How To Survive Year One as a Bootstrapped Business

Bootstrapping a startup can be a nervy experience, but if you can navigate through the first year, there is every chance you will be in a great place. With 12 months of solid work behind you and a balanced, financially-conscious business, you will be a more attractive proposition to investors when it comes to raising that all-important funding. What you are trying to do during this year is, essentially, make it clear that you know how to spend your money, control your costs, and be an appealing and exciting enterprise that is ripe for funding. Here are a few ideas on how you can make it happen.

Cut The Non-Essentials 

Wanting the best for your new business is tempting. A flash office, brand new Apple Macs, a constant supply of treats and days on out the company credit card - who wouldn’t want all that? Ultimately, however, it’s the wrong route to take. 

According to, bootstrapping is about making the best of what you already have, and spending the right money on the essential things you need. Anything else will put your startup in a state of financial peril, and also highlight you as wasteful - neither of which are appealing to investors. 

Find The Right Money

It’s going to pay to be prudent in the long run. And although every startup needs some money to get going, every cent needs to be accounted for, and the least amount you borrow the better your business’s health. There’s a lot you can do, from applying to business grants to borrowing small amounts of money from friends or relatives. Crowdfunding is an option and peer-to-peer lending often has better interest rates than a typical bank loan. You should also tap into your personal assets. Using money from everything from a personal credit card to selling other investments will give you the money you need, as well as making it clear to future investors you are serious. 

Focus On Product & Marketing 

There is a lot involved with running a business, but when you are bootstrapping two things should take priority: product development and marketing. Ultimately, you have to get your product out there, or it looks like you are unable to complete your goals. But similarly, you need to create something of a buzz around that product - the combination of both can be a potent force of attraction to investors. 

Do It By The Book 

A lot of first-time entrepreneurs fail because they see bootstrapping as a way of cutting corners. It isn’t, and if you aren’t doing everything by the book, it’s going to come back and haunt you later on down the line. Investors will want to see paperwork and will pour through every single transaction, balance sheet, and legal document before even granting you an interview. 

Have A Personal Finance Plan 

Finally, many bootstrapped businesses fail because their founders can’t afford to keep going. Bootstrapping means you won’t be able to draw money out as salary, and you must have a plan in place for earning if you’re going to survive the year. Drawing from your personal savings can help, as can consulting as a freelance part-time. It’s going to be tough, but if you can get through that first year, you will be in a good place to start reaping what you have sown.

I hope you enjoyed this article about how to navigate your first year as a bootstrapped business.

Interested in more articles about starting a new business?

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