This article, which explains the difference between Bootstrapping and Lean Startups and the follow-on discussion as to why premature fundraising is waste (by Ash Maurya), is something that every startup founder should read and take to heart.
While not the same thing, Bootstrapping and Lean Startups are quite complementary. Both cover techniques for building low-burn startups by eliminating waste through the maximization of existing resources first before expending effort on the acquisition of new or external resources. While bootstrapping provides a strategic roadmap for achieving sustainability through customer funding (i.e. charging customers), lean startups provide a more tactical approach to achieving those goals through validated learning.
But before going any further, I’d like to dispel some common misconceptions about both models:
Myth: Lean Startups are cheap startups
Steve Blank wrote a similarly titled post to address this mis-definition. Yet, I still hear lots of people wrongly associate the word “lean” with “cheap”. This characterization isn’t entirely misguided but it only captures a sliver of what being lean is all about. Eric Ries co-opted the term “Lean” from “Lean Thinking” which comes from manufacturing.
Being lean is not about being cheap but being efficient with resources…
Money is just one of those resources and there is a time to conserve spending (before product/market fit) and a time to spend (after product/market fit).