We know starting a business can be daunting. We aren’t going to sugarcoat anything; it’s difficult. The good news is, there has never been more resources and information for launching a business. As with most entrepreneurs, budgeting is probably a major factor for you. It may seem like you need a big investment to start moving your idea forward, but we’re here to tell you, “bootstrapping” a.k.a self-funding is an option for many businesses. Here are a few pointers for getting your biz started on a shoe string budget.
Learn As Many Skills As Possible
To say the least, you will be wearing many hats as an entrepreneur, so it’s best to learn as many skills as you can. Marketing, sales, graphic design, web design, web programming, social media marketing, SEO, are all services just about every business benefits from. Luckily, many of these skills you can learn by taking online courses or just by attending some workshops or meet-ups. The more skills you can pull off on your own, the less you have to pay others to do it.
Barter & Trade
See what services you can trade and barter with friends and peers. Perhaps you’re really great at graphic design and you need someone who is great at public relations. See if you can offer your services in exchange. Bartering is a great way to provide mutual support on a budget.
Sites like Kickstarter and GoFundMe are great non-traditional ways to raise money. If you think you need VC or a big investment to start your biz, think again. These alternative fundraising sites have been responsible for successful launches of many companies including Oculus (acquired by Facebook) and Pebble smart watches.
Save Before You Quit Your Job
The best way to seed a business and actually stay afloat is to save your money from your current job and stay there until you have 6-12 months worth of living expenses in the bank. There’s a lot of romanticized notions about “quitting your job and going for it,” but the smart thing to do is to save a bit of money first. This will allow you to give your business a solid start instead of being stressed out, wondering how you’re going to make the rent. It’s absolutely possible to move your business forward while still at your current job. You’ll just need to work on your idea in the evenings and on weekends. Is it hard? Yes. But, if you really want it, you’ll make the sacrifice.
Downsize + Live Below Your Means
Even if you have a solid savings account, act like you don’t. The best way to get ahead with your business is to immediately downsize your life and live below your means. This means getting a less expensive apartment, buying a less expensive car, selling off stuff you don’t use, not buying stuff you don’t need, and skipping or reducing dining out and happy hours. This might be an adjustment at first, but this is a long game strategy. Make the sacrifices now, so you can bask in the glory later. Just think of how much further you can take your business by saving that money every month?
Your minimum viable product is your most valuable player. Before you spend a ton of money on getting a full blown product to market, make a sample or MVP. This will allow you to test the market relatively inexpensively and quickly to help you decided if there is even a demand before going full throttle.
Find a Co-Founder with Opposite Skills
If you’re willing to share equity, find a co-founder with complementary opposite skills. If you’re great at marketing and branding, find a co-founder with technical and quantitive skills and vice-versa. This can be a mutually beneficial partnership that can help offset costs on both sides.
Utilize Free Social Media Marketing
Social media has completely changed the way we consume content and it’s the best form of free advertising. Anyone can make an account on Instagram or any other social platform and start engaging others. Engagement=more eyeballs on your service or product. With the right social media strategy you can take your business far with very little ad dollars.