A bootstrapped entrepreneur is someone willing to build what they have to so they can build what they want to. It’s a powerful mindset aimed at survival above all. Even if you decide to go raise money, bootstrappers are better equipped to work with their means and gain control of their vision and maximize their own shareholder value.

Welcome back to the Author Hour Podcast. I’m your host Hussein Al-Baiaty and my next guest James Benham, is here with me today to celebrate and talk about his new book, Be Your Own VC. Let’s get into it.

Hello everyone, welcome back. This is Hussein Al-Baiaty with the Author Hour Podcast. I’m super excited today because I got my good friend, James Benham on the call today to tell us about his new book but before we get into that, thank you James for joining me today, I appreciate your time.

James Benham: Glad to be on the show, good to hear your voice.

Hussein Al-Baiaty: Yeah man, this is really exciting. So you got a book that’s out and I’m really excited to dive into that but before we do that, I kind of want to give our audience a little bit about your personal background, how you got into entrepreneurship, where’d you grow up, all that good stuff?

James Benham: Yeah, sure. I was born and raised in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, that’s near New Orleans for the uninitiated that don’t know where that is. It’s the state capital of my great little state I grew up in, the Quebec of America, as we say, because they make us learn French, we have Napoleonic code, we have parishes instead of counties, there’s a lot of differences there.

So born and raised there and got into entrepreneurship just because it was the only way to make money. When I was a kid, my dad wouldn’t let me work at his business, he owned a Teflon company and he said, “Look, you’re never going to work for me and you’re never going to take over this business so you got to figure it out.”

So when I was 12, I wanted to make money, start a little lawn business and actually, I had a really nice business there in my part of town and then, when I was 16, I started a computer consulting business, teaching people how to get on the Internet back in the mid-90s when that was actually like, challenging to get on the Internet.

It was a really great place to grow up, and I went to an engineering high school that was just full of nerds. I say that was like—did you ever see the movie Fame?

Hussein Al-Baiaty: Can’t say that I have, no.

James Benham: Okay, young guy then? It even had a theme song, “Fame, I’m going to live forever.” It’s like a music theater arts high school, I went to that but for nerds. So instead of dancing and singing in the hallways, we were comparing, you know, pocket protectors and calculators and it was really amazing because they taught me a lot about computer science and programming and I had a great computer science teacher that ended up being pivotal in my business later.

And then I went to the world’s finest institute of higher education, Texas A&M and became convinced, because I was getting an accounting degree and a masters in information systems, that I was going to be a consultant with one of the big consulting firms. So I did a couple of internships with Price Waterhouse Coopers. Loved the firm but couldn’t visualize myself doing, you know, that every day and so decided to start a company. 

I went to my dad and said, “Hey, will you be my partner? I know you said I could never work for you and I can never work in your business but can we work together on this business?” and he said, “Absolutely, I’ll back you but you have to go do the work. I’m going to be a passive partner, not an active partner.” You know, from an early age, got interested in entrepreneurship and led into bootstrapping a business from a few thousand bucks in my dorm room.

Thriving from the Ground Up

Hussein Al-Baiaty: That’s amazing man, what a story. So tell me a little bit about that, in the dorm room, like for me, I started a little T-shirt printing company. It wasn’t in my dorm room but it was in the basement of my buddy’s barber shop, which was like across the street where I spend a lot of my time at university in the architecture department.

I got into T-shirt printing and had to bootstrap, this is why I found your book really interesting because it brought me back to those really early days where you were just trying to figure things out but tell me about your experience in that dorm room. How did things sort of start flowing from there?

James Benham: Yeah, well, probably not that dissimilar from you doing screen printing and T-shirts and in your buddy’s basement. I mean, you have an idea, you develop something that you can sell immediately, right? 

Hussein Al-Baiaty: Right, that was my thing, we need that tomorrow, bro.

James Benham: Yeah, I need to be able to make it now and sell it tomorrow, like not a month from now. I need this crazy thing called cashflow, you know? Where did you go to school by the way?

