How to Bootstrap Your Start Up

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One way of raising “funds” for your business is through bootstrapping.

This is a strategy you can use to get your business off the ground without relying on investors. It’s an effective approach, not least because many investors are wary of putting money into a business that isn’t already turning a profit.

Bootstrapping is where you offer your skills and experience, and in return, others donate their time and skills to your business.

It’s just like all other aspects of business: a fair trade. You offer something valuable that others need. In return, you gain something that you need.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself to put you on the path to becoming a successful bootstrapper.

  • Where do I need help? What skills and expertise do you need that you can’t afford at the moment? Perhaps you need help with marketing, web design, financial management, or legal advice. Asking this question helps you discover the types of people you need to reach out to.
  • What value can I offer? When you’re bootstrapping, your skills and experience are the currency you’ll be trading in. Perhaps you can provide consulting services, or introduce a bootstrapping partner to a valuable contact.
  • Who can I trade with? The best place to start finding trading partners is inside your own network. People you know and trust are more likely to want to help. Don’t be afraid of approaching prospective customers – you’ll be surprised at how many people are willing to help in exchange for being first to access a new product.
  • Where can I find cheap labor? There are plenty of skilled people out there who are willing to work for free in exchange for the promise of future compensation. Look for people who are out of work, or trying to find a part-time position.

When you’ve run through these questions, you’ll have a good idea of the help you’ll need. You’ll also be aware of who you know that could help. Write this down, and prioritize your list. Put the services you need most at the top.

Enjoy your bootstrapping!

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