How do you start a multi-million dollar business with only lint in your pocket?
Bijoy Goswami can tell you. Goswami has been working and researching for years in the areas of bootstrapping businesses and working with other collaborators for the greatest good. He has since been profiled in BusinessWeek, US News, Entrepreneur Magazine, and Information Week, and has some pretty “big deal” clients and speaking engagements that keep him plenty busy. He recently sat down with me (Benjy, The SmallBizElevator “Operator”) to chat about the secret to getting a business off the ground, and the serendipitous process of actually creating that business along the journey.
In our conversation, Bijoy and I cover:
- The differences among “craft” businesses, angel-funded startups, and bootstrapping…and which one is right for each personality.
- How Southwest Airlines probably wouldn’t be one of the #1 airlines in the world today if they hadn’t bootstrapped through lawsuits, plane acquisition, and passenger handling.
- How your business can see short and long-term benefits by being open to what you didn’t originally anticipate.
- What the heck “bootstrapping” actually means, and where the term originated.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 1:09:50 min — 67.1 MB)
Resources and Follow-Up
Bijoy Goswami’s Website:
or try Googling Bijoy Goswami
What happens when you wear a nametag twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week?
Scott Ginsberg has done just that for the last 4,305 days – over twelve years. What started as a social experiment has evolved into an urban legend, world record, cultural phenomenon – even a profitable enterprise. If you Google the word nametag, and you’ll see his work benchmarked as a case study on human interaction, revolutionizing the way people look at approachability, identity and commitment.
As a writer, Scott’s authored twenty-five books, produced his own online show on NametagTV.com and reached millions of readers on his an award- winning blog.
As a performer, his one-man show has made over six hundred corporate appearances in five countries.
He has been featured in hundreds of outlets such as 20/20, CNN, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, Inc. Magazine, The Associated Press, REDBOOK, FastCompany, The Washington Post, Paul Harvey, The CBS Early Show and Headline News, and Scott was even inducted into the hall of fame of Ripley’s Believe It Or Not.
And best of all, we went to high school together.
Find out more when we talk about:
- How a simple experiment turned into a life-changing career, and how you can apply his lessons to your own personal brand
- How to use “strategic serendipity” to your advantage by being ready for good fortune when it shows up
- The elements that made Scott a highly in-demand speaker and consultant
- Why having an attitude of being open to what the world brings you can lead to some unexpected booms in your career
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 38:04 min — 36.5MB)
Resources and Follow-Up
(According to Scott’s instructions):
“Go to Google, and type in the word: ‘nametag.'”
Ready to talk about the business of being an independent artist?
In the first 20 minutes of this 50-minute interview, Melita Noël Cantú and I discuss the multi-city project that she and her husband have developed called Art on the Roof, a unique, one-night gallery event to highlight and show the work of high-tier artists. We talk about the strategies they’re using to promote the event, as well as some of the business and creative collaborations she has built with galleries, artists, and even government officials in different cities to help promote the event.
Then, I conference in my good friend Starla Halfmann. Starla is an emerging artist who has already built a strong foundation for success, but hasn’t cracked the code to quit her full-time job and live out her artist career full-time.
The three of us discuss:
- How to create gallery and print sales opportunities for yourself by developing a network of other artists and fans, even if you’re a shoe-gazing introvert who hates leaving your studio
- Why having a professional-looking website is absolutely essential and can mean the difference between success and failure
- How leveraging online resources like Pinterest can boost your print sales and introduce you to thousands of new followers and fans
- Some little-known secrets to putting on your own shows and getting tons of people through the door
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 52:43 min — 50.7MB)
Resources and Follow-Up
Melita (and Javier) Noël Cantú:
Starla Michelle Halfmann
Additional Resources Mentioned:
Entrepreneurial Networking can be fun. No really.
You love what you do. You’re good at it. But that doesn’t mean you love talking to people about it. I know artists, writers, even public speakers who can’t stand entrepreneurial networking. They find it unnecessary, forced, and frankly, they know they kinda crappy at it.
Okay, wait…back up.
Earlier in that sentence was the word “forced.” Why does it have to be forced?
After all, entrepreneurial networking, at its heart, is just having a conversation with people who are interested in the same thing as you, and then finding a way to help each other.
When you look at it that, way…that you don’t have to prove anything, sell your widgets, or self promote, things get a little easier.
Here are three quick tips to grease the wheels and make the process more fun, so you actually go do it…and like it.
Networking Tip #1: We’re All in This Together
Entrepreneurial networking is a big scary term until you break it down and say, “This isn’t about me finding people to do business with — this is about me finding friends who do the same thing.” Find people who are in at least a similar or complementary industry to you.
