There should be a special place in “entrepreneur heaven” for bootstrappers: business owners who started with their savings and sustained companies with operating revenue (or further savings!)
There is nothing wrong with venture capital (except maybe the “tech bro” culture). Many bootstrappers have taken VC investment once they have proven their business fundamentals. Even pre-revenue start-up funding has given the world many great products and services that would otherwise have been pipedreams.
However, there is something admirable in the consistent balancing act that is bootstrapping. In his book Shoe Dog, Nike founder Phil Knight laments how they had constant difficulty securing loans with American banks to buy the inventory they needed to sell. They had to keep a careful eye on cash flow to ensure that they didn’t go under. Many bootstrapped companies would have similar stories.And despite impressive bootstrapping successes in the tech industry (check out Zoho and Mailchimp), even these are not the folks that I want to call attention to.
We should be cautious of billion-dollar companies being our benchmarks.
The real heroes are the literally millions of “mom-and-pop” shops worldwide that support families going about their ordinary lives. It’s the parents enduring sleepless nights, putting food on the table, paying for their children’s education and the house bills, long before said children have any idea of what role stress and anxiety may play in their lives.
Your parents will probably never feature on CNBC or the Motley Fool, but if their story is anything vaguely “bootstrapped”, make sure to celebrate them in your own way.