How can you build a successful business with a limited budget? By stretching every dollar.
Starting your own company is always a challenge, and bootstrapping adds a whole new layer of difficulty on top of everything. How do you cut costs in the early days of your startup? Try these practical bootstrap tips for size.
Starting a company with the right co-founders is vital when you’re bootstrapping, because you want to do most of the work yourselves to cut costs. Look for a co-founder whose skill set complements yours. Having different proficiencies will let you split the work and cover more ground, getting more done with less money.
Sounds simple enough, but sometimes this means making a drastic lifestyle change, like moving back in with your parents or living on a friend’s couch. Cut your personal expenses wherever possible—food, transportation, rent, clothes, socials, you name it.
Later when you start making money again, you can stop living the ascetic lifestyle, but when you’re bootstrapping, you need to be as stingy as you can.
Just because you’re basically using your own money doesn’t mean you should be spending straight out of your personal bank account. That would be an accounting nightmare, so instead, create a separate bank account for your business to make tracking your spending easier. Then, track your daily transactions and see where else you can cut costs and how you can earn more.
Bootstrapping means only spending when necessary, which means that you shouldn’t outsource if you’re perfectly able to do the job yourself. Hiring outsourced talent doesn’t just cost you money, but also robs you of the opportunity to stretch your capabilities and learn something new. Which brings us to our next item…
Don’t know how to code? Need to come up with a marketing strategy? A financial plan? Learn. Bootstrapping means you have to become well-rounded, which means going out of your comfort zone and picking up new skills as you go along. Later on, you’ll be able to hire people with actual expertise, but in the beginning, you’ll have to step up your game and get your hands dirty if you want to stay afloat.
Use every avenue possible to find discounts or a good deal. This could mean trawling through online buy-and-sell groups for office equipment, getting discounts from your friend who works for Apple, or simply asking around on Facebook or Twitter for any leads.
Working from home may be a great way to cut costs, but doing so for extended periods of time can feel pretty lonely. Plus, your parents’ basement might not exactly be conducive to inspiration or productivity. Instead, you might want to find yourself a spot in a coworking space, which is cheaper than renting your own office, and is also a great way to network with other founders and creatives.
Yes, it’s tempting to simply swipe your credit card, thinking that by the time your bills come, you’d have the money to pay them off. But this is an easy way to find yourself in mountains of debt, which could lead you to lose everything you worked so hard to build. Even though it’s easier to just use your credit card, work within your means and avoid having to deal with debt later on.
When you’re bootstrapping, sometimes you’ll have to choose a cheaper option and sacrifice on quality. But there are some things that are worth spending on from the very beginning, such as your own web domain. It’s good for your brand, and waiting until later to buy your own domain might actually end up with you spending more if it gets more expensive.
Having the right connections makes all the difference when you’re starting your own company—especially when you’re working with limited resources. Your connections could help you find talent and customers, and teach you a thing or two about running a startup.
What did you think of these bootstrap tips? Got any bootstrap tips of your own to share? Leave some in the comments!
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