Friday 31 July 2015

Tips For Bootstrapping Your Business With Broken Laces

Tips for boot strapping a start-up

10 Tips for Starting a Business from Scratch

Written by Robyn T Braley

Now is not a great time to be thinking about starting a business. We are officially using the “R” word in Canada. 

In January, 2015, oil prices dropped like a rock into a thick puddle of porridge! 

Later that same year those who were laid-off were running out of their employment insurance benefits. Most have been diligently working their networks and submitting resume’s by the hundreds to no avail.

Some are able to find employment is other parts of the country or even the world where their skills and abilities are in demand. For others, reasons like family eliminate moving as an option.

So, what now? At this point some are deciding to start a business. They do it for one of two reasons
  1. As an act of desperation as there are no other income options.
  2. To seize an opportunity to fulfill a lifelong dream.
Then they realize that other problem. They have no money and no idea about what to do next.

When talking about bootstrapping, I never use the word “free.” For example, getting a story covered by the media, building your own website or self-producing a YouTube video you hope will  go viral takes time, knowledge, and abilities. It’s your time, your knowledge and your abilities.

There’s Hope

Albertans are entrepreneurial minded and are not afraid to try and fail. My company, Unimark Creative, has worked with clients that started with very little and went on to build multi-million dollar companies. 
  1. A marble and stone business started out of the back of a half-ton after the Dad had emigrated from Europe.
  2.  A major gourmet coffee roaster sold office coffee out of the trunk of his car.  
  3. A wholesale distributor started with a prospect list and a phone
  4.  A drilling tool owner stored drill-bits in his garage and started selling them one by one
  5. A hamburger chain owner arrived by plane from Europe with all he owned in a suitcase. His first job was washing dishes in a fast food restaurant. He went on to found a multi-location hamburger chain
  6. A caretaker started a business with a subcompact care, a mop and a bucket. He built the business into a major corporation offering janitorial and reclamation services
  7. A pest control business owner dropped out of 2nd year chemistry and started a company out of his car until he could afford a halftone. The company grew to dominate the market.    
It all begins with a dream!
What they all shared was a passion for what they wanted to do. Few had a road map, but they all had a dream.

Startups are Not Easy

I started my creative services business in 1993. I had been head hunted from a major media network to be the fund raising and marketing director. The job I accepted proved to be different than advertised and when the first year ended we parted ways.

Unlike some people, I was fortunate enough to have a couple of career options including a job offer in the media. For better or worse, I decided to start a communications business. 

To be honest, it wasn't fun at first. There were times when we went grocery shopping with a $20 bill. One Christmas Eve morning my wife and two daughters sat outside a client’s store while I went in to pick up a cheque to buy presents and groceries for the holidays. Not fun!

Jay Levenson; the original Guerrilla Marketer.

What is Bootstrapping with Broken Laces? 

Why did I choose that name? Well, Guerrilla Marketing was taken and is a franchise developed by Jay Levenson that he started in 1984. 

Today there are 58 volumes in 62 languages, and more than 21 million copies have been sold worldwide. I recommend buying a copy - or borrowing copies from the library .

Hundreds of cheap and easy-to-use marketing tips are explained to those starting a business with little resources except for their creativity and hard work. 

My Bootstrapping with Broken Laces approach focuses on start-ups. You will notice I never use the word “free.” For example, getting a story covered by the media or self-producing a video to be uploaded to YouTube video to go viral requires time, knowledge, and abilities. It’s your time, your knowledge and your abilities.

Do more than think
 outside the box
Bootstrap Steps

Once you've clarified your great idea, it's time to clarify your dream by asking the hard questions.
What do you want to do?
  1. Why do you want to do it?
  2. What makes you think you can do it? 
  3. What is the identifiable need you will meet?
  4. What resources will you need?
  5. What steps must you take before you received your first cheque?
  6. Who forms your support network of mentors, referrals and resources? What professional people like accountants, bankers, lawyers and marketing people can you lean on?
  7. How will you feed yourself and your family while you get your business off the ground?

Ask for Advice

Once you have clarified your business idea, start asking people for advice. I didn’t do that. My business would have grown faster had I put my pride aside to ask key questions of people with knowledge and experience.

You'll be amazed how many will help.
Approach people you know. Always be upfront when asking for a meeting. Tell them what you are wanting to do and that you would appreciate their feedback and input. If they are professional people, be up front and tell them you have no money.

Some of the most successful people will meet you at McDonalds for breakfast because that is what you can afford. Ask them. Many will help you because they may have bootstrapped their own business and want to mentor others.

Gather Resources

What is available today that was not even 10 years ago is online knowledge. You can find “how to’s” for just about anything. For business, there are excellent tutorials and templates for
·         Business plans
·         Marketing plans
·         Sales strategies
·         Management Systems
·         Investment options 

Bootstrap Your Company with $1,000 or Less.

1.    Create an elevator speech

2.    Shoot an attractive, head shot for business

3.    Write a one page company profile.
a.    2 paragraphs to describe your business
b.    List of benefits. Why should anyone care
c.    Outline your experience positioned as your company
d.    Include your head shot and any free online photos that are relevant to what you do
e.    Include all contact information

4.    Create an effective LinkedIn profile (google Canadian Melodie Dodaro or Kim Garst for free tips)
a.    Consider other Social Media platforms like YouTube, Podcasts or Blogs based on your capabilities and needs.

5.    Print full color business cards that reflect your business niche

6.    Build a 2-3 page website using a free platform – limit to 2 days. Keep simple but must make a good first impression.

7.    Assemble a targeted email list from personal and professional networks

a.    Primary – people who might need your services
b.    Secondary – people who know people who might need your services

8.    Research relevant industry directories online, in a library or through LinkedIn

9.    Find a simple selling model that works for you cold calling or in person. Rehearse it. Role play with friends or family.

10. Network person-to-person – everywhere you go. Always carry business cards
a.    Industry association meetings
b.    Chamber of Commerce events
c.    Political events


  1. Replies
    1. No problem Eric. thanks for taking time to read it. Hope it gave you ideas.

  2. Thanks a lot for this article Robyn! We started our band Myztery 18 years ago, but I recently quit my day job to go full-time as a musician, author and speaker. We are learning to stick within our budget.