How To Survive With A Bootstrapped Marketplace

Building a new marketplace takes a ton of capital and frankly many of us don’t have it. With investors or crowdfunding, many choose to take that route. What about bootstrapping? A term that has grown in popularity but still hard to come by. For those who are not familiar with the term in the words of Investopedia, “when an entrepreneur attempts to found and build a company from personal finances or from the operating revenues of the new company”. Sounds difficult doesn’t it? Well actually, it is very possible with the right steps and right team.

If you are currently going this route or have had thoughts about it, take a look at these 6 steps to help you take the necessary precautions.

1. Negotiate Anything And Everything.

While you are probably running your marketplace on a tight budget, this is one of the easiest steps to take. One of my teachers used to tell me, “If you never ask the question, you will never get your answer.” This is true for most things in life and especially when it comes to your business. Often times we come across tools or apps that we need to help run our day-to-day tasks. It may come across as expensive at first but negotiating a price to settle on can be more successful than you think. While different prices and packages are typically offered, many companies are willing to work something out in order to gain your business.

Is it really worth losing a deal over a discrepancy in price? While I am not saying low ball every single company you come across with a slap in the face, but rather come to something that is reasonable for both of you. Be logical with your negotiations and see the real value that can be offered to you. If the tool or app helps you save 4 hours a day, do the math and see how much value that really is.

2. Build A Driven Team.

Running a marketplace is by far a one man show. There are simply too many components to run a business to do it all alone. As you look to build your marketplace, back it with a solid group of team members. Don’t just start hiring a whole group of people just because you need them. Take your time with the interview process and get input from current team members. It is important to build a strong foundation to establish a thriving culture.

We all have been in the position where we are struck working with someone we don’t like. Someone who complains about every little thing and brings a bad vibe to work. It then starts to rub off on others and creates negative tension all around the office. Eventually people start looking for other jobs and the cycle continues. Avoid situations like these by hand picking each employee and be very involved in the process. Getting rid of the bad egg during the hiring process can make things much easier in the longer run.

3. Get Busy With Your Leads.

It’s called “leads” for a reason! Get busy with your sales and marketing team to contact your lists. Identify where each user is in the buyer’s journey to help understand what content to be sharing with them. You don’t want to be sending an introduction email to those who are in the decision stage. That will not only make you look bad, but also the customer will think you don’t understand what they really need. Treat every lead differently and cater to what they are looking for. If you hear they are looking for more information regarding your marketplace, be sure to follow up with any files that may be helpful.

Leads do not only come from your website or emails, but also on social media pages. Stay up to date with your pages and nurture those leads as well. Answer any questions, monitor where you are being mentioned, and be proactive in the community. When users start to follow your pages, they have sparked an interest and are looking to learn more. Capitalize on those as they have taken the time out of their day to find you. Don’t just let those people slip through the cracks. Find out what their position is and if there is anything you can do to help.

4. Wear The Hats Of Many Roles.

This is the story of any lean startup. With budgets being tight, there simply isn’t enough money to go around hiring people for every position. While big corporations have multiple bodies in every position, a startup does not have that luxury. Most teams are filled with a few people wearing the hats of many. For example, as a marketer there are many different aspects and positions that one can take. From digital media, analyst, strategy, consulting, coordinator, and the list goes on. As a startup, you will have to manage and learn different roles to be successful. While many would prefer to focus on one job, it can help expand your knowledge and help you become more versatile.

5. Accept Mistakes Will Be Made.

We all make mistakes, it’s only human. Acknowledging this from the start will help bring a different mindset and know that it is all part of the learning experience. No one is perfect or knows it all. Going out and learning on the fly (with caution of course), is one of the best things you can do for your own professional growth. Making those mistakes early on in the startup phase can save you down the road.

As we become so self conscious about making mistakes, we tend to overthink things. “If I choose to do this, then we may lose thousands of dollars”. It is only natural to think that way but you must take the risks if you want to grow your marketplace. If you have done your research and understand what is in your favor, then it may be worth the shot. Things may not always pan out as expected, but taking that mistake and learning from it is key. What went wrong? Why didn’t it pan out in your favor? These so-called “mistakes” are what every company should experience to help in the growth stages.

6. Enjoy The Process.

We get so caught up in the route of things and worrying how your finances are doing with your marketplace, that we forget to enjoy the process. Be thankful to be in the position you are in and the opportunity that lies ahead. Slow down to talk with your employees, grab lunch with a friend, negotiate with another business, or even just set time aside to sit in your office to relax. People are always have the “on the go” mentality that we are so caught up on getting there but forgetting about the journey in between. Your struggles today are meant to be tough so the feeling of success feels that much better when you reach that point. Building your marketplace won’t happen overnight so enjoy the years it will take. It’s all about working towards the future and what will come out of it.

As you look for different ways to experiment and keep funds within reason, leave room for error as well. Don’t expect your expenses to be done to the cents. There will be times you spend more than expected and others where you spend less. The key is to manage your expenses accordingly to balance it all out. 


Bootstrapping will be a long and tough journey but if successful, you’ll quickly forget about everything else. Some see it as a personal achievement to help push them through it to give them that extra motivation. Are you you up the for the task?


Have you tried bootstrapping your marketplace? We’d love to hear the story and how you were able to overcome the challenges. Leave a comment below or catch us on social media!

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