When we did spend money, we spent it in ways that we knew would have a direct ROI for the business. We invested in networking groups and found that the monthly or yearly dues to join were well-worth the cost. We joined a group for under-30 founders called The Strategic Exchange, where we surrounded ourselves with other entrepreneurs who shared knowledge and resources and supported one another. Through that group, we not only developed a team of informal advisors who helped us immensely along the way when we had questions or needed guidance, but we also landed some of our first clients. We found significant value in Vistage and BNI, too, and today, shared workspaces like WeWork and Luminary offer office spaces, networking and learning opportunities as part of a membership
The reason that we share this story now is twofold; one, we want young women just like us to understand that you don’t need to have a ton of money or give away a portion of your business to an investor in order to succeed. When you get creative and stretch your resources as far as they’ll go, you can do it on your own.
Two, we live in a current business culture that celebrates the investor-investee relationship – perhaps too much so. Far too often we see entrepreneurs who trade their IP for a cash infusion and a board of directors, and while that may seem like an attractive thing at the time – in the end, you’re giving up a lot of your autonomy as a leader in your business, not to mention future income.
Instead, we believe that business culture should spend more time celebrating the self-made entrepreneurs, like us, who grind it out day in and day out to build the company of their dreams – without sacrificing their equity or control.
Since we launched nearly seven years ago, we’ve been approached many times by individuals and groups who have wanted to invest in our business, but it has never felt right for us. While the idea of raising money is definitely not off the table (we never say never to anything – you have to have options and have an open mind), the benefits to bootstrapping a business have, in our minds, outweighed the potential benefits of bringing in investors.
As a bootstrapped founder, you have all the control, you’re your own boss and you don’t have to report to anyone – three areas that are very important to Courtney and I. You also have the power to plan your own future and pivot the company whenever you need to without asking permission.
While we understand that many people want that extra cushion and want that direction from an investor, for us, we’ve enjoyed being able to lean on each other and build our business on our own terms.