Startup bootstrapping simply means not relying on external capital and investment to grow your business. Now, you might be wondering that the investment still needs to come from somewhere, right? Yes, when you bootstrap, it comes from your own savings and revenue. Not every startup is lucky enough to receive funding, but that doesn’t mean you have to let go of your dream. Who said you can’t be your own investor? Let me tell you how you can do that.
Make money through services:
You might have a brilliant idea for your startup but if you don’t possess the technical expertise required to get it started, you will need to get it outsourced. In the absence of funding, this might seem impossible, but, wait, don’t give up just yet. Sell your consulting or freelance services, do what you do best, charge a premium and gather funds for your startup, one way of startup bootstrapping.
A good co-founder is a must:
If you are looking for someone to co-lead your business, make sure that you find someone with the same vision but a different skill set. This way, you both will be able to better utilize your expertise to benefit the enterprise. While startup bootstrapping is all about learning on the job but as much as possible, have the responsibilities clearly defined to avoid conflict later.
While skills are important, trust is paramount. You might find many people with the right skill set but go ahead with someone you can trust. Your co-founder should be as determined and committed as you are. If everything works out well, you will have to stick with this person for the most part of your life, so be very, very careful while choosing him/her.
Get advisors on board:
Even with complementary skills, it is impossible that you and your co-founder will be able to run the business all by yourself. You are just starting out, there would be several nuances of running a business about which you might have no clue at all. You will need long-term strategic guidance. Advisors can help here, but, they can hurt too. It is on you to make the most out of them.
While no one will advise you for free, carefully evaluate what you want to offer them. Be smart about your equity – don’t give all of it up in exchange for advice, you will limit your expansion options. Negotiate their contracts properly and don’t forget to take advantage of their professional connections.
While you and your co-founder would be managing everything from tech to HR in the beginning while startup bootstrapping, once your growth picks some pace, it is better to hire people to manage a few workstreams so that you can give undivided attention to growth and expansion. While hiring trained professionals right from the beginning is expensive, freelancers could come to your rescue. Explore sites like Upwork, Fiverr, Freelancer etc. to find people who can take care of relatively less important departments.
Cut your expenses:
Know your fixed and variable costs and plan your budget accordingly. You can’t keep spending mindlessly, especially when you don’t have external funding while startup bootstrapping. Be lean in the beginning, focus on resource and revenue ‘optimization’. Don’t give in to your temptation of having a fat paycheck or a fancy office space. Reinvest what you make. If possible, curtail your personal expenditure to some extent. Every penny counts.
Create a brand:
Instead of spending money on personal, material gains, invest it in making your business a brand. Customers are obsessed with brands. If you are recognized as one, new customers will flock to you at a much faster rate. Invest in design – logo, website, email template, get it designed well. That’s what customers see when they first interact with you. If they like what they see, they will tell their friends, too. See how you can get a chain of customers?
Use content marketing tactics:
Exploit content marketing to grow with startup bootstrapping. Create fresh, innovative content to reach out to customers, they’ll appreciate your novelty and will want to engage with you. If you can’t do it yourself, get bloggers to do it for you. Again, freelancers can help. Come up with marketing strategies that make people feel that you are there to help them. Create explainer videos, present testimonials. People love to feel important, show them that you’re committed to their cause by using custom content to target them. If they feel you’ve made something exclusively for them, they will definitely pick you over anyone else.
While not receiving external funding for your startup might seem daunting in the beginning, it is actually a blessing in disguise. Having a funded startup can make you a good manager but having a bootstrapped one makes you a great optimizer as well. With no money to waste, you invest time to come up with fool proof solutions and avoid making mistakes about which you wouldn’t have cared if you had no financial constraints throughout the startup bootstrapping process.
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