Pretend You’ve Got No Money… Now Bootstrap Your Business

Bootstrapping (verb): start up (an Internet-based business or other enterprise) with minimal financial resources

If you were ever a Pulp fan one of the videos you’ve watched repeatedly was “Common People”. You may have even paid attention to the lyrics.

“Pretend you’ve got no money” he says to the rich girl who wants to live like common people as they stroll down the aisles of some supermarket. The video accompanying it is in a single word, brilliant. There’s miniature Jarvis sitting in a shopping trolley looking like he’s been imprisoned by the invisible forces of the free market. The look on his face says “I’m drowning in this garbage that no one needs”. No wonder I love this guy, eh? That and the fact that he had the balls to mock Michael Jackson during one of the Brit Awards. Legend.

But I digress.

What the heck does getting stuck in a supermarket trolley have anything to do with business? Plenty, as you shall see. But I can’t quite get there without telling you about my own “pretend you’ve got no money” experience at the local supermarket. I had nothing but pocket change adding up to $11 in my pocket. I’d forgotten my wallet in my other bag. I didn’t realise it til I was at the cash register.


There were three items in my shopping basket. A cheap and low quality plastic sippy cup (Why can’t Lucy, my 20-month old, just drink out of a cup? Sure, she’s sloppy but she’ll learn…Did I really need to buy this cheap cup made out of potentially harmful plastic?), the other thing is so non-essential that I can’t even recall what it was. It was around $5 though. I remember the price.

Then there was this pack of five spoons, specially designed to fit a toddler’s mouth, heat resistent, high quality plastic, a good brand, I think Heinz. They were $9 and since I didn’t have the money for these fancy spoons, they had to be left behind. And I felt awful at the time because I truly felt Lucy needed these specially made, well-designed spoons to get proper nourishment at mealtimes.

That’s how out of touch with reality I’d become with my previously limitless shoppping budget thanks to credit cards.

The reality, of course, is Lucy is just fine eating from regular old tea spoons.

At the cash register, I ended up spending $10.70 and had $.30 left after buying the cheap sippy cup and the other useless thing whatever it was.

I wish I had zero money.

What’s the point?

When you have money, you make bad purchasing decisions. You end up buying what’s not essential.

To free yourself or your business from unnecessary expenditures, do what Jarvis Cocker says to do. Pretend you’ve got no money. You got money in savings? Forget about it. It no longer exists and it is not available to be spent on your business.

This is not me having a brilliant epiphany a couple decades after being touched by Jarvis’s prophet-like presence. It’s the subject of a business book by a guy named Mike Michalovicz who says to put away your profits first so you curb your business expenses.

His book Profit First sets out in prophet-like clarity to show the merits of conducting business with your profits in mind first. No, it doesn’t mean to be selfish or greedy. You still serve your customers generously and provide great value.

The expenses? That’s another story. For our purposes today they are the enemy (unless of course you start seeing them as investment opportunities but that’s the subject of another post).

There’s a law that says that you spend as much money as available to you, as I experienced at the supermarket. I had $11, I spent $10.70 on items that were in retrospect horrible purchases. The sippy cup doesn’t even work. Poor Lucy has to suck so hard that her cheeks have caved in and she’s assumed an Abe Lincoln look.

Business owners, do yourselves a favour, pay yourself first and then with the money remaining sort out which expenses are essentials and ruthlessly cut everything else.

Prioritise where you put your money if you want a better user experience in your business. If you want a better life, be ruthless with where you spend your time and ensure you’re only spending the majority of your most valuable resource on the essentials.

For me where I spend my time goes like this:

  1. Lucy and her friends
  2. Writing
  3. Business
  4. Family
  5. Friends (offline) outside of the mothers’ group
  6. Friends online through social media
  7. TV/movies (minimal)

What about you?

What are some of the things you’re spending your money on that can be cut?

Anything in your diary or schedule that doesn’t take you where you want to take your life?

How are you going to cut these activities and expenses?

By |2018-09-19T11:12:12+00:00August 23rd, 2018|