A Guide to Boot-Strapping; 8 ways to do business on a budget.

When going into business, it’s easy to be bogged down by the overwhelming burden of not having the funds to get your ideas off the ground. Although it may be tough keeping to a strict budget when you want the capital to develop on your endeavours, there are a few simple ways to keep yourself on track. Always ensure you are making the most out of all your available resources, even when they can be limited.
Is it possible? Absolutely. Although the stress and restrictions that a lack of funds can impose on a small business, keeping with your plans and powering through by following these simple guidelines can lead to success and development beyond what you initially imagined.
 
1. STICK TO WHAT YOU KNOW
When first getting your business off the ground, it’s easy to get off track by seeing what everyone else is doing, and being exposed to all the different paths you can take. What it comes down to: stick to what you know, and run with it.
Have you previously devoted your last few years to developing your knowledge in creative writing and culinary arts? Start a food blog! Sometimes it’s best to start small with the goal of being able to make it big further down the road. This will make sure you have the experience and funds to grow yourself and your business.
Create a business that is perfectly catered to your specific set of skills and background. Utilize what you know and invest yourself into something that will make use of what sets you apart from others.
 
2. LEARN, LEARN AND LEARN SOME MORE
Eventually you will realize you need background in areas such as public relations, marketing or even advertising, so take it upon yourself to learn those skills! Knowledge is, after all, POWER.
Early on it will be tempting to want to find the people that already have this knowledge, but investing in a little sweat equity won’t hurt. I’m not saying go out and become the world’s best marketing director, but utilizing the cheap resources like books, podcasts, or cheap online courses can get you by until you can invest and expand.
 
3. BE RESOURCEFUL
Overlapping a little with the last piece of advice is to take advantage of what you have. It would be nice to have your own office space, or be able to meet with potential business partners in a nice board-room, but you have to be realistic.
Sacrifices must be made, and although bootstrapping a business does not seem very glorious, it may be your only option, and you sometimes have to make the most out of it. But once you’ve made it and can afford these luxuries, imagine the story you
will have about the time you had to take an important call in the toilet at Starbucks, all because the internet went out at home and this was your last resort.
 
4. NETWORK. NETWORK. THEN, ERM, NETWORK MORE!
You’ll have heard it time and time again, but establishing those contacts is of the utmost importance at such an early stage! Reach out to everyone and anyone you feel comfortable with, and see what types of insight you can provide for each other, without having to resort to just a financial transaction.
Remember that flatmate you had in university who is now designing websites for bigger companies? See if you can get any pointers about how to increase traffic on your new blog, or simply ask for feedback on the content of your website.
Any little bit of advice or help from a friend or even acquaintance, can snowball into something extremely beneficial for your new business. Put yourself out there and attend that networking event, or spark up a conversation with someone at the pub. You never know who can help you get to where you want to be.
 

5. LIMIT LINES OF CREDIT

Be upfront and clear about your terms in an agreement. It can be tempting to provide your services for a project with hopes of being paid in the end, but make a point to be paid up front, or maybe ask for partial payment now with receiving the rest later on.
Open lines of payment are not the best for small start-ups, and most will understand that. But what it comes down to is making sure not extend credit to customers, helping you to avoid the hassle of chasing down a client and having the awkward confrontation of asking for your money.
 
6. BE CAUTIOUS
On the flip side of the last point, make sure to limit or avoid any open accounts payable. If you do find yourself needing to open up lines of credit, make sure they are a necessity and still following your initial business plan.
It may be tempting to want to come out with a new line of shirts to create walking billboards for your business, but always ask yourself if it’s worth it. If the answer, after careful consideration, is yes, then go for it. If you can’t see it directly contributing to your overall goal, you may need to move it to the back-burner for when you’re positive it can.
 
7. USE WHAT’S FREE
Advertising and marketing are some of the best ways to get your ideas out there and show the public what you’re capable of, but pay attention to the cost! There are always free options out there that sometimes can be overlooked.
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and YouTube are some of the best options out there for getting your business exposed to the public. Utilizing these tools carefully can lead to you being the next trending topic on Twitter, or having a large following on Facebook.
Even if the audience is small, and you only get about 20 responses to your video posted on YouTube, it’s still 20 more opportunities than you previously had. Make the most out of what’s free, and don’t hesitate to even get friends and family on board to spread the word of your business through social media outlets. But remember, a like or a share is valuable but it’s not a sale – follow up leads and monitor what works to optimize your content and make the best use of your free resources!
 
8.BE PATIENT
As awesome as it would be to take on 100 new clients, and grow as rapidly as possible, keep in mind the repercussions behind fast growth. Do you have the staff available for expansion? Can you take on such a large influx of business? It’s always beneficial to slowly grow and learn as you go, and not jump into something without testing the waters first.
Pay attention to what is working and what isn’t. Cut your losses, and make any necessary adjustments before you fully commit yourself to a certain new aspect of your business plan. Always limit stress and focus on growing the key components before taking on too much and getting distracted by unnecessary tasks.
 
Following these guidelines is obviously not easy, but neither is starting your own business from scratch. You will definitely have your ups and downs along with your good and bad days, but you have to keep your eye on the prize and your ultimate goal in mind at all times!
Written by Chris Moreau

2014-11-10T15:08:43+00:00