The Bootstrapper’s Workshop

Throughout May and June, I’ve been taking one of Seth Godin’s courses, the Bootstrapper’s Workshop on Akimbo. When I heard about it back in April, I had just started my career break and had spare cash to spend on personal development. I’d been toying with the idea of changing careers for a while and more recently, the idea of being my own boss was becoming more and more appealing. Not to mention that I had been following Seth Godin for a while and his views on how to run a business resonated with me so I was keen to learn more about what he had to teach on bootstrapping.

The workshop took place over up to 9 weeks and was organised around 10 online lessons, each led by a video from Seth. I learnt a lot just by watching the videos. Below are some of these learnings:

  • What it is to be a bootstrapper, as opposed to an employee, a freelancer or an entrepreneur with funding
  • Services and products sell because they’re worth more to the person buying them than what they’re paying for it. This was a reminder that I do buy for convenience but also that we all do it so there’s no shame in asking for money in exchange for something that people value more than what you’re selling it for
  • You don’t need funding to start a business. ‘Just’ having a tool or an asset that other needs can be a source of revenue. Or you can source products/services for others
  • Start small and make a difference. You can’t reach everyone so be specific. You can really focus on understanding your audience if you’re keeping it small and specific to start
  • Choose an audience that is ready to listen to what you have to offer. Make sure that you pay attention to what they need and earn their trust
  • Be generous, invest time and energy in a group of people who deserve it to build trust and attention
  • Build assets that will make your work easier over time
  • You’re doing it for the people you want to serve

What could you build, not because it would feel natural to you right now, but because it’s what the people you serve want you, need you to build. That is the work that is in front of us.

Seth Godin – The Bootstrapper’s Workshop

I found a lot of value in the knowledge and insight shared through the videos but what had the biggest impact and where this workshop really allows you to progress is through the writing and the community. After each video, you’re given a prompt. You’re asked to expand on the theme of the lesson and apply the insight to a potential business idea.

I didn’t have a business idea at the beginning but the way the workshop is structured allows you to explore what it could be. So I wrote and shared. There aren’t any hard deadlines, and no penalty if you don’t work on the prompts but they’re usually easy to start. With a bit of discipline and motivation, I found that I did most of them. It allowed me to reflect and move forward. And when I was getting stuck, I would browse submissions from other people. And this was so useful. So many different people, with different ideas, different ways of approaching the tasks, different business ideas and visions. It somehow always allowed me to unlock the next step in my journey.

The community was always there to give encouragement but also to generously and kindly ask questions to allow you to dig deeper. And I really mean generously and kindly. I shared imperfect posts, with my thoughts at the time and where I was in my journey to bootstrap. There was always a kind comment, a nudge to keep going. I took the time to comment on other people’s posts, with questions, thank yous, sharing what I hoped were helpful resources. Because I wanted to, because the community made it worth the effort. This was never part of the assignment but that’s truly what is making this workshop so powerful. This is where the magic happens, with the community.

I furthered my learnings more than I hoped for through sharing with the cohort. It highlighted the importance of serving your audience, to listen to them, to what they need. The importance of showing up consistently for them. How much “people like us do things like that” influences us.

And more importantly, it gave me permission once again. To show up and share with others. To put myself out there with what I believe will be useful. Sometimes I’ll get it wrong. But that’s ok. I have more to share and there are people out there that I can be useful to. I’m starting my journey to find them.

So, in a word, yes, I thoroughly recommend this course!

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