Bootstrapping benefits podcastWelcome to the first Podcarpet episode of the podcast! As I record this episode, I’m sitting on the carpet in my office, chilling out, excited to talk to you about the benefits of bootstrapping.

This format of podcast episode is something that I’m going to smatter throughout the podcast as we move forward. They’re more informal episodes where I just want to share an insight or start a conversation without having completely figured out the concept yet.

They may even bring up more questions than answers!

Some of these conversations have stemmed from Facebook Lives that I’ve done. But I wanted to bring them to the podcast so that we can dive a little bit deeper, start some epic convos, and just have a little carpet time together.

Let’s see where this episode goes, shall we?!

bootstrapping tash corbin podcast gratitude


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EPISODE 399
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The whole premise behind doing these pod carpets is to have an exploratory conversation about a particular topic or a question that’s come up…

This first one starts with a moment of gratitude.

I recently did a webinar where I was talking about how grateful I am that I didn’t have a lot of money when I first started my business.

I really do believe that if I had had $20,000 to start my business, not only would I have spent that money on things that wouldn’t have moved me forward… but it would have also slowed down my progress in starting my business.

The reason why I say that is because when I first started my business, I needed to get into the making sales part really quickly.

Before I quit my job and started my business, I out-earned my partner four-to-one. I was the major income earner in our relationship.

It was a huge lifestyle change to go from both of our salaries down to just his. On top of that, we also went to Europe on holiday before I started my business, so we had maxed out our credit card while we were away.

When I came back to start my business, I did NOT have money to spend on:

  • A website
  • Branding
  • Photo shoots
  • Big mastermind groups
  • Fancy online courses
  • Anything really!

One thing I did spend money on before we went on our holidays was a VIP one-day package with a business coach.

Unfortunately, that was a total write-off.

In that session, I did get some ideas about what I would do with my business… but it didn’t actually help me to create a strategy to get clients! There was no information in that day in which I could actually make money with the information I gained.

Instead, I just did a lot of theorising about who I might help and how I might help them.

Very early in my business, I needed to figure it out.

I decided that my first focal point would be to help as many people as possible.

I wanted to get client conversations and client results under my belt. And I was willing to do whatever it took to have as many one-to-one conversations with people who might be my ideal client as possible.

I knew that that would give me some idea of what I needed to focus on with my messaging and social media strategy.

I had no idea how to grow a business on social media at all.

Looking back on it, I was SO naive. I don’t know what I was thinking. I really wasn’t thinking!

I’m really grateful that I had the gumption to just give it a go.

But I’m even more grateful that I didn’t have a huge budget when I started my business!

At that point in time, I thought I was going to start a career-coaching business for women in corporate roles. I had conversations with three people about career coaching, and I did some market research interviews with people who fit my niche points and what I thought I was going to be doing.

Will all three of those women that I talked to, I just wanted to help them start their own business.

At the time, I felt like I’d made a HUGE mistake. I left the corporate world for a reason. I didn’t want to coach people on how to survive and thrive in the corporate world… a world that I couldn’t tolerate anymore!

If I’d had money to start my business, by that stage, it would have been too late.

I would have already created a website, social media posts, images, logos, a business name, etc.

It would have been completely going in the wrong direction. But I already would have invested so much money into that business! This means that when I had those conversations with those people and found that I really hated talking about thriving in the corporate environment, I would have been very hesitant to let it go.

The bigger the sunk costs, the less likely you are to pivot quickly when you realise something isn’t aligned.

How much money have you spent so far? How much time and energy have you spent on this thing so far?

I am just so grateful that pre-business Tash was terrible at saving and didn’t think through the expenses of having a business.

I was so naive about how quickly I would get paying clients.

It meant that I had a lot of flexibility in those early stages. I got the opportunity to play and experiment with what I did want to do and where I could see some real value in my services being offered to people who could use them.

The fact that I wanted to help all three of those people start a business said to me that I should be helping people start their businesses.

I also want to be really clear: I had just started my business… and here I was thinking that I could help other people start a business.

I had 15 days of experience in what it takes to start a business. In that time, I had worked with two paying clients… one of them was a friend of a friend, and one of them was my choir teacher.

I am just so grateful that I took a leap of faith in myself and that I spent a lot of time and energy in those early weeks of my business, paying attention to what I liked and what I didn’t like – what I wanted to do and what I didn’t want to do.

I’m so grateful that I had this huge focus on other people.

Everything I did in those first few weeks of creating my business was about:

  • What do other people want?
  • What do other people need?
  • Where do my skills serve other people?

I wasn’t focused on myself. I wasn’t focused on what I looked like on social media or what my business cards were going to say. None of that was a priority for me.

I didn’t want to make any final decisions about that until I was really clear on who I was serving, what they needed, whether they would pay for that, and whether I would be able to deliver.

I was so focused on what my potential clients might need from me and I had so little money to spend on the business, that I didn’t want to commit a job title to a business card, only to change my mind a few weeks later… so I just didn’t get business cards made.

