A Guide to Bootstrapping a Business: Tips, Tricks, and Ideas

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The bootstrapping process can be a daunting task. From a lack of funding to a lack of knowledge, many hurdles can make bootstrapping an overwhelming and frustrating venture. The best way to start is with the resources you have at your disposal right now: time, energy, friends, and family. In this blog post, we will explore how bootstraps work, what they entail for different types of businesses, and some tips on getting started.

What is Bootstrap funding?

operating expenses

Bootstrap funding is the practice of starting a business without external financing. It is called bootstrap because it refers to pulling yourself up by the straps on your boots.

Many companies start with an idea and try going through official channels to obtain funding from investors or banks, but this can be a long process that involves a lot of paperwork and bureaucracy.

When you are bootstrapping you are using your own resources to get started. This can include your own money, resources you already have access to, or even the work of family and friends.

Bootstrapping is a great way for entrepreneurs who are not in immediate need of cash to start their business without having ties with investors that might interfere with their vision for the company. It allows them full creative control.

What is a bootstrapped startup?

business person

A bootstrapped startup is a business that has been created with very little outside funding. This means no venture capital firms have contributed money to the company, nor have initial investors put cash into it at its inception. As opposed to traditional startups which are usually funded by investment capital in exchange for equity or debt, these companies start out being self-funded and grow by reinvesting cash flow.

A bootstrapped business has no outside funding and therefore does not have to give up equity or debt in exchange for it. This means that the founders of the company maintain full ownership over their startup’s future success, instead of having to share control with an investor who could potentially influence its growth.

To get a business from the idea stage to one with positive cash flow, many factors have been considered and addressed before they can even begin!

The origin of bootstrapping

Bootstrapping originated in the early 20th century.

Bootstrapping is used in business when founders have limited funds or are cash flow positive, but are unable to raise capital from external sources due to lack of assets, lack of credibility, or any number of other reasons.

Some entrepreneurs bootstrap their business for the first few years until they can raise capital from more traditional sources like angel investors and venture capitalists. Bootstrapping can be very hard work! Often times there is no salary during this time, so founders have little money left over after covering their expenses.

Bootstrapping is an excellent way to build a business and learn about the industry you are in, but it can also be very difficult financially for founders. Entrepreneurs should balance how long they want to bootstrap with when they think they will need outside capital vs. when they would like to start generating enough cash flow from the business to support themselves.

Bootstrapping can be hard, but there are many success stories of entrepreneurs who have bootstrapped their way to the top!

Bootstrapping Methods

bootstrapped company

There are several types of bootstrapping methods that you can use when starting a business. The following are some of the more common methods:

  • Internal financing
  • Bootstrap Startups
  • Personal savings and credit cards
  • Government programs for small businesses

Internal Financing

If your company is profitable, most banks or lenders will be willing to provide funding for your business to grow, as long as you have a good credit history.

Bootstrap Startups

This is when the entrepreneurs start with very little capital and reinvest profits until they can finance their company from cash flow instead of outside investors or loans.

Personal Savings and Credit Cards

Although this method may be difficult to get off the ground, it can be a good temporary solution for short-term cash flow problems.

Government Programs for Small Businesses

There are many incentives and programs available to help small business owners bootstrap their way into success: you may qualify for SBA loans or grants from the government if your company is located in certain areas.

Bootstrapping requires guts, passion, and skill

startup companies

Bootstrapping is no easy task and takes a lot of work. Most entrepreneurs jump into the game with a business idea, but not much money in their pockets. Bootstrapping requires you to be smart about what parts of your business are essential and which ones can wait for more funding or revenue generation.

Starting a self-funded business requires a lot of guts, passion, and skill. Sometimes it’s a lot easier to start with money from an investor or loan, but if you have the guts and passion for your business idea then bootstrapping is what you’re going to need in order to build a successful business.

The best advice I can give anyone who wants to get into self-funding their own company is this: Make sure you have at least a small amount of money saved up to pay your bills and such. If you don’t, then there’s no sense in starting anything because it can be very difficult if not impossible for an entrepreneur to find funding without income.

How do entrepreneurs bootstrap their companies to success?

business model

When starting a business, an entrepreneur usually does not have any revenue. Hence the question: how do business owners bootstrap their companies to success? Bootstrapping itself is difficult and requires planning and dedication. Nevertheless, entrepreneurs can develop strategies that help them create sustainable businesses with little initial investment and save money in many areas of their enterprise.

The following are a few ideas entrepreneurs can use for bootstrapping a business.