Hussein Al-Baiaty: I went to Portland State University up in Oregon.

James Benham: Oh, in Portlandia.

Hussein Al-Baiaty: Portlandia my man. Good times, yeah.

James Benham: Yeah. Do you like, know the provenance of the chickens that you’re about to eat before you eat them, know their names?

Hussein Al-Baiaty: Oh man, dude, it got intense. All right, let’s just put it there.

James Benham: The relationships and like…

Hussein Al-Baiaty: Yeah, see, I grew up there, I’m not from there so there’s a difference.

James Benham: Oh, I love the distinction. All right, so back to the bootstrapping, you know the gig. You have to start a business that as a service, our product that you can deliver immediately and so, the product that you could deliver was T-shirts. With me, it was software. I’ve been writing software a long time, thanks to this really nerdy, you know, middle and high schools that I went to and even in college, I kept coding through college. 

So I went to the only network I had, which is the greatest network on the planet, Texas A&M alumni. If you don’t know much about A&M, we have a ferociously loyal alumni base and we all wear the exact same ring every day for the rest of our lives. Like I have worn my Aggie ring every single day since I graduated.

Hussein Al-Baiaty: That’s awesome, I love that though, that thrive mentality, you know? Where you’re really supporting one another is amazing. So you go there and you’re seeking ways to start growing your business and how do you go about doing that?

James Benham: Yeah, my first eight clients were all Aggies, they were all alumni and they all owned businesses and I was in the military part of A&M called the Corp Cadets and so they were related to the Corp. They had been in the Corp too and they were more than willing to take a chance on a young 21-year-old who wanted to write some code for their businesses because they needed the custom software.

Look, 2001, there was not a lot of off the shelves software for specialty industries and so it was a great opportunity. There are also not a lot of off the shelf simple to use content management systems for building websites. So I just started building software. I used the $5,000, that’s you know, what dad had brought to the table, plus a lot of advice, he gave me daily, twice daily advice and I went out and got a computer and I got domain name. You know, just some basic stuff.

Hussein Al-Baiaty: Yeah, basic stuff man, yeah.

James Benham: April 16th of ‘01, which happen to be tax day that year, I went to the county courthouse, filed the paperwork, started the company and I had a couple of Aggie ex-cadets who immediately hired me to write code on a time materials hourly basis and I sold it for more than it cost me to do it, right? I got some other buddies to be subcontractors, I made money on the spread and then I made money building my own time out and that’s how we started the business and then just kept building software.

But from the beginning— remember, I define bootstrapping as doing what you have to do so you can do what you want to do. Building what you have to build so you can build what you want to build. And in my case, my real desire was to build a small business ERP system and ERP means, enterprise resource planning like a system that runs your company, so in my spare-spare time, so I had to finish up grad school and I had to work the projects that I had been hired to work and then in my spare-spare time, usually between the hours of nine PM and midnight. 

I would write the ERP system and I put together this thing called, at the time, called James Benham Knowledge Enterprise System. Now, it’s called Smart Enterprise. And it had an accounting system and a project management system and an HR system and a CRM. Now, just put together all these basics and we, to this day, for the last 21 years as a company, now we have 270 employees, we still run on that software. 

Now, it’s been rewritten twice. That was the impetus and the really cool thing is that a few years later, a little module that we had written in that system became our first breakaway hit of a product called Smart Bid and so it all started then. I mean, my desire from the very beginning was to bootstrap a company, not raise money from somebody else, like go and do a VC round. You know, work with my dad, work with one of my great friends from high school, Sebastian Costa and you know, hire people. Do contract software development work, use the profit to build product and it actually worked out, which is just crazy to think about because the chances of failure were pretty high.

Hussein Al-Baiaty: Yeah, of course and you talk about that, you know? Only 5% of companies actually get some sort of funding, capital funding, those kinds of things. So this idea of bootstrapping, you know, none of the things you’re talking about of starting a business with what you have and what you can get your hands on. That mentality is very, almost survivalist, right? 

