41 Tips to Bootstrap Your Way to Success

With more and more people facing layoffs, salary cutbacks, and belt-tightening across the board in this tough economy, the business start-ups are the wave of the future.

Many are turning to bootstrapping as a way to get going with little (or nearly non-existent) capital, the willingness to work hard, and a dream.  We wanted to share some of these inspiring and creative stories with you, so last week we asked:

“Many entrepreneurs start their businesses on a shoestring or non-existent budget, but still manage to successfully start-up.  The mindset is not “build a business and then worry about sales,” it’s “make money now to fund the start-up process.”  If you are a successful bootstrapper, what is your single best tip for start-ups who are looking for creative ways to generate revenue quickly?”

We were thrilled to have 41 bootstrapping entrepreneurs respond to our query, and hope that if you are looking for an innovative and cost-effective way to turn your dream into a reality, you might find a solution here.  Our sincere thanks to every contributor this week, who unabashedly shared a story.  Openly sharing your expertise and experiences is a huge asset to this blog and the readership. I wish you all a wonderful week and hope to see you here again.

If you would like to contribute to this week’s question, be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom of this post to find out how you can get involved.  We’d love to have you share your expertise!


1. Started With $200

The biggest hurdle for many small craft businesses getting started is that they think they need lots of money to start — more and nice tools, ad placements, large orders of supplies, and so on. But if you are starting a business that follows your passion, you probably already have “good enough” tools — in my case, a good enough spinning wheel to spin yarn with. I started for under $200, and $100 of that was the business license. Since I started with very little money in, it gave me the chance to quickly make money. After all, it doesn’t take that long to make back $200! It also gave me a chance to refine ads and my product offerings on a smaller scale, rather than large wasted ads that weren’t very good (just many small ones!), and no ginormous orders of products or supplies.

Thanks to Jenn Wisbeck of Midnightsky Fibers

2. Raffle Off Your Product

To raise money quickly, raffle off future services or products that will be available at a reduced price, much in the model of Kickstarter or through Kickstarter.com directly.

Thanks to Isa Isaacs of Temple Of Poi

3. Where There Is A Wing And A Prayer, There Is A Way!

Scrubz Body Scrub, Inc. was started on a wing and a prayer and a very thin dime. Even now, we are figuring out how to maintain our growth at the right pace without having to go to traditional lenders. Scrubz was created in July of 2006 and we just moved to our first store, needing to get out of my production space/garage. We have 4 part-time employees. My capital source has been 0% credit cards, and borrowing from my own family. I put up about $ 4000 the first year. I am a big believer in social media, and use Facebook and Twitter the most. I feel privileged to have started my business around a product I am proud, and humbled by at the same time.

It was always about the challenge for me, not so much the money. However, now that the challenge is being met, I’ll take more money to grow!

Thanks to Roberta Perry of Scrubz Body Scrub, Inc.

4. How To Get Sales NOW!

Here are some very reasonable ways to get sales now: Create a written Business Development Sales Program that covers 6 VITAL areas: 1. Business cards 2. Your database 3. Target individuals 4. Companies to both do business and partner with 5. Organizations and community groups 6. Your social network strategy creation for: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, YouTube, etc

Thanks to Tiffany Bradshaw of Bradshaw And Co.

5. Drop Ship On eBay!

Drop ship on eBay! The customer pays, you then send the order to the manufacturer. You pay the manufacturer and the manufacturer ships the item to the customer. You never have to lay out any money.

Thanks to Tobi Kosanke of Crazy K Farm

6. Lady In Red

“Being in the red” would be great if it was referring to red lipstick or a great red dress- not referring to the lack of $ in the business bank account! By nature I am not a sales person, I do not have the personality to “say what people want to hear” to close a deal, I wear my heart on my sleeve and tell it like it is. This lack of “car salesman” instinct does not always work when trying to convince a business that we can build them a great app, but there are lots of people out there who want reality, sweat equity and a fair price. Working hard, keeping positive thoughts in your head, speaking it out loud and a lot of coffee, can get you there!

