20 October 2011

8 Great Ways to Bootstrap Your Family for a Better Startup

1. Manage the Expectations- Expectations can sometimes get the best of us. I'm not implying that you should lower your goals, just keep the expectations realistic. You will save yourself a lot of stress by understanding that accomplishing goals doesn't immediately converted into dollar bills. Setting proper expectations as a couple, and with other family members, about the realities of your circumstance will go a long way. Value creation is compensated, but it can take time.

2. Organize a System- The best way to get to where you want to be is to understand where you are, so get organized! Whether you are managing things on paper, online or from a home office, set up a system to keep track of expenses and cashflow. Every penny counts in the startup phase and having a clear understanding of the financial situation sets a strong foundation. Whether you do the work and report to your Entrepreneur or you sit down and go through things together, the point is to paint a clear picture of where you are at.

3. Start the Cleanse- The cleanse starts with understanding the difference between a need and a want. Now that you are organized it will be easier to identify the items that aren't creating value and cleanse them from your life. This step really comes down to a matter of value.  Drop the things you don't use, or utilize to their full potential, and be happy to keep the things that are creating value. For example: Paying for a cell phone that has the data plan might create high amounts of value to you...or it might just be really convenient. The cleanse will help you separate what really matters and creates value and what doesn't.

4. Make Price Comparison a Constant Companion- Learn to look at prices and make the best selections based on cost savings. It is easy to start this habit with groceries and minor expenses, but you should extend it to all areas of your life. Shop around, price match, utilize coupons and discounts. Being savvy and frugal builds character.

5. Live Within Your Make - Everyone says live within your means, but what people "mean to make" doesn't always pan out to what they actually make. If you are spending money that you do not have you will have to play catch up at some point, and that creates additional (and sometimes completely unnecessary) stress. Sell things or downgrade if you need to.  If having fewer "things" means more energy and peace of mind to focus on what really matters then it's worth it! I promise.

6. Make a List and Check it Twice- Accountability is the key to good management. Setting up a budget and outlining expenses is just half of the equation, you also have to follow up as well. Spending more on groceries than you planned? Make the right adjustments by increasing the grocery budget or decreasing your spending. Being accountable to your plan is the best way to see your progress.

7. Learn the Art of Trade and Negotiation - Everything may not be for sale, but if you provide the right offer anything is up for trade or negotiation, especially in this economy. The best way to get the best price is to start asking questions. Would you consider...? Or are you interested in....? People are willing to work with you if you come from an honest place. Don't be a swindler. If anyone should understand what it takes to keep a business alive it should be Entrepreneurs and their families. Be a deal maker and seek to create win-win circumstance for both sides. We all have different values, find the true value point and you will both walk away happy with the exchange.

8. Limit, but don't deprive. Living on a startup salary can be challenging...dreaming of going out to eat at fancy restaurants, seeing movies when they actually come out, driving a car that was manufactured in the last decade... you get the point. Whatever your circumstance may be it can get discouraging to have to skimp and save for things that other people get to enjoy on a regular basis because you are providing for a family and a business. Stop competing with the Joneses and set your own standards. There are hundreds of ways (and blogs for that matter) that will teach you how to save money, live frugally, find deals, live on less, etc. etc. You can still celebrate, you can still splurge, you can still enjoy. Limited funds does not have to mean a limited life.

While boostrapping might be considered part of the trenches of Entrepreneurship, it is a foundational step in your marriage and your Entrepreneurial life. Some of my fondest memories are from our "we're broke" days, when we had to get creative at home because our bank accounts were small and dedicated to our startup. Those days are hard and they will challenge your resolve, but they are also the days that will set you apart from all the other WannaBeEntrepreneurs because those are days that fortify your family and your commitment to each other. Those are the days that bond you and your Entrepreneur to the Entrepreneurial Life.