When I go to a networking group or conference with small business owners, I often have a nagging fear camped out on my shoulder that’s jabbing me, saying stuff like:
“I’m not on the same level as these people.”
“I won’t know what to talk about.”
“I bet my teeth won’t be as white as theirs…”
…blah de blah blah.
Those are all ill-placed self-defense mechanisms that are kicking in. But they aren’t really going to protect you. They are based on fears…usually unrealistic fears, that come from some part of your history or some other area of your life.
If you’re interested in what you’re doing, neither your experience nor the whiteness of your teeth should matter. Why? Because these people you’re talking to are interested in the same thing.
When you approach a conversation with those people, realize that they’re probably in the same boat as you; they have some of the same fears, challenges, interests, and even passions as you. That means you have plenty to talk about, and frankly, they’re probably just as worried about how they’re coming off as you are.
Networking Tip #2: Never Lead With “What Do You Do”
I picked a great tip from my friend Patty Farmer, the Networking CEO about this particular phrase.
When you ask somebody what they do, a particular sequence gets triggered in their brains. They are no longer in “I’m talking to a person” networking mode; they switch over to “I’m talking to a potential customer” selling mode.
Instead, ask somebody about them. Find out about their kids, their hobbies, what inspires them, how they got involved in this particular group/function/etc.
Obviously, you’ll eventually want to lead into the “what do you do” piece, but starting out, get to know the person and NOT the business person.
Business networking is a funny animal. Especially entrepreneurial networking. Most business owners are pretty alpha and like to talk about themselves. Not all of us, and certainly not all the time. But 9 out of 10* of us admit that we are often waiting for the break in conversation so we can talk about how flippin’ cool it is to be us.
But if you take a real, active interest in your conversation partners, the better the conversation and relationships are going to be. Be anactive listener — one who listens and asks good follow-up questions that are open-ended (meaning those questions don’t just get a one-word answer).
And one key piece to the whole puzzle is having empathy for other independent professionals and small business owners — trying to truly understand who the other person is and what they’re going through…good or bad.
Building your entrepreneurial network isn’t the unslayable dragon that we make it up to be in our minds. It’s a great way to not only grow your business, but make friends who are often on the same path as you.
So, try hitting up a entrepreneurial networking group or Meetup.com event, and, y’know…try to have some fun while you’re at it.
*A completely unfounded, made-up, and can’t-back-that-upable statistic.
Teri Hill is the former President of the Austin chapters of the American Society of Training and Development and the National Speakers Association. She has been coaching and training leaders across the globe for over 20 years.
Her clients include numerous Fortune 500 companies, small to mid size businesses, state and federal agencies and non-profit organizations. She’s a highly in-demand speaker and educator, presenting to thousands of people.
We cover a ton of ground in this interview on everything from:
- Some of the most common limiting beliefs (even ones held by Fortune 500 exec’s) and how to start burning them down
- Using powerful techniques for better conversation between you and your clients and partners
- Exactly what to do when your 1,000-person audience stops paying attention, and how to get things on track so they’re hanging on your every word
- The one trick you NEED to have up your sleeve before speaking to any audience
- Some not-so-known confidence secrets that Teri teaches her clients
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 53:53 — 51.8MB)
Resources and Follow-Up
I just interviewed my friend Bijoy Goswami for a podcast episode about bootstrapping that will aire early next week. Stay tuned.
In the meantime, I wanted to highlight one of the concepts we covered; one that’s pretty close to B’s heart.
Over the last decade, Bijoy’s life and work has centered around bootstrapping businesses.
And that means what to you?
What is Bootstrapping?
Let’s start with what bootstrapping isn’t.
You’re not starting a franchise. You’re not using an existing model.
You’re also not using venture capital or major 3rd party investments.
Bootstrapping is about starting with little money and (relatively) infinite time, and then starting on the journey of building your business. You begin with a seed of an idea, but remain open to and embrace the notion that your business will come to fruition through the process of figuring out HOW it will come to fruition.
In other words, you’re okay with not having the answers right from the beginning. In fact, you appreciate the fact that “the journey” is what will create the business and all its parts.
For example, Southwest Airlines (profiled in our interview) started as a small, puddle-jumping airline. By the time it was ready to begin operations, it had no planes, and no money to buy them.
By looking around, talking to people, and eventually going to Boeing and telling them their situation, they were able to get what turned out to be their trademark 737s for cheap, and Boeing was willing to finance them.
The idea of being open to “whatever shows up” is tough for those of us who mold, craft, and fantasize about every little detail of our impending vision. But the notion of bootstrapping a business is about a willingness to relinquish the “how” and just let the world shape it as you go along.
A little scary, but so is life.
What aspect of your business have you bootstrapped? What else could you do to get further along by finding answers along the journey?