It’s like guerilla business tactics at first, especially while you’re maintaining a bunch of different things. Like for me, it was in college, for you, it sounds like it was the same. Growing my business was that times two, right? Folding into, “All right, who can I bring in? Who has these skills, you know, how can I grow my print shop?” and whatever it was through with what I can get my hands on because, at that time, I couldn’t get obviously funding. One, I was young, two, the business was young and three, I still had to prove it to myself in a way, right?

James Benham: Yeah, as they say, you ain’t got no credit.

Hussein Al-Baiaty: Right, right. Man, I barely even knew what credit was.

James Benham: You have no credit. Your business ain’t got no credit, ain’t nobody got credit and I mean…

Hussein Al-Baiaty: Yeah man.

James Benham: That’s the way it is man, when I was talking man, a bank would not bank roll me. I could not get a credit line, I could not get a loan, I could barely get a credit card.

Cash Is King

Hussein Al-Baiaty: Yeah, I always tell people I built my business out of like, cardboard boxes man, I just did. Those early days, you know, of course, they’re rough around the edges but they teach us a lot, right? And I feel like, we meet a part of ourselves, right? Because you step into a lot of uncomfortable zones, right? And you really have to figure things out but it sounds like you were hitting things on the mark and things started to grow. 

So walk us through that a little bit. I mean, you talk about how you know, cash is forever king. However, it’s like jet fuel. I mean, it really adds to the processes, to the things that you’re building, can you talk about how growing that cashflow throughout the bootstrapping ideologies, can you share that principle in your book and how it sort of defined your work?

James Benham: Yeah, you see that first because cash really is king in any business and it’s amazing how many businesses forget that. There’s a lot of businesses that grow themselves out of business because they look at the way they account for money rather than their cashflow and they forget that you can schedule expenses and you can capitalize things and you can play games. And I mean legally, you can play games with your books that will lie to you about how you’re actually doing because the lifeline of the business, just like in a body is the blood, is cash. It’s always cash. It’s always been cash; it will always be cash. Now, whether that cash is digital or physical, still you got to be determined but the point is that, you got to develop simple metrics that allow you to measure cashflow. 

You got to drive cashflow in your business, you got to pay attention to receivables, you got to pay attention to payables, you got to pay people on time every time, you got to get paid on time. The cash has to flow and there has to be more taking in than is put out, right?

My favorite phrase I used to say is, “If you’re outgrow exceeds your income, your upkeep is your downfall”, and so you got to really pay attention to cash out go and cash income because your recurring expenses will take you out of business and you can see it over and over and over again, successful companies get taken out by not paying attention to cash flow. But in a bootstrap business, it is way more critical because you’re always, if you’re doing it right, and you’re growing and you have an aggressive plan, you’re running on the edge, you just are because, you know, you’re not taking a lot out, you’re reinvesting in the business, you’re building product, you’re buying equipment, you’re expanding facilities. 

There’s really two types of businesses out there. You have lifestyle businesses and growth businesses and lifestyle businesses have a zero to modest growth rate. So let’s say, 3% to try and keep up with inflation, although that’s not keeping up these days. In growth businesses, you’re targeting double digit to triple digit growth.

You’re saying, “I want to be 20, 30, 40, 50, 100% growth year over year” and so they’re very different businesses. Lifestyle businesses, you actually can build it up to two or three people, or even just the sole proprietorship and you can make decent money but you know, if you really want to build equity value and a machine that can run without you, you’ve got to achieve a certain scale and through that, you have to have a growth focused business. 

So that’s really what we decided from the very beginning. I remember the calculus I had to go through in the beginning on this was, “Okay, cash wise, I can make a good living just selling my time but I can build something really, really meaningful if I take people on, take risk” you know, reduce so much. I get paid now, suck it up for several years and it ended up seven to eight years that it really sucked for and build a proper company.

