and rewarding. Entrepreneurs often sacrifice years of income in order to invest their time into a company of their own. Some founders believe that because they are using their own time, they might as well use someone else’s money – other founders recognize that bootstrapping a startup will allow them to retain control of the company and more of the upside in an exit. Bootstrapping a startup can be difficult but there are ways to help your company grow without breaking the bank.
1. Develop a sustainable business model that generates early revenue.
Before leaving your job or investing time and money in the day-to-day operations of your startup, start with a well-defined product or service that fulfills a real need. As you develop your business model, consider how you will generate revenue right from the start. Through early commercialization, you’re not only able to put some money in the bank, but you’re also able to test product-market fit, improve product quality, and build early connections with a strong customer base.
2. Plan and budget your time and resources carefully.
Founders underestimate the savings that come from making sure your hard work is smart work. Creating a detailed budget that keeps day-to-day expenses low will allow you to save your funds for the essential costs. It is worth spending the time to see what efficiencies you can gain by implementing free or low-cost programs and tools that help manage your budget, market your products, or take control of smaller and routine legal, accounting, or administrative tasks.
3. Look for non-dilutive capital including government grants, subsidies and credits.
In their drive to secure investor funding, most startup founders look past the variety of government grants, subsidies and tax credits available for small businesses – all of which are generally non-dilutive sources of capital. Dedicating your time, or bringing on a dedicated professional, to investigate which funding sources your venture may be eligible for can provide you with the injection of funds you need to further develop your product and increase your valuation before a priced funding round.
4. Build a strong team and culture.
Many startup founders prefer to work solo and reap the lion’s share of future reward, but finding co-founders who share your vision and offer a complementary skillset can save you time, money, and stress. If you’re worried about the upfront costs, remember that freelancers or part-time employees will allow you to minimize expenses while adding essential value. When building your team, it is important to remember that early-stage companies don’t need redundancies and bad personalities – remember that alignment with culture is an underappreciated asset.
5. Establish strategic partnerships that offer mutual benefits.
While it would be great to have businesses pay for your product or service with a huge cheque, early on, it can be easier to instead find strategic partners that can provide services that you need in exchange for services that they need. The idea of exchanging services may be more palatable to some organizations and you may, in fact, benefit from early pilots with businesses with customers while saving cash by bartering for services.
At MT❯Ventures, we’re here to help. As you grow your business and increasingly need support setting up a sustainable business model, entering into strategic partnerships and onboarding the right team, reach out to us. We want to help you identify the inevitable legal risks while seizing all your potential opportunities.