Bootstrapping Your Startup

When I first began talking about my startup, I didn’t think that bootstrapping was the answer. I had always been used to making a salary, getting my health insurance covered, having an office, basically buying anything I wanted whenever I wanted because I worked hard for it and deserved it. Well, once I made the leap from full time employment into a full time startup, things dramatically changed. I couldn’t spend time supplementing income because I had to give my undivided attention to my new project. With that, came a lot of stress and financial budgeting.

In a world of sixteen-hour days on your laptop fixing bugs and setting meetings, it’s nice to earn a little extra cash without putting too much of your time into doing so. Here are some of the best ways to make money while you’re building your startup.


1. Become a Zirtual Assistant.

Zirtual is a company based out of San Francisco that provides personal and executive assistance to busy people. If you become a zirtual assistant, you can set your own hours and choose only which jobs fit your schedule.

2. Fulfill requests on Zaarly.

Zaarly allows people to post what they will pay for a task or an item. Sometimes it’s as simple as a ride to the airport for $50. Other times, people are asking for help moving for $500 or a full day wedding photographer for $1,500. Sift through the requests to see which tasks your are able to fulfill.

3. Board a dog. Become a Rover sitter.

Rover was created at Startup Weekend and is a community for dog lovers to connect owners with sitters for home dog stays. So if you love dogs and work from home, you can apply to be a dog sitter in your area.

4. Rent a room out of your house or condo on Airbnb.

If you have a spare room in your place or will be away on vacation for a period of time, consider listing your space on Airbnb.

5. Become a TaskRabbit.

TaskRabbit is similar to Zaarly and Zirtual. People post errands and chores that they want to have done, like buying groceries or moving/packing and the average cost they would pay to have that task accomplished and then certified TaskRabbits will come over and fulfill those requests.

6. Teach a class on Dabble.

Dabble lets you learn, teach and host a one-time affordable class. You can teach what you know and love to a group full of interested students.

7. Become a Ninja or get paid giving advice on Clarity.

LiveNinja is a way to talk with live highly skilled experts via video chat. Clarity is similar but allows business experts to give valuable advice over the phone.

8. Freelance your skills on FreelanceSwitch.

Take a look through the job board on FreelanceSwitch to see if there are any jobs that you could help with. Sometimes it’s a quick blog post that needs written while other times, companies are looking for a freelancer on a major project.

1. Be smart about accounting.

Keeping your financial records maintained from the very start will ensure that you are on track when you start making money. Also make sure that you have a good accountant/CPA to handle your taxes. One of the best ways to reduce costs and expenses in the beginning is by being on top of your taxes and maintaining control. Upsourced Accounting is a firm in Columbus geared specifically to the freelance/startup group.

2. Understaff and consider interns.

There are many students looking for a job in a startup and you might just be the best resource for them to learn and grow.

3. Keep overhead low and outsource.

In the beginning, it is very important to keep the overhead low. You don’t need office space; work from home or coffee shops. When you’re thinking about hiring, first consider outsourcing and then check sites like Elance or oDesk for qualified candidates to do the project virtually.  If you have any quick jobs or surveys to test, give Fivver a try.

4. Negotiate.

Don’t underestimate the power of negotiation. Try asking for discounts on products if you feel that you may not use all of the features. Or perhaps explain that you are just a startup and unable to make those larger payments but will work out an arrangement to refer more clients.

5. Use free web tools.

There are many free tools out there to help you start a company. Take advantage of them. I highlight a few of them in this post: Startup Tools and Must Haves. 

Happy bootstrapping!

Comments ( 1 )
  • If you don’t feel like you’re out of control… | Just Start says:

    […] Building a startup is exciting and amazing but we all know too well, the feeling of complete chaos and loss of control. Some days I wake up and feel like my world is flipped upside down. I look at the calendar and can’t even believe that we are already halfway into the year. I think I notice the time more now that I no longer get a direct deposit from an employer. Sometimes I wonder, how many more wake-ups until I have to give up? Unfortunately, that’s the cold, hard, truth when it comes to bootstrapping a startup. […]

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