Businesses have a bunch of different parts. Piecing together different tools and services to help run your business can add up quickly.
This isn’t good, especially when your business is young and you’re focused on bootstrapping.
What Does Bootstrapping Mean?
Bootstrapping means building a business with spending as little money as possible. You may have a chunk of change that you are giving yourself to build the business or you are setting out to build a business with $0 dollars in the bank.
Either way, the money is precious and each cent should be put towards absolutely necessary things. That’s where bootstrapping comes in.
Finding creative or DIY solutions to build a business by spending the least amount of money possible.
Your Bootstrap Mindset
As you build your business, you need to get into the bootstrappers mindset. You should always be looking for free solutions.
If you need to make a spreadsheet, don’t go pay Microsoft right way. Look for a free alternative like Google Docs, make the solutions yourself or do without.
You can piece together free services with IFTTT or Zapier. If you know some code, you can program yourself a solution. Then finally if all else fails, research research research to find the best possible deal on the service or product you ABSOLUTELY need.
With this in mind, I put this article together to give you some direction on where to look for free solutions to help you bootstrap an online business.
Free Plugins and Modules
Whether your website is built with WordPress or Drupal, there are free plugins and modules out there to cater to your exact needs. Just go forth and Google exactly what you want with “WordPress” at the end.
If you’re in need of professional photography, try these awesome sites.
These sites allow you to use the photos in any way. However, always double-check the copyright because things can always change.
Photoshop is EXPENSIVE. Nowadays, you have to pay Adobe a monthly fee to use their programs. This is great is you’re actively using a lot of the Adobe Suite, but when you’re just using one or two? Screw that!
Now I promised ONLINE solutions. I had to squeeze in GIMP because it’s great, but there IS an online and FREE solution to Photoshop. And that is Photopea.com.
You can have all the functions of Photoshop right in your browser. Check it out!
Video Editing Software
It is tricky to find good, video editing software that is free. Here are some researched solutions for you.
Businesses need to manage money and what better way than a fancy accounting software?
Instead of going all out with fancy software, you can use some free options. Wave is a great, free accounting software.
And PayPal is great for making invoices and creating balance sheets. Plus they’re free to use. They just take a small transaction fee.
Capital One is an online banking solution for your business that does not charge you if you have a balance. They are a bank and not account software, but I figure I throw that tidbit your way 😉
At the beginning, when you can’t afford ads, how are you going to get your business out there? Well, with free solutions of course.
Now you do have to put in a little elbow grease when it comes to free solutions and marketing is going to require a lot of time and effort.
Get on Social Media
Find out the best social media platforms where your target audience hangs out. Then sign up, learn how to put yourself out there and gather a following.
The best way to market your business for free is to use content marketing. Starting a blog and getting search engine traffic, creating a youtube channel and getting views and other awesome ways will bring in traffic to you for free.
Always use free solutions when you’re starting out. There’s nothing wrong with starting with Mailchimp and switching later. Look at the options and see which ones have the best free version.
Later on, you can get more advanced options as your list grows bigger.
Google Drive is great for collaborating with other team members. You can even sync calendars. But if you’re looking for a delegation system to assign projects and todo list, look no further than Trello, Asana or Basecamp.
With many projects and tasks needed for your business, you’re going to want a good project management software to keep everything organized.
Infographics and Reports
Infographics can make your content more appealing, help you get your point across and help prove your expertise.
You can create beautiful infographics and reporting charts with Infogram. The basic plan is freeeee.
Signature and Filling out Paperwork Digitally
Toggl has been my number one time tracking tool for over 5 years. It has great reporting, and it’s free to download on your computer, use it within the browser or download it to your devices.
Surveys and Forms
Proofreading and Editing
A big part of creating an online business is creating content. And with content creation comes mistakes, typos and a whole lot of grammar errors.
Grammarly is your best friend with a degree in English ready to help you out anytime for free.
But don’t stop at Grammarly. The Hemmingway app can help your sentence structure and making your content easier to read.
Websites and Landing Pages
If you’re in need of a website, you can check out my Website Quickstart Guide. It takes you through setting up a website with WordPress, but there are some costs required.
If you want straight-up FREE, check these website builders out:
Meetings are inevitable. But at least with an online business, you can do them virtually. Your party members will never know you’re pantless!
Here are some free solutions to creating virtual meetings:
There are a million different ways to communicate. Many are apps, websites and of course email. I don’t have to mention them here, but there is one cool software called Slack you may want to check out.
Keep it Free
All the above are great solutions to try out for your business. The most important thing to remember is to KEEP it FREE.
Don’t spend a lot of time downloading and testing because the other most important thing in bootstrapping a business is time.
You need to build fast, be efficient and launch your business out in the world