You’re bootstrapping your business. In other words, you’re frugal, cheap, or scrappy. And we mean that in a nice way.
Starting a business does not need to be a scary financial investment. Some people don’t have a family or a house to worry about and are willing to go all in. Others are comfortable mortgaging their house to finance their big idea. You, not so much. And that’s ok.
There are plenty of free and affordable resources to help you transform your idea into a successful business. As with any DIY project, you are trading money for your time by foregoing professional assistance and tackling it yourself. Yet for many entrepreneurs, the possibility of losing time is much better than the possibility of losing money.
Here are a few suggestions on how to establish and grow your business with minimal funds.
SCORE is a nonprofit that helps small businesses get started and grow by providing education and mentorship support. It is supported by the Small Business Administration and thousands of volunteers so SCORE provides these services at no charge.
They have many local branches through out the US.
2. Local Incubators
Many cities have organizations called start up incubators. These are groups of local professionals who provide resources and mentorship to start ups and entrepreneurs. They can provide assistance from the beginning or help if you find yourself stuck at some point.
Arrangements between the incubators and the start ups may vary, but often times they will provide advice for free.
During the initial research phase, Zanifesto received guidance from a local Boise-based incubator, the Watercooler. Yes, even little Boise has start up incubators. In fact, we have several.
Nolo offers legal materials for non-lawyers. These are not free, but are much more affordable than hiring a lawyer. You can find resources on contracts, employment issues, tax, and incorporating, among other topics. Their books come with samples that you can modify and use for your business.
(Author’s note: These are more legitimate than the “Dummies” books. My professors actually used these books in several of my classes in law school.)
Trello is a free project management tool for individual or team use. It helps you keep track of what needs to be done, what’s in progress, and what is complete. Multiple people can access the same board, which keeps everyone in the loop on the project’s progress.
Graphic designers and marketing teams aren’t always a reality for start ups. But professional digital marketing is a must this day and age. That is why we created Zanifesto.
Zanifesto’s graphic builder lets bootstrapping start ups and entrepreneurs create high quality digital marketing material for free. With this easy to use tool, you can create custom infographics, manifestos, and other graphics to market your business.
6. Mail Chimp
Once you have your marketing content created, it is time to start an email marketing campaign. Mail Chimp‘s free and intuitive tool lets you create a snazzy email to send to your contacts and track a campaign’s success.
You can even create a “sign up” space on your website that will automatically add inputted email addresses to your contact list.