Motto of the shoestring startup: “nothing worth having comes easy” or is it “no coffee, no workie”?

Thanks to Jill Mikols Etesse of SmartyShortz LLC

7. Never Stop Marketing!

I started my first business on the floor of my living room with a dream. My reality was that my funds were limited but my dreams were huge. So, I decided the best way to achieve success is to fund it myself.

I started an intense marketing campaign in 2004. I purchased cheap ad space in local newspapers, Craigslist, banners, license plate covers, flyers, email templates and even started hosting small events to get the word to spread about my business. It did not take long before the clients started to roll in. The profits started to fund my dreams quickly.

The best advice I can give to anyone who would like to start a business, however lacks the seed capital to get started, is to create the seed capital yourself. Effective marketing is key to business survival and growth.

Thanks to Carol Sankar of Carol Sankar Enterprises

8. If I Spend This Dollar, Will It Make Me A Dollar?

I came across this topic from your Twitter post (I am a female entrepreneur, so I’ve been following for a little while now), and I thought it would be perfect to respond to. I am a co-founder of the bootstrapped internet startup, SkillAddiction.com. We launched in April 2009, and the only funds that have been acquired externally were from winning a business plan competition and a small award from an academic fund. The way that we’ve been able to run so lean, and generate revenue while bootstrapping is by ALWAYS considering the following question: “If I spend this dollar, is it going to make me a dollar?” While there are lots of fun website features out there, the only projects that we’ve undertaken are ones that will likely generate enough revenue to justify the expense.

Thanks to Taylor Louie of SkillAddiction.com

9. From The Book “Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff About Money”

The book “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff about Money” was the template for moving forward when I started my business. If money is the focus, you miss opportunities, even small ones such as marketing materials, memberships, software choices, programs and so much more.

The cost of professional help can vary, as there are high-end and low-end price ranges, and for that reason my company designed a menu of services for marketing & public relations, business development and other essential business services and we researched the market for high-end to low-end prices. We made it easy for the entrepreneur, the business professional, to pick and choose what they need. Our goal is to show them the low-range prices and develop the strategy, bundle the plan together and help them be successful and earn revenue, while paying attention to budgets.

When the menu comes back with checked items totaling $2000 (the low range), the high ranges could have been up to $10,000, $15,000 and higher. The lead time was 6 weeks to be complete for launch. Wow, $2000, which is a lot of money. But, here is the big but, this is the biggest BUT – let’s say you sat down, saving $2000 and 5 months later, you still have not achieved what the $2000 investment would have. Challenges are all around you. Having the professionals on your side, in 6 weeks you have your needs met, and during that time you were networking, making connections, attending seminars, getting introduced to others, forming referral sources, building resources — all this is so much more valuable than saving the $2000. Successful networking is immeasurable.

Thanks to Gayle Naftaly of Access.office

10. Give It Away

Yes, that’s right. Give your product away and then give it a way to come back to you in the form of orders. That’s what Debbi Fields did when she started her hugely successful cookie company. She handed out free cookies in malls. And people began ordering, on the spot! Circumstances vary, of course, but think about some kind of handout that will widen your exposure to paying customers. In my case, I used to assure potential clients that if they were not satisfied with my services, they would not have to pay my fee. No one ever refused to pay, but….they came back for more — for decades.

Thanks to Dr. Marlene Caroselli of

11. Guerilla Marketing Via Paying It Forward

When I started my NovaLash extension beauty business about 7 years ago, I had zero money and less than zero credit. I knew to succeed I’d need to reach a discretionary-income crowd immediately. I couldn’t afford to advertise in the type of media that my sought-after clientele would read. I was raised to remember to always give back, so I went on-line seeking out charitable causes I personally believed in. Then, I donated my lash extension services and other esthetic services as silent auction items that would be bid on at parties and balls, and the proceeds would go to a wonderful cause. The potential client would redeem her prize, and hopefully like me, and refer friends to me. I also donate services to military wives and vets. My out-of-desperation marketing worked!

