Bootstrapping 101: How to Beg, Borrow and Barter Your Way into Business



Starting a business costs money, sometimes a lot more than you have to start out with and definitely more than you can expect to make during that critical start-up phase. So how do you bridge the gap between the absolute essentials you need to get your enterprise off the ground and the influx of cash once the business starts coming in?

It’s called bootstrapping and consider it your entrepreneurial badge of honor where you earn your business wisdom. It’s the stage of the game where you need to beg, borrow and barter whatever you can to get started. It’s where you need to get creative about your start-up expenses and seriously evaluate that long list of must-have’s.

Stick to the Absolute Necessities and Nothing Else! – Take your entrepreneurial start-up wish list and strip it down to the absolute essentials and nothing more! Ask, “What do I absolutely need to get started selling product or finding clients?” That probably means skipping hiring the fancy PR firm and building the e-Commerce web site until you have revenue coming in.

Trade for Services – It’s likely there are other start-ups out there who are in the same position as you: cash strapped and needing to fill a few gaps to get started. If you are lucky enough to have a service that you could trade in exchange for their services, perfect. If not, investigate barter communities that allow you to deposit your services and withdraw other services from within a pool of ‘traders’.

Tap into Intern Programs – Collages and universities are an invaluable source of free help – from business planning to hands-on help in the office. Consider hiring an intern in exchange for giving them the practical work experience that will set them apart from other new grads when they finally enter the workforce.

Check Out Free Resource Sites – Hop online and do a quick search for free business start-up resources in your local area. Supporting small business is good for the local economy so chances are there are a number of programs and resources available specifically designed to foster small business growth in your community.

Bid Your Project Out – Use one of the many online bid sites to ‘outsource’ your start-up project to the lowest bidder. A few of our favorite sites are, and where you can bid out your start-up projects, from creative design to SEO.

Search for Bargains – Before you buy that software package, sign-up for that online service or attend that industry conference, do a quick search for discount codes and special offers. Between social media and deal sites, there are a lot of opportunities to save money. The key is to get in the habit of always searching before you click BUY.

Opt for Do-It-Yourself Templates – Instead of hiring that expert programmer to build your web site, consider using a pre-built template to do it yourself. Sites like Headway and Thesis offer WordPress ‘themes’ that allow you to plug in a few design elements and get a custom version of a templated site for as little as $75.


About Author

Carla Young, Publisher If there’s living proof that women can have it all – and then some – it’s Carla Young. Building her multiple businesses on a virtual work-at-home model, Carla is an inspiration to other mothers who want to start a lifestyle business. During her early days as a mom entrepreneur, Carla made every single mistake in the book (and a few new ones for good measure). Realizing that “doing it all” was unhealthy and unsustainable, Carla started by getting organized to the extreme, developing support systems for both her work and family. After other mothers started asking how they too could enjoy her lifestyle, Carla launched to support moms at work, at home and at play (because every mommy deserves a little me-time)!

1 Comment

  1. Thanks for the tips! Using interns can be a really great way to get someone involved who has skills you don’t, just remember they are not slaves. 

    As someone who has had several unpaid internships I can tell you they are working very hard for free in hopes of gaining valuable experience and a reference. Try not to limit their tasks to data entry and other mind-numbing activities. If you let them do real work they will work even harder and they will feel invested in your business!

Leave A Reply