I read a book last year; “The Bootstrappers Bible” by Seth Godin and I learned a lot from it. However, I had issues applying his principles to the African ecosystem. The western business ecosystem is totally different from the African ecosystem, so I thought to myself that the whole bootstrapping of a thing doesn’t really work for Africans. So, if you want to delve into entrepreneurship, you need to go secure a huge amount of money.
This post is written to explain that bootstrapping is very possible in Africa and that there are techniques to it. I call them secrets to bootstrapping and I will be explaining based on my experience, what works and what doesn’t work.
I have written several posts about how no investors will invest in you to start a poultry if you do not have a track record of selling eggs. So how do you sell eggs? In literal sense, how do you start a business when you do not have any capital?
- Ideas do not need money to run: If you do not understand this simple piece, then you cannot bootstrap. When the word bootstrap is used most times, it specifically refers to the early stage of the business, talking about from the moment the idea is conceived down to the point where it is trying to scale.
Why did I raise that point? I raised it because if bootstrapping boils down to scaling, then you do not have an excuse to give when starting that lack of funds is a limiting factor. You can run idea phase with zero naira in your bank account. Let me quickly remind you that you’re an entrepreneur and your most important mission is to create possibilities where others claim is impossible. So, if others were to give an excuse that internet is the problem, what you need to do is get your device to sleepover at places where you could get internet access for free. Matter of fact, go out and search for the cheapest data plan with lots and lots of bonuses and use it. Subscribe to night plans and use the internet.
The idea of bootstrapping is that you are not spending huge so in any way possible you need to achieve that. Ideas involve getting more validation in what’s on your mind, it doesn’t require traveling around the world. You can get as many information as possible from your seat.
I was able to gather certain details from NYSC members without having to go to camp, all I needed was to push a call to a friend to help me meet with 50 NYSC members and get them to answer one basic question. She did, and I told some other friends. Altogether, without leaving the four corners of my room, I have gotten as many details as possible.
- Understand the power of leveraging: Collaboration is the new form of competition in this present era. The moment you begin to see everyone as a competitor, you begin to limit your progress. Here’s how I was able to assemble a team of six and sustain the team down to this point without having to pay anyone a “salary”.
I have certain skills that I developed along the journey, while I needed to learn as many skills as possible to handle so many things. I also realized that it was getting too much, so I went on a search to look for folks who needed to learn such skills and promised them mentorship in exchange for service for the vision. Well, it worked! I had so many people come onboard but had to stick to just a few that I began to prune till we’re now six altogether, each having their different roles. Are there times we needed some other skills set that isn’t within the team? Of course!
However, I was able to come up with a plan which was by seeking for professionals in such fields, and negotiating with them to exchange values for values. It worked for some, and for others, it didn’t. The whole point is that we are progressing whether or not we will now need a huge chunk of money.
These two pieces of advice are golden.