I didn’t want to commit to a business name in case I decided to change my business… so I just called my business Tash Corbin.

What a great decision!! I’m so grateful to Past Tash.

But a lot of those things were actually by default, not by design.

When I say I am so grateful that I did not have a lot of money to start my business, that really is true.

I know I would have wasted the money. I know I would have gone off in a random direction and spent a lot of money going in that direction. And I know that it then would have been much harder for me to pivot and change my mind.

I would have spent a lot of money on things that made it look like I had a successful business but actually didn’t create any momentum, growth or proof of concept for my business.

I probably would have been suckered into a lot of shiny objects.

The more money I would have had, the more money I would have wasted.

The other great thing that came out of me not having money was the fact that I had to become clear on what lean business was about.

When I was working in corporate consulting, the lean business methodology was something that I touched on here and there with some of our small business clients. But I really didn’t have an in-depth understanding of how a solo business like mine could apply that lean business methodology.

The lean business training I had done as a corporate consultant was all focused on product-based businesses.

It was talking about things like only having a small product run in the first instance, and running that first product run at a loss as a way of testing the market and testing the viability of a product without spending a lot of money upfront.

Applying the methodologies and principles of lean business to a service-based business was a little different, because in a service-based business’s purest form, it is quite lean.

Based on my understanding of lean business, I felt like my business was already lean. I was delivering services, I was creating things as I went with clients, and I wasn’t investing time in product perfection or high runs of products. It was a lean business!

But actually, seven months into my business, I realised that the lean business model for a service-based business isn’t just about the money that goes into producing your products and services.

It’s about the money that goes into growing the business.

That’s where my lean business methodologies really started to take their own shape.

I was developing something quite unique in terms of its intellectual property. Because people starting online businesses selling services weren’t included in a lot of the common articles and examples that we used to talk about in terms of lean business methodologies.

It wasn’t taking into consideration anything beyond product development.

I started to really notice the difference in the way that I had started my business in late 2013 (the year I started my business) when I joined a social media course with seven other people. Three of those people had started online coaching businesses with over $100,000 in the bank.

They had been working in corporate roles, they had an inheritance, and they had made money in property.

They’d been saving, saving, saving in order to be able to start a business one day. And now they were starting an online business with six figures in savings in the bank to cover their living expenses and startup costs.

I realised, looking at their experience, that I was so lucky that I didn’t do that because I would have actually been worse off in terms of the progress I’d made in my business.

Those people had all started their business around the same time as me. And yet, out of all of us in that program, I had had the most clients when we started working in that program together.

The reason I had the most clients was because I didn’t spend the first six months of my business creating assets.

I didn’t spend the first six months of my business building a giant website.

One of the people – a beautiful woman named Lauren who now doesn’t even have her own business – had saved $180,000 to start her business. And she had spent $35,000 on bespoke branding and a custom website.

This wasn’t in the days of Squarespace and really beautiful, simple websites. This was custom coding and custom fonts. And she had spent $35,000 on a website.

When I went to her website, I still didn’t know what she did.

It was such an eye-opener for me to see.

Doing it lean was such a blessing for my business. It allowed me to just focus on my audience. To just focus on building an understanding of my ideal clients. Focus on showing up and having as many one-on-one conversations as I could, with as many people who wanted to start a business or had just started a business as possible. Focus on building my understanding of what they needed, what was in their way, what they were getting stuck on, and how I could help them to move forward and get some income in the door.

I thought I would share this conversation with you because I think in a lot of cases, we can sometimes feel like it’s so much harder for us because we don’t have all this money or time available… but there can be a lot of benefits in that scarcity.

For me, the scarcity of money to invest in the business meant I invested my time in what was actually important.

I focused on making money as quickly as possible, because I’d set a goal for myself that I wanted to pay a week’s rent within the first three months of starting my business.

I was able to do that in my third month, which felt amazing. But I really just wanted to focus on validating my business and getting money in the door as quickly as I could.

It just made me stop asking the question of whether the business will succeed or not, or whether I’ve got the right business name or not.

Half of those questions were answered by the fact that I didn’t have any money, so I couldn’t get them. I just had to focus on getting clients instead.

I just started to ask the question of how I could do this.

How do I get as many one-on-one client conversations as possible?
How do I understand what people would pay for today? And how much they will pay?
How do I package up my services in a way that people think it’s a real no-brainer decision to jump in and get that level of business mentoring from the very outset?
How do I ensure that I have the skills and education that I need to be able to be of the most service for by clients?

I’m not underestimating my existing skills and education. I had a degree in business, I had worked in corporate consulting for a long time, I had a business planning background, and I had an executive coaching background.

I knew the ins and outs of business, marketing and buyer psychology.

But I didn’t know how to do it online. And I definitely didn’t know social media.

I had to learn that very quickly, and I had to learn it with no money.

I had to learn it as it came up. If someone who was a client asked a question about how to do X, Y, Z in MailChimp for their mailing list, I had to go and find a YouTube video that would walk me through it, so I could give them the instructions.

