When it comes to starting a wedding business most of us have bucketloads of passion, creativity and energy – but not much hard cash.
Welcome to small business bootstrapping!
What is bootstrapping? It’s a term used to describe starting a business with limited funds and certainly no outside investment. Basically, it’s all about being thrifty and frugal with your business expenses.
Making your money stretch further.
When you are starting out with limited funds, you want to scrutinise every bit of expenditure. Ask yourself if it’s really necessary – and will it help you get those all important first customers.
That can mean working from home rather than hiring office or studio space. If your home isn’t suitable for consultations then hire a meeting space when required – it will be cheaper than renting a permanent space.
Use marketing that requires time rather than money like social media and PR. Think about whether you need a glossy brochure or if the money is better spent on a really great website. One mistake many start-ups make is to book into large regional or national wedding fairs (I know – I did it myself!). Apart from the cost of the stand, the time and effort involved is massive and returns can be very disappointing. Wedding Fairs can be great, but when you are tight for cash, test out more local or niche events first.
Watch your technology spend too. It can be very tempting to splash out on a top of the range laptop, but it won’t bring you any more business than a basic version. You also won’t need much software to start with either. So don’t waste money on expensive email marketing or social media management tools. Luckily, many applications operate on a “freemium” model where a basic version is free so you can test it out first. Then if it’s working for you, upgrade to the paid model. But be careful – many of these can appear very affordable – but lots of £10 a month subscriptions add up very quickly.
Bootstrap the right things
Now a word of warning. Frugal is good – you don’t want to waste money. But even more dangerous to the success of your business is failing to invest where necessary.
You’ve probably heard the expression “pay cheap – pay twice”.
Bootstrap the wrong things and it will end up costing more. And lose you sales.
Your website for example. Trying to cut costs by using a DIY website builder is generally a bad move. The end result usually looks terrible, won’t be found on Google and certainly won’t attract customers. A good website doesn’t need to be expensive – shop around and ask for recommendations.
Good suppliers are well worth paying a little extra for. My previous business was ecommerce, and we used couriers for many deliveries. Switching from the cheapest courier to a more reliable one was one of the best decisions I made. Customer queries and lost parcels dropped to zero – saving huge amounts of time and more than making up for the slightly more expensive price.
Know your limitations
A lot of bootstrapping involves doing things yourself. But trying to DIY everything when you simply don’t have the skills will leave you frustrated. Plus it will suck all the joy out of running your own business.
So either outsource or invest in training. If you hate figures, hire a bookkeeper to manage your finances. Lack photography skills but want to up your game on Instagram, invest in a training course.
Do you have some great bootstrapping tips for start-ups? Pop them in the comments below or on our Facebook page.