Bootstrapping your operation? Don’t let that be the trending excuse for not obtaining paid strategic counsel for your venture.
In this series of SCAILING or FAILING, I go granular on mentorship and why paying to learn is your greatest investment.
Far too often I hear entrepreneurs say they are bootstrapping, and I have to wonder if they truly understand the meaning of this term. Entrepreneurship is, unfortunately, associated with a great stigma of scarcity, especially during the early capital raising years. We maintain this warped idea that start-up founders should go through a financially challenging right of passage before they can enjoy wealth and success; they need to do it tough, working very long hours, and with very little financial reward in return. And while this may be true for a lot of founders, this happens not because entrepreneurship is undeniably challenging, but because they most likely entered this game broke and with no financial backbone. Should a lack of available financial resources stop anyone from building their dream and launching a venture? No, of course not, but one thing is certain; if you cannot afford to invest in your venture, you will experience slow to no growth, which could potentially see you failing rather than scaling.
I’ve always used the analogy that your business is no different from a baby. You need to nourish it with food and fluids, as well as love, knowledge, and learning in order for it to grow. If you don’t feed your baby properly, you will stunt its growth, physically, emotionally, and mentally. In fact, you may even kill it! It’s a rather macabre example, but it’s entirely relevant to your business. In practical terms, if you cannot financially afford to feed your business in its early stages, it’s most likely because you haven’t worked on it enough. Consistent work pays, and your profit and loss statement is a direct reflection of this.
“If cash is flowing out of your business at a greater rate than the cash flowing into your business, then you have a problem; a cash flow problem.”
If cash is flowing out of your business at a greater rate than the cash flowing into your business, then you have a problem; a cash flow problem. So how can you invest in your business when there is no available cash? If crowdfunding or other forms of investor capital is not part of your strategic foresight, then you need to get a bridge job; yes, you read that right. This is where you need to let go of any ego, pride or self-limiting beliefs around failure and secure paid employment that can sustain your basic living expenses but still keep your mental bandwidth relatively free so you can devote it to your venture. With this buffer option in mind, you can ease unnecessary financial stress, and keep your creativity unharnessed, which will determine the speed of your growth. Some would call this a temporary setback, because, no entrepreneur wants to return back to a 9-5, but I encourage you to use the pain of this as fuel to propel you forward and make you more eager to win! Only then, and from a healthy and balanced financial standpoint should you consider investing in your business and you should do it by paying experts to show you the way.
Why Mentorship Is Not The Answer To Everything
Business articles will tell you that you must have at least one or maybe even several mentors, I agree, however far too often entrepreneurs rely on mentors to get all their answers, and quite frankly, mentors are not equipped to handle this type of heavy lifting. Mentors are busy people who are lending their expertise to you on a voluntary basis because they see something in you, they like you, and they believe in your idea.
“This is why you need to curate your very own strategic counsel with experts who can provide not only expertise but a detailed ‘how-to’ roadmap.”
Mentors are there to provide support by mirroring back your strengths and imploring you to use them. They provide valuable guidance but they are not the ones to help you create and deploy strategies and certainly not the ones to carry through their execution. This is why you need to curate your very own strategic counsel with experts who can provide not only expertise but a detailed ‘how-to’ roadmap, and yes, you guessed it; you’ll need to pay for this! But rather than seeing this as “bleeding” money, I want you to see this as an opportunity to learn. In this era where we can outsource everything, bringing paid experts into your business is not an opportunity for you to free up your time, nor to achieve the four-hour workweek. It’s an opportunity for you to learn. Not only do you get to fast-track and 10x the speed of your growth, but you get to acquire knowledge others spent decades obtaining. Doing so strengthens your bulletproof vest, and in business you definitely need one!