Thanks to Alicia Hunter of Aliciahunter.com

12. Research

Starting a new business on a shoestring budget isn’t easy, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. My biggest tip for shoestring start-ups is to do lots of research. Research is what enabled me to start my hair company on a small budget. However, when I first started, I spent more money on things such as graphic design because I hadn’t researched in-depth to find talented designers who were more cost-effective. If you only call one wholesaler, distributer, graphic designer etc, then you’ll always pay the highest price for almost everything. Another tip that I would give is that DIY isn’t always the best option. Though tempting when on a small budget to do everything yourself, think about how much time you’ll have to spend on that particular thing. How much is your time worth?

Thanks to Victoria Olubi of My Curls

13. Go Local!

Look to your roots for your first round of customers or investors. Local customers are a quick and important start to building your business. At CyberSynchs, we gained our first customers by reaching out to our local newspaper — The Shreveport Times. CyberSynchs launched on November 10th of 2008 and within the first 2 weeks we had 13,000 subscribers.

Thanks to Amos Winbush III of CyberSynchs

14. Editorials Rock

Send out samples of your new product to all pertinent magazines, ezines, tv shows, etc. The cost of 20 or so samples will be more than covered when you get that first editorial hit.

Thanks to Harriet Zbikowski of Foxgloves

15. Social Media Marketing – The Best Tool In Your Toolbox!

Marketing a new business and getting the word out is the key to any start-up business. Unfortunately, too many business owners miss this step or are not sure how to do it properly. Social media is the least expensive way to market your business and is one of the most powerful tools to get the word out! Fortunately for me, my business IS social media marketing, so starting my business without a budget was just another testimonial I could use in my own marketing plan. The proof is in the pudding, as they say, so pull up your bootstraps and get on the computer!

Thanks to Chanda Gunter of The Social Network – Social Media Marketing

16. Focus On Sales, Use Press Releases And Be Okay With Incremental Steps

If your budget isn’t very big, you need to bootstrap your business start by focusing on sales. Send out press releases to as many places as you can — use press release services online, call your local paper. Get the word out that way, and move onto other more costly tactics once the sales start coming in. Be okay with incremental steps. It is tempting to hold back a service or product until it is perfect, but finding ways to expose what you do have working to customers can get the ball rolling. It amazes me how often people are excited to use something they know is a work in progress, it makes them part of the process, they are going to tell you exactly what should be improved and in which order.

Thanks to Debra Lewis of ClayWare Games, LLC

17. Barter For Bootstrappers

Bootstrapping businesses can utilize barter to boost sales production and conserve cash. It’s easy, it’s smart and it works like a charm.

Savvy entrepreneurs are discovering that bartering is a great vehicle for moving excess inventory, using downtime, attracting new customers, and generating barter dollars that can be used for advertising and other business expenses.

In its simplest form, bartering involves an equal trade. One business swaps a good or service for another. Through professional barter exchanges (where members pay a commission fee for goods or services traded) more complex trades are possible.

A business lists a good or service for trade through the barter exchange. In return, the business receives a trade credit based on the dollar value of trade.

Thanks to Don Mardak of IMS

18. Poverty Is No Excuse For Bad Taste

Entrepreneurs should go to the experts and either barter, create an equity arrangement, payment schedule or something, before they launch their companies on a shoe string with compromised messaging and graphics. Your brain’s memory works with only one cue card: experience. Without a brand experience you have nothing. And that’s no way to launch a business. A brand promise must be articulated with a ‘reason to believe’. You have ONE shot to make a good impression – you can’t fix it later. Hire a pro to write your mission statement – do a few pages of a website and keep building as you go – but have a pro design it for you. The same for business cards.

The dirty little secret is – the investment you make in branding right from the get-go gets amortized over the next 10 years of your business if you do it right. To quote Red Adair; “The only thing more expensive than hiring a professional is hiring an amateur”. I’m so tired of seeing people with vision and passion who have mortgaged their homes for their dream launch with dismal amateur hour executions.

Thanks to Leslie Singer of HS Dominion

19. Twisplays Bootstrapping

Try to pre-sell your product or service. That will give you some feedback, marketing and sales experience and maybe even some income.

