Have you ever hired consultants to improve your business? If you have, you’ll know there’s one thing you want to avoid:
For them to arrive, tell you something you already know you haven’t done, and then leave. Taking your money with them…
So when you’re trying to figure out how to bootstrap your business, it’s important to only use consultants when you really need to. And to always use them in a way which ensures you’re getting actual value for your investment.
Much like any process you implement, you won’t know whether you’re getting real value for money on a consultant without deciding on what you want them to achieve for you. If you were putting money into a marketing campaign, for example, you would know your goals for that campaign because you’ll need to test and measure how effective the campaign is later on.
Using a consultancy service is no different – so, set goals for them. For instance, do they need to train people in your company in a skill to a certain standard? Or do they need to deliver a specific project?
If you don’t outline goals from the start, you won’t be able to tell if you’re wasting your money.
Make your goals real
A consultancy service that gives you a report on how your business works is rarely going to be much use to you. If you’re running your business with any degree of skill, you’ll almost certainly know where you need to improve. A report telling you something you already know isn’t very helpful!
You need a consultant who is going to implement something real for you. Perhaps a whole new service which they’re an expert in, or training for your staff in a whole new system.
Set a timeline
Like any process you set up, there needs to be a schedule for when your consultant will achieve their goals. Get your consultant to commit to a timeline with clear markers for where and when they’re going to do each task in hand.
Only outsource what you need to
You should only consider hiring a consultant when you have people who need to learn something specific, or the above-mentioned goal which needs to be achieved.
When you’re bootstrapping, paying someone else to carry out a service that you could do yourself is not only a waste of time and money but also a waste of skills and experience you could be gaining for your organisation.
In fact, the more knowledge and experience you get, the better. Listen to audiobooks on business in your free time and learn new skills if you don’t know how to do something. All the knowledge you can collect is valuable when you’re bootstrapping.
Tips for bootstrapping your business
There are a whole host of reasons why figuring out how to bootstrap your business is going to set you up for success in the long run:
You can innovate a whole lot faster without having investors to report to
You have control over the direction, vision, and culture you’re creating for your company
You’re saving the most vital resource you have when starting out – time – by avoiding funding rounds
There’s more to be gained too, but in order to get it you’ll need to make sure that your business is suitable for bootstrapping. This means making sure of aspects such as:
Your experience – you need to know what you’re doing, which means that at least one of the founders needs to have experience in the industry you’re going to be in. Not just the idea that this sector is going to be the next big thing, with no knowledge to back you up
Working with the right people – having founders whose skill sets complement each other is going to be hugely beneficial, giving you multiple perspectives as well as the necessary tools to deal with a larger number of situations
Using the right business model – your model needs to be based on starting trading immediately, and getting cash to come in fast. Other business models will struggle to succeed when used to bootstrap
Final tip: Why not become the consultant yourself?
You’re an expert in your trade. So why don’t you become the consultant?
In the very beginning of your start-up, you’ll likely need a source of revenue. Providing your own consultancy services can be the ideal way to generate some, as well as to develop relationships with other businesses who can help you as you grow.
By offering services to various people when we first started Fantastic Services, we effectively networked and built ties with other businesses which has benefited all parties in the long term.
Building connections like this is a fantastic way to save yourself cash. Especially when you first start up your bootstrap business.
Rune Sovndahl, CEO and co-founder at Fantastic Services.
Further reading on consultants
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