3 Lessons: What It Means to be Bootstrapped

webcomic_bootstrapping_cateringA few months ago, IdeaScale launched a short infocomics series about what it means to be bootstrapped, citing a number of different amusing (or sometimes even desirable) inconveniences. And although these illustrations were largely meant in jest, after four years of doing business, we thought it might be important to discuss what we think it really means to be a bootstrapped business. 

Investing in Clients IS Investing in Marketing. To date – our biggest investment as a company is in research and development (40% of our workforce falls into this category). We invite all of our customers to give their feedback (using IdeaScale and our tireless account team as conduits, of course) and ask them what features and services will best serve them. Then we optimize and build for them. We don’t spend half a million on SEO, we spend our money on our members and that’s served us very well.

Responsible Finances. What bootstrapping often means is a level of vigilance and excellence when it comes to financials. After four years of business without taking any venture capital investments, IdeaScale continues to be profitable and double their earnings every year. We do this by rigorously managing to a budget and avoiding any top-heavy, overly-salaried executives.

Freedom to Redefine. IdeaScale has changed a lot since launching in 2009. We had no office… now we have an office with a Tetris arcade game.  We used to be focused primarily on the collection phase of ideation and now we see inspiration through to the conclusion of the idea lifecycle. There is no board of directors or panel of investors governing that evolution – just a family of customers that we communicate with on a regular basis.

IdeaScale is bootstrapped, profitable and is dedicated to maintaining that for the foreseeable future. What do you think it means to be bootstrapped?

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