Like, cashflow is always got to be top of mind. And even today, 21 years in, this morning, I logged in, looked at my bank balance, opened up my monthly summary, looked to my receivables and my payables, I looked at our billings versus our receipts, receives versus expenses, expenses versus budget. I looked at all that this morning. It took me a grand total of three minutes to look at it because I have two screens I look at that give me all the data I want and then I went about my day and it gives me assurance that you know, the wheels aren’t coming off today. It doesn’t look like they’ll come off in the next few days. Probably won’t come off in the next few weeks. 

So that’s why cash is king and of course, you see the next chapter talks about get out and stay out of debt because the second thing I’ve watched a lot of bootstrapped businesses really struggle with is debt and if you want to be bootstrapped, debt is going to really, really, really kill you and I mean when I’m talking about this, I’m talking about personal debt and business debt.

Is There Good Debt?

Hussein Al-Baiaty: Let’s talk about that a little bit more though because I feel like when we’re young companies, right? We’re taking those risks, perhaps we’re putting things on our credit cards, perhaps we’re taking, even micro loans here and there from family, those kinds of things, whatever it may be that you’re 100% right. 

Even if you’re buying, in my case, whether you’re buying computers or machinery or just investing in the company, that can of course, take you down that rabbit hole and there are so many tricks, let’s be honest, that banks use for small business owners too. Whether it be a line of credit, whether it be, you know, those kind of very early on I fell into a little trap and you know, it took a little while to get out of that. But you know, how do you approach debt and how do you, you know, keep a pulse on it and there is some good debt I guess but it’s really hard to justify.

James Benham: To me and my father, that’s the lie. That’s the lie that the financial institutions would like you to believe, that there’s good debt and they even relabeled it, they called it “Leverage.” Leverage, it sounds so much more delicious than debt. Leverage with a side of French fries, topped with cheese, right? I mean, it’s a lie because what debt means that you owe somebody and you will pay, right? 

There’s a loan, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take a loan out, like, if you have to buy equipment or buildings like, that’s actually a totally acceptable reason to go take a loan out. You get to buy vehicles for your business and finance the warehouse. I mean, look, everybody has to do that but the difference with someone who is focusing on getting out and staying out of debt is that you aggressively pay it off in advance of the timetable so that you don’t have anything hanging over your head, right? Because debt is the guillotine, it is the guillotine waiting to cut your head of all the time and so, you got to be really, really careful with how you use it. Now, personal debt as a business owner can be totally lethal because it dramatically inflates the amount of money of the pay yourself out of the business. It can really make you make irrational decisions. 

I have watched people make complete wholly irrational decisions because they had a lot of credit card debt, car payments, house payments and so every paycheck, I mean like two or three grand was off, straight off the top to service debt and so when the business went bad, remember, a good business owner gets paid less not first and if they had to miss a paycheck then they’re freaking out and they might shut the business down because of it or they might lay people off instead of just sucking it up and not getting paid for a paycheck. 

It really complicates your ability to survive and I talk about survival later, debt is a very difficult thing. So the best thing I did was take Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, got out debt personally. I haven’t had a loan in, I don’t know, 15 years maybe? I mean, of any kind. I remember when I paid off my house, it was a long time ago and it was before I made any real money. I did Dave Ramsey’s Debt Snowball. 

Paid off the credit cards, paid off the cars and then all of my monthly payments that were going to pay those other things off went to paying the house off, paid the house off and of course, I bought a very affordable house. It is actually physically possible. If you listen to his show on the radio, people call in every single day talking about paying off their houses. I mean, I am not the only one and I didn’t even invent it but it’s a critical part. 

Having clean personal financials, you have to sacrifice and I told my wife, we’ve married 20 years now though I told her we’re only married a couple of years. I said, “Look, we’re going to have to suck it up like really suck it up” and I remember she like went to just making tomato soup and ramen and I came home after three days, I was like, “Okay, I didn’t mean that much.” I was like, “We could have some chicken.” She’s like, “Hey man, you said tighten up, I tightened up.” I said, “Yes, you did and I am saying that I like food a little more than that” you know? 

