21 Jan Marketing on a Shoestring: The Art of Bootstrapping
If you are a small business start up, a micro or solo entrepreneur, you’re probably wondering where to find the money that will allow you to grow your business. Most likely, angel investors or venture funding are not a possibility. Actually most businesses start up by bootstrapping. They self-fund and find ways to ramp up with a minimal amount of money.There’s often a misperception that you can grow your business with no money. That’s not entirely true. There is a good deal of marketing you can do cost free, but you can also learn how to conserve cash and only spend on what is necessary. Think of it as a game. Make a list of the essentials that you need and go shopping. I’ll give you an easy example of what I’m talking about. If you’re a woman, do you pay full price for designer clothes at the mall? Please! We shop around, look for sales and feel triumphant when we get a good deal. Think the same way about your business.
Here are some bootstrapping tips;
Start with a home office
Even if you know you’ll eventually need more space, start out by creating a quiet, bright space at home until your revenues can pay for your rent. I tell business owners that when they can afford to invest 25% of their yearly revenues in rent, they can think about renting.
You can save a bundle by bootstrapping your phone equipment and service. With services like Vonnage and Skype you can get a full menu of services, including free long distance, relatively inexpensively. Also with a voice mail system, you don’t really need an answering machine. Make a list of the bells and whistles you need and find the company that will provide them at one low monthly price. Also realize that you don’t need to buy a fancy phone system either. Refurbished systems are available on the web, or you can start off with a simple phone from a local retail chain.
It also costs more if you register your phone number as a company rather than a personal line. To start out, list it in your name unless you have the type of business that potential clients look for in the phone book.
I’ve seen people spend weeks agonizing over the color or exact look of their logo and spend lots of money on endless revisions, when it would make little difference to their business growth. Shop around for both a graphic designer and web designer who have already done work that you like and who are reasonably priced. Online services like Logoworks can be a good bootstrapping resource.
Make sure your web designer can help you with search engine optimization and that they will design your site in a Content Management System, so you can easily make simple changes yourself rather than paying them to do it for you. You can save lots by learning about SEO, good copywriting and how to quickly generate traffic to your website for little or no money. That was the reason I developed this e-course, Maximize Your Website Now
In Maximize Your Website Now I’ve introduced many ways to market cost free on the Internet. But offline you can also trade advertising for services or a percentage of sales revenues. Maybe you’re good at speaking. Find organizations whose members are in your target market and offer an information filled presentation. Be creative and you can cut your marketing dollars significantly while still getting a great ROI
Rather than hire, outsource specific tasks. Outsourcing will save you from paying for underutilized employee hours. Need administrative assistants, hire a Virtual Assistant. Need someone to build links to your website, submit articles online, write press releases? Go to http://www.elance.com/ and let qualified professionals bid on your job. A great place to find outsourced help with your website is http://www.digitalpoint.com/. Go to the forums.
Rather than hire a sales person, find joint venture partners who have already attained clients in your target market and see if they will endorse your service to their clients for a percentage of sales. Save yourself the struggle of want ads, interviews, training, monitoring, and payroll taxes.
These are just a few bootstrapping suggestions. Where else can you save money but still achieve the results you want?