self-funding startup
Mariusz Interewicz Updated: 24 Feb 2023 8 min to read

Startup Bootstrapping – Self-Funding Advantages and Disadvantages

In today’s world, funding new business initiatives, especially in the technology industry, has many forms. One method is self-funding a startup, popularly known as bootstrapping.

In this article, we will look at the different forms of bootstrapping and analyze its advantages and traps.

What is Bootstrapping?

The term bootstrapping originates in the early 19th century and it referred “to pull oneself up by one’s bootstraps.” Back then, it made reference to an unattainable task. Today it relates more to the challenge of creating something out of nothing.

Bootstrapping in business means launching your own business using personal savings, borrowed or invested cash from friends and family, personal credit card debt, and first revenues.

Self-funded firms don’t use investors, crowdsourcing, venture capital, or bank loans. As the term implies, entrepreneurs must launch their startup businesses using their own capital.

The bootstrapped business approach keeps the founders off debt and allows them to maintain control.

This model is different from the external funding model where investors fund a company to get a share in its equity.


Why Bootstrapping May Be the Optimal Decision?

By registering a business and bootstrapping it, you eliminate outside influences from it.

Most tensions emerge between investors and founders because they are often not on the same page.

A venture capitalist or an external investor, whoever is investing the money, is keen to take the product out to the market as fast as possible, thus moving away from the founders’ vision.

External investors are looking to generate revenue so that they can double their investments quickly. However, serious founders, who own the idea, want to build a strong brand presence. When both these conditions don’t align, it triggers tensions within the startup. That is one of the main reasons startups fail in the first place.

When external investors invest money in a startup, they share the company with the founders.

Businesses that benefit the most from bootstrapping include:

  • Early-stage companies that do not need big amounts of capital
  • Serial entrepreneur companies are usually formed by former employees turned entrepreneurs


Any decision on the financing method has implications in the way digital products are developed. The expectation of return on investment time or the rate of profit generation affects the business monetization model and the main goals of releasing the next versions of an app or software. We always analyze these factors when working with startups. After all, we have to remember that the popularity of a project and its business success often doesn’t mean the same thing. Mike Jackowski COO, ASPER BROTHERS Let's Talk


Bootstrapping Techniques

A bootstrapped company uses a variety of ways to reduce financial risk while ensuring the company’s growth.

Here’s a detailed breakdown of the best ways of raising money in your company’s early stages.


There are various methods to use customers as bootstrap finance. Customers may send you a letter of credit to help you secure financing. Suppose you’re making industrial bags. A big company has ordered cloth bags from your company. In this case, you get a letter of credit from your client after the order is made and use it to buy bag material. Material is free.

You may have had a builder or other worker ask for money up ahead to acquire supplies. This contractor began with your money. This company was able to thrive because of your financial support. This is how customers may finance.


This is a financing approach where you sell your accounts receivable to a buyer to obtain funds. A “factor” buys accounts receivable at a 1 to 15% discount. The factor becomes the creditor and collects receivables, and handles paperwork. Non-notification factoring is possible. As a result, your consumers may be unaware that their accounts have been sold.

Factoring has benefits and drawbacks. Factoring reduces internal expenses and frees up money from receivables. This would reduce payment delays for businesses that sell to other businesses or the government. This money may be utilized for other corporate ventures. Factoring can raise money and keep revenue flowing.


Consider leasing rather than buying. When launching a new firm, it’s preferable to lease if you can find a good leasing deal. Leasing a photocopier is better than buying one for $3,000 while leasing a car, or van saves $8,000 or more.

Leasing has been around for a long time. Businesses lease retail, office, manufacturing plants, farms, etc. There are benefits for both the lessee and the lessor (the lessor.) The lessor gains tax advantages, capital appreciation, and lease profits. The lessee pays less, may return the equipment at the end of the lease, and may negotiate build-in maintenance from the lessor.

Real Estate

Real estate is another bootstrap source. Using this source is easy. First, lease your building. Leasing costs are cheaper than buying, reducing initial operating expenses. You may be able to negotiate lease payments based on seasonal peaks or growth trends.

If you need to acquire a facility for your firm, your initial costs will be higher, but you may finance the building over 15 to 30 years. Again, the loan might be arranged to maximize planned growth or seasonal peaks. You may establish a graduated-payment mortgage with modest monthly payments that increase over time. Low monthly payments let your company thrive. Time and interest rates will allow refinancing.

The outright acquisition of the facility will also (ideally) increase the property’s value and reduce your principal, creating equity. Borrow against this equity. Lenders may commonly loan up to 75% or 80% of a property’s worth.

This pertains to your property. If you want to establish a company but need initial funding, you may have to borrow against or sell your property. If your house is appreciating, select real estate. Depreciating assets are less attractive.

Trade Credit

First, we’ll examine trade credit. Typically, a supplier will extend you credit after being a consistent client for 30, 60, or 90 days without incurring interest. Suppose a supplier sends you something, and you have trade credit or terms. Net 60 days from receipt of goods means you have 30 additional days to pay.

Suppliers won’t offer you trade credit while you’re starting. Until you prove you can pay your bills on time, they’ll demand every order c.o.d. or paid by credit card in advance. While this is a common method, you’ll need to arrange trade credit with suppliers to acquire startup money. A financial strategy will help in these negotiations.

When you visit your supplier to place your order during your starting phase, seek to talk directly to the firm’s owner if it is a small business. Talk to the CFO or credit approver if it’s a bigger company. Be prepared to show them your business plan.

