There’s nothing glamorous about bootstrapping a company. Bootstrapping refers to starting a business from virtually nothing, putting every bit of profit back into the company and growing without the help of venture capital or angel investors. Yet, for the businesses who succeed, there is also nothing more rewarding.
The queen of beauty bootstrapping, Ann McFerran — founder of the multimillion-dollar magnetic-eyelash brand Glamnetic — shared her secrets for success in her eCom Week LA 2021 session “Bootstrapping in Beauty: The Glamnetic Story.”
The Glamnetic Story
Ann McFerran took her start-up business, Glamnetic, from zero to a $50 million company in just one year, according to her Clubhouse social network bio. She told NairaNYC, a magazine for women of color, that the company was, “profitable from day one, which is so rare right now in today’s market environment.”
She added, “We run super lean, we don’t believe in investments and [we’re] completely self-funded.” McFerran attributes her success to the quality of the product, as well as unique options such as six-magnet lashes and the first color magnetic lashes on the market. “If you don’t have a good product, there’s no brand, no matter how good of a marketer you are,” she said.
From Artist to Entrepreneur
McFerran was born in Thailand and moved to California at age 7, where she ultimately attended UCLA and earned a bachelor’s degree in psychobiology. However, feeling pulled to art, she shifted gears to become a successful fine artist. Her first commission, of $5,000, sparked her to a career as an artist. Her keen eye would ultimately help her bootstrap Glamnetics to success.
McFerran briefly toyed with the idea of a modeling career and has always had a passion for makeup, NextShark reports. She notes that the first time she “truly felt self-confidence” was putting on false lashes. But glued-on lashes are notoriously difficult to use, and the magnetic lashes on the market at the time weren’t much easier to apply and didn’t look realistic. This drove her to deliver a better brand of magnetic lashes that were “fuller” and “more dramatic,” she told NextShark.
Bootstrapping Secrets: Do It Fast and Do It Yourself
McFarren’s agile business philosophy, where she moves quickly and is willing to fix things on the fly, helped save time and money during the early start-up phase of her business. Her background in science, she said, helped with the product development process.
Similarly, her background in art helped her save money when she launched Glamnetics with only her savings. She was able to execute successful social campaigns, including video and images, without relying on outside help. As she scaled the company, she brought in teams to execute her creative vision. But starting out, it helped to have a solid marketing background. If you’re bootstrapping a company, it’s crucial to know what you can accomplish yourself and where you need to bring in other experts.
Why Is Bootstrapping a Company So Hard?
Even with the right skills and the right people behind you, bootstrapping a company is not easy. But it accounts for the majority of business start-ups. Only 70,000 companies get angel investment, and fewer than 5,000 get venture capital, bootstrapping statistics show.
Bootstrapping doesn’t necessarily mean starting with no funds, however. The Small Business Administration works with banks to provide about 100,000 loans for start-ups each year. But many entrepreneurs start their bootstrapped company through home-equity loans or second mortgages, credit cards or — as with McFerran — savings accounts.
Challenges to bootstrapping a company include cash-flow issues, rapid growth without the funds to back it and even the lack of salaries for the company’s founders in the early days. Also, when you bring on outside investors you automatically have a team of experienced people there to mentor and advise you; company founders who opt to bootstrap their venture may need to search harder for trusted advisors.
Bootstrapping Statistics Every Business Owner Should Know
Nearly 80% of all start-ups fail, according to an article by Daglar Çizmeci, a veteran investor, founder, and CEO. And many of those are bootstrapped companies. Only about 800 of the 5,000 small businesses formed each year make it to the point of pursuing Series A funding, Çizmeci writes. And even with that first cash infusion, only 10% survive long enough to seek second-stage funding.
Of course, bootstrapped success stories do exist — including Hewlett-Packard (which was started with just $538 of the founders’ money), Spanx, Dell and, of course, Glamnetics.
Watch Ann McFerran at eCommerce Week LA 2021
As a dynamic and passionate speaker filled with knowledge that spans multiple industries, McFerran shares how she bucked bootstrapping statistics to launch a seven-figure business in less than a year. She attributes her success to social media engagement, paid advertising, and influencer campaigns. She shared her inspiration, passion and practical guidance with eCom Week attendees during her session “Bootstrapping in Beauty: The Glamnetic Story.”
Dawn Allcot is a full-time freelance writer specializing in technology, e-commerce and finance, and is the owner of the boutique content-marketing agency Allcot Media and GeekTravelGuide.net, a travel and entertainment website.
Clubhousedb.com – Ann McFerran on Clubhouse
Daglar-Cizmeci.com – Bootstrapping Statistics: Starting a Business from Scratch
Articles.bplans.com – Why Bootstrapping Might Be the Best Way to Fund Your Startup