You’re never too old to start a business. In fact, many of those age 50 and older are in an ideal position to become entrepreneurs: they’ve accumulated the life experience and wisdom to deal successfully with a wide range of people and situations, and certainly know a lot more about handling finances than the average 21-year-old. All the same, for those who have never run a company before, the challenge of raising money can seem daunting. That’s why a new book by serial entrepreneur Marty Schultz, No Investors? No Problem!: A Serial Bootstrapper’s Playbook for Breakthrough Success on a Shoestring Budget (New Voices Press, 2019), is such a valuable resource.
As Schultz explains, “bootstrapping means starting a business without significant external assistance or capital.” As an experienced bootstrapper himself (having successfully bootstrapped five companies to date), Schultz interweaves insights from his own experiences into a narrative as edifying as it is engaging to read. The book’s chapters can be read in any order, but a front-to-back read-through is highly recommended.
We learn, for example, that passion and persistence are primary; whether it is a meeting with a distributor who might pick up a product, a developer who can be convinced to become an employee, or a one-on-one with a CEO who can become a mentor, these individuals must be shown that you are offering something unique. It’s also key to be the aspirin to customers’ pain; knowing what they really need, even if they themselves may not, is the critical component of any business.
Schultz urges readers to make the whole world a focus group; getting the right feedback from the right people is critical for success. Don’t make the mistake of only listening to people who are saying what the management team wants to hear; set up a focus group with a wide cross-section of potential customers and quiz them on whether they would actually spend money. Also, “failure” is never final; there are ways to know if a venture is headed for failure and when, why and how to bail out. It’s crucial to try to analyze which dominos will doom a business and to determine how the management team will react if those dominos do, in fact, fall.
Just as important, says Schultz, is the need to get a mentor who can teach important entrepreneurial lessons. Many successful people care about changing the world; they will give back if they see something in a startup’s founder. The main function of a mentor is to give insightful feedback in a way that encourages independent thought in the mentee.
Schultz peppers his book with lively anecdotes. For example, we meet one of his own early-career mentors who spoke only in grunts (but who nevertheless proved to be a source of extremely valuable guidance); we revisit the times that Schultz and a colleague enlisted the help of a giant inflatable rhinoceros, suspended above an exhibit booth at trade show, to advertise the logo of one of their start-ups; and we learn about how thousands of members of the visually impaired community rallied to Schultz’s defense when Apple App Store reviewers told him he needed to repackage the 80 games available through his Blindfold Games start-up into only five or six apps. (The will of the crowd eventually prevailed.)
© 2019 Silver Disobedience Inc.