Some sources say the term derives its meaning from the expression “lifting oneself up by one’s own bootstraps”.
Sounds like you? I know it definitely applied to me when I started Sharpe Design Solutions. I was certain I had a service that small businesses needed, but I didn’t want to get in over my head by borrowing from the bank. So to minimise the risk of failure, I followed these 5 tips to successfully bootstrap my small business.
If you don’t know the answers to these questions, it’s important to partner with someone who can help you find out.
3. Get your branding right from the start. Once you know who your ideal customers are, you’ll need to demonstrate to them your core brand promise, your unique proposition. Why should they do business with you over the next guy? Your brand, including your logo, slogan/catch phrase and all your marketing efforts need to be distinctive, authentic and consistent. This will go a long way to differentiate you from your competitors. And if you get it right from the start, it can save you from unnecessary re-branding down the track.
4. Start marketing ASAP. If you put all your funds in to creating the ideal product, you’ll have none left for promoting it in the marketplace. It’s essential to find affordable but effective ways to reach your ideal customers in the start up phase of your business. With your branding in place, a well optimised website is a MUST! You could take the DIY road – but be warned; you may know enough to make a pretty landing page, but if it isn’t optimised for search engines like Google, it will have been a waste of your time. Next, consider your social media marketing. Done right, Facebook advertising can help you find your ideal customers.
And whatever profits you do make, put at least 5% back into marketing – more if you can. In today’s competitive marketplace, it’s not enough to have a great product or service, you have to have a great marketing strategy too.
5. Pick a partner. Partnering with a marketing agency that understands your business, your goals and your budget and who can help you create a strategic marketing plan is a wise move. Starting a business on your own is tough, going it alone long term is even tougher. Partnering with an agency that can act as your “outsourced marketing department”, giving you ongoing support and advice, will allow you to focus on what you do best.
Consistently marketing your brand to your ideal customers will get you one step further to ensuring the long term success of your business and prove that your bootstrapping efforts were well worth your blood, sweat and tears.
Jody Sharpe has over 20 years experience in marketing & branding and is passionate about helping local small businesses grow.