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Be Your Own VC

A guide for founders, investors and corporate
innovators on turning ideas into financially
sustainable businesses

“Doesn’t matter if you’re building a startup, a department or a nonprofit, these bootstrapping lessons are universal.”

James Benham learned entrepreneurship from his father at an early age. With over 20 years of experience, he has successfully launched and scaled profitable technology businesses. He’s assisted clients globally, instilling the bootstrapping mindset to maintain focus, maximize equity, and achieve the freedom to pursue passions. If you’re looking to grow your business or career, this book is for you.

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The reality is that we all exit our business one day. James Benham is a compelling thought leader on how bootstrapping can maximize the value you exit with. Whether you’re one or twenty years away from an exit, Be Your Own VC offers bootstrapping principles that every innovator can apply.
Simon BedardFounder & CEO
Exit Advisory Group
Benham nails it, as expected. Sometimes your best investor is yourself. Nobody understands cash flow management and bootstrapping as well as James, and the book is jam-packed with insights and war stories for the growing entrepreneur.
Andrew J. ShermanPartner, Seyfarth Shaw
Author of 26 books on business
growth and capital formation
As construction is the world’s oldest industry, James and I have had to work hard to pull it into the future through technology. His experience has inspired me and many others to bootstrap their vision, think like a startup, and find the right partners to have an impact.
Ricardo KhanSenior Vice President
Chief Innovation Officer
STO Building Group
I bootstrapped and sold my first startup, and James’s principles are valuable for any company no matter the size.
Guy DiedrichSVP and Global Innovation Officer
Cisco Systems
James knows firsthand that bootstrapping doesn’t just apply to startups some of the oldest industries, like insurance, have only been disrupted from within by bootstrapped efforts of corporate innovators. This book is for those visionaries, too.
Rob GalbraithFounder and CEO, Forestview Insights
Author of “The End of Insurance
As We Know It”

10 Principles From

Be Your Own VC

Cash is King
  • Ensure you have cash on hand, crucial during economic disruptions.
  • Aim for sustainable business by generating recurring cash with low overhead.
Get out, and stay out of debt
  • Minimize the use of debt.
  • Prioritize paying off debt quickly, as it can’t be cut as easily as expenses during revenue declines.
Build what you have to
so you can build what you want to
  • Take time to build your dream business while maintaining ownership.
  • Identify projects that generate immediate revenue to cover expenses, enabling profitability for future growth.
The number one rule
of business is to survive
  • Above all else you must stay in business long enough for good things to happen. This means making tough decisions that drive long-term viability of the business.
Choose your partners carefully
  • Select equity partners wisely, focusing on shared values and vision over financial considerations.
  • Aligning with partners who share your values is crucial.
Get out and sell
  • As the Chief Spokesperson, drive the vision yourself.
  • Take an active role in promoting and building your dream business.
Be willing to rewrite your rules
but not your values
  • Values must remain constant and known by all.
  • Company rules should be flexible to adapt to changing circumstances, cultures, and innovations.
Make innovation
a habit and a process
  • Establish a culture of innovation with people, processes, and tools.
  • Recognize the importance of process in fostering innovation.
You always get paid last
  • As a bootstrapped founder, prioritize the business’s financials over your compensation.
  • Pay yourself last, even if it means waiting until exit.
Establish & communicate
your personal minimums
  • After successes or failures, reflect on lessons learned.
  • Communicate vision, expectations, and deal breakers to guide future efforts effectively.
Interested in learning more about the bootstrapping mindset and how it can apply to entrepreneurs and corporate innovators?
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About the Author

James Benham is the co-founder and CEO of JBKnowledge, a multinational technology and consulting company he’s bootstrapped for over 20 years. From his college dorm room to over 280 employees across the USA, Argentina, and South Africa, he has led JBKnowledge to build industry-leading software for the world’s largest insurance companies.

James is also the co-founder of two disruptive insurance tech products: Terra, a cloud-based claims management software that improves claim outcomes for providers and consumers of Property and Casualty (P&C) insurance; and SmartCompliance, a top insurance certificate tracking and compliance management.

James is the creator and co-host of the growing and top-rated show, The InsurTech Geek Podcast, where he interviews leading industry experts from some of the most recognized companies in the world.

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