Bootstrapping can be easier and less painful than you might think. Here's how to save your startup some serious money.
By Kayla Matthews (Productivity Writer)
Does your business feel slow? Are your profits fluctuating around the break-even point? If you answered yes to both these questions, the chances are the two problems are related.
To kill these two birds with one stone, try one or more of the tips below:
1. Work from Home
In many ways, telecommuting benefits your business. First, you save overhead costs. Second, your employees become happier, more productive and less likely to quit. Third, you spend less on unscheduled absences and travel.
The only thing you need to worry about is employee accountability. You can get around this if you implement a good virtual management system, use the appropriate software and encourage employees to send tasks rather than emails.
2. Use Free Software
You don't need to spend a fortune on office software. Plenty of high-quality business and productivity apps can be legally downloaded for free. Besides, a lot of these tend to get outdated after a few years, so there's no point paying for them unless absolutely necessary.
That said, it's always a good idea to read online reviews on any software before you use it. You don't want to end up downloading a free app, only for it to be buggy – or worse, filled with malware.
3. Automate Business Processes
Is excessive bureaucracy choking your operations? Some case studies suggest you use machines or software to deal with the bottlenecks in your business. Others say you get rid of processes that do more harm than good to innovation. At any rate, you need to ask these five questions about your processes first to determine which ones you need to automate.
4. Outsource Tasks
Hire independent contractors or temporary workers to handle tasks low in strategic importance, but high in their contribution to operational performance. These include email management, payroll, research, content writing, system administration, etc. If you're new to outsourcing, read these five tips from entrepreneurs who've been successful with it.
5. Get Savvy with Marketing
Believe it or not, marketing doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg. You can:
- Set up a website with a free Web hosting platform
- Set up an online store – if applicable – with a free open source e-commerce platform
- Include your business contact info in your email signature
- Spread the word about your business through your networks and social media accounts
- Go above and beyond on customer service, so satisfied customers will spread the word for you
To become more effective at marketing, always ask yourself: How will your product or service benefit your customers?
Don't just rattle off features; rather, identify your customers' problem and determine how your product or service will solve that problem.
6. Take Advantage of Tax Deductions
If you work from home, you can deduct expenses like rent, mortgage interest, utilities and maintenance. You can also deduct entertainment costs, such as money spent going out of town and discussing business with clients.
Be sure to look up more information on the IRS website, or use the services of a tax consultant, before you finalize any of your deductibles.
7. Time Payments to Third Parties
Some payments should be made as early as possible; others are best left until the last minute. For example, credit cards accumulate interest over time, so it's best to pay them off as soon as you can afford to. On the other hand, the money you spend on utility bills can be freed up for more profitable investments, so it's OK to pay them only when they're due.
Take time to examine your business operations, and see whether you can trim any fat. By doing so, both your productivity and profitability will improve, and you'll take your business to the next level without much trouble.
What are your top tips for bootstrapping?
Photo credit: Singkham via Shutterstock.
About the guest blogger: Kayla Matthews is a workplace productivity writer who relishes organization and a positive attitude. Follow her on Google+ and Twitter to check out her latest posts, or find her at ProductivityBytes.com.