I started pre-selling as I was developing my product. Making those first few sales gave me a lot of encouragement – and the first few hundred dollars to deposit in my business bank account.

Thanks to Joshua Persky of Twisplays

20. Summary: Bootstrapping Your Way To Success

The most important thing for me when starting my business was to have a professional looking website. Being able to create a professional looking website for free using WordPress as my publishing platform was my greatest achievement. I still use it today. It costs me $15 for a domain name and $15/mo with a cheap shared hosting account to get started. It continues to be the best investment I made for my small business.

The best marketing platform I could afford when starting up was Craigslist. It allowed me to advertise my services for free and helped me land my first 6 clients who provided the foundation for my business.

Thanks to Clay Toporski of Clay Toporski Photography

21. You Will Need Your SLEEP! Advice To Not De-rail!

I began this journey as a ‘bootstrapper’ really, and unexpected entrepreneur. I was chronically exhausted and found a line of women’s high-tech sleepwear that worked — after recovery, I discovered my creative mojo…amazing what a little sleep will do! I then cold-called the company and hopped on board the Little Engine that Could (Feb. 2010). Fast forward today…we’re chugging along managing all Marketing/Sales and strategy efforts for Goodnighties, selling in all 50 states/11 countries on-line, speciality catalogs, Miraval (Oprah’s favorite spa). Our non-existent budget has proved challenging, but through creative ways (like doing everything ourselves) we manage to stay off the 3rd rail! My advice to anyone going down this ‘track’ is to research and learn and do everything yourself!

Thanks to Sarah Baldwin of Goodnighties Smart-Fabric Sleepwear

22. Bootstrapping Your Way To Success

My name is Shahed Khan, I am a young entrepreneur, and founded ViaTask in early January of this year. Lets face it, not a lot of investors will pitch in their money into an idea that has no history of traction, nor any signs of improvement. I successfully boot-strapped my own company from its feet. My best advice for entrepreneurs would be to think of yourself as the investor, do whatever it takes to develop your product/service and the [future] investments will automatically follow. If you would like more advice, please feel free to add us on Twitter (@shahedkhan30), and visit my Facebook (facebook.com/shahedkhan30)

Thanks to Shahed Khan of ViaTask

23. Tips For Bootstrapping

1. Solidify a revenue model first – figure out who is giving you money. Sounds easy, but it’s one of the most overlooked concepts of many tech startups.

2. Get clients, even if you’re not 100% ready – If your customers believe in you and your product/service, they will grow with you.

3. Have a Unique Value Proposition (UVP) – Competition in any industry is fierce, give customers a reason why you are better/different/more popular.

*Dont use the “I’m looking for the high-end consumer” line, especially if you do not have a product that warrants high-prices…I see that too much and it makes me sick.

Thanks to Chris Sonjeow of LoveBook LLC

24. How I Bootstrapped My Way To Success

I started my business with $70 to register my company name and $100 for a software program. Just nine months later, I have hired my first employee to help me grow my editing, writing and consulting firm. We specialize in writing business plans for start-up companies, and we have clients in Canada and the US. My single best tip is to take advantage of free advertising methods – social media, Craigslist, and your network – and learn how these elements interact to help you succeed. I post free ads on Craigslist that point to my web site, Twitter and Facebook pages – then update Twitter through Facebook and post updates that encourage people to connect to all my pages. I always encourage people I meet to learn about me online – it’s a great way to drum up ongoing interest in my business!

Thanks to Jessica Oman of Write Ahead

25. The Startup Sale

I like to offer something I call the startup sale. The purpose is to get as many customers and sales quickly. What I do is call on everyone I know and tell them about my new company. Then I ask if I could provide the service at a reduced rate “in order to build my

portfolio”. The result is generally a few immediate sales which can be immediately leveraged to acquire more customers. Generally people want to see some proof that you will do what you say you will. By quickly getting a couple portfolio pieces under your belt you can look more credible faster, which makes it easier to make future sales.

