If you love the idea of starting your own business but don’t have any funding, then bootstrapping is the answer. Starting a business on a shoestring is a great way to work from home, create a new stream of income or start that side business you’ve always dreamt of.
Tip #1 Do something you love
If you’re bootstrapping, always pick a business you absolutely love because you’re going to live and breathe it 24/7 while you’re starting out. What you don’t have in money, you’ll make up for in time, energy, blood, sweat and tears!
Tip #2 Get online
Typically, the only items you’ll need are a computer, an internet connection, fixed broadband service and a phone. Even small, local businesses need a website or social media presence. Without an online presence you simply don’t exist. One of your few start-up costs will be registering a website domain, and ordering business cards
Tip #3 Use what you have
Plan to use existing resources as much as possible. This is why so many start-ups start on their kitchen table (think Anita Roddick of the Body Shop) or in their bedrooms, garden sheds or the alcove under the stairs.
Tip #4 Promote your business for free
In interviews with successful entrepreneurial women who’ve started a home business on a shoestring, one key strategy came up time and time again: Networking. No longer the domain of sombre men in suits, networking is a powerful way to build up your contacts, get referrals, promote your brand and find potential customers and business partners. If you’re bootstrapping you have to get out and connect with people.
Tip #5 Get social media savvy
Leverage the power of social media to build your business and find paying customers. It can be labour intensive, but social media is a very effective (and low cost) way of getting your business known. Use tools such as Hootsuite to automate your postings.
Tip #6 Be focused and consistent
Pick your favourite 2 or 3 social media platforms and focus only on those. Choose from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, StumbleUpon or Google+ and share useful tips, information and advice. Consistency is key.
Within your social media platforms, find groups relevant to your business, engage with members, and contribute to the discussions. If you’re helpful and responsive people will want to do business with you.
Tip #7 Spread the word
Talk to everyone about your business. Word of Mouth referrals are one of the best, no cost ways to market your business. You never know when you might be talking to a potential customer, partner or supplier, or who they might know.
Tip #8 Make the sale
Cashflow is king so focus all your time and energy on making those all-important first sales. Prove and perfect your business model before making any major investment. Start small and test your ideas before developing new products, leasing a shop front or investing in new furniture or designer business cards.
Tip #9 Automate
Automate your business so you make money while you sleep. This might sound too good to be true, but using free tools such as MailChimp, ClickBank and WordPress allow you to send automatic emails to new subscribers, sell products and fulfil orders online, and build your customer database, all on autopilot.
Tip #10 You’re virtually there
For creative businesses, consider selling your products through “no” and “low” cost virtual shops such as Etsy.com, Ebay or Shopify. A powerful strategy is to promote your goods to a wide audience through Facebook or Pinterest, then direct customers to your virtual store to purchase their items.