Paul Aldrich, who lives in Topsham, Maine, started Village Candle in 1992 with $20 borrowed from a friend. Applying copious amounts of Yankee ingenuity, frugality, and hard work, he grew his business to $30 million in annual revenues after seven years. From his story emerges this timeless bootstrapping rule:

Look for freebies everywhere. Like every good bootstrapper, Aldrich didn't allow his limited resources to dissuade him. He researched glass manufacturers in the Thomas Register, a directory of corporations organized by product, calling only those with 800 numbers. Identifying himself as a candle manufacturer, he would cajole them into giving him free samples. "Every day the UPS truck would drop off containers of glass," says Aldrich.

For more rules, see the original Inc. magazine article from which this material was adapted -- August 1999.