So, you’re starting up a new company, but how do you fund it? There are lots of ways to get the money rolling, from Start Up Loans to venture capital investment and even crowdfunding. But what about doing it yourself on a lean budget?

Fiona McMillan, Founder and CEO of gal pal

By going solo, you’ll continue to own 100% of the business, using the money gained through income to propel your business forwards. Not only will the money be yours, but you’ll have all the say on those important business decisions, too.

We’ve compiled a handy guide to help you bootstrap your start-up:

Think lean

The quickest way to build profit is to reduce your expenses. Prioritise what’s important. Think about all the things you need to run your business and try to cut down on the things you might not necessarily need to fork out money for. Do you need an office, or could you work from home initially, or even hire a co-working space? It’s also a good opportunity to seek the best deals to make sure you’re getting the most out of your energy, phone, broadband and insurance providers.

Survival is key

At the start, it’s important to see how much money you need your business to make. You’ll need to make enough to live and pay your necessary costs – business and personal. If you’re doing it as a side-hustle, you may have a bit more money coming in from your day job - but remember to not overdo it and keep your well-being in check.

Get selling

You may have a bit of cash to get you rolling, but with start-up costs adding up, you’ll need to try and get some money coming in sooner rather than later. Focus on selling your services or products that don’t necessarily need a lot of outlay. You can then reinvest that money – after you’ve maybe paid yourself something – into your business and get it moving in the direction you want. Look after your early customers: treat them well and there’s a good chance they’ll become regular shoppers.

Create a buzz

PR is a good tool to have when launching a start-up. Often you can get coverage for your brand for very little outlay. Think about how to make your story as interesting as possible and how your product is solving a problem. Check out our handy PR tips from a pro.

Play on people you know

Your friends, family and former colleagues will play a huge part in your start-up success. Try to get as much advice as possible from the people you know and trust. The people you worked with will have had an influence on your career – for good and bad. You will have learnt what not to do, how not to manage and also which paths are worth taking. You might even find a good co-founder among those you trust.

Hire wisely

You may need to outsource some of the tasks if they require a specific set of skills but choose your team wisely. Freelancers can be a cost-effective way of delivering one-off activities, but make sure you check any contracts and set a clear set of objectives when you take someone on. Check out our blog post about making your first hire.

Learn on the job

You might not be a marketing expert, a spreadsheet wizard or customer service guru, but now is the time to start learning and developing your skill set. There’s a lot of good, free information on the web to talk you through things. Take advantage of free or cheap courses, webinars and networking events. Keep checking back on this site to see if there are any Virgin StartUp events near you

Freebie does it

Some start-up essentials are going to see you open your wallet, but there’s lots of free software out there to help you on your way. Spreadsheet templates can help with keeping track of your profit and loss accounts, invoicing and budgeting, while design websites like Canva can help boost your creativity and email providers like Mailchimp are there to spread the message to your tribe over email. Whatever you’re looking for, type it into your browser and see what’s available for free.

Start your journey today by downloading the Virgin StartUp business plan template.