There is a word of wisdom that says; “you use what you have to get what you want” but what if you have nothing, what can you do? Then you improvise! That is what I mean here; steps to bootstrap a startup if you don’t have money to finance it. All that we need has been provided for us, saith the Lord of hosts. What these imply is that all we need to do is to look for ways for ourselves by improvising. Improvisation simply means using whatever can be found to create (or improve) something.
Starting up a business as an entrepreneur requires capital. No matter how small the business might be, startup capital is very important to commence and sustain the business for the mean time before making profit. In our country today, where there are fewer white collar jobs and the government keeps advising youths to get a trade and learn 1 or 2 skills, a lot of young aspiring entrepreneurs have a pool of business idea in their head but executing it is a huge problem due to lack of startup. What then do we do? How do we go about it? As you and I know, man must survive, and begging or steal is completely out of the question in the pursuit of survival.
The answer to the above questions will be answered in this article.
To solve the problem of having a great and brilliant idea upstairs but unable to execute it, one has to improve or bootstrap. Bootstrapping means supporting oneself or achieving something without any or much external help or assistance. I spoke with an aspiring entrepreneur recently and he explained to me how difficult it is for startups to get bank loans, government grants, and investors to support their business. Therefore, one must source for all necessary support by him/herself. This as you know could be very difficult but it is definitely worth it at the end. It takes a lot of hard work, discipline, and dedication to succeed in business these days but if you can bootstrap, and keep pushing forward, you will be able to elevate your business idea.
In this article, I discuss several ways you to bootstrap your startup when you don’t have money (seed capital) to finance and/or push it to the next level.
11 Ways To Bootstrap Your Startup When You Don’t Have Money (Seed Capital) To Finance It
(1) Get A Co-Founder
This can also be called a business partner. This is someone that has the same interest and skills with you and who can support your business dreams. As the common parlance says “two heads are better than one”. Share your business ideas with this person (your prospective or substantive co-founder) and both of you can contribute money to embark on the business. The person can also share his own idea(s) and inputs with you and this will become a double blessing for you.
(2) Get A Mentor
Someone who is correctly mentored can hardy fail. So, get yourself a mentor that is experienced in whatever you want to do to help you with basic advice and guides towards success in your business. For example, if you want to do a poultry business, get an advisor or mentor in that business line who will/can serve as your guide or mentor. It does not mean that you should go and hire a paid expert or a coach. No, it can be a friend or close relation who has knowledge and experience in the business line you want to go into. This could be someone who is older or younger than you. The age doesn’t really matter in so far as the person is experienced in whatever you want to do.
(3) Take Advantage of Free Trainings
During the COVID 19 global lockdown of 2020, I sourced online for companies that take free training that can generate money and I was able to get few of them. I took some courses with them without paying a dime yet I can generate a source of income from. For example, I learnt graphic design using my mobile phone and I leant how to make flyers, logos, and basic graphic designs. Now, I generate income from it by designing logo, flyers, and word extracts from webinars and seminars. There are lots of similar free trainings online and offline which you can take advantage of today. Take advantage of as many free trainings available which can help you source for money to finance your startup today.
(4) Develop Financial Discipline
One way you can bootstrap a startup is to learn financial discipline. This will help you to save up money. Eventually, when you start the business you will disciplined enough not to spend your profit first on yourself but on your business for the sustenance and growth of the business. Inculcate an act of saving. It goes a long way in bootstrapping your startup.
When bootstrapping, you must learn or have improvising skills, this will help you to put several things together to create something related to your idea so as to get what you want at the end of the day.
(6) Do It Yourself (DIY)
Instead of hiring people when starting up, it is very important and necessary to try to do things yourself. Learn how to be multifaceted; it will help you to save a lot of money that you would have spent paying for labor. Besides, it helps you to know everything about your business before employing people.
(7) Search For and Utilize SME Available Funding Opportunities
In Nigeria, we have private group of companies or people who give loans to small businesses without any collateral or interest. They give as low as 10,000 naira so as to assist startup and they give reasonable amount of time to pay. They help to ease the burden of looking for capital among entrepreneur. You should consider getting these Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to bootstrap your startup.
(8) Go For Teamwork
One of the basic skills for bootstrapping is teamwork. Get a team to work with. This will help to reduce the burden of working alone. Get people who trust and believe in your mission and vision, people who will not mind working as volunteers, people who are willing to learn, people who are willing to use your idea to sharpen their own idea(s), and/or people who are willing to build from the scratch with you.
(9) Engage in Strategic Planning
All business ideas are always big at the start. When bootstrapping, you must learn to strategize i.e. narrow down your business idea by starting small. If your initial plan is to supply your product to 10 states, you can start by supplying first to your street and then gradually you move to supplying your town. Then, as the business grows, you can start supplying your local government and then to your state. This means that your initial idea has become a reality over time and you have learnt in the process. This involve planning and breaking down of your gigantic business ideas into small, easily realistic and implementable chunks.
(10) Develop A Positive Mindset
These include believing in you, ideas, goals, objective, aspirations and dreams. When bootstrapping, you have to be optimistic and have a positive mindset in order to keep going and also make you standout when people see your passion and consistency and they see you making something out of nothing. Do not look at the risk instead focus on the idea.
(11) Go Digital
Make good use of the internet. The social media, for example, will help you to sell yourself and expose you to people who might love your business idea. It helps you to cover a wider area. I have heard a lot of stories from entrepreneur, how they got investors online who were willing to invest in their business due to what they saw them doing online. There, are several online platforms you can showcase your idea and skills. So, go online and show the world what you got. You never know where your angel investor will come from.
Conclusively, bootstrapping might be difficult at first but it will definitely yield great returns later if done properly. You have to equip yourself with a lot of information so that you can be focused and strategic. Determination and flexibility is the key to a successful bootstrapping. Note that it is just a matter of time, very soon your money will work for you and you will be an employer of labour.