Bootstrapped companies need funds to get started just like funded companies. The difference is where those funds come from. A bootstrapped startup likely only needs a few thousand dollars to get going… just enough to pay for some hardware, and possibly some salary for non-founder employees. Many would-be founders don’t have access to a few thousand dollars, so they never get off the ground. Here are my suggestions for practical places to find the funds that you need to get your startup moving.
1. Friends. Check with any of your friends who have businesses of their own to see if they would be interested in giving you a $5k loan to help you start your own business. Set very specific terms for the loan’s payback and then treat your friend as a bank, paying them as agreed every single month.
2. Family. Asking family members for a loan is often uncomfortable, but if you have someone in a position to give you a loan then there’s no harm in asking. Be sure to make it clear that the loan is all about business, not a personal loan.
3. Banks. Banks aren’t exactly in a lending mood today, so this one may be a little more difficult. If you have a really great credit score and little debt then it’s possible that you can secure a small personal loan to help finance your early-stage startup.
4. Sell Something. Sell something of yours that has value. Have 2 cars? Sell one of them. Baseball card collection from the 80’s? Sell it. Selling personal items can be difficult, but it’s a good feeling afterwards. The simplicity and freedom of having less “stuff” is terrific.
5. Start a Consulting Business. Do some side-projects to pay the bills while your startup is still in the red. There is plenty of consulting work available for your skillset, whether it be design, development, SEO/SEM, etc.
What advice do you have? What are some other practical places to look for startup funds? Comments appreciated!
Image courtesy Curtis Gregory Perry on Flickr