Breaking out the plastic is one way new entrepreneurs launch fledgling businesses, as Bobbie Gossage discusses in "Charging Ahead," in January 2004 issue of Inc. But it's not the only way cash-strapped entrepreneurs realize their dreams of starting new businesses. Here, Inc.com scoured the Inc. archives for tips, strategies, and success stories of starting up on a shoestring.
These successful entrepreneurs tell their stories of launching businesses with little or no cash at all.
- Start with Nothing
- Greg Gianforte thinks he knows the single best way to launch a business. Here's his secret: "Bootstrap it."
- The Pita Principle
- Just how low can you go when bootstrapping your start-up? The founders of Stacy's Pita Chip Co. can tell you.
- Great Companies Started for $1,000 or Less
- An Inc. classic: Profiles of seven entrepreneurs who transformed start-up capital of $1,000 or less into companies with revenues of $1 million or more.
- Net Flix
- Jeff Rix, founder of DVD Empire, discovered that it is possible to bootstrap your way to dot-com success.
- Startup Springboards
- No cash? No customers? That didn't stop the founders of these 2000 Inc. 500 winners.
- The Classic Bootstrapper
- One candle maker turned a borrowed $20 into a $30-million powerhouse. Here he waxes eloquent on his seven time-tested rules of bootstrapping.
Plastic can jump-start any business, but use it wisely.
- It's Not Just for Credit Cards Anymore
- American Express's business program, Open, offers promising financing options to start-ups and smaller businesses.
- House of Cards
- Ten tips for keeping your credit in check.
The Bank of Family and Friends
Family and friends loans can be easy to secure, but they shouldn't be taken lightly.
- Borrowing: Avoiding Problems with Family and Friends
- When entrepreneurs borrow start-up capital from family members or friends, it's best to prepare for the worst -- before it happens.
- Borrowing Money for Your Business
- Whether you borrow money from a bank or someone you know, you should sign a promissory note--a legally binding contract in which you promise to repay the money.
- Three Steps to Borrowing from Family or Friends
- Keeping the relationship professional is the key to successful borrowing from close acquaintances.
Banks and investors aren't the only ways to fund a fledgling business. Check out these unconventional resources that some business owners have used.
- Capital Customer
- This entrepreneur's first customer offered to act as a business incubator to get his company off the ground.
- Hot Tip: Tap Vendors for Credit
- A vendor can be a great source of credit, and cost savings, as this entrepreneur discovered.
- From Steak Holders to Stakeholders
- The story of how an entrepreneur turned to his community to raise funds to open a supermarket.