Thanks to Chris Chong of Link Building Service

26. Slow And Steady Wins The Race!

It’s possible to bootstrap a company and develop the concept without a lot of money which is why they call it bootstrapping. But you have to be willing to spend the time to work out your concept and business model on the side while you put the pieces together. But that’s a good thing. Too much money gets thrown into a lot of untested and poorly conceived ideas. Bootstrapping is great in that you can really go through all the necessary growing pains and learn from the bottom up what to do and what not to do. And because it’s usually your money in the beginning, you can choose to invest it as you wish without people pushing you into directions that might have diluted your brand. In the long run you end up in the same place.

Maybe bootstrapping, and perhaps this is the downside, takes a little longer. But the wisdom gained is priceless. If you really want to move quickly and drop everything in your current work life, then friends and family loans are usually the quickest and easiest way to go without giving up too much of your company, especially before your business model has been proven. When you start a company you make a lot of mistakes. But when you’re bootstrapping it’s not being noticed so much on a national scale, so you can more easily fix them. I always say slow and steady wins the race in the end!

Thanks to Craig Wolfe of CelebriDucks

27. Notes From The Taskmistress….

Hi I am a boot strapper! I started my business The Taskmistress, LLC over 15 years ago with zero. I had a desk, computer, printer, fax; phones and a cell, so I just jumped in with both feet. I have never been to business school, but what I do posses is common sense. Once I jumped in, I needed to figure out who my client was and how to reach out. I had a minuscule ad in The NY Observer that yielded a few clients. What I have found works the best is old-fashioned word of mouth. It is frankly the best referral, as it gives instant credibility. I focused on networking and learning to speak about my business which is not as easy as it sounds. It is an exercise that forces you to think out of the box. As far as generating revenue, I doubt that will happen “quickly” today for any new business given the state of the economy. A business takes times to grow and unless one comes up with some unbelievable idea, revenue will take time. It’s just a fact.

Thanks to Nancy Freedman of The Taskmistress, LLC

28. Look For An Underserved Niche In The Market

Usually it takes lots of time and resources to wrangle over a large customer base with your competitors. But, if you can find a narrow niche that isn’t being served adequately or doesn’t have any special product or service devoted to them, it’s much easier and cheaper to reach them and turn them into new customers. This often means that you need to slightly adapt your product or service, as well as your marketing pitch to them. But small businesses can adapt much faster than large ones, giving you an advantage in reaching that niche market. Hint: To find out if the niche is large enough to be worth your while, you can put up a Google AdWords ad regarding the proposed product/service and have it link to a Survey Monkey survey to gauge market interest.

Thanks to Jeff Kear of My Wedding Workbook Pro

29. Think Lean But Not Cheap

There is a difference between starting lean and starting cheap. I first began with a cheap web host who placed ads on my site in return for the reduced cost. I didn’t want to hire a programmer or pay for order processing, so wrote it all in HTML and counted on visitors sending me PayPal payments and e-mailing their orders. My prices were far lower than competing sites, yet I wasn’t doing well. An article I wrote brought thousands of visitors to my site, many of whom e-mailed to say they were impressed with the article but disgusted by the cheap, amateurish site.

I moved to a professional host, revamped the site and added a shopping cart. Sales took off. But how many of those first few thousand visitors never returned? It often pays to spend a little money to make a lot more.

Thanks to Izzy Goodman of Complete Computer Services

30. Be Stubborn!

As a young, newbie entrepreneur launching a real estate business in the midst of a market crash in 2007, I initially bootstrapped my company, RER, LLC. With no sound investor willing to put blind faith into me, I tapped into personal credit cards & student loans & dug myself deep in debt to fund the manifestation of RER. It took stubborn persistence & the ability to see past negative revenue the 1st year to make bootstrapping well worth it. Meanwhile, I’d provide free consultations to investors looking to put money into real estate. When they tired of all the work involved, they began giving me the money to do the investing, & I caught “the big break.”

My best tip: Be stubborn when it comes to your dream. And don’t be afraid to give things away for free to prove your product’s value.

