Great ideas to help entrepreneurs bootstrap their business

Entrepreneur ideas (for bootstrapping)

Having a great business idea is only the beginning of the creative journey every entrepreneur goes on when starting a new venture using their own capital (known as bootstrapping).

For many, obtaining loans and financing to grow their startup can be really difficult. Not everyone can get featured on TechCrunch and go on to obtain millions in venture capital.

This means that for many entrepreneurs around the world, there is no choice but to pay to launch a new company out of their own pocket (and/or directly re-invest any income generated).

Bootstrapping can increase the risk of failure if the money dries up prematurely, but it is also an advantage later on because the owner retains more control and a larger share of the company.

So, if this sounds like you, and you are looking for ways to get more bang for your buck, then we have some great ideas...

1. Ask for help (friends & family)

If there are things that need doing that someone you know well can get done better, cheaper, faster than you can, don't be afraid to ask for help.

People close to you generally want to see you do well, so they'll do a good job helping out if they can.

2. Make use of part-timers

Lots of people who have the skills you need already have a job they won't risk leaving. Your startup may not yet be stable enough to attract them, but that doesn't mean they aren't interested.

Many people yearn to become involved in something that they are a bigger part of. But, they have bills to pay and can't take the chance.

Get them to work for your startup on the side on the understanding that if things go well, they'll be offered the full-time role, and possibly any equity and control that goes with it.

3. Offer profit sharing instead of cash

If you don't have the cash to pay the right person, then offer them a lower, more affordable basic package with a performance based incentive - i..e, if the company grows by 20%, they get 10% of the profits, if it grows by 30% they get 15%, and so on.

The great thing about offering a share of the profits is that you get to retain ownership. That's not always possible.

4. Offer equity instead of cash

It can be hard to take your idea, and all the time and work you have put into creating something, only to offer a portion of it to someone who has yet to contribute a thing.

But, if your venture can't succeed without the knowledge, skill or experience of another person then you have to be prepared to make an attractive offer.

That doesn't mean you should give equity away cheaply. Tie the equity offer into both performance and loyalty so that a person only realizes their share of the company after a certain amount of quality work.

5. Avoid custom Web design & development

There is almost no point in wasting weeks and months on expensive custom Web development when you can create a fantastic, cutting edge responsive site using a leading online website builder.

Make sure you put in enough research at the start to understand whether or not your company even needs custom dev work. You'll be surprised at what can be achieved quickly and easily using website builders.

6. Get local support

Everyone loves a home grown winner - I guess because they feel it represents them. Local radio stations and televisions often have shows or segments used as platforms for promoting local entrepreneurs.

Just because your target market is not local, doesn't mean locals won't get behind you and generate a bit of buzz, visibility, and free advertising.

7. Network, network, network

Finding new connections is crucial to any bootstrapped startup because new friends/contacts might be able to offer invaluable advice, introductions, or even services for next to nothing.

Meeting someone who thinks nothing about putting you in touch with a close friend (who happens to be the director of your ideal client business) can make things a whole heck of a lot easier.

8. Use the government

Governments often have great programs and policies in place to encourage innovation and growth in the small business sector.

The type of help they provide can vary (from advice and support, to tax incentives, to financing), but it is always a good idea to check in with your local chamber of commerce to see what's on offer.

9. Generate revenue early

A startup that takes a year to get its first bit of income is far more likely to fail than one that finds a way to attract some business in the first month.

Be creative. Think carefully. Work hard to come up with a path to get money coming into the business as quickly as possible.

Having $500 coming in after the first month means that $500 less has to come out of your own pocket, making it much easier to get through the next month.

10. Don't be afraid to reward yourself

One of the most important criteria for success is being able to stick to it long enough to become profitable. If you don't make your own life bearable during the lean startup times, you may end up giving up too soon.

Make sure that you budget enough to pay yourself something, anything.

What other ideas do you have that will help the bootstrapped startup? Share your tips in the comments.

home business ideas to make money fast

Finding a way to make money quickly is really not as good as finding a way to earn a stable income in the long term - get rich quick schemes tend to be a waste of time and effort (except for the people selling the scheme).

At least that was the point of my argument with a friend the other day. They ended up betting that I couldn't come up with at least one idea that would start generating cash within 24 hours.

In the words of Barney, "Challenge accepted!"

Free beginner guides for entrepreneurs. Pic by James Jordan.

It’s hard work trying to find the time to develop a new business idea, create a business plan, build a website, create content, marketing, promotions, networking, investments, and everything else that has to get done.

Top ideas from university entrepreneurs

Encouraging younger people to become involved in entrepreneurship by holding business idea competitions is, in my opinion, one of the best ways to innovate our way out of the current financial doldrums the world finds itself in.

The creativity and energy exhibited by the students who enter the top business idea competitions from around the U.S. have shown the rest of us just how easy they can make it look when it comes to generating a new idea, putting together a plan, and pitching it to the world like pros.

Real world elevator pitch example. Pic by Joe Penniston

Our earlier article on how to pitch big new clients touched on the importance of a good elevator pitch, and how this 30 - 60 seconds of info can mean the difference between success and failure.

I wanted to follow this up by showing how real-life entrepreneurs and startups used their own, unique elevator pitches to win new business or capture valuable publicity.

University business startup competitions. Pic by tableatny

Starting a business can be a daunting task - often made all the more difficult by a small advertising/marketing budget and an insufficient network of contacts to help get things off the ground.

It's a good thing then that there is always one fantastic, free strategy to generate some high-quality buzz and exposure for your startup that will not only put your idea in front of plenty of the "right" people, but also, potentially, lead to some much-needed funds, influential connections, and media coverage.

I'm talking about university business competitions.