Last updated on October 21st, 2019 at 05:40 pm
When I was a little girl, I used to invite my best girlfriends over and then make them play dress up in 1950s ballgowns and the jewelry accessories my mother found at the local Goodwill store while making her yearly donations.
My performance outfits consisted of old ballet and Halloween costumes I’d outgrown, and ballgowns donated to Goodwill by women who only wore them once. I’d invite my girlfriends “ensemble” to gather in my living room and proceed to direct them in an invented play or dance recital.
I’d gather the contents of my treasure chest, stored deep in the back of my bedroom closet–ballgowns, slips, dance shoes, scarves, costume jewelry, oversized glamor hats, and gloves–then steal every safety pin I could find along with my mother’s sewing kit to create our unique costume combinations.
Bright red lipstick was optional. It’s a wonder those friends are still my friends today…
Hours flew by like minutes as we danced, sang, and performed our way into living room stardom, or until my brother complained, or it was time for dinner.
At the end of the day, when I’d return the costumes and accessories to my closet, I’d smile at what we created. Each time was something completely different. My childhood friends and I bootstrapped dance recitals, musicals, and plays from the contents of my treasure chest. Bootstrapping is a term used to describe people who stretch limited resources–or almost nothing–to thrive.
The idea of “creating something from nothing” or “bootstrapping” appeared many times while I was testing my dream-finding worksheets featured in my e-book, “Find Your Dream.“ It began to be very clear to me: I love creating something creative from nothing.
But not just any creative “something.” I like to create the kind of something that inspires people, changes their day, and makes them look at themselves differently.
It’s why I love blogging. Out of thin air, my thoughts and words are woven together over a keyboard, and when I hit PUBLISH–whoosh!–my words go out into the world. And if I am super-lucky, my words touch your soul and make you laugh, cry, or motivate you to change your current situation.
It’s a genuinely satisfying feeling to create something from nothing.
I have many creative ideas, just like that little girl tossing dresses at friends yelling, “What if you play Alice in Wonderland, and you Cinderella and I’ll be the evil pirate princess and . . .”
My original dream was for 8WomenDream to be the go-to website for women rebooting their lives by launching a big dream. Once this website gained a following, I wanted more than discussing big dreams. I wanted to know why some people know what they want to do with their lives while others, like me, get lost.
I’m good at many things, but I want to be more than the total of those things. In my 20s, I decorated the homes of men I dated but didn’t love, but I loved renovating and organizing their homes! No matter how many times I moved a couch or painted a bathroom, that guy didn’t become that someone special.
There was an emptiness always nagging me that the boyfriends couldn’t fill. There was always a voice in the back of my head, saying yelling, “Catherine, what in the hell are you doing here? You know you don’t want to really be here. Be brave. Do something else!” Then I’d continue dating the person as time flew by like leaves in hurricane-force winds. Once in a while, I was lucky and one would do something where we had no choice but to break up. I was relieved to be free again.
In case you don’t know, Neil Patel is the co-founder of Crazy Egg, Hello Bar, and KISSmetrics. He helps companies like Amazon, NBC, GM, HP, and Viacom grow their revenue.
1. Sell services first
I decided to write an ebook for people who can’t figure out what their big dream is and how to find out. The ebook is complete and I am working with the title and marketing. Since bootstrapping also means you ride the wave of another famous brand, I need to test some marketing phrases with you.
For the ebook ad, should my tagline say
1. The Find Your Dream e-book – “It’s the salt to Jack Canfield’s soup.”
2. The Find Your Dream e-book – “It’s the spice to Jack Canfield’s soup.”
3. The Find Your Dream e-book – “It’s the noodles to Jack Canfield’s soup.”
4. Find Your Dream – “Find Your Dream; Set Your Path; Change Your Life.”
Tell me which tagline one you like, or if you come up with one we like better and I use it in the e-book, I will give you a free copy and attribute the phrase to you.
2. Choose a good co-founder
When I first started 8WomenDream, I gathered together seven other women and said, “Here, can you try going after your dreams with me?” To my great relief, they said yes. But I don’t have a co-founder or a funder for 8WomenDream. I bootstrap to host and publish this website which means I am personally financing my big dream. No co-founder, but I do have seven supportive women at my side.
3. Seek help from advisors
Seth Godin’s Bootstrapper’s Manifesto
I am a Bootstrapper. I have initiative and insight and guts, but not much money. I will succeed because my efforts and my focus will defeat bigger and better-funded competitors. I am fearless. I keep my focus on growing the business – not politics, career advancement, or other wasteful distractions.
I will leverage my skills to become the key to every department of my company, yet I realize that hiring experts can be the secret to my success. I will be an intense and intelligent user of technology, to conserve my two most precious assets: time and money.
My secret weapon is knowing how to cut through bureaucracy. My size makes me faster and more agile than any company could ever be.
I am a laser beam. Opportunities will try to cloud my focus, but I will not waver from my stated goal and plan–until I change it. And I know that plans were made to be changed.
I’m in it for the long haul. Building a business that will last separates me from the opportunist and is an investment in my brand and my future. Surviving is succeeding, and each day that goes by makes it easier for me to reach my goals.”
4. Outsource wisely
I asked each dreamer on 8WomenDream to write about their big dream once a week. This creates new content on 8WomenDream.com seven days a week and helps to build visitors and readership. It’s important to delegate tasks as efficiently as you can so you have the time to work on your dream–not in your dream. Too many new business owners fall into this trap of trying to do everything themselves and not delegating work.
5. Cut your expenses
The one area where I spend serious money is on web hosting. Now, some people advise cheap web hosting but then you are dealing with a shared server situation where another’s site’s traffic or hack impacts your website. Web hosting is my biggest expense because I believe uptime and server load matter to my online business. It has to be a great hosting company and a good plan. But I do work from my dining room table which saves me office space money.
6. Invest in your brand
I am lucky to know enough graphic and web design to create a brand presence so the only investment I need to make is time. But I do buy ads on Facebook and Google from time to time.
7. Use content-marketing tactics to attract users
The point of having dreamers write about their big dream on 8WomenDream is to create content that can be marketed on all of the social media platforms. We also have a monthly newsletter and a pretty good-sized email list.
8. Try to create something that quickly generates cash
Your cash can come from your 9 to 5 job you are keeping until your dream is successful. But you want to find a way to finance your big dream and if you can sell something that generates cash, this money can be used to expand your reach, get the word out or finance what you need to move on to the next step in your dream progress. Thus I created the “Find Your Dream” ebook.
9. Keep learning and expanding
You cannot afford to get stuck. You must be willing to accept feedback, try new things and be willing to learn. Change is constant and you must get comfortable with it. Learn the techniques you need to launch your dream and continue to refresh your skills.
Are you ready to bootstrap your big dream? I think I have a blue TuTu overhear in your size, or you can put on my dad’s suit and be the banker.
PS. For those of you financing your dream on a wing and a prayer, Seth Godin offers The Bootstrappers Bible. (pdf) for free. Update: The “Find Your Dream; Set Your Path; Change Your Life” tagline was the one chosen for the ebook.
Catherine Hughes is the founder, content director and editor-at-large of 8WomenDream. She is passionate about helping women step out of their own way and strike out into a world waiting for their special talents. She’s a published author and a former award-winning mom blogger. Catherine has helped companies both large and small create engaging web content, social media narratives, and unique blogging platforms. She claims to be a redhead, but don’t hold that against her.
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