The entrepreneur is just another word for Bootstrapper, an individual who has started a business with pluck and determination, but perhaps without the financial resources to make it big from the start. Still, you have a vision and a plan, two important components in making it big. Here’s how to take your dream and make it a reality, with just a little bit of cash to help you out.
1. Develop a winning website.
Your first website needs a domain and a hosting account. Use WordPress as your content management system and begin to set everything up. Begin with six pages first: your home page, an about page and pages for contact, product information, your services, and a privacy statement. You will build out from there, but getting your site launched is a priority. Incorporate the keywords and phrases that matter most to your business.
2. Connect via social media.
Customers will find your business online, but you also need other weapons to help them find you. Trouble is, you cannot afford online advertising. What you can afford is setting up Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google Plus accounts and beginning to interact with people online. Typically, the more engaged you are, the better. However, devoting as little as 15 minutes per day can help you here. Remember, in social media it is all about helping others even as they help you.
3. Share your advertising costs.
Well, you cannot do entirely without advertising. At some point and in some manner you will need to spend money to make money. Fortunately, your advertising options are many and varied. If your business is located in a strip mall, ask the other tenants if they would be interested in going in on an ad together. Mall management might spearhead the project for you instead. Either way, several retailers banding together can do more for each other than were they to do it alone.
4. Your shop or a shared location.
If you are still operating out of your home, but are in need of a separate location, your rental costs may be exorbitant. Here, you have some options — choose only the amount of space you need and nothing more. Some businesses have learned to share facilities, with the emerging business taking an office or a corner of a building not used by the primary tenant. This can be a great way for you to set up shop without the expense of big overhead.
5. Trade services, where possible.
Bartering is one way for Bootstrappers to make it. Let’s say you have a service, such a cleaning company and your neighboring tenant is a provider of copywriter services. You could offer to clean their office in exchange for them updating your website by cleaning up the current content and adding new pages and articles.
6. Work with contractors.
You may be in a position for hiring your first employee. Be careful here: you might want to try this person out first. Instead of hiring a person and paying a salary, benefits and taxes, consider looking for an individual that can work for you temporarily or on a contract basis. And if that person works out for you, then you can make a permanent offer. If not, you can let him go. Essentially, you will try this person before buying their services. You’ll keep your costs in line and still have someone who can get the work done.
7. Be mindful of your tax deductions.
Small business owners have numerous tax deduction options available to them. From use of the car, to paid meals and beyond, there are ways for you to turn your expenses into deductions. Always keep your receipts and document everything. If you need to take a trip to a distant town to deliver or item or visit a customer, a per mile charge can be deducted. Work with your accountant to find cost saving ways for you to reduce your tax burden.
8. Buy in bulk or in groups.
Make a point to use a warehouse club to buy what you need. Also make use of Amazon and other websites to find deeper savings. Extend those savings further by forming a buying alliance with other small businesses. As a collective or a cooperative, you might save more money by pooling your resources to buy what everyone needs.
Consider that there are dozens of other ways for you to keep your costs down from never extending credit, timing your payments to arrive precisely when they are due, putting major projects out to bid, and buying used instead of new. You’re entrepreneur, not a wealthy individual, with your business’ financial position at stake.