So I mean, that’s the thing about debt is it’s really terrible. You are about to see it again because we’re entering another downturn. We went through one and you know, double 001, another one in ’08. We had a little miniature one a few years ago and now we’re in for something. 

I don’t know how big it’s going to be, how long it’s going to last but it is already happening. You know, the mass layoffs are happening and interest rates are way up. It is going to be difficult; it is going to be painful. So you are going to watch the first companies that fall will be because of all of the leverage they have. All those MNA transactions, all of those mergers, acquisition, transactions where people bought companies with a lot of debt, it’s going to be really tough especially if they have variable rate debt that’s pegged to the core interest rate. 

I mean, they’re going to be hosed. I mean, and you’re going to see a lot of individuals in a very distressed housing market in particular in Australia and the UK where 80% of the Australian and UK housing market supposedly had variable rate mortgages, which will adjust every year, right? So that means like a whole swath, tens of millions of people are going to have their payments double because of debt. 

In the United States, it’s 19% supposedly. So that means one out of every five Americans is going to have their housing payment double in the next 12 months. I don’t think there will be consequences from that and so how many of those are business owners, right? That’s what I’m talking about because it all comes back to entrepreneurship and the same thing with large corporations. 

I mean, this book is not just designed for going to start businesses, it is designed for corporate entrepreneurs and innovators. It is designed for venture capitalist who our funding companies. You know, they need a playbook to hand to their companies when they have raised an A-round and can’t raise a B-round and they’ve got to make that A-round that was supposed to be 18 months stretched to 36 or 72 months. So that’s the other audience that I wrote this for because I am also an investor, believe it or not even though I am saying be your VC, sometimes you have to be your own VC after a seed round or an A-round and because you can’t raise any more money and so that’s also who this s written for because you know at some point, you’ve got approved. I mean, it’s like gravity, man. It’s like gravity. Just like with cash, you know, all of these rules apply whether you like them or not. 

What to Look for in a Partner as a Bootstrap Business

Hussein Al-Baiaty: No, I appreciate that and so this kind of segues into sort of my next question and the qualities that you look for, right? Whether I am seeking a partner, a VC or something like that or that you know, a company that you are searching for, what are the components, I guess, qualities of that company or that person you want to work with, what do you typically look for especially if you are in the VC world? 

James Benham: I’m going to start with let’s assume you’re starting a bootstrap business and you are looking for a partner to start it with. 

Hussein Al-Baiaty: Let’s start there. 

James Benham: Yeah, let’s stay out of the VC because the VC decision’s a little bit different. But let’s say you’re starting and you want to find a partner because I think life is better with partners, just in general but you got to be really careful who you pick like you got to treat it and I say this in the book, you got to treat it as importantly as who you marry. It’s that serious because I mean, you are wedded to that person until the death of that company. As soon as you got to buy them out, you got to do some other things like that but man, it’s a big commitment and so trust. 

Pat Lencioni is one of my favorite, favorite authors talking about trust. In fact, I think he wrote the definitive book on teamwork. This is why I will probably never ever write a book on teamwork because that book is so good, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, and the core dysfunction of any team is the absence of trust. The same thing with partners, the core dysfunction of any partnership in particular, bootstrap partnerships is absence of trust and I hit the trust jackpot. I had my dad, I had Sebastian, we trusted each other completely. That allows you to do everything else but we did start working with each other before we became partners, so we had this trial phase and we were like, “Yeah, this is good.” 

In fact, Sebastian just answered this a few hours ago because he was talking in a different discussion about this exact topic and he said, “James and I work together well because I am the right…” and this was such a beautiful statement. He has such a beautiful way of phrasing things but he said, “I am the right integrator for him. I might not be the right integrator or chief operating officer for somebody else but for him, I am.” I have always said he’s the yin to my yang, we complement each other. We have differing skillsets, we’re different personalities, we like doing different things and we don’t want each other’s jobs. 