  • Revenue from one business line may cover costs of another business line, thus minimizing the initial investment required for each separate business idea.
  • The product or service sold by an entrepreneur could be easily produced and does not require significant capital expenditure. This will reduce the amount needed in advance.
  • The cost of hiring employees can be kept low by only recruiting the necessary number and quality of workers while paying them rather modest salaries or wages.
  • If a business idea has been successful in one location but not yet so in another place, it is possible to first test its viability at a smaller scale before investing large amounts of capital.
  • It is also possible to raise some initial funds by asking for loans or taking out a bank overdraft. However, this should be done with caution as debt can quickly escalate if the business does not go well and the entrepreneur will have limited possibilities of negotiation due to the loan’s security obligations.
  • If no other options are available, the business owner can also use his or her own funds to get started. This is a risky course of action that requires an entrepreneur to be financially secure and prepared for potential losses in case the business fails within its first years of operation.
  • It is important not only to limit costs but also to make wise investments, such as purchasing affordable yet efficient equipment and machinery.

Bootstrapping brings out the best in entrepreneurs

positive cash flow

Entrepreneurs that bootstrap has to bring their best selves to the table. They have to create a product or provide a service that is of the best quality and will make an impact on society, but they also need to be able to do it with the least amount of funds possible. Bootstrapping forces entrepreneurs who are doing this type of business model to understand how much money things cost, where their money is going to go, and what they are trying to achieve. 

Bootstrapping also forces entrepreneurs to take on other jobs to support themselves while building their business, which can cause them, to have less time for the important aspects of growing a business such as planning marketing strategy or even having enough time for sleep so that they can function properly during the workday. Bootstrapping a business is a great way for entrepreneurs to learn how much it costs and what they can do to cut those costs to make their business model profitable.

While starting a business you grow certain skills that are necessary for future businesses. You learn how to work on a strict budget, you become familiar with the business plan process and what it takes to build your brand’s awareness, which is something that every entrepreneur will need in their toolbox when they want to expand their business or even start a second one.

Pros and Cons of starting a business

There are many Pros to starting a business below are a few of the main ones.

Pros of Starting a Business:

  • Opportunity to make more money than you would at an office job
  • Building something special and unique can be very rewarding for many people
  • You are your own boss which means there is no one to tell what tasks or projects you need to complete next – this can be a pro or con depending on your personality
  • You can work for yourself – some people really enjoy working in their own time and without the pressure of having to get to an office at certain times. It is also important that you can manage your time effectively so you have more free time outside of work too!

Cons of Starting a Business:

  • Starting a business is very time consuming which can mean it impacts your personal life – this may not always be the case depending on the type of work you are doing
  • It will take longer to become successful if you are working for yourself especially in comparison to having an office job. This means that it could take even years to gain any profit – this is something you need to consider if your personal finances are not in a good state currently
  • There will be times that it may seem like no progress is being made and if you cannot handle disappointments it might be best for you to get an office job where the hours and tasks would already be set out.

First Law of Bootstrapping: Focus on Profits

The first law of bootstrapping is to focus on profitability. The reason for this is that if you are not profitable, then there is no business to bootstrap! That means it’s okay to spend money in some areas and cut costs in others while starting a company. This article will cover how you can do both effectively so your new venture remains viable and sustainable- without having to bootstrap it to death!

Of course, the best thing you can do is figure out how to generate revenue as quickly as possible. Most businesses will have a mix of up-front and marginal costs that they need to cover before becoming profitable. That’s fine, just make sure that your focus remains on making money – not spending it.

It’s also an excellent idea to start seeking outside funding if you can get it, but only after proving that your business is profitable and growing year-over-year. Venture capital money comes with strings attached, not the least of which is increased accountability for achieving milestones promptly, taking onboard additional executive staff (read: babysitters), and giving up equity.

If you can bootstrap your way to profitability, it will allow you to retain control over operations as well as keep more of the profits in-house – where they belong!

Look for a business that needs less capital to start up.

bootstrapping entrepreneurs

Finding great business ideas that require less capital and start-up costs is a great way to get into entrepreneurship without having to worry about how you will spend your money.

Even if the business takes years before it starts turning profits, that’s fine because you don’t have to front any expenses out of pocket and can continue with your day job until the business has begun generating enough revenue to be a full-time job.

One good place for you to start looking at is the local community colleges and universities, as they have business incubators set up that can provide cheap or free office space while helping entrepreneurs get their businesses off the ground through mentorship programs and other educational resources. Another option would be to look on Craigslist in your local area for cheap or free office spaces that can be used as a home base while you grow your business.

