Startup Lawyer | How Will You Bootstrap in 2009?
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How Will You Bootstrap in 2009?

Posted 23 Dec 2008

RIP Good Times. Get rid of your cars. This recent wave of “learn to live with less” advice is nothing new to those in startups. In fact, startups just hope for the day they can have the option to live with a little more.

But there are a lot of companies that forgot (or never learned) how to operate like a bootstrapped startup. Some of the current suffering is self-inflicted and blaming it on the “economy” is a cop out. These companies got bloated in the good times. And now they have to run sprints instead of wading in the lazy river. (Some of the biggest offenders are law firms, so don’t think I believe lawyers are above criticism on this one.)

I’m always looking for new ways to tweak and fine tune my practice. I’m considering adding Skype, as I currently use my iPhone and a conference calling service for when 4+ people need to be on the call. I also plan to do more video conferencing via iChat, so that I might be actually able to recognize some of my clients if I happen to pass them in an airport.

So how are you planning to bootstrap in 2009 to extend the runway? You guys are the experts. I’m just a lawyer that’s 2-3 years behind the curve.

10 Comments
  • Mark Beckwith
    Posted at 22:32h, 23 December Reply

    Ryan,

    I lost all 5 of my employees and my office after the dot com bubble. I learned my lesson. Now I have 12 months of cash. It's just me now so that's not too much. But I must say, it doesn't get much worse than having to worry about next months payroll.

  • Mark Beckwith
    Posted at 17:32h, 23 December Reply

    Ryan,

    I lost all 5 of my employees and my office after the dot com bubble. I learned my lesson. Now I have 12 months of cash. It's just me now so that's not too much. But I must say, it doesn't get much worse than having to worry about next months payroll.

  • Ryan Roberts
    Posted at 22:41h, 23 December Reply

    I'm the same way. I've been fortunate that I don't entirely worry about next month's payroll (of course, anything could happen), but I wonder how much cash reserve is enough. I was recently offered a line of credit by my bank, but I would be too afraid that I'd become reliant on it. Like a lot of companies, a lot of law firms have recently crumbled because their lines were yanked.

  • Ryan Roberts
    Posted at 17:41h, 23 December Reply

    I'm the same way. I've been fortunate that I don't entirely worry about next month's payroll (of course, anything could happen), but I wonder how much cash reserve is enough. I was recently offered a line of credit by my bank, but I would be too afraid that I'd become reliant on it. Like a lot of companies, a lot of law firms have recently crumbled because their lines were yanked.

  • Dr Wright
    Posted at 00:09h, 24 December Reply

    I agree with Ryan Roberts, having cash makes you able to plan and sustain any hard times.

    Dr. Wright
    The Wright Place TV show http://www.wrightplacetv.com http://www.twitter.com/drwright1

  • Dr Wright
    Posted at 19:09h, 23 December Reply

    I agree with Ryan Roberts, having cash makes you able to plan and sustain any hard times.

    Dr. Wright
    The Wright Place TV show http://www.wrightplacetv.com http://www.twitter.com/drwright1

  • Laurie/Halo Secretar
    Posted at 01:01h, 24 December Reply

    Well I've only started my business this past year so bootstrapping is a way of life for me! I definitely recommend Skype – it's definitely helping me communicate easily with clients for so little expense! My only other tip (which are basic, but still wanted to share!) is to never spend money without researching – whether you are hiring staff, choosing a phone service or building your website. It's hard when there is so much information but even the smallest choices can hurt us financially over the long haul. Take care!

  • Laurie/Halo Secretar
    Posted at 20:01h, 23 December Reply

    Well I've only started my business this past year so bootstrapping is a way of life for me! I definitely recommend Skype – it's definitely helping me communicate easily with clients for so little expense! My only other tip (which are basic, but still wanted to share!) is to never spend money without researching – whether you are hiring staff, choosing a phone service or building your website. It's hard when there is so much information but even the smallest choices can hurt us financially over the long haul. Take care!

  • Colin
    Posted at 12:55h, 24 December Reply

    + With partners in Australia and Los Angeles, we have no office, utility, or equipment overhead.
    + We use Basecamp for project management (~$24/month).
    + We use OtherInbox for public communications.
    + We use GTalk / iChat / Skype / Personal email for internal communications.

    OtherInbox has been a blessing and the newest addition to our virtual arsenal. Instead of having individual email accounts, we keep all external communication transparent on the business level. This lets everyone (we're small) handle feature requests, support, and marketing efforts under the company brand without the burden of communicating who is doing what and when. It's particularly useful since we're in different time zones. We don't have to hire a secretary, and there is less noise in our internal communication.

  • Colin
    Posted at 07:55h, 24 December Reply

    + With partners in Australia and Los Angeles, we have no office, utility, or equipment overhead.
    + We use Basecamp for project management (~$24/month).
    + We use OtherInbox for public communications.
    + We use GTalk / iChat / Skype / Personal email for internal communications.

    OtherInbox has been a blessing and the newest addition to our virtual arsenal. Instead of having individual email accounts, we keep all external communication transparent on the business level. This lets everyone (we're small) handle feature requests, support, and marketing efforts under the company brand without the burden of communicating who is doing what and when. It's particularly useful since we're in different time zones. We don't have to hire a secretary, and there is less noise in our internal communication.

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