Bootstrapping – defined as financing the launch and growth of a self-sustaining business with minimal to no assistance – is challenging but doable. Brick and mortar stores are no longer needed and there are a number of free mediums through which to reach your target market – Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Kickstarter campaigns can go viral in a matter of days. By the same token, carving out your own space in an overcrowded marketplace as competition is coming from every corner of the world can seem nearly impossible when on a tight budget. But with a lot of discipline and creativity, launching a business using the bootstrapping approach is possible.
Here are a few tips to launching a successfully bootstrapped venture.
Use free software and apps
With the recent spike in software as a service (SaaS) developers, businesses, and subscribers, there are a number of free software programs available to help you cover several of your bases. Accounting tools, CRM programs, remote desktop sharing services are all available free to use from a number of reputable sites. For instance, Wave Apps, an accounting and invoicing app, was featured in Forbes, Inc., and The New York Times and has half a million users. For more info on free software, check out our post on six free essential software and apps for small businesses.
Be creative with your marketing efforts
As mentioned above, social media has made it easier for small-scale businesses to reach a wider audience for free. The problem is, though, that just about every business has a Facebook and Twitter account. That means it’s extremely difficult to standout and being creative and engaging may be your only chance to attract viewers and subscribers. Outdoor gear retailer Bushtukah uses its Facebook page to promote its free clinics, panel discussions, and charity events that are of interest to the Bushtukah target market.
Use IaaS services
To save on IT infrastructure costs, consider going the infrastructure as a service (IaaS) route. IaaS allows businesses to reduce their capital expenditures on data center, networking, and computing equipment by offering access to those resources through the cloud for a monthly subscription fee. Business owners meet their computing power needs in order to run their business and subscription costs can be covered using monthly income – a true bootstrapping approach to meeting IT infrastructure needs.
Consider financing your business with your 401(k)
If you were recently laid off and the frustrations of job hunting have led you to consider starting your own business, you may be able to tap into your 401(k) to help fund your startup. Of course, this method isn’t for everyone and all options need to be carefully weighed before dipping into your retirement funds. Check out Inc.’s article entitled How to Finance a Business With Your 401(k) for more info. Proceed with caution!
Be strategic in choosing jobs and clients
Think long-term when it comes to selecting which jobs you’ll take on. Aligning yourself with businesses who have positive growth prospects, high visibility, and well-connected senior staff members is a great move. Passing on a job from a static and dull business in favor of one for an exciting startup in a booming industry can help you in the long run, even if the latter pays a little less at first. Networking and connecting with similar minded companies can help grow your business through recommendations and increasing revenues as your client’s business grows.
Use shared office space
If you can’t work from home and the coffee shop around the corner just isn’t cutting it anymore, check out Sharedesk. Sharedesk connects people and businesses who have extra office space on their hands with those who are looking for a place to get some work done. Users can choose workspaces that suit their needs and schedules and book online. The communal approach translates into savings.
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Photo Credit: emmajory