Half of the order may be on credit, with the remainder payable upon delivery. The secret is to sell your things before paying for them. You could borrow money to buy merchandise, but you’d pay interest. Trade credit helps lower working capital needs, especially in retail.

Despite the temptation to use trade credit often, you should not use it as a long-term solution. Your company may become deeply tied to suppliers with long credit periods. The company may no longer have access to rival suppliers that offer cheaper costs, better products, or more dependable delivery.

Equipment Suppliers

Spending a lot on equipment may leave you without startup capital. Instead of paying cash for equipment, manufacturers may provide loans; that you will pay over time. Equipment providers provide jumpstart funding.

Commonly utilized credit contracts for equipment acquisitions are:

  1. Conditional sales deal, in which the buyer doesn’t own the equipment until it’s paid for.
  2. The chattel-mortgage contract, in which the equipment becomes the buyer’s property on delivery, but the seller has a mortgage claim until the contract amount is paid.

Using equipment suppliers to finance purchases reduces upfront cash needs. Lenders finance 60 to 80% of equipment value. The balance is the buyer’s down payment. The loan is returned over one to five years of the equipment’s useful life.

startups capital

Private funding is one of the most popular methods of financing startups.


Advantages and Disadvantages of Bootstrapping



Advantages Disadvantages

Own bosses

Your growth will be relatively slow

Forced to Build a Business Model That Really Works

It requires significant organization

Control Over Direction

Full control can result in a tendency to want to make all decisions on one’s own without consultation

Sense of Accomplishment

It can be risky – you might struggle to prevent a negative cash flow


Startup funding alternatives

When you have a brilliant company concept, raising capital may be challenging. How can you fund a brilliant idea? If you have a tech-based concept, it may be simpler to attract venture funding or angel investors, but as more firms use that business model, it’s tougher than ever. How do you launch a new business without using your own money?

1. Small Business Loans

Some banks give small company loans, although most are hesitant to do so. Qualification is challenging. Alternative finance businesses may help you launch your company.

What’s the disadvantage? Predatory alternative lenders exist. Before signing, know who you’re borrowing from.

2. Trade Services or Equity

Do you need web design services? Barter with a freelance neighbor. Maybe you’ll give him marketing tips later. In almost every city, there exist communities of startup company owners.

The disadvantage? Trading services or stocks is a tough method to earn a livelihood. Thus hardly everyone does it. If your first choice says no, don’t be offended.

3. Incubator/Accelerator

Accelerators and incubators have sprouted up worldwide, especially near business schools. These are shared workspaces and mentoring centers. Young enterprises may collaborate with exceptional individuals here.

The disadvantage? They’re frequently geared at tech-heavy firms, so you may have trouble finding one.

4. Crowdfunding

If you have a hot concept and are good at social media, consider crowdfunding. When Kickstarter and Indiegogo initially launched, several companies raised funds via them.

The disadvantage? Crowdfunding is popular. Therefore you must build a lot of buzzes to stand out. Overextending yourself and frustrating supporters might lead to resentment before your firm launches.

5. Startup Grants

Women, minorities, and veterans may get funding from the SBA and other organizations. If you fulfill one of these criteria, talk to your local SBA branch or Chamber of Commerce for local grant money.

The disadvantage? Make sure you won’t have to repay the money or agree to terms afterward. Not all grants contain stipulations, but it’s essential to know before accepting the money.


Successful Bootstrapped Companies

Many successful organizations today were bootstrapped. Examples:

  • Oracle
  • Dell Computers
  • Coca-Cola
  • Apple
  • Microsoft
  • Hewlett-Packard

Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Michael Dell, and Richard Branson are successful bootstrapped entrepreneurs.


GitHub – Bootstrapped Company

Tom Preston-Werner, Chris Wanstrath, and PJ Hyett established GitHub, a web-based hosting service for software development projects.

When GitHub became a full-time enterprise, the founders covered the startup fees. The developer’s social network, portfolio, and co-working space took off. 2013 saw 3 million GitHub users.

As programmers adopted the platform, they asked for private repositories to save their work safely. The founders quit their day jobs to concentrate on the firm. They introduced things that weren’t great initially, but user input helped them improve.

Over 73 million developers have utilized the company’s software development platform since November 2021.

GitHub got a multi-million dollar valuation before it was bought by Microsoft in October 2018 for $7.5 billion.

TechCrunch – Bootstrapped Company

Mike Arrington and Keith Teare established TechCrunch in 2005. TechCrunch converted technology blogging into journalism.

The site gained popularity by publishing high-quality, continuous information about tech and ways to improve your business acumen.

TechCrunch launched CrunchBase, a database of over 500,000 businesses and high-caliber entrepreneurs, to boost their exposure. AOL reportedly paid $25 to $40 million for TechCrunch in 2010. Arrington held 85% of the firm.



As long as entrepreneurs know the risks, bootstrapping may be a successful business funding approach.

Bootstrapped organizations must improve their procedures even without hindsight or millions of money. Cash-flow problems may ruin small businesses, so financial management is key. Sloppy work and shortcuts frequently backfire.

When developing a company from the ground up, it’s best to be prepared for everything, which is not difficult as many successful bootstrapped businesses show. Bootstrapping is expected to stay a part of the history of many successful businesses.


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Having worked for over 12 years with startups from around the world, we know how important it’s to properly manage the finances of a young company. We are ready to advise and help raise financing for your technology project. Schedule a short call and we would be glad to learn more about your needs.
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