III. Bootstrapping Your Way to Success
Bootstrapping Strategy 6. Try Crowdsourcing
Usually, when you outsource a task, you pick out a specific individual (or a small group of people) to perform specific tasks or services. Crowdsourcing is different because you solicit services from a large group of non-specific people, often those who’re members of a specific community. Contributors may be paid with cash, prizes, rights to the end result, or even just recognition for a job well done.
One example of crowdsourcing is the site 99Designs, where logo designers compete to create a logo for anyone who posts a project. The winning designer is awarded cash. Thus those projects with higher awards tend to garner the most response.
Another example of crowdsourcing is Wikipedia, where people from all over the world contributed to hundreds of thousands of topics to create a large reference site.
Still another example of crowdsourcing comes from Leo Babauta, who’s the founder of the site Zen Habits. Babauta wrote the book “The Effortless Life: A Concise Manual for Contentment, Mindfulness, & Flow,” but he didn’t write it alone. Instead, he wrote it publicly, using Google Docs, and he allowed others to edit the book and add their own contributions.
Point is, you don’t need a lot of money in order to get great end results… if you’re willing to let go of some of the control you have over a project.
Bootstrapping Strategy 7. Utilize Freemium Tools
Chances are, you’re going to need some software and other tools to set up your business. However, you don’t need to pay full price. That’s because a lot of companies offer freemium versions of their tools. And while these tools may have limited functionality or otherwise be restricted – such as you only being able to use them for a limited amount of time – they usually give you exactly what you need to get started.
For example, the email service provider Mail Chimp provides a free account. The catch is that it’s only free for the first 2000 subscribers, and you’re limited to how many emails you can send per month. However, it’s a good option for anyone who’s just getting started. By the time most people hit the 2000 subscriber cap, they’re making enough money to easily upgrade to the full version of Mail Chimp.
Another example of a freemium product includes the countless free WordPress themes and plugins that are available to bloggers. Sometimes the plugins come with limitations which can be removed with an upgrade to a pay version. Likewise, paid themes tend to come with more features, such as better support, the ability to remove the creator’s link at the bottom of the theme, and similar features.
Still another example of a freemium product is Skype. You can use this software to talk with your clients for free, either by text, voice or even video. If you want to use Skype to call your clients’ phones directly, or if you want to have multi-person conference calls and video chats, then you can upgrade to their paid model.
Point is, a lot of companies offer their services for free. When you start researching options for tools, always check first to see if a free or even a low-cost version is available to you.
Now let’s wrap things up.