Editors note: This is a guest post from Danny Iny, an author, strategist, serial entrepreneur, and proud co-founder of Firepole Marketing
Imagine you’ve got an idea for an exciting new project or business and your mind starts racing.
You see the empire that you’re going to build, the value that you’re going to offer, and the lives that you’re going to impact – this is heady stuff!
But wait – businesses and projects take resources to get off the ground, right? And what if you’ve got no money, no office, and no employees… are you out of options?
Money gets a lot of attention in our society, sometimes to the point that we forget that money can’t actually do anything – we can’t eat it, we can’t read it, it can’t put a house together for us… sure, we could burn it for a bit of warmth (if we have matches), but the real value of money is that we can trade it for the things we need.
But it’s the things that we need, not the money. Well, it’s a good thing that there are other things that you can trade – or rather, leverage!
Working with What You’ve Got
Just because you don’t have money in the bank doesn’t mean you’ve got nothing to work with. But, before we explore what you probably have at your disposal, let’s reframe so ideas. Instead of “trade”, let’s think “leverage”.
I mean leverage in the way that Archimedes meant it when he said “Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.” Money is one of those things that you can use as a lever to make things happen – but just one of them.
Here are three others:
1. Inspiration – Right off the bat, this is the most important resource that you’ll ever have. Guard it carefully from the mental trolls who may try and deflate you, but also use it to leverage both relationships and time, which are the other tools in your free toolbox.
2. Time – This is a magical thing. You can’t touch it, or see it, or taste it, and if you let it pass you by, then it vanishes without a trace. But if you’re alert, and make good use of it, you can turn it into any number of other things.
3. Relationships – You don’t live in a void, and you didn’t spring into being at the same moment as your idea. There are people who already know you, trust you, and want to support you. Your enthusiasm and inspiration can inspire others in turn, so that you don’t just have your time to work with, but the time of others, too.
Of course that isn’t all you’ve got to work with. Because you can leverage these resources – your inspiration, time, and relationships – to get your hands on some more resources…
Upgrading to the Deluxe Toolbox
Using the free tools of inspiration, time, and relationships can lead to deluxe toolbox items, like momentum, results, and money. When you have these, you know that things are really rolling!
1. Momentum – This is where things start to get really exciting – you’re not quite there yet, but you see that you’re moving in the right direction, and things are starting to happen. This may seem completely intangible, but that doesn’t make it invisible – people can see it, and it makes them that much more willing and excited to help you.
2. Results – Results are even better than momentum (and they create more momentum to boot). If proof is in the pudding, then with results, you’ve got both proof and pudding. Think of this as “proof of concept” – you can show that what you want to do is really going to work.
3. Money – Finally, money: the resource that we so often lack, which is the reason for this post. If you leverage time, relationships and inspiration to create momentum and results, then the money will soon follow, whether it is from customers, investors, or all of the above.
Just make sure not to squander these precious resources – they must be used judiciously. The process of doing it right is called bootstrapping…
How to Use the Tools: Bootstrapping
Bootstrapping “refers to a group of metaphors that share a common meaning: a self-sustaining process that proceeds without external help.” In other words, it is about making use of what you have to get what you need.
The key insight is reframing from a bit earlier in this post – “leveraging”, rather than “trading”. This is important because trading is zero-sum. If you and I swap resources, then I still have the same quantity of resources, just in a different form. When I use them up, they’re gone.
Leveraging, on the other hand, brings us more resources. That’s the real trick with bootstrapping – find the one next step that you can leverage your resources to take, that will expand the pool of resources at your disposal. Here are just a few examples:
- Leveraging your time and inspiration to create a plan and presentation that will inspire others to get involved with your project – this expands the pool of resources.
- Leveraging your prototype and relationships to get results in pilot testing, which leads to momentum – this expands the pool of resources.
- Leveraging all of that to get customers to pay for services, or to get investors to pay for further development – this expands the pool of resources!
I think we learn best from examples, and I’d love to learn from yours. So, every person who leaves a comment with their story will be entered into a draw to win a free subscription to Firepole Marketing (worth $900) – it’ll be our way of helping you make the most of what you’ve got.
Do you have a story about how you leveraged what had to get what you need? Turned time, hard work and effort into a masterpiece of a project? Or times when you could’ve or should’ve, but didn’t? Please share it as a comment…
Danny Iny is an author, strategist, serial entrepreneur, and proud co-founder of Firepole Marketing, the definitive marketing training program for small businesses, entrepreneurs, and non-marketers. For some great free marketing tips and ideas that you can leverage for your business, head over to his blog, and sign up for their FREE 7-Day “Business Fireproofing” Video Course.