Fact: The chances of receiving funding for your start-up is slim, so if you are serious about starting a business, you are going to have to dip into your own pockets and bootstrap your way to the top. It isn’t easy, but it can be very rewarding -both personally and financially, as you retain 100 percent of your equity.
In no particular order, here are 10 tips to help you bootstrap your way to success.
- Fully research your market and competition.
Before you do anything you need to make sure you have a viable business opportunity. Is your proposed product or service already available on the market? If there is competition, how will consumers differentiate between you and them? What makes you better? What is your unique selling point?
- Create a business model that produces quick revenue.
If you are bootstrapping, you need to make sure that your business model generates revenue quickly. If not, you will be dead in the water when you blow through your reserves. Constant cash flow is mandatory — if you look at successful bootstrapped start-ups you will see business models that generated revenue very quickly.
- Handle your own public relations in the beginning.
Start-ups can benefit greatly from major media exposure in the beginning. Journalists and editors receive press kits from PR firms around the clock. They don’t want to talk to a public relations representative, they want to talk to you! They are much more interested in speaking with founders than a PR firm because they want to hear your story.
- Provide ways for your first customers to create buzz.
People love new start-ups and technologies — and they love to show the world that they are cool, hip and trendy through social media. Provide ways for your early customers to help put your start-up in front of their social audiences.
Allow them to unlock a discount coupon by sharing your website on social media or create a branded hashtag and randomly select winners for prizes. You can even share images of your customers using your product with a designated hashtag on the company social media pages.
- Don’t be afraid to let your website grow with you.
A start-up will have a custom website designed and by the time all of the features are built out they are left with no marketing monies. They use their entire pile of seed money on a great website but then have no way of marketing , and they turn into a statistic.
If you are operating on a shoestring budget, you can use a pre-made theme to get you off the ground and then use the majority of your funds to promote and grow your business. Once you have positive cash flow and have proven your business model, do a website revamp.
- Launch creative branding and marketing campaigns.
You don’t always have to have the deepest pockets to get brand exposure, you just need a creative approach.
- Account for every naira you spend.
Money goes out quickly when you are starting a business. Sloppy accounting can lead to a rude awakening. Monitor your cash daily, there is no excuse for lazy accounting.
- Eliminate as many personal expenses as possible.
When bootstrapping a start-up, there isn’t a nice comfortable salary that comes with the gig. You have to be prepared and willing to clip unnecessary and lavish expenses. Find ways to drastically cut expenses or eliminate them all together.
- Do as many jobs as you can yourself in the beginning.
There is a big difference between jobs you can’t do and jobs you just simply don’t want to do. If a task requires specific technical knowledge that you don’t possess, then of course, outsource that job, but if it is something that you are fully capable of doing but just don’t feel like doing you are creating an unnecessary expense.
- Be persistent and don’t give up.
When you are just starting out there will be many challenges and obstacles to overcome. You have to be persistent. Don’t take rejection personally, it is going to happen.
Bootstrapping a business isn’t an easy task. Honestly, it’s very challenging, but not impossible.
What other ways can you bootstrap a business in the African clime? Drop a comment and let us know!
Culled from Entrepreneur.com