Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Use Everything

If you've heard Bijoy talk about bootstrapping at all, then I'm sure you've heard him talk about "using everything."

Because bootstrappers are building business models that are unique to the individual, we have a unique opportunity to blend different pieces from our experiences and weave them into our businesses. I believe that I can represent to you exactly what it means to use everything, so that you might be able to bring some creativity into your business.

At 31 years old, I had left the corporate world in search of something new. The market was horrible (2002) and finding a job without connections was impossible, so I decided to try new things. I stumbled onto an opportunity to bartend and was able to work at night to make cash while having my days free to set up calls and work on starting a magazine (which I had no idea how to do).

Many warned me about "staying out of the corporate world too long" or "having to explain a gap on my resume." But honestly, the thought of writing another press release about something that was not newsworthy made me want to puke! Besides, I knew that it would eventually pay off.

So a few years later, I finally had enough revenue to put my first issue of Business District out. One of the first advertisers came directly from a referral from one of my managers.

Along the way, I started going to a boxing gym--I had always wanted to learn how to box, and needed someone to push me to exercise, because I don't do well on my own.

Fast forward a few years, and I engaged with the bar to manage their advertising (totally in line with my magazine venture). They also asked me if I knew anyone that could plan a boxing match, which we later decided would be in the parking lot of their club.

I helped them get sponsors and helped plan the event. I worked my butt off, and didn't make any money, but learned a lot about putting a sporting event together.

One of the sponsors of the event was Tecate, and as I was talking to the rep, I offered him a free ad in the magazine because they stepped up and sponsored the event. We decided that Dos Equis, another beer they carried, was a better fit for our target audience with their "Most Interesting Man in the world" campaign. After coordinating the ad, I asked the rep if they had any money they needed to get off their books by the end of the year, and would like to consider advertising for next year.

So I'm excited about my newest client in the magazine--Dos Equis--who bought ads for all of next year.

Some times, people ask me if I plan to sell the magazine. At this point, because I'm using it to pursue every avenue that is of interest to me, I can't quite figure out a scenario where selling made sense.

And besides--exit strategies are for VCs.

P.S. I've also been taking jazz piano lessons, which I thoroughly enjoy, and you can bet that will show up somewhere in my business.

Jason Myers (jason at abdmag dot com) is the publisher of Business District Magazine and led the Bootstrap Austin branding initiative.

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