Bootstrapping your business? Nowadays even funded businesses need to be highly adaptable and operate on a shoestring budget. But those entrepreneurs have to account to investors for their every move, while bootstrapping entrepreneurs need only account to themselves and their customers. But to do that effectively you need a plan.
Bootstrapping your business commonly comes with the assumption that you don't need a big plan. And to some degree that is correct. If you're not seeking funding, then a business plan becomes a hoop that you simply don't need to jump through to be successful.
The founder and president of Business in Blue Jeans, Susan Baroncini-Moe, says, "writing a business plan in the traditional sense isn't really necessary to be successful--in fact, plenty of businesses have had formal business plans and have still failed miserably."
In her recently published book, Business in Blue Jeans, How to Have a Successful Business on Your Own Terms in Your Own Style, Baroncini-Moe says that your success is determined by your passion, marketing savvy, and state of mind. Here is her shortlist of necessary ingredients for the bootstrapping entrepreneur:
Love what you do and all that it makes possible in your life. (Flexibility, financial freedom and lifestyle choices for instance.)
Hone your expertise; be really good at what you do. If you take what you love doing and merge it with what you do well, that's what your business should be about.
Package what you love and are good at into a viable business model and a brand that's appealing to your target market. Market your business effectively. Baroncini-Moe calls this leaning into your marketing. When you lean into your marketing, you tell your target market that you care what they have to say; more importantly, you are willing to act on it.
Work hard but work smart! Building a support network will help you do that. Every village needs for groups of people: masterminds, networks, administrators, and advisors. Make lists of people to invite into your village and apply the expertise of others to help your business succeed.
A Clear Head
Rid yourself of the "brain junk" that's likely to thwart your success. Keep a list of the negative thoughts that run through your brain. Now, create the positive equivalent for each thought and practice replacing the negative. If your recurring thought is, "I don't have what it takes to be successful", then your positive equivalent is something like, "I'm learning the skills to become more successful."
As you see, a traditional, full-blown business plan is not one of the prerequisites for success according to Baroncini-Moe. But there are a couple of plans that you do need.
"First, you need a plan for your life," she says. "What do you want out of life? What matters most to you? It's not just important to know what you want your business to create in your life, it's important to know how much it costs so that you can build your business in a way that you can actually achieve those goals." Baroncini-Moe calls this your "Why Budget" and offers a "Why Budget Planner" tool on her website's resources page to help you figure out what your "dream lifestyle" costs.
Once you know what kind of income you're working toward, you'll be able to better predict whether a particular business model can sustain that lifestyle. For example, if you wanted to earn seven figures in a service business, you'd probably want to plan to grow into a business model that leverages the time of other people, so that you could have unlimited billable hours, otherwise you'd hit a ceiling in the amount of time you have available and the amount you can charge for your services.
When you're extremely clear on what you're working toward and why it matters to you, then you don't need inspirational sayings or motivational books. You already have all the motivation you need to get moving.
Second, a marketing plan is a critical component of success. If you don't have a marketing plan, then you'll be chasing strategies and tactics without a clear idea of why you're doing those things. "It makes much more sense to develop a marketing plan that includes a comprehensive review of the climate of your industry, a clear description of your target market and the competition, and a blueprint for reaching your potential customers," says Baroncini-Moe. And remember that a marketing plan shouldn't be a static document, it must be flexible and fluid, evolving as the market changes and your business grows.