The most difficult bootstrap partnerships are when the partners are competing for the same job. You know, you shouldn’t have two visionaries. You got to have a visionary and an integrator, you know? If you have three partners, then someone has to figure a different role out like if any of the partners want another partner’s job, you are destined for fights and mayhem and all kinds of pain. 

I’ll be honest, 21 years with Sebastian and you know, a super long time with my dad, none of us wanted each other’s job and so it made it a lot easier to keep the lanes clear. There is also a very clear hierarchy and very clear who’s in charge. I don’t believe in the co-CEO model and neither does Sebastian, he doesn’t believe in it and I don’t and he doesn’t. You know, someone at the end of the day has to make the decision and be responsible. 

So that’s why I think you got to be super cautious and careful about somebody in but then you do have to let them in and trust them completely and they have to trust you completely. That is a really good foundation for any kind of bootstrap venture. 

Now, the same thing applies for venture capital. A really good friend of mine, he and I talk about investing because we invest in technology companies, some the same companies and some different companies and we always say, “You know, invest in the person, invest in the person, invest in the person” like you look at the team first, second and third, right? Who are the people that are running this? 

The idea has to be good but the team really has to be great. As Sebastian would say, he said, “We could build boats.” In other words, we’re a tech company but with a good team, we could build anything we want. And I agree with that and teams often have to pivot and if you have a great team, you’re going to have a great pivot. If you have a crappy team that doesn’t trust each other, you’re going to have a crappy pivot. 

So I think that is another big part when you are investing is the idea has to be great but you’ve got to talk to the founders and say, “Look, is the founder great?” Is the founder’s team great? Are they good communicators? These things matter. I don’t believe in tolerating any type of behavior just because you think that they can achieve the desired outcome. Everybody is going to screw up, the question is how are they going to get there and how they get there matters. 

If you look at the really big VC funded scandals and like let’s get Theranos. I mean, they raised an incredible amount of venture capital and the whole thing ended up becoming a giant fraud. Look at FTX, this week FTX 50 billion dollars has evaporated, 50 billion. Again, tons of venture capital money was at stake. Sequoia who was one of the more conservative venture capital outfits, I think they put 18 billion into that. I mean, I can’t remember the total amount they put in. I could be totally wrong on that number, I thought I saw 18 billion but I mean, that’s an incredible amount of money and the guy at the top was messing around. 

You look at the trial, the guy just got convicted and Nikola, the electric semi-truck company, the founder literally fabricated all the test results. He rolled a dead vehicle down a hill and said that it was actually under power. I mean, it was completely fraudulent. 

Hussein Al-Baiaty: Trust is a very pivotal – 

James Benham: It is. 

Hussein Al-Baiaty: And must, you know, it’s the idea of like just start there. Realize if you can trust this person that you are going to go work with and spend a lot of money on because a lot of the times, it’s like not the company, right? Or the organization. You’re right, it’s leadership. If leadership isn’t, you know, in a place to be trustworthy or honest or transparent – 

James Benham: Yeah, and just remember that like everybody is going to fall down. Everybody is going to screw up. Nobody is perfect. 

Photo by Pixabay from Pexels: https://www.pexels.com/photo/blur-bulb-close-up-conceptual-220096/

Innovation Takes Dedication

Hussein Al-Baiaty: That’s a lot of testament to you know, how you wrote this book and what you are trying to convey in your messaging as far as, when you are a young company and as you grow, these are the kinds of things that you got to keep in mind and keep a pulse on and like you said even today, like you wake up in the morning, you check your statistic, you check your math, make sure all your books are clean. Make sure they’re all good so that everybody is doing what they are supposed to be doing and you’re showing up for your role in the best way that you can to serve your community, your employees, all that good stuff. So it sounds very powerful. I am glad you put this book together, man. 

You talk a lot about innovation and it doesn’t happen during your spare time. Can you share a little bit about that? 

James Benham: Dedicated butts in dedicated seats get dedicated results and I’ve watched too many large companies trying to innovate and again, this book is also for them, right? We talk about corporate entrepreneurs and when you are trying to kick off an effort inside of a company and you know, what you have to do that without having to raise a ton of money from the corporate investment committee or the corporate venture capital arm. 

