Bootstrapping with a Paycheck: Moonlighting to a Million Dollars


The book Bootstrapping With A Paycheck: Entrepreneur Journeys offers readers insightful interviews detailing how full-time workers became founders of million-dollar business.

bootstrapping with a paycheck

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Moonlighting can be big business. As Americans,  the idea of moonlighting isn’t new. We know of many business people who started off working on the weekends or in the evenings after work. For some, this brought in a little extra income or possibly even a new career path. For others, though, it could be the path to a $3 or even a $130 million business.

In Bootstrapping with a Paycheck: Entrepreneur Journeys, business consultant, Sramana Mitra, tackles the issue of how full-time employees managed to create these million dollar empires as moonlighters.  Her 200+ page book contains 12 interviews with a diverse array of peopl. College dropouts, electrical engineers, and more to understand the answer to questions such as these:

  • What were you doing while you were growing your business?
  • How did you grow your business?
  • How did you market your business?

Interviews in Bootstrapping with a Paycheck detail stories of how these employees were able to use low-cost marketing (such as Google PPC) to achieve big business results (a deal with AT&T). Others interviews include the story of an electrical engineer who turned her lack of transportation options into a business valued at $130 million while the person maintained her day job at Texas Instruments. Another striking example is the interview with college dropout who just happened to grow a $5 million company with his business on the side.

Don’t Quit Your Day Job For Your Business

Bootstrapping with a Paycheck strongly argues the concept of boostrapping while getting a paycheck. In other words, building a business while working full-time. The book is also big on the concept of validation, allowing the income and customers to help in the decision-making concerning their business. Her advice to people who want to start a business is simple: Keep your day job. Fund the business yourself and keep working until that business pays you enough to live the life you want.

In her interviews, Mitra asks targeted questions that show the principle of Bootstrapping with a Paycheck at work. Her focus in this book is on how these employees used the resources at their disposal (education, relationships, savings, etc.) to transform their “little business on the side” to a powerful multi-million empire. The answers in the interview provide insight into how each person was able to build the momentum that businesses need to thrive.

Is Bootstrapping With a Paycheck a Worthwhile Book?

Bootstrapping with a Paycheck offers an incredible opportunity to hear directly from business owners in the unique situation of working full-time while building a business. If you are a reader in that situation, this book may provide the motivation necessary to persevere. Through these interviews, readers will get a chance to see how these business owners carved a path of success that worked for them using low-cost marketing, business smarts, and persistence.

Mitra’s interviews demonstrates that there isn’t just one way to a million-dollar success, even if you don’t have the traditional investment to get started. Bootstrapping with a Paycheck also really hammers home the  important concept of validation, of waiting until the customers and income prove your strategy. Sramana Mitra is not an advocate of dropping everything to follow your dreams, unless there’s a money trail involved.

On the other hand, I would’ve like to see Bootstrapping with a Paycheck go a bit further to show readers how the business owners managed to survive on a personal level. It would’ve been ideal to see the questions delve deep enough to show why these businesses made it. Specifically, how did these founders manage to juggle family, full-time work, and a part-time business on a daily level? What specific tips would they give others in their situation? What would they have done better?

While Bootstrapping with a Paycheck provides a highly motivating view of the moonlighter working a business on the side, I would’ve liked to see it stretch just a tad further to present the full picture. While it’s very inspirational, readers may need more to really connect their reality with the reality of the interviewees.

A more comprehensive look at the topic of working with a business on the side might have looked at answering the following questions:

  • How do you handle business networking while you are currently working full time?
  • What should you delegate and when?
  • What is the minimum financing you need to have before starting a business?

Two Great Quotes From the Book

“Once you understand the buying model and the basics of your sales process, then you immediately start to look for leverage.”

“When you leave your job, you want to be in a more advanced stage so that you can get to revenues and pay bills.”

About the Author

Sramana Mitra is a consultant and entrepreneur who has written several books and articles on the topic of business strategy and entrepreneurship. She can be found at her website or on Twitter at @sramana. She is also a contributor to Small Business Trends and you can find her articles here. This review of Bootstrapping with a Paycheck was based on a PDF copy of the book provided for reviewing purposes.

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Charles Franklin Charles Franklin is a Book Reviewer for Small Business Trends. He has a background as a professional reviewer, and is also a content provider and customer relations professional.