During my 2 day visit to Sage Summit (in April) I went to some amazing seminars so expect a lot of mentions in my upcoming content (gah I take so long to write things these days or maybe the children have had far to many holidays since then! ). Even though Sage is a global brand I was surprised by the amount of times “bootstrapping” was mentioned. But what exactly is bootstrapping? It’s one of those buzz words that sounds like something else but in a nut shell, bootstrapping is when you start up a business with little or no investment. Do you know what? Bootstrapping it’s much easier than you think.
5 ways to bootstrap your small business :
Social media :
Our growing use of social media is a perfect example of how easily you can start a small business without any cash outlay.
- Set up a Facebook Business Page : Engage with customers, develop a following, share images or progress of your small business, behind the scenes, create a buzz.
- Instagram : Share product images or behind the scene stuff, start using relevant hashtags to your business.
- Twitter : Start following and engaging with industry professionals. Find out what is happening in your genre. Follow #JournoRequests and get yourself in the news.
Don’t be one sided. The key to social media is being social, spend time engaging, chatting and developing customer relationships. Remember people buy from people be someone people like and want to buy from. I know a few small businesses that operate entirely through social media. This isn’t without it’s pitfalls but it is without doubt a great free resource for business start ups.
Networking is a greatly underestimated and under utilised tool to grow your small business. Meeting other small business owners can provide the perfect opportunity to develop feedback on products/services and in turn gauge interest, test the market. Most small businesses owners who network locally are either in the same situation or have just been where you are. There is a wealth of knowledge, skills and support out there. I also believe that small businesses, especially those working from home, really underestimate the need to communicate with real life people. There’s a certain buzz, energy rush you get from networking which you then take home and effects your productivity and enthusiasm for the next few days.
Networking is not about sales but meeting and connecting with other small businesses which can help you grow, develop and stay sane. Wondering what networking can provide your small business? Read my interview on Gazprom Energy Business Basics: The importance of support networks for small businesses
— Gazprom Energy (@GazpromEnergyUK) May 19, 2017
Start Small :
Invest in small amounts of stock. I started Charlie Moo’s back in 2008, heavily pregnant with Megan, lugging Charlie, Daddy Moo and a box of party fillers to events. I literally started with £56.65 worth of stock and went from there. I reinvested all money back into stock and in the beginning whilst I trialed a few products and prices. I did this all offline as well. Once Megan was born I directed my attention to online marketing and building a website.
You can read more about that over on Baby Budgeting : How I started my business with £56.65
Be Thrifty :
DIY all the way! Don’t outsource unless completely necessary in the beginning. Anything you can do yourself do it. For example hiring an accountant in the start up stages is a waste of money when you could use free software such as Waveapps. As your business grows and develops and the cash is flowing then is the time in which to delegate. Social media packages such as social oomph, boardbooster etc all have free versions to get you started.
Write a blog. Blogging is a great way to develop yourself as a thought leader in your genre and show your expertise. It can also be a pretty low cost way to start up a business as well. The great thing about blogging is you can start off using free platforms, so once you start making cash you can reinvest and develop your blog further.
You could also consider skill swaps with other small businesses or freelance your skills to earn cash in which to reinvest back into your business.
Email lists :
Growing an email list is another under utilised and underestimated form of selling to potential customers. Why should you build a mailing list? Firstly social media is great but having a Facebook page with 2,000 followers doesn’t mean you have 2,000 email addresses. Having customers emails enables you to send out offers and previews, discount codes specific and just for them. You’d be able to track how successful your offers/codes are by keeping them specific to just your email list. Always end an email/newsletter with a call to action clearly directing potential customers.
How do you get customers to sign up? Use free offers and downloads to entice potential customers to sign up. They get something in return for their email address.
Further Reading :Tips for writing newsletters
*cough you can sign up to my mailing list below*