In October 2008, I opened a new bank account with just $25. In six years we bootstrapped that meager deposit into an organization that raises millions annually and has broken ground on more than 250 schools around the world. How did it happen? How do you turn $25 into the company of your dreams ?
1. Find a no-cost method to raise from friends and family.
Your first step to growth means finding early adopters, usually within your network of friends and family. A gathering or launch party is great, but find a venue that won’t charge a rental fee if you throw your event on an off night. Alternatively start a Kickstarter, Indiegogo or Crowdtilt campaign. There are plenty of methods to not have to put up the risk capital, so take advantage.
2. Do the small things that make others feel big.
My secret weapon in our first year was that I spent $100 on VistaPrint.com to buy forty sets of inexpensive business cards for those who were volunteering to work on Pencils of Promise. These business cards barely cost me anything but enabled those who would normally spend very little time on an organization like ours to feel real ownership and responsibility over PoP’s future. Never underestimate the importance of little things, even when you are dreaming of big steps.
3. Asking for permission is asking for denial.
Sometimes it’s necessary to forge forward rather than wait for layers of bureaucracy in early-stage, nimble ventures. Companies like PayPal, Lyft and Uber, for example, offered services that existed on the fringe of emerging industries when they launched, but because they provided something that people were interested in, they were allowed to operate and put the pieces together later.
To read all 30 guiding mantras check out the New York Times Bestseller, The Promise of a Pencil here. If you have any other tips, feel free to share them below.