Have you ever worried about where you will find the money that will allow you to grow your business. I have and, like most small or solo businesses, angel investors or venture funding are not a possibility. Were you aware that most small businesses start up by bootstrapping? They fund themselves and discover ways to ramp up with a minimal amount of money.
Frequently there is often a misperception that you can grow your business without money. That is not entirely true. There is a good deal of marketing you can do for free; however, you can also learn how to conserve cash and only spend on what is necessary. Think of it as a game. Create a list of the essentials that you need and go shopping. For example, do you pay full price for designer clothes at the mall? Most of us shop around, look for sales and feel triumphant when we get a good deal. Think about your business in the same way.
Following are a few bootstrapping tips:
Start with a home office
Even if you know you will eventually need more space, start out by creating office space at home until your income can pay for your rent. I tell entrepreneurs that when they can afford to invest 25 percent of their yearly revenues in rent, they can think about renting.
You can save a lot by bootstrapping your telephone equipment and service. With services like Vonage and Skype you can receive a full menu of services. Make a list of the bells and whistles you need and find the company that will provide them at one low monthly price.
It is more expensive if you register your phone number as a company rather than a personal line. To start out, list it in your name unless you have the type of business that potential clients look for in the phone book (do people still use a phone book?).
I have seen people spending weeks agonizing over the color or exact look of their logo and spend lots of money on endless revisions, when it would make little difference to their business growth. Why not shop around for a graphic designer and web designer who has already done work you like and who are reasonably priced? Online services like Logoworks can be a good bootstrapping resource.
Make sure your web designer can help you with search engine optimization and that they will design your site in a Content Management System, so you can make simple changes easily by yourself rather than paying them to do it for you. You can save by learning about SEO, good copywriting and how to quickly generate targeted traffic to your website for little or no money.
There are tons of ways to market cost free on the Internet. But offline you can also trade advertising for a percentage of the sales revenues the ad generates. You can also barter your services for the marketing services you need. You can also place ads for free on Craigslist.
Perhaps you are good at speaking. Find organizations whose members are in your target market and offer an informational presentation. Be creative and you can reduce your marketing dollars significantly while still getting a great ROI. Social network marketing on sites such as Facebook, Linked In and dozens of others are basically free. It just takes an overall strategy and some time; however, the results can be significant over time. This type of marketing is about building long-term relationships which means clients that tend to be more loyal and refer
others to you.
Rather than hire, outsource specific tasks. Need administrative assistants, hire a Virtual Assistant. Needing someone to build links to your website, submit articles online, or write press releases? Go to www.elance.com and allow qualified professionals to bid on your job.
I recommend Team Double Click. It is owned by Gayle Buske who has assembled an international team of over 50,000 virtual assistants with every possible skill and area of expertise. You will save a lot of time and money. You will not have to spend money on wanted ads, interview employees, and you will save on Workers Comp insurance and payroll taxes.
There are many creative ways to obtain the products and services you need by bartering your services with the service provider. You can have a three or four way barter where you can purchase from one service provider in the group and actually deliver a service to another for "barter credit". There are some tax rules governing barter so be sure to speak to your accountant.
These are just a few bootstrapping suggestions. Where else can you save money and still attain the results you want?