When brainstorming on how to realize a creative vision, project, business or opportunity, many people will naturally start by focusing on their budget and where to find resources.
Some of the more typical paths towards building vision include:
- Seeking grants (or government funding—depending on your geography)
- Seeking Investors
- Seeking Donations
- Sponsorship (in-kind, monetary or resource based)
- Partnerships. Aligning yourself with others (companies, individuals, etc)
Certainly, there need not be absolutes and most endeavors end up being a mixture of efforts and techniques. However, there is another way to go that I want to highlight. This other way is empowering, decreases your risk and allows for greater artistic control over your vision, greater potential for monetary return and is a process that will enable you to grow your vision, business or project in an organic fashion. As a result of growing organically (one step in front of the other), you have a greater potential to succeed.
What is this “other way”?
What does bootstrapping mean? It refers to “pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps”.
In bootstrapping, you work with the resources you have, avoiding miring yourself in vast amounts of debt. Rather, you build, as you have the resources, building as you have opportunity and as you are able.
This process is a very valuable one, in that it decreases your risk (especially financial, which at the end of the day, is nearly everything, for most businesses cannot survive without money—artistic businesses not excluded).
We have all heard that this is the “Now Generation”. We, generally speaking, crave instant gratification. We want what we want and we want it now. Most of us have credit cards, dozens, if not hundreds of television channels, home access to the internet (the greatest and fastest tool for generating information the world has ever known). However, moving too fast and biting off more than we can chew, especially when building a business or creative pursuit requiring money, can sometimes cause us to choke. And as we know, choking can be very hazardous to one’s health.
Bootstrapping may take a little more time to develop one’s resources than having a huge windfall of cash coming into our project from an investor, but that slow, organic growth can lead one to know their business inside and out. Building from the ground up, brick by brick, assures that what we are building is composed of strength and quality building.
If you have not already heard of him, let me introduce you to Bijoy Gosawmi. Bijoy is a remarkable individual and his writings and website and can speak better about himself than I can. Check out Bootstrap Austin and one of Bijoy’s websites. Bijoy understands bootstrapping in a remarkable way and values it as a process so much, that Bijoy developed the Austin Boostrap Network, a network of entrepreneurs and professionals, which meets regularly in Austin, Texas. I had the great pleasure of being invited to speak at one of the Bootstrap Austin meetings and marveled at the remarkable individuals taking part in this unique and inspiring network.
In the entrepreneurial arts training we offer students at The International Theatre Academy Norway and Austin Conservatory of Professional Arts, we teach our artists how to “Bootstrap”, which I am using as a verb, and do so through experiential learning. This translates to mean that they learn by doing.
Teach a man to fish…