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5 Tips To Starting A Business On A Shoestring Budget

Nic China

Startup On A Shoestring - Part 1 of 6

The Art of Bootstrapping: Own Everything. Owe Nothing.

Are you trying to launch the next big thing? Think you can’t afford it? You’re probably wrong. You just haven’t learned how to bootstrap yet.  

Bootstrapping your business simply means financing your company’s implementation and growth without the assistance of others.

It’s not easy, but there are 2 major advantages. It allows you to keep full control of your startup, and keeps you out of debt from day one. Bootstrapping is one of the cornerstones of The American Dream.

Master the art of bootstrapping and you’ll rely on no one. Trust me, I’ve done it.

So here we go…let’s do this thing on the cheap!

Tip #1: Pour blood, sweat and tears into it.

If you want to thrive as an entrepreneur, you have to work your ass off. If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a million times, but there’s a reason for that. It’s because it’s true! Ask any successful founder and they will tell you that drive and persistence are essential to your startup’s success.

Whether you’ve got $100 or $100,000, without good ol’ fashion hard work, you’ll never make it. So get to the grind!

Tip #2: Turn your company into a lean, mean cash flow machine.

When you’re bootstrapping, there’s no room for “fluff”. Every cent is precious, so make sure you spend wisely. Plan accordingly and figure out exactly what your necessary expenses are; then cut everything else.

Your team needs to be lean too. At the early stages, the most effective teams are made up of individuals capable of wearing multiple hats. Always adapt and never stop tweaking.  

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Tip #3: Become a master of social free-dia.

Social media is King…at least for now. So don’t miss out! It’s a great way to build a reputation, create a following, and test ideas before bringing them to fruition.

The possibilities are endless…but here are just a few ideas:

  • Crowd source feedback on Facebook to avoid costly mistakes and potential “flops”.
  • Convert client testimonials into tweets.
  • Build relevant pin boards that link to your robust blog content.
  • Instagram industry specific memes.

Tip #4: Stay clever with your resources.

What do you already have at your disposal? Probably more than you even realize.

Your cousin is a graphic designer? Free logo. Your old roommate is a CPA? Free tax prep. Your neighbor has a pickup truck? Free fleet. You get the point. We all have access to different people, assets and skills. No matter what yours are, be sure to utilize and maximize!

On another note, the amount of free technology, apps and other web-based tools makes things easier than ever before. Need to figure out how to do something? Google it. The internet will bombard you with websites, videos, tools, information and the like. Soak it in!

Tip #5: Barter like it’s the fuckin’ Wild West.

What value do you bring to the table? Do people want your services? Do they need your product?  

If you need something, then find an angle and trade for it. If you have a product, skill or service at your disposal, use it to trade other businesses for their products, skills or services that you need. Make sure it works for both parties, but don’t be afraid to ask and offer.

You’d be surprised how many people are in your shoes and would rather trade than spend!

Go ahead! Pick yourself up by your bootstraps and get started!

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 Please let me know your thoughts in the comments section below. Thanks! 


This article is part one of my six part Startup On A Shoestring series. 

Part 2, Blood, Sweat and Tears can be found HERE.

Part 3, Lean, Mean Cash Flow Machine can be found HERE.

Part 4, Master Social FREE-dia can be found HERE.

Part 5, Lean Startup Founders: The MacGyvers of Business can be found HERE.

Part 6, The Startup Scene Is The New Wild West. Be A Gunslinger can be found HERE.


For more tips, follow Nicolas China on Twitter @Nico_C7.

Nicolas China is co-founder of Pixilated (@PixilatedPhoto) & Startup Soiree (@StartUpSoiree).


If you liked this article, try this one: Top 10 Tips For Startups


Nicolas China

Pixilated Photo Booth, 3200 James St, Baltimore, MD, 21230, United States