Thanks to Ankit Duggal of RER, LLC

31. Solve The Need They Don’t Talk About

When I was building my business, I was doing things totally outside my primary services. I am a social media strategist, because of this I work primarily in the cloud. My clients would express needs for their business, in casual conversation. I began to do the work that they needed, mainly Virtual Assistant type of work, because I knew that was what they needed. If I could speak to their need, I could retain them longer. Though the work was outside my offered services, it helped me fund my business growth. As my business grew, I was able to focus my work to my industry and cut out the VA work. The point is, when you are growing, don’t limit yourself. Use the skills you have.

Thanks to Lauren MacEwen of SM Cubed Consulting

32. Bootstrapping With Recycled Ribbon And Yarn

My business was built around bootstrapping. My number one tip is to be

like a warrior. Even if you have a “fail proof” business idea, there are days when you ask yourself, “Why am I not just working for a big company and having a more stable paycheck?”. But you have to call on your inner warrior, and go into your home office with aggressiveness and keep your foot on the gas pedal because you can’t rest on yesterday’s successes. You need to continually improve, and to do that you need to be strategic and assertive everyday and not let up. Warriors have to be brave when they march into battle, and you must have that same fervor to be successful.

Thanks to Nicole Snow of Darn Good Yarn

33. Strike Up Strategic Partnerships

Strategic partnerships are an excellent approach for startups to quickly generate revenue. Simply having a product or service isn’t enough & due to high start-up costs, advertising budgets are often too small. Forming a strategic partnership with companies in complimentary industries can overcome this problem.

For instance, if you invent a new tooth whitening system you could strike up a profit-share partnership with hair salons, spas & even cosmetic surgeons: as long as they don’t sell tooth whitening products & are happy with your product, why wouldn’t they want to partner up & take a share of your profits for doing no work? And you would gain instant access to paying customers. Putting a robust referral system in place is an excellent way to kick-start any business on a shoestring.

Thanks to Obi Orgnot of OrgNot Ltd.

34. From Code To Cash

I started a company called Undaunted Apps that develops games and apps for mobile devices like the iPhone. It cost me $150 to get started and another $1500 to get my first app, Celebritize, out the door and onto the iPhone App Store at http://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/undaunted-apps/id405892232. I’m now making about $1500 a month from those initial efforts and I expect that to at least triple when I release the next version of the app along with my first game later this month.

Another way folks can start making money with little or no investment is blogging. I know several folks who have put up blogs on a specific topic and started making money from Google ads fairly quickly. It just takes writing for 30 minutes a day on a topic you know something about, and marketing your blog efficiently.

Thanks to Rick Dieterle of Undaunted Apps

35. Fail Fast And Do Your Homework

Leverage Google search to explore and test your ideas. Specifically, using a tool like this, http://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal can you help you determine if anyone is actually searching for the product, tool, or idea that you are thinking about starting. It can also generate additional, related ideas since the Google tools provides additional related keyword phrases to the one you entered. And best of all, it will give you a read out on how competitive each of the search phrases is. The key of course is finding a highly searched term with low competition.

Thanks to Lauren Elward of Castle Ink

36. Bootstrapping Lessons Learned

As a successful bootstrapper, an important lesson we have learned at Daily Deals for Moms is getting everything up and running quickly, and then going back and tweaking as necessary. As we started the business, we cut out the “beta” testing process and dove right in. We created strategic partnerships and started growing the business as well as we could until we had some revenue to funnel back into the business. It was then that we could attack the most critical weaknesses with the knowledge and funds that we had generated through sales and the sales process.

Thanks to Whitney Trujillo of Daily Deals For Moms

37. Snack&Munch’s Two Tips On How To Generate Revenue Quickly.

1) Get your friends and family to buy your product or service. When they buy you get support from them and it’s automatic advertising for you. Once they buy from you they will tell all their friends and families. This way it creates a chain reaction that will result in more sales eventually. People will see and hear their friends buying from you and so will they.

2) Get the word out everywhere. Contact all media, as much as possible, as fast as possible. When you contact as many media outlets quickly and at once, if some people write about you then chances are other media will see and also do a piece. And once a lot of places are covering you then you could easily go viral and get picked up all over the internet.

