Tools for Bootstrapped Startups
To pull yourself up by your bootstraps.
Originally meaning an impossible task, or making something out of nothing and without any help.
Today, we mostly hear the term bootstrapped in reference to a startup company or small business. Although company size doesn’t always play a role in the definition, what does matter is that a bootstrapped company is one that has been started and expanded only through resources and revenue generated by the entrepreneur or company itself without investments, capital, or outside help.
Odds are you are here reading this because you have chosen to put your foot in the boot, pull the boot up, and put that boot to the pavement. What you need now is a list of the best tools to manage each core area of your business. With these tools, you’ll keep overhead low and avoid paying too much for…anything‼️
Your Foundational Toolkit
First and foremost, these tools are each a must-have on their own for company ops but when used together build the foundation of your startup’s toolkit.
It doesn’t matter if your team sits in the same office or works across the globe; as your bootstrapped team grows a secure communication tool to ensure you’re all singing from the same hymn sheet will be critical. Slack is the perfect combination of email, instant messaging, and voice calls. Their free limited version is ideal for small teams and when you’ve outgrown that the paid plans won’t break the bank.
Doing more with less can go a long way when you are bootstrapped (and beyond). Notion’s all-in-one workspace has it all. It is free for personal use and affordable for team use. They also have a specific ‘Notion for Startups’ program, which is absolutely worth a look. You can’t beat the flexibility and collaboration of this tool.
Sourcing and Drip Campaigns
Gem is a game-changer as a sourcing tool that allows you to create beautiful communications to candidates. Run drip campaigns that enable your recruiting process to engage more deeply and build diverse and high-quality pipelines. We love the ability to scale, solve multiple problems without involving multiple teams, and that you can get started for free.
Reporting & Analytic Tool
Ashby is a tool for accurate reporting and creating beautifully visualized dashboards for analytics. You can then use this data to tell a story (which we all know is essential in the startup world) without an alternative or complicated BI tool. It can also be used as a recruiting tool if you find yourself having a need for that option. Ashby is well-loved for being founder-friendly and helpful to work with.
Wave Accounting has been compared to and is preferred over QuickBooks for startups and small businesses. Its extensive resources are there to empower, build skills, and inspire. It was recommended by Jexo a lean startup with a passion for everything SaaS and bootstrapped startup-related. All their accounting tools are completely free. You’ll enter tiers that are no longer free if you get to a point where you would like to add services such as credit card transactions and payroll. The low price point, simplicity, and intuitiveness are unbeatable.
All-in-one Website Builder & Hosting
Webflow is a capable website builder (and host!) that allows anyone to create a visually stunning and fully functional website from scratch. Running a business can be challenging without a strong web presence and regardless of your company’s size or ‘bootrapped-ness’ you need a great website and career page. But you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on an expensive agency or developer. Webflow is a perfect tool for the first few years and considering your needs it may even be possible to stick with the free version. Perks all around.
Human Resources tends to take up much of a founder’s time and Zenefits has proven to be a startup’s people ops dream. This HR tool solves challenges that many small and mid-sized companies face daily. Technology providers largely focus on the needs of large businesses creating services out of touch and out of reach for small and mid-size businesses. Not Zenefits, though! The perfect HR tool that’s uniquely crafted for startups and saving valuable time.
Process and Workflow Automation
Process Street is the home for your team’s process documents and the best place to track activity. It solves your ever-growing need for automation. You can create process workflows, run the workflows, assign your team, and track their progress with a reports dashboard. It can even act as an untraditional but action-based playbook. Process Street is free to try but as you grow this is something you will want to pay for as you will inevitably need the features (and seats) that come with the paid plans. Although this is a paid subscription, it is affordable and worth the growth capabilities.
Creative and Free Publicity
Register for a free account with HARO (Help a Reporter Out) to spot publicity opportunities that won’t cost you a thing. HARO’s pitching process allows sources to find topics related to their expertise, industry, or experience. HARO reaches more than 1 million sources and 75,000 journalists and bloggers making it a vital resource to get your company’s name out there!
Cut Through the Noise
The most successful bootstrapped startups have learned to cut through the noise and use only quality, simple, and functional tools without digging deep into their pocket – allowing your company to remain focused on what’s important. You may not have all the luxuries of a VC investment to fall back on but with some resources and diligence, you do have everything you need to make your bootstrapped startup successful.
Whether you want to create a company handbook, track your growth metrics, file your taxes, create a website, find publicity opportunities, or communicate effectively with your team, there’s an affordable (or free) tool that can help.