20 Tips To Bootstrap Your Start-Up (And Hopefully Make Your Business More Investable)

Here are 20 tips to bootstrap your start-up and drive your business forward without spending a lot of money:

  1. Do customer surveys to find out about their level of interest in your product/service, how they would use it, what features they might like to see and how much they would consider paying for it.
  2. Raise money from family and friends.  Family and friends can be a great source for bootstrap financing. They have a vested interest in your personal success, and are more likely to take a chance on you than a bank or angel investor.
  3. Approach industry experts to get feedback and endorsements. Do they like your product?  Would they use it?  Is it better than the existing competitors?
  4. Build yourself a website.  There are loads of free and easy-to-use website builders like https://www.wix.com/ or https://www.moonfruit.com/.
  5. Offer people sweat equity in return for helping get the business off the ground.
  6. Set up a “coming soon” landing page and start collecting email addresses from people who’d be interested in joining your site when it launches. https://launchsoon.com/ offer a quick and easy way to set this up.
  7. Pull in favors from friends or colleagues who may be able to help.  Do you know a graphic designer who could do a mockup of your website?  Do you know someone who has a contact at the retailer you’re desperately trying to get into?  Using your contacts could be key in driving the business forward.
  8. Start building the right team as this is one of the main factors that investors will take into consideration when deciding whether to back you. Even if you can’t start paying them yet, you can have them on standby to join when you manage to raise some proper funding.
  9. Record a demo video of your product or service. This is a really effective way to showcase your business to customers and investors. You could either record one yourself or use a service like https://www.dunktank.co/ or https://explainify.com/.
  10. Hire interns and students. This is is a win/win for everyone. You get support at little to no cost. The intern/student gains valuable experience working at a startup where they’ll have more influence than they would at a larger company.
  11. Contact retailers to try to get some letters of intent or even pre-orders. This is a great way to prove there is interest in your product.
  12. Do some research to find out what sort of branding you’re going to use. This might just involve finding some other companies or websites you like the look of, so investors get an idea of what image you’re going for. Or you could use a site like Crowdspring (https://www.crowdspring.com/) to get a logo designed.
  13. Set up accounts and groups on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Pinterest or any other social media sites you think your target audience use.  This is a great way to start engaging with potential customers and industry influencers.
  14. Begin building partnerships that will allow you to grow your business faster through joint ventures, cross-promotion, referrals, content marketing, etc.
  15. Go to networking events to meet as many people as possible that are involved in your industry. This is a great way to meet potential clients, retailers, distributors, marketers, etc.
  16. Outsource jobs and use freelancers to get work done without having to take on employees.
  17. Start tracking stats as soon as possible. The sooner you establish your KPI’s (key performance indicators), the sooner you will be able to calculate your growth rate and determine which factors (like a new marketing strategy or website adjustment) have a positive impact on those KPIs.
  18. Develop your marketing strategy (and maybe even test it to determine your cost per acquisition and which marketing channels are the most effective).
  19. Assemble a team of expert advisors that you can approach for critical input and advice when you need it.  It’s important to remember: You don’t have to do it alone!
  20. Don’t get an office – Google and Microsoft started in garages, so there’s no shame in it.

Clever bootstrapping is proof that you have the most important elements of company building: passion, dedication, resourcefulness, focus and vision, which will make you and your company much more attractive to angel investors and venture capitalists. So make sure you spend wisely! Be sure also to hire reputable payment processing companies for your business.

What have I forgotten?  Let me know your top bootstrapping tips and strategies.