A bootstrapped business is one that is built without any outside financial help. Unfortunately, this leaves little room for error . . . yet new business owners are prone to making mistakes. Here, we will examine some of the biggest mistakes that could torpedo your business before it gets off to a good start.
Some of the mistakes new business owners should be wary of:
Buying New Equipment
If you’re short on money, “new” is the last thing you should be looking for. Instead, scour the classifieds for used items in good condition. Check with companies that are going out of business, or talk to large companies that may be ridding themselves of old office equipment. There’s no reason to pay $400 for a new desk when you can buy one for $25 at an office or garage sale. Look for used office equipment in:
- Newspaper classifieds
- School sales
- Garage and estate sales
- Craigslist and other online classified sites
There are a few situations when buying new goods is recommended. Printers, for example, are rarely in good condition when sold used. Keep in mind, however, that you should always look for deals. Search for online coupon codes, as well as stores like Office Depot and Best Buy. You can often get $25 or more off a larger purchase with free shipping.
Growing Too Fast
Business growth is good. Growing too fast is not necessarily good. If you grow too quickly, your business might collapse. This is where a business plan comes in handy. Knowing exactly what your goals are and planning for them will help you maintain a slow, steady growth that is healthier for your business in the long run.
Tip: Keep track of expenses to make sure that you aren’t spending more than you have in sales receipts.
It’s all the rage to outsource, but that’s not realistic if you’re starting out with a minimal budget. In fact, it takes time and dedication to get a company off the ground, and there are some excellent reasons to do most of the work yourself.
- Get the experience. This makes it easier to supervise later.
- Save money. You’ll save a lot if you reserve outsourcing for areas that you really can’t handle, such as graphic design.
- Flexibility. If you’re paying someone by the hour, you won’t always be able to try different ideas, but if you’re working on your own, you can be more flexible.
Renting an Office Space for Online Work
This doesn’t apply to all businesses, as some are going to require a commercial space, but if you work mostly on your computer, why do you need office space? It is a huge waste of resources when you are attempting to save money. Not everyone has the ideal home environment, but if you can manage to set up an office space in your home, do it. In cases where that is not possible, then there are other options. Check to see if your locale has shared office space. These allow you to pay a monthly or per attendance fee and you can drop in to an office center when necessary. There, you will have all the amenities you might require, plus a desk where you can sit and work without the distraction of a spouse, kids or pets.
Not everyone has the ideal home environment, but if you can manage to set up an office space in your home, this is great. In cases where that is not possible, then there are other options. Check to see if your town has shared office options. These allow you to pay a monthly or per attendance fee and you can drop in to an office center when necessary. There, you will have all the amenities you might require, plus a desk where you can sit and work without the distraction of a spouse, kids or pets.
Scrimping on Web Design
When it comes to promoting your business, cheaper isn’t always best. A prime example, your website. You need a crisp, clean design that gets the point across. Poorly done graphics will end up chasing clients away, so if it requires a bit more money to get a better website, it will be worth it in the long run. Make sure you aren’t going with the lowest bidder just to save money, since you won’t get the best results.
Other areas you should never scrimp on:
- Website content and writing
- Printing (business cards, flyers, etc.)
- Signs for your business
Take a few minutes to research your options, check out portfolios and choose the company that gives results you like for a price you can afford. Look for sales or coupon codes to use with companies to get your work done a little more cheaply. Also look into sites like 99Designs, where designers bid for your project. You determine how much to spend, and designers compete to win your business.
These are all common mistakes that bootstrap business owners make. Are you making any of these? Keep in mind that while you do want to avoid spending too much money, sometimes services are worth it.