So I think that’s a really important lesson to remember is that if you ask people to do things in their spare time like if you have a – let’s say you have a custom software development shop like I did and you say, “Hey look, in your spare 10 minutes a day, can you write some code on our product?” you’re going to get really lackluster results but if you say, “Hey look, just do this full-time” and you take the profit from that activity and you hire dedicated resource to work on your product, you are going to get ten times better results. 

I’ve watched company after company after company make this critical mistake. Now, there are cases like Google famously used to have like 10% time or 20% time, I can’t remember what it was where they would tell staff to work on really great ideas. Even they dedicated the time like they actually set them in an amount and great ideas like Gmail came out of that, right? But they still carved out and protected the time. 

I think the easiest way to carve out and protect time is to have dedicated staff and resources because then they think about it all day. I always say, look, we are paying for their day with our employees but I also wouldn’t mind having some of their sleep cycles and so if they are thinking about this and they are dreaming about it and their subconscious is running a little because we’re, you know, we’re computers as well. I mean, you know this, right? DNA is our programming, our brain is our CPU and when it’s bored it starts thinking about things and some of the best ideas or products I have ever gotten were when I wasn’t working but if I hadn’t been full-time on that problem, I wouldn’t have thought about it. 

So I think it’s important that you really focus on dedicated results. You allocate and I talk about this, you allocate staff, space and budgets. Give them a space, give them staff, give them a real budget. If you are serious about something in particular innovation, you got to take it that seriously and put it in the line item. That’s when things get real. Until you allocate money, space, people, it’s all just a bunch of talk and there’s a whole lot of talk around technology and innovation. 

Hussein Al-Baiaty: Right, you brought us home really well. I think what I got from kind of, you know, just bouncing through your book and just hearing you speak is being intentional, having the intentionality behind, you know, everything that you’re putting your hands in especially as a bootstrap sort of business, right? Like just being intentional about things and guiding yourself and your team and the people at work with you in that direction. 

It sounds like those are the kinds of things that you deployed throughout this sort of 20 year plus process was being really intentional behind the things that you are doing and I just appreciate that but James, you know, I just want to say congratulations to you because you did write a book about this and it is going to be incredible to you know, get out there and impact the people that I am sure it will help. 

What is your message though? If I were to walk away from this book, what’s your message that you hope that one thing that somebody would walk away with will be like, “You know what? I am going to apply this thing starting right away” what would you hope that is? 

James Benham: I would say with bootstrapping, I believe the juice is worth the squeeze and the pain and the process is worth the outcome. The ability to generate cash and keep control of your idea, whether you’re in a large company or a startup is invaluable. The independence that it gives you, the freedom of thought, the ability to act on decisions that you want to take is really liberating and can really change industries and the entire planet. 

I mean, there is some amazing companies that were bootstrapped that absolutely changed the way that the world does business and so I believe in the methodology, I believe in the model. I believe that it’s intricately tied in with innovation. I think bootstrapping and innovation are tied at the hip and I know it is not the only way. I know that you can raise money and get on the VC train but most companies can’t do that and they’re going to have to figure out a good way to stay alive and to build and innovate. 

So I hope they walk away with bootstrapping is building what you have to build so you can build what you want to build. It is the longer, slower, more painful process but it is the one that I believe is more rewarding in the end and provides a lifestyle that you’ll be much happier with. 

Hussein Al-Baiaty: Very powerful. The book is called, Be Your Own VC: 10 Bootstrapping Principles to Generate Cash and Keep in Control. Besides checking out the book, where can people find you? 

James Benham: Go to jamesbenham.com, if you want to check out my personal site. You can also head to the company site at jbknowledge.com. 

Hussein Al-Baiaty: Very cool. James, it’s been a pleasure. Today, I have learned so much, thank you for your experiences and your stories. I really appreciate you coming on the show today. 

James Benham: Well, thanks for having me on. I appreciate it and we’ll talk soon.