It is difficult to begin your startup from scratch. From formulating a marketing strategy to attracting investors, there are hundreds of decisions to make. The workload can be stressful for most entrepreneurs.
Bootstrapping is one of the concepts that most entrepreneurs look forward to when starting a business. It can enable basically anyone to start a business with a small budget and save costs. There are many ways in which you can bootstrap a startup. Following are some of the things that you must take into account to bootstrap your startup:
1. Customer focused marketing
Marketing is one of the major aspects of any business, without it you won’t have any sales! This needs to be done to make the product or service well known amongst the target market. Budgeting is really important when it comes to marketing. Most companies spend hundreds or thousands to market the product or service in an effective manner. If you want to bootstrap the business, it is of immense importance to emphasize on customer focused marketing. Taking into account the needs and preferences of customers can help to make the business more profitable. So what exactly is ‘customer focused marketing?’well you need to discover why and which customers might buy your product or service, and tailor market your products towards these people.
2. Keep the things in-house
This is another important matter that must be taken into account if you’re bootstrapping your business. A large part of any startup entrepreneur is to take on a multitude of roles when you are strapped for cash. Outsourcing the work can be expensive. In this way, no third-party will be involved or can influence your success as well, as you do not have to rely on external factors. This directly helps to save a great deal of money. If you can’t seem to afford hiring someone in house, then invest in your time to learn a skill that will help your marketing, such as some of the steps below!
SEO must be taken into account. In order to get free organic clicks from Google you should first try to learn how to do Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Take a look at this blinds company that went from zero clicks to 100+ per day in under a year. They managed to get lots of natural links by subtlety promoting their website to bloggers willing to use their information. Without much startup money, they managed to get their business moving just by investing time into SEO work. If you were wanting to outsource this you would get less results for your time and money. For any startup entrepreneur that is limited on capital, they should invest their time and learn how to appropriately do SEO, it is the backbone of any successful online company.
4. Do creative branding
Creative branding is of paramount importance when it comes to bootstrapping. With limited resources, it becomes much more difficult to do creative branding. Creative branding can cost a lot in the short-term if you are to employ local agencies. However, the results in terms of profitability are lucrative in the long run. As a business owner, it is your responsibility to connect with the absolute maximum amount of customers in a creative and innovative manner. You can outsource your creative efforts to third party marketplaces such as envato studio to save on cash. There are many freelancers willing to take on work without the associated agency fees added on top. Alternatively, if you have invested some time into learning how to operate photoshop, you can do your own logos and branding!
5. Get virtual office space
This is one of the most under utilised ways in which business can be bootstrapped. Virtual offices spaces have exploded in popularity, but still vastly under used. Small business owners can use these spaces as a cost saving measure. There is no need for business owners to invest into actual spaces, especially if you are a drop shipper or services business. There is no need either to purchase or rent a commercial space. There are many online platforms that can be utilized as virtual office spaces which helps to save costs. Do you need to meet a client? No problem, some virtual offices even have shared offices with time blocks, plus they even accept your mail and forward it as any real address would. A prestigious address also has the added benefit of gaining customer trust as opposed to a home or post office box address.
6. Invest in a virtual phone number
Working from home? Don’t forget to invest in a virtual phone number. For as little as a few dollars per month you can have a virtual phone number for your business, making you stand out in the crowd. Most small businesses will just list their cell number, it’s just not seen as professional anymore, and why would you not bother when a virtual phone number is so cheap?
7. Social media marketing
Influencer marketing is one of the pillars of any marketing campaign. Get creative and implement an affiliate marketing program, then reach out to influencers on social media (like Instagram for example). Many marketers choose to completely circumvent affiliate marketing and go the subtle route by offering the influencers samples of your products for free in exchange for a post about you, some may also charge you per post. This usually leads to more sales as it is less forced and generally gives off the impression that the mention of your brand was organic and that the influencer actually endorses your products or business. Many web stores are solely operating with this type of advertising today, such as Gym Shark. They grew their business to over $300 million in sales just with Instagram Influencer marketing alone. Powerful stuff.
8. Use open source or readily available platforms
If you’re in the e-commerce business, there are free options for your web store such as WordPress, or low cost options like Shopify. With the use of free themes and plugins you can get your store up and running for a very minimal cost. Check out this rugs store that used a $45 theme off Envato’s Theme Forest, with completely zero programming knowledge they bootstrapped their business and got the store up and running within just one day! There are thousands of stores like this on the Shopify platform.
Photos courtesy of gettyimages.com