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8 Ways to Easily Bootstrap a Small Business

Emily Kate Pope

Emily Pope is a writer and editor at Fundera. She specializes in all things small business marketing and financing.

Starting a new business isn’t easy. And while your funds will almost definitely be stretched to the max, there are plenty of ways to cut costs and still drive growth and development for your small business without spending a fortune. Approaching these early challenges with creativity, purpose, and energy will help you build a strong foundation for your company’s future.

Below are a few low-cost and cost-free measures you can take to help you boost your business in the early stages without breaking the bank.

How to Bootstrap Your Small Business

1. Keep It In-House

A big part of being a small business owner is wearing many hats. When you’re first starting out, it’s important to handle things like marketing and PR on your own, rather than contracting that work out to a costly third party.

In the end, you’re the strongest spokesperson out there—nobody knows your product or service as well as you do! Plus, no external party is going to prioritize your bottom line like you will.

2. Start Small

While it might seem tempting to aim for the stars right out of the gate, starting small and working with a manageable business plan is the best way to turn your passion or idea into a tangible business. Keeping up with the Joneses is not only expensive—it’s often unachievable.

Focusing heavily on accruing funds and courting investors will leave you no time to focus on the vital tasks of connecting to your customers and refining your product.

3. Trim the Fat at Home

In addition to multitasking within your business, keeping a lid on your personal expenses goes a long way toward getting your company off the ground.

Don’t expect to take a salary right away, and make sure that all of your personal purchases are made carefully. Only spend money on things that are absolute necessities.

4. Leverage Equity

Cash investments are not the only way to create meaningful partnerships that can help build your business. It’s becoming increasingly popular for small business owners to trade equity in their companies for the expertise of their investors.

You benefit from their knowledge and experience without having to make a costly hire and, in turn, they earn a genuine stake in the success of your venture.

5. Customer-Focused Marketing

Marketing can be a huge expense, so keeping your focus sharp and distilled is essential to getting the biggest bang for your buck.

Don’t waste money extolling the general virtues of your product or service, but rather use innovative and thrifty methods to show the potential customer how your product will immediately change their life. Find your niche and your audience and make them wonder how they ever lived without you. Plus, there are many ways to market your business for free.

6. Virtual Office Space

As you’re building your team, consider implementing the cost-saving measure of working virtually. Renting or buying office space can be a big upfront investment, not to mention furniture, equipment, and staffing.

With the technology of high-speed internet and smartphones at our fingertips, many startups are now largely comprised of remote workers, a move that showcases both prudence and flexibility.

7. Brand Creatively

It doesn’t take deep pockets to grab the attention of your customers. Think creatively about how to use what you have at your disposal to make a big, quick impact on the marketplace.

It could be through social media or guerilla street marketing, but taking a good look around at what kind of buzz you can generate cheaply may open your eyes to ways to reach your customers when traditional advertising is perhaps out of your budget.

8. Persist!

In getting your business off the ground, obstacles and challenges are inevitable. You might not have the money to “make things happen” at the drop of a hat like larger companies do.

Resilience, however, is free! You’re bringing your passion to life, so don’t hesitate to tell your story. Work to form personal relationships and connect on an authentic level with people (both customers and vendors) who will benefit your business as it grows.

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While a small budget might feel constricting as you’re working to get your company off the ground, don’t let that stop you from taking steps to set yourself up for future success. There are plenty of innovative ways to move onward and upward without the hefty price tag.  

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Emily Kate Pope

Emily Pope is a writer and editor at Fundera. She specializes in all things small business marketing and financing.

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