I was a leading learner when it came to a lot of the social media elements and the online components of growing a business.

There were a couple of things that helped me stand out from other people teaching marketing and sales…

The first one was that no one wanted to work with people starting out. Everyone wanted to work with successful business owners. Everyone wanted to work with business owners who were scaling up.

Startups were just left on their own.

In the first few months of my business, I focused on working with artists and creatives. Even where there might have been a marketing or business strategist who would work with startup business coaches, nobody was working with artists because of the perception of starving artists syndrome and creatives having the worst money mindset.

People made assumptions that artists and creatives wouldn’t spend money on business coaching.

That definitely helped me stand out from the crowd.

Another thing that really helped me stand out from the crowd was that I had such a deep understanding of marketing, buyer psychology, messaging, how to write compelling content that helped people move forward towards a buying decision, and what it was that people wanted to see or hear from someone they were considering hiring as a business coach.

I had this understanding because I’d worked in consulting and pitched as a business coach to executives, CEOs and owners of small businesses for years.

I’d had a lot of that behind me, so that really helped me to stand apart from the crowd.

I wasn’t just spewing the same old advice on the internet.

I couldn’t tell people in any kind of confident way that if they post a blog a day every day for the next year, they were going to get paying clients… because that’s not how I got my clients! And that’s not something that I did consistently when I first started my business.

But I did know that if you use the opportunities available to you to connect with potential clients one-on-one, get to know what they needed, and deeply understand where they were getting stuck and what their goals were, then that would allow you to check in and see if they wanted to know about how you could help them achieve that goal or overcome that obstacle.

A good 50% of people that you ask will say yes.

That high connection, high conversion model of marketing was the model that I had experienced in the consulting world and was very practiced at.

That meant I was very good at teaching other people how to do it as well.

I know this has been a wild rambling talk as I sit here on the carpet with pins and needles in my leg, but I just wanted to share that because I think the same thing can be said for people who have very time-limited businesses as well

Sometimes we get really frustrated about other people having full-time hours available to build their business.

But in my experience of working with people who started a business with very limited time to give to it, they create really efficient businesses.

They don’t dilly-dally and waste their time on stuff that’s not going to get them results.

They don’t have a high tolerance for time-wasting strategies or things that are just keeping them busy.

They’re constantly looking for ways to be more efficient and get the most out of their time in growing their business.

One of the pieces of advice that I give to people who are in a situation where they aren’t full-time in their business right now, but they will be at some point, is that when that extra time becomes available to you, don’t give it all to your business.

If you’re starting a business on the side of a day job, or there’s something that you’re doing that is eventually going to free up in terms of your time… just because you now have an extra two days a week to give to business doesn’t mean that giving that extra two days a week to business is an effective or efficient use of your time.

The more that you train your business to run in limited time or on a nice tight budget, the more it actually thrives.

The more time-efficient or money-efficient your business actually is.

I do feel like sometimes people get caught up in feeling like they don’t have enough money to pay for all the big things or enough time to do all the things that everyone says they should do to grow their business.

But in my experience looking back on my own business startup, and also working with people who have had limited time and/or limited money to grow their business, we actually do it smarter. We do it more efficiently.

I know that I can run my business in under 20 hours a week, because I had to do that when I was unwell in 2021 and 2022.

I couldn’t do more than 10 hours a week working in my business for almost eight months. For another eight weeks before that, I couldn’t even do five hours in a week. Half an hour a day was probably all I could handle.

Because of that, I had to become very efficient in the time that I gave my business. I became even more efficient than I was before I went on my sick leave.

Before that, I’d got my business down to about 20-25 hours a week most weeks.

However, my business was able to continue to do quite well when I was working nine hours a week on average for all of 2022. My business cash flow was able to recover to almost as good as before I went away for my surgery.

In 2023 I got to 17 hours a week in my business. I’m not even back to the hours I was working before. And yet my cash flow and my business income is still rising steadily. It’s still rebuilding really beautifully.

I think it’s going to go from strength to strength.

I’ve had an experience that has taught me how to run my business lean (which was starting a business with no money). I’ve had an experience that has taught me how to run my business efficiently and in minimal time (which was having a chronic illness and surgery that I did not recover from very well).

In both cases now my present-day self knows how to create huge income results without spending a cent. I know how to create huge growth of my leads in my business without working more than 10 to 15 hours a week.

That’s a really powerful skill to have. I’m very grateful for it.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this!

I’d love to hear if you’ve had any experiences like that or if this has pinged a little aha moment for you.

Please do drop me a note. You’re welcome to DM me on Instagram or Facebook or send an email through to support@tashcorbin.com.

Let me know you’ve been reading episode number 399 (the first Podcarpet!) and I’d love for us to continue this conversation.

I’ve also popped a #PinnedPod post into the Heart-Centred community. You can find that post here: CLICK ME

Thank you so much for joining me in this episode of the podcast.

Until next time, I cannot WAIT to see you SHINE.

Tash Corbin Business Mentor and Strategist