One advantage of bootstrapping is the ability to get creative with money, so if you think outside the box and look at different revenue streams like renting out space in an office to other small businesses or organizations then this could also help increase revenues to your business so that it can grow at a faster pace.

The key is not to be discouraged if things aren’t moving along as fast as you like but rather look for ways in which you can improve the situation and make more out of what resources you do have available. If this means splitting up responsibilities with employees or working longer hours then that’s fine, because once you have a successful business up and running it will pay off in the long run.

Choose a good co-founder

Choosing a good co-founder is as important as choosing the business idea.

The best startup teams are those who have complementary skills and personalities – it’s common for one to be more technical than another, or perhaps better at sales than the other. The key is that they both share a similar vision, work ethic, and motivation level to achieve their goals together…

  • Make sure you are on the same page about how to run a business
  • If one is introverted, be wary of an extrovert – they may not listen or take your needs into account when making decisions. Find someone who complements your skill set and personality type
  • it’s ok to go with friends but do your research first – make sure they share your passion and work ethic
  • Don’t be afraid to find a co-founder through connections or someone you know from school/work – it’s ok if not everything fits 100%
  • Always talk about money upfront, even with friends collaborating on projects for fun. There will inevitably come a time when you need to make a business decision and it may be uncomfortable if you haven’t had the conversation
  • Try not to work with friends or family – but never rule out the possibility entirely, especially for early-stage products where they are often more willing to take risks
  • To look at their past projects/skillsets before entering into something together

Conduct thorough market research

Market research is vital in any business. You cannot begin to develop a product or service if you don’t know what the market wants. Research your competitors, identify your target audience and their needs and find out your company’s unique selling point.

Have a good business plan

bootstrapped companies

A business plan will guide your business to success. It should be clear, concise, and easy to read.

Here are some important things that you’ll need in your business plan:

  • The product or service you offer
  • How much it costs to produce/provide the product or service
  • Where will your customers come from? (social media, website, etc.)
  • How much will you charge for your product or service?
  • A marketing plan that shows how you’ll get potential customers to buy from you. This may include advertising, social media, and search engine optimization (SEO) to name just a few ways of generating business.

 

Incorporate your business online

Incorporating your business online is a quick and easy way to start a business. It is not the only option available, but it does offer some great perks that can be easily overlooked if you are just starting out or do not know what they entail.

The first step in Incorporating your business online is selecting an entity type for your company, as well as for deciding where you want to form that company.

The second step is determining how you will manage your business, and what entity type would be best for the management structure of your specific business.

Incorporating a Business in Canada can be difficult because each province has different rules and regulations when it comes to Incorporating Your Company Online. There are a few different types of companies available for incorporation, and each has its own set of rules that must be followed.

Doing this research is one way to help you decide which form of business entity would work best for your company as well as saving yourself a lot of time and stress in the future.

Companies like Legal Zoom make it fairly easy and at a reasonable cost.

Don't hire but outsource

Hiring in-house might not be a good idea in starting out a business. As a startup, it is crucial to save every penny you have earned from your clients and invest them in making your product better. Hiring employees can be an expensive affair, especially if they are not up to the mark or leave within few months of hire.

When you hire people for specific tasks like social media marketing, their work can be questionable. You can never make sure if their reports are valid or they have been posting from the same IP address all time, which is a serious concern.

When you outsource such tasks to professionals who know what to do and how it should be done, there will always be someone accountable for your brand image on social media platforms since you have a written contract with them.

You can outsource all types of work from customer service to social media marketing when you start a business.

Outsource wisely

Outsourcing is a great tool and can save your company a lot of money, but it needs to be done right and with the right company.

When thinking about outsourcing, you need to consider many factors like the cost involved in doing so. You also have to think about what tasks are being outsourced and how they will affect your business. There are several pros of outsourcing but there might be some cons as well which can’t be ignored.

You should always investigate a company before hiring them for your tasks. You can ask people who have worked with them and know about their work ethic to recommend a company so you don’t waste time and money on hiring someone unsuitable.

Companies like MySource Solutions make it easy to outsource and save time, money, and resources that can be invested in your business.

Use your savings as your capital

Getting loans or investors might not be an option for your new company. If you’re bootstrapping your business, be smart about how to use the money in your bank account.

Avoid unnecessary risks when spending or borrowing money for your business. Here are some tips on what steps to take if you need capital:

  • Borrow from friends and family (if they’re willing). Maybe they won’t charge you interest, but they probably will ask for a favor in return.
  • Lease equipment instead of buying it when possible. Renting gives you less responsibility and the option to change your business plan without losing money on unused assets.
  • Cut costs where necessary (i.e., get rid of cable). You’ll have to get creative around the office, but a little extra effort can add up.
  • Put your own money into the business and pay yourself back only when you have some sort of return. The company needs capital just as much as you do so it’s important to invest in success from day one!

