No entrepreneur would deny that starting a new business is a daunting, stressful, and expensive venture. With countless overheads such as marketing, recruitment, and simply furnishing an office, it may seem impossible to launch your business without outside investment.
‘Bootstrap business’ is a term that refers to doing just that, and can actually be an exhilarating way to start your business. Being forced to rely on your own funds will make you agile with your budgeting and ensure that every penny spent counts. Meanwhile, not having to rely on stakeholders will give your startup a real sense of freedom and control, without the stress of an investor breathing down your neck.
The point is – it can, and should, be done.
Thanks to the hundreds of digital tools available, launching a new enterprise has never been easier. Here are some of the best.
Never stop learning
Launching a digital startup is not as easy as it looks. A great amount of work goes on behind the scenes to make an online business successful. Once you start digging, you may be surprised by the level of skill expected of you. It may seem overwhelming at first, but once you’re armed with the right knowledge, it certainly gets a lot easier.
Your problem may be as simple as a lack of understanding of SEO, UX, or social media analytics: the basics of which are quick and easy to learn thanks to a range of free learning platforms. There are hours of insightful courses that entrepreneurs of all levels will find useful over on LinkedIn Learning, Udemy and Futurelearn. You can complete courses at your own pace and do as many as you find helpful.
Rise of the digital nomad
One of the most exciting aspects of launching a startup is finally having your dream office space. You may have interior design ideas to rival Google, but hold off before you drop that deposit.
Chances are, until you’ve established a stable portfolio of clients, you don’t need an office. In fact, with the help of high-standard video conferencing software, you can arrange face-to-face meetings with potential clients and employees without ever leaving your home.
One of my favourites is Zoom, which not only hosts video conferences, but records and automatically saves meetings for future reference. Alternatively, Google Hangouts and Skype, while not new to the industry, still stand high on the entrepreneur’s must-have list.
Do you work from home, but find yourself crawling the walls and resenting your own sofa? A perfect solution for the officeless entrepreneur who prefers to separate home and work life is to check out sites like Desks Near Me or Desk Camping. These global sites can help you find affordable, fully equipped office spaces to rent on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis – wherever you are.
Do it yourself
When starting your new venture, the first thing you will need is a quality website to host your products – one that shows them off in the best possible way. However, what a lot of new business owners don’t realize is that hiring designers, software engineers and photographers gets expensive, fast.
Luckily, there are plenty of high quality DIY platforms that look great, are fully customizable, and cost a fraction of the price of a bespoke website. Another easy starting point for a new ecommerce venture is Etsy, a well-known and easily navigable marketplace for handmade or small-batch products.
Many of us choose the entrepreneur lifestyle in order to work for ourselves and only ourselves, with no desire to share in decision-making. However, if your personal funds are dwindling, or you find yourself lacking some of the necessary skills to make your business thrive, you may consider finding a partner.
Collaborating on a startup opens up a new realm of possibilities in terms of creativity, contacts and general business knowledge. It may also provide greater cash flow and investor potential.
Rather than hound your friends to join you, or risk ruining your personal relationships, check out Cofounderslab, the world’s largest network of entrepreneurs. The site allows you to view
and connect with like-minded people, build relationships, and hopefully find yourself a suitable business partner.
Affordable social marketing
We all know that when used strategically, social media can be an entrepreneur’s best friend. With ceaseless possibilities to connect with your audience, a well-planned social strategy can be the difference between startup success and a business bomb. But when building a business by the bootstraps, who has the time or the money to hire a social media manager?
There are endless digital tools to help you to optimize your social media output. From Tweetdeck, a social dashboard that helps you to organize, schedule and keep on top of your platforms, to Bitly, a URL shortener that reduces those ‘oh so precious’ Twitter characters, to Rocketium, a really exciting piece of software that can turns simple written content into engaging, shareable videos: you’ll reap the benefits by getting involved.
These are just a few of the best digital tools available, but there are hundreds more that could add value to your startup and get your business processes up-to-date. Don’t get me wrong, starting a business on a budget is arduous and time-consuming, but with the help of these incredible resources, you’ll be giving yourself the best chance of success.