Many years ago Seth Godin wrote a small book called The Bootstrapper’s Bible. It is no longer in print.
More recently Seth updated that book, divided the ideas into short sections, and released it as a free ebook:
Seth Godin’s Bootstrapper’s Bible – Free PDF.
The original version was published before Permission Marketing, Unleashing the Ideavirus, Purple Cow, and his other big hits could firmly plant Seth Godin’s name in the minds of entrepreneurs and marketing managers. Otherwise this Bootstrapper’s guide would certainly be a best seller.
It is a well developed book. As with all Seth’s work this one contains his signature pearls of marketing wisdom. Yet this covers more pragmatic business details than in his more recent books. It is a practical book on evaluating, building and launching an effective business concept.
Some selected excerpts from the ebook:
The Bootstrapper’s Manifesto
I am a bootstrapper. I have initiative and insight and guts, but not much money. I will succeed because my efforts and my focus will defeat bigger and better-funded competitors. I am fearless. I keep my focus on growing the business—not on politics, career advancement, or other wasteful distractions.
I will leverage my skills to become the key to every department of my company, yet realize that hiring experts can be the secret to my success. I will be a fervent and intelligent user of technology, to conserve my two most precious assets: time and money. My secret weapon is knowing how to cut through bureaucracy. My size makes me faster
and more nimble than any company could ever be.
I am a laser beam. Opportunities will try to cloud my focus, but I will not waver from my stated goal and plan—until I change it. And I know that plans were made to be changed. I’m in it for the long haul. Building a business that will last separates me from the opportunist, and is an investment in my brand and my future. Surviving is succeeding, and each day that goes by makes it easier still for me to reach my goals.
I pledge to know more about my field than anyone else. I will read and learn and teach. My greatest asset is the value I can add to my clients through my efforts.
I realize that treating people well on the way up will make it nicer for me on the way back down. I will be scrupulously honest and overt in my dealings, and won’t use my position as a fearless bootstrapper to gain unfair advantage. My reputation will follow me wherever I go, and I will invest in it daily and protect it fiercely.
I am the underdog. I realize that others are rooting for me to succeed, and I will gratefully accept their help when offered. I also understand the power of favors, and will offer them and grant them whenever I can.
I have less to lose than most — a fact I can turn into a significant competitive advantage.
I am a salesperson. Sooner or later, my income will depend on sales, and those sales can be made only by me, not by an emissary, not by a rep. I will sell by helping others get what they want, by identifying needs and filling them.
I am a guerrilla. I will be persistent, consistent, and willing to invest in the marketing of myself and my business.
I will measure what I do, and won’t lie about it to myself or my spouse. I will set strict financial goals and honestly evaluate my performance. I’ll set limits on time and money and won’t exceed either.
Most of all, I’ll remember that the journey is the reward. I will learn and grow and enjoy every single day.
Building a Business Model that Works:
Coming up with a brilliant idea for a business is not nearly as important as finding a business model that works. Understanding the mechanics of a business model is essential before you start your business. Business models should have the following five attributes:
1. THEY SHOULD BE PROFITABLE. Youʼd be surprised at how often people start businesses that lose money on every product and then try to make it up in volume! That lemonade stand you ran when you were seven was a great lesson—you need to make money to stay in business.
2. THEY SHOULD BE PROTECTIBLE. A profitable business, as mentioned earlier, is going to attract competitors. What are you going to do when they show up? If youʼre accustomed to making $1 on every ice cream sandwich you sell and suddenly thereʼs a price war, you may make only a nickel. Thatʼs not good.
3. THEY SHOULD BE SELF-PRIMING. One of the giant traps bootstrappers fall into is inventing business models that donʼt prime themselves. If you want to sell razor blades, for example, youʼve got to get a whole bunch of people to buy them. Without a lot of razors out there that can use your blade, you lose. Is it possible to build a paradigm-shifting business with just a little money? Sure. Itʼs been done before. But nine times out of ten, youʼll fail. Why? Because youʼre gonna run out of money before you change the world.
4. THEY SHOULD BE ADJUSTABLE. Remember how excited everyone got about the missiles the U.S. used during the (first) Gulf War? Here was a weapon you could aim after you launched it. You could adjust the flight along the way. You need a business model like that if youʼre hoping to maximize your chances of success. If youʼve got to lock it, load it, and launch it, youʼre going to be doing more praying than you need to.
5. THERE SHOULD BE AN EXIT STRATEGY (OPTIONAL). If you can build a business and then sell
it, you get to extract the equity you built. If you canʼt sell it, all you get is the annual profit.
There can be a big difference.