Starting off is tough, especially when you want to start a business on your own terms and be your own boss. Apart from getting a loan from the bank (the old school way), or finding investors to loan you some cash upfront (the "in" thing to do these days), you can also bootstrap your company and rely on your own funds for success.
Bootstrapping means that you're financing your business out of your own pocket and thanks to technology and the internet, it’s a lot easier to succeed than before.
Here are 10 tips to help you successfully establish your business on minimal capital.
1. Do more with less
One of the main strategies to successfully bootstrap your company is to learn to do more with less. This means that you’ll need to get creative when it comes to marketing, selling and delivering your tour and activities.
2. Use distribution channels with no sign-up fees
When it comes to distributing your tours and activities, you want to put in the minimum amount of cash for maximum exposure. To get your products in front of the right audience, you should consider working with OTAs that reach niche and mass markets.
3. Leverage on your networks
Let people know what you’re doing. Post it on social media, start a blog, build a website, email your contacts and talk about it to anyone who will listen. Don’t be afraid to reach out to friends and family to let them know what you’re doing or ask for help.
Even if your network doesn’t directly engage you with your services, they might recommend your services to their network in the future.
4. Watch your budget
Bootstrapping means building your company with limited funds. The last thing you want to do is to burn through your capital before you’ve even begun.
It can be tricky so make sure to come up with a budget and a plan, and keep track of all your expenses. I use a simple excel spreadsheet to get this done and it works.
5. Create a business plan that encourages money
In those first few months, get creative with your business model. What can you do to quickly generate cash flow? How can you take that a step further and generate long-term cash flow?
Tara Gentile, host of the Profit Power Pursuit podcast, interviewed yoga instructor Jill Knouse who turned her yoga classes into a profitable online business. Before creating online courses for yoga instructors, Jill partnerships with businesses like AirBnb to conduct weekly yoga classes for their employees. Through these classes, word about her incredible classes spread around town and she started receiving a lot of requests for her services.
Might there be a way that you can make use of your unique brilliance to create a business model?
6. Use upfront payment policies
Many tour and activity operators allow their customers to simply make a booking with them, and only accepting payment after the tour or activity. This is risky because your income depends on them turning up and you have no guarantee of that. To minimise risk, you can ask for a down payment or better yet, ask for the whole payment beforehand.
If you need a simple and cheap solution to accept online payments, why not check out our payment gateway?
7. Make use of social media and online platforms
Start with the main channels. Create a Facebook, Instagram and TripAdvisor profile for your company. It makes it easy for people to find out more about your business. It also allows you to establish your web presence from the get-go by encouraging people to leave you a review online.
Don’t forget to also list your business on Google!
Download our free social media guide to bursh up on the basics and get your business off the ground.
8. Don’t outsource when you can DIY
As you’re starting out, don’t outsource things that you can do on your own. Why get someone to manage your bookings when you can do it on your own? You can make life a little easier by investing in technology that can make running a tour and activity business a lot less complicated.
Compared to outsourcing or hiring someone to help you run your business, why not use a software that can help you streamline your business at a fraction of the cost?
9. Cut out what isn’t important
The book Essentialism by Greg McKeown talks about "doing less but better”, may it be in life, relationships or at work. One of the building blocks to achieving this is by prioritising what’s important and cutting out what isn’t.
In business, this means that you’ll need to focus furiously on the things that will help your business grow and thrive. You’ll have to be thrifty when it comes to spending and incurring operational expenses. If the additional cost does not contribute to your bottom line, it’s not worth it.
10. Don't lose sight of your vision
It’s going to be a long journey ahead. Don’t lose vision of why you’re doing what you’re doing. Do the work and have great adventures.
- How to start a tour company - part one
- How to start a tour company - part two
- How to create a competitive strategy for tour and activity providers
- 14 Bootstrapping Tips
Got any more tips on how to successfully bootstrap your tour and activity company? Let us know in the comments below!
Would you like more free resources to build your tour and activity company?
Written by Nicole Kow
Having graduated from the UK, Nicole travelled around Europe before joining TrekkSoft's marketing team. She is now based in KL and regularly blogs about her travels at Next Train Out.