Thanks to Farooq Yousuf of Snack&Munch

38. Building A Business On A Shoestring

I knew that I didn’t want to take on huge debt to fund the start-up. I could easily have torn through something in the range of $100,000 to be at full sprint right out of the gate. Instead, my plan was to keep my “day job” and work on administrative and marketing efforts in the evenings and weekends. This was the single most critical component of making things work. I did tons of research on internet marketing, web development, and business promotion with social media. Instead of using borrowed money for these efforts, I did it all myself. It made things stretch out in time and it made life difficult at times, but it was worth it. Once the foundation was in place, calling and visiting prospects was painless because there was no debt-related pressure/burden to make things happen.

Thanks to Edward Carrick of Performance Analysis

39. Queen Of Bootstrapping Shares Keys

I have spent 9 years bootstrapping to pay for the start-up investment in my chocolate business. It has become a way of life to me. What I dreamed it would be? No. Is it hard work? You better believe it! Do I sometimes want to quit NEVER! And here are my keys: stamina, determination, flexibility and an insatiable desire to peddle your product, idea or service. Stamina to remember,”if this was easy, everyone would be doing it.” Flexibility to tweak the biz plan and adapt and move forward. Sales with more creativity — anyway, anyhow, new markets, venues. Because you can’t bootstrap without sales. Bootstrapping is just one layer of the cake on the road to sweet success. Stay positive, always be selling and enjoy the process. Bootstrapping is a challenge that builds character and is never dull.

Thanks to Katie Camarro of Sundaes Best Hot Fudge Sauce

40. Strapped And Bootin The Budget!

In the case of Atlanta startup eRollover (www.erollover.com), an independent, online consumer destination focused on retirement planning, our single best tip is the use of social media in marketing. Targeting Generation X’ers, 33 to 49 year olds with multiple retirement accounts, and a basic mistrust with big, traditional brokerage houses, we’re marketing to them with great success on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, even YouTube (http://www.rmmonline.com/design/erollover/eRollover_728x90Expandablev9.html). The result has been increasing traffic to our site, and conversions to membership at a very high ROI.

Thanks to David Andersen of ERollover

41. Got Presellability?

Get your product “sellable” as fast as possible. Not perfect, just sellable. Too many companies fail because they run out of money before their product even hits the marketplace. Start selling. Do it any way you can, for as cheap as you can. Track the results, then test and tweak. Put up a website, write some sales copy. Find a complimentary product line or service and partner with that company. Craft an enticing offer for their customer file and send it out, on their bill. Then split the profits. Offer an exclusive discount or “charter” membership to those who preorder before you even launch to the public (legally has to be within 30 days of launch). Do that and you’ll have a business with revenue, marketing data, customers, testimonials, case studies and a good reputation.

Thanks to Seth Ellsworth of SiteRehab.com

Thanks so much again to all our wonderful contributors for your valuable suggestions this week!  We hope to hear from you again.

This week’s question is –

The internet is crawling with misleading claims of “overnight success,” which can be incredibly discouraging for those who can’t achieve the same “get-rich-quick” results. The truth is that starting a business takes time and persistence, and most overnight success stories were years in the making. What is the truth behind your journey to success, and how long did it really take for your business to become profitable?

Why should I join the discussion?

Because this online forum is a great place for us to exchange ideas, learn from each other and network. My goal is to unite successful women entrepreneurs to share our insights and solutions to the challenges we most commonly face in our businesses.

How do I get involved?

Every Monday I will post a new Question of the Week. This is a great opportunity for you to bring your expertise to the table. Using the link below, please submit a one paragraph response before the deadline, and the following week I will share our community responses on my blog.


I look forward to your response to this week’s question! If you have any questions you know where to find me. Have a great week!


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  1. Posted April 11, 2011 at 7:29 am | Permalink | Reply

    Nice collection. Relevant info all in one post. Nice work done. I liked Guerilla Marketing and Fail Fast And Do Your Homework. They are really nice.

    Good work!

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