Reduce your business expenses

bootstrapped business

Keeping your expenses low is good for a new business. You can save money on office supplies by using old boxes to ship your products. Make sure you have the right tools for each job and don’t rent or buy equipment that will only be used occasionally. Using recycled materials is another way to reduce expenses while creating a good image for your business among environmentally conscious customers.

Another tip to reduce expenses is linking with other businesses. If you can do their work for them, they may be able to return the favor and provide a service that your business needs as well. This could help both of your companies grow while reducing costs for each one.

This will give the impression that your company offers more services than it actually does so you mustn’t promise to do something that you cannot actually provide.

  1. Consider doing jobs for other businesses to save money on expenses instead of buying or renting equipment you’ll only use occasionally.
  2. Reduce expenses by using recycled materials in your packaging or office supplies.
  3. Offer to do jobs for other companies to get help with your services while also increasing their network and reach.
  4. Create a customer service plan that outlines what you’re able to provide and what you’re not able to provide, so you don’t end up disappointing them when they find out the truth later on.
  5. Consider developing a bundle package of all your goods or services at one price to make it easier for customers browsing sites like Etsy or Amazon who are looking for many different products.
  6. Outsource some of your work to be done by others for a lower price than what you would pay if the job was performed in-house.
  7. Don’t rush to get an office, work from home if possible. This can save you a lot of money each month.

Follow up on all invoices

When you’re a small startup you are doing almost everything by yourself which means the possibility to forget things here and there, make sure that it’s not your invoices. You need to follow up on them because it’s your income.

The best way is to automate the process, you can do this by adding a “Paid” label in Asana or some other project management tool. You need to make sure that all invoices are labeled as paid, if not follow up on them manually – don’t let it pass more than one week.

Don’t rely on your clients to follow up with you, because they probably won’t remember about the invoice if it’s not overdue. They will be busy working too so don’t take it personally – just make sure that all-important invoices are paid in time and also try to keep an eye out for late payments even after 30 days (they could be having cash flow problems).

Insist on immediate payments

When possible you want to insist on immediate payment, you don’t have time for credit terms so even if your client will offer it to you, try not to accept them.

Some clients will need some persuasion and that’s fine, they might be used to get a good deal from other businesses but this is only going to hurt both of the parties – they are paying more in interest fees or late fees and you are losing money because of the time it’s taking to get paid.

If they really need more than 30 days tell them that there is an additional late fee, this will encourage them to pay your invoice immediately.

Integrate digital marketing

costs involved

Digital marketing is essential for every business in today’s world. Without a web presence or online marketing, it is near impossible to be successful in the current business landscape.

There are free and low costs ways of doing online marketing that every business should know about.

With affordable options such as SEO, blogging, and social media marketing available to small businesses just starting out, there is no reason why they shouldn’t be integrated into their online strategy.

Read on for tips and tricks to get started with digital marketing today!

Tips:

  • Start a blog, even if it is just for your business.
  • Blog posts are a great way to start generating backlinks
  • Use social media marketing with limited funds, but be careful not to overshare on Facebook or Twitter.
  • Facebook Ads are pretty effective if done correctly and compare to other types of ads (Adwords) it is pretty affordable.

Tricks:

  • Link building can help bring more visitors to your site and improve search engine rankings.
  • Get your name out there and try to be an industry leader by sharing content on social media channels.

Ideas:

  • If you have a local business with brick and mortar, look into using Foursquare or Yelp for free advertising space.
  • Pinterest can also help attract more customers if used properly!

 

Conclusion

bootstrapped company

Bootstrapping is tough, but not impossible. With the right research and perseverance, you can give your small business every chance to succeed. Here are some of our favorite tips for bootstrappers:

  • Don’t be afraid to ask friends or family members for help with money until things take off; they’ll likely want a stake in the company later on anyways!
  • If you have an idea that will require capital outlay upfront (such as renting office space), see if there are any government grants available to assist with funding these costs—there could be one perfect for this exact situation!
  • Try crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter or Indiegogo first before asking others directly via social media or email; it may turn out that your idea is not as popular or necessary as you thought, meaning that it may be better to try something new.
  • Start blogging about your product/service and see where things go from there—online promotion isn’t the only great way to gain ground in this tough economy!
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Interested in outsourcing? Contact MySource Solutions today for a free consultation! Email: info@mysourcesolutions.com

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