To bootstrap or to seek funding, that is the question

With incubators, crowdfunding spots and more financing opportunities popping up (especially in Germany I’ve noticed this), many people are looking to get funding via these financing models, so to get a faster kick-off and perhaps beat the competition early in the game. But which is better? Bootstrapping and trying to get enough traction without external funding? Or getting a VC or some other finance source to keep your financial worries on hold while you can work on your product (but in exchange give a share of your company away)? This was also discussed in the blog “A smart bear” in an article called: “How do I stop “analyzing” and pick between two good choices?“. In essence, the answer there is: Do what’s “fun. Enjoyable. Fulfilling.”

And I couldn’t agree more. You started a startup because it’s something you want to do (I hope)! You want to change the world in some way. Or as Steve Jobs put it “I want to put a ding in the universe”.

For me (at least for now), the answer is clear: Bootstrapping. I enjoy being part of a startup because I want to be more in control of my life and my life’s work. I don’t want to be told by someone else what’s right or what’s wrong. I will take advice, though, but I want to be the one who decides whether to accept that advice or not. I don’t want to be forced to write out a business plan. I don’t really believe in traditional business plans. I suck at that. I’m good at finding opportunities and building strategic networks. And the landscape changes and I want to anticipate and act according to my values.

That’s why in all my current projects (sure, they don’t make big bucks yet, but I’m in it for the long term, I’m not looking for a quick exit or a quick buck), I’m sticking to bootstrapping. I can imagine taking some money once the business model is set and it’s a profitable business and getting external money will grow the company faster. But I don’t want to bet on an idea that might still change 100 times along the way and hoping that in 2-3 years it might make the first profit. It just doesn’t fit me.

How about you? Are you the bootstrapping or the external financing type? Let me know in the comments!

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