Bootstrapper’s Manifesto: Happy with small fish

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As a bootstrapping entrepreneur, don’t try to be everything to everyone.

“If you try and be everything to everyone, you will be nothing to no one” – Bob McClain.

Often entrepreneurs who are bootstrapping their businesses don’t have sufficient resources to do all they want to do but that is a good thing because sacrificing a segment of the target market or a particular distribution channel or even a communication medium, such as TV, gives you the resources to do what you are able to do, better than anybody else.

In the ocean, the first animals to die are the big fish. That is because they need to eat a lot to be happy.

The small guys, the plankton, can make do with crumbs. Same is true with you as a bootstrapping startup.

For example, Nu-Metro Movies or any 21st Century Movies cannot be happy with a movie that earns less than R40 million at the box office. Compare this to the entrepreneur and movie maker Sibs Shongwe-La Mer in Soweto who specialises in making short movies clinched his first international film win in 2012 after Death Of Tropics won “Best International Narrative Short Film” at the Mosaic World Film Festival in Illinois, USA. He may just delighted when he made more than say R400,000. (used amounts are examples)

Think about the orders of magnitude at work here: R40 million at the box office is 100 times R400,000.

Just imagine all the room there is for a small business that operates under the radar of the giant.

Think big, by all means think big, but if you don’t have cash, start small, build a niche, make mistakes in the small, learn and then grow from there.

Overtime you will eat the big fish but in order to do that, you will have to cut it into small pieces first and then eat it one piece at a time.

Find a niche, not a nation.




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