As an entrepreneur I am well aware that managing your cash flow in the early days of a business startup can be challenging. Not everyone has the comfort of a generous investor who provides a safety net, and those that don’t have sufficient liquidity need to take a ‘bootstrapping’ approach. This has saved many a new business from failing before it has barely begun and in my opinion, if you can rescue your business by yourself, you will be better prepared for what lies ahead. Therefore, I have put together 8 tips about the various ways in which you can bootstrap your business.
- Generate cash quickly
A business model that has the potential to generate cash rapidly is most likely to succeed if you’re bootstrapping and relying on your own finances. Not all business models will do this, so from the outset look at how you can bring cash in from the start.
- Watch your expenditure
Open a business bank account at the first opportunity. Using your personal bank account is risky because it is harder to keep track of incoming funds and outgoings. Discipline yourself to watch where cash goes and what demands more of it and when. There are free tools available that track spending and you should be monitoring your expenditure on a daily basis.
- Reduce personal spending
This is just common sense. You may have your own business but that doesn’t mean you can immediately start living the high life. You don’t have a salary as such, so think very hard about every purchase and only buy what is absolutely necessary. If possible, look at other ways to save money, such as reducing your rent by sharing with a friend.
- Do the job yourself
It would be lovely to outsource some tasks, but this is both an unnecessary expense and one that stops you from learning more about your business.
- Learn a new skill
This is related to the previous tip – if you don’t know how to perform a task that is required by your business, learn it rather than ask somebody else to do it. If you need to write code but have never done it before, now is the time to acquire the skill. You’ll save money and have a new skill.
- Learn the art of thrift
Apart from reducing personal spending, look at ways to reduce business expenditure. Make good use of all the freebies available, such as free versions of Dropbox and other online tools. Do you really need an office or can you work from home? Choose the latter first until you actually need to pay for premises.
- Invest in your website and business incorporation
This is one exception to the being thrifty tip. Make sure you use a respected incorporation service, because in the long term a shoddy service may come back to haunt you. Also, buy the web domain you want from Day One and build your brand around it from the start. It won’t cost less if you wait and you’ll miss the opportunity to establish your branding.
- Refuse to take ‘No’ for an answer
You might find that when you are small some suppliers don’t want to work with you. It’s essential that you build a personal relationship with these people, because by doing so you are more likely to get the service at a price you can afford. Tell them your story and what you are trying to achieve – appealing to people’s emotions is all part and parcel of running a business.
I can tell you that none of this is a walk in the park as they say, but if you follow these tips, the pay-off is considerable and you’re more likely to find you have a solid, long-term business.
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