So, how do you prepare to become a Bootstrap Entrepreneur? When should you start? What school courses should you take? What books should you read? What tape programs should you listen to? All are good questions. Whether you want to start your new business one month or five years from now, the time to prepare is today.
You might think the first step is to take business courses at school. Well, school courses aren't going to hurt a Bootstrap Entrepreneur, but they may not help much for the business you want.
Business school courses tend to be on economics, employee management, law, and other issues. You will get lots of information on accounting, labor relations, marketing, channels of distribution, and other things.
But the Bootstrap Entrepreneur really needs to know only two things: (1) how to find customers, and (2) how to spend less money than he takes in. Of the two, how to find customers is the more important.
Since finding customers is more important for your new business, it stands to reason a Bootstrap Entrepreneur should focus on sales skills, merchandising, promotion, and customer relations. Yes, that may seem like a strange way to begin. Perhaps you're saying, "Look, I'm an accountant, and I want to learn to be a better accountant before I start my business." Or you may be saying, "I want to learn more about______________" (fill in gardening, advertising, architecture, plumbing, or whatever else may be the specialty of your expected business).
The fact is, you probably already know quite a lot about what you plan to do. Chances are, you've been doing it already. But you may not have been promoting new customers. That may be a whole new skill for you.
A great beginning for an aspiring Bootstrap Entrepreneur is to read books and listen to tapes about personal improvement, goal setting, and sales. Fortunately, it's easy to do. There are low-cost books and tapes at every bookstore. Or get them free at the library. Every Bootstrap Entrepreneur should be on a personal improvement program before and after starting a new business. Dale Carnegie's fabulous book How to Win Friends and Influence People is the starting point. Read it once now, and reread it at least once every year.