Here are some signs that you are in the Bootstrap Trap:

  • You are using personal credit cards to pay for business expenses
  • You have or have seriously considered doing work outside your business to pay your expenses (consulting gigs, freelancing, driving uber, etc.)
  • You have taken out a second mortgage or home equity line of credit to pay for business expenses
    You know you need support like a bookkeeper, web developer, administrative assistant, etc., but you can’t afford it so you do all of those jobs yourself
  • When you do get outside help, you always go for the cheapest option even though the quality is not up to your standards
  • You desperately need some new equipment or supplies to be able to run your business effectively but you can’t afford to buy it or you buy the lowest quality version of what you need
  • You aren’t paying yourself a salary
  • You’re using unpaid interns which can put your business at risk (this could be a violation of labor law)
  • You know your business would grow if you could hire a sales team, professional marketing support, or some other kind of support, but you simply can’t afford the things you need that would help your business grow

How many of these are true for you?

Should you continue as you are and keep hoping that you will finally get enough revenues to be able to do all the things you want with your business?

If you have been trying to reach that goal for a while and you keep falling behind, it is time to acknowledge that a lack of resources is making it impossible for you to have the business you want. You are in a vicious cycle – without upfront resources, you can’t buy what you need to create a business that generates sustainable revenue.

If you need help escaping the Bootstrap Trap, take my new course, Escape the Bootstrap Trap 30-Day Challenge. You can start today!

Here is an exercise we recommend in order to make sure you get your fundraising done within a reasonable amount of time.

1. Imagine you have reached your fundraising goal. You are looking at the list of all your investors and how much each one invested.  What is the lowest amount that someone invested and what is the highest amount?  Try to create a clear picture in your mind of your investor list and the amounts invested.

2. In your imagination, scan the list and estimate what the average investment size per investor is. For example, you may picture that you’ll have some people come in at $5,000, some at $10,000, a few at $25,000, maybe one or two at $50,000, and one at $100,000.  In that case, you may estimate the average per investor to be $20,000.  You can use this tool to decide how much you’ll ask for from each potential investor:

3. Now, take the total amount you want to raise and divide it by the average per investor. That will tell you the approximate number of investors you’ll have when you reach your goal.  So, if you want to raise $400,000, you’ll end up with around 20 investors.

4. Multiply that number by 10. That is the approximate number of potential investors you’ll need to talk to about your offering.  (This assumes that an average of one out of ten people you talk to will say yes—you may do much better than that, but it’s best to be conservative).  In our example, this would be 200.

5. Divide that number by the number of weeks you would like to devote to reaching your funding goal. This is the number of people you will contact per week about investing.  So, if you’d like to reach your goal within six months, divide 200 by 26 weeks—you need to contact 7-8 people per week.

6. Assume that for each contact you’ll need to spend 30-60 minutes on average. Multiply the number of people you’ll talk to per week by the average number of minutes you think each contact will take.  That is the total number of hours you should schedule into your calendar for contacting potential investors.  Add at least half that many hours to give yourself time to follow up with people who haven’t yet given you a definitive answer.  In the example above, I would assume eight hours per week plus another four for follow up—so a total of 12 hours per week should be spent contacting potential investors.

7. Now block out that time in your calendar for the number of weeks you gave yourself to reach your goal.

If you use this method, you’ll keep your momentum going and get that fundraising done before you know it!

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