A few thoughts on personal bootstrapping.

5 February 2006

Guy Kawasaki writes a blog called “Let the Good Times Roll.” This is an appropriate name, because he’s on such a personal roll with it: a lot of what he’s blogged in his first several weeks of doing it has shot to instant-classic status. Since Kawasaki has lots of experience with entrepreneurship (he’s a venture capitalist now; he was on the Macintosh team back in the 1980s), the blogosphere hung on the words of his post on “The Art of Bootstrapping.” This joins the good words of other entrepreneurs like Evan Williams (“Ten Rules for Web Startups“), and was joined in turn by many other commentaries like this one. One of the best commentators on the subject, to my mind, is Paul Graham, who’s “How to Start a Startup” is a classic. (This list includes links to a couple more of Graham’s best essays on startups.)

What does this have to do with my personal bootstrapping? Well, I am not a technologist, and I don’t have the bandwidth at this moment in my life to start a company–or at least, a company that creates a product like those of the startups that Kawasaki, Williams, and Graham are talking about. (This may be another way of saying that I’m afraid of making lots of money all at once–I’m not sure.) If I’m going to take the advice of these worthies, it will have to apply to my solo career or to my work for my employer.

So, thinking in this solo context, what do I take away from all of this bootstrapping advice? My solo business is to have ideas and put them into compelling language. That’s my area of competitive differentiation, if you want to put it into business-speak. Most of the advice from these bootstrapping sages applies very well to this personal “business” of mine.

–Get the cash flowing and sock away every dime you can.
–Work from the ground up.
–Quick-and-dirty is fine, so long as you’re meeting customer need.
–Let the scales fall from your eyes; see reality for what it is.
–“Don’t wait until you’re totally ready.”
“Be Picky” and “Be Self-Centered.” Do it for you–or rather, I must do my thing for me. If a line of work doesn’t meet my own needs, why engage in it?

So, let me ask you, gentle readers: You can read my ideas and words here, in shorter or longer form. Would you hire me to help shape your ideas into the best words?

More good-looking bootstrapping advice here.


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