How to Negotiate While Bootstrapping Your Company

When you start up a new company, costs can quickly factor into your decision-making. Bootstrapping your business can be a challenge but you can find ways to cut costs by offering more. Consider the following ways to offer future value to the companies you do business with to keep your costs down while you bootstrap up.

  1. When negotiating new business don’t be afraid to tell them that you’re a startup and that funds are limited. It’s likely the company you’re hoping to work with was also a start-up at one point and can sympathize. Share your plans and dreams for the future of the kind of work you’re hoping to bring forward when you can. This worked for me when I negotiated software development because the team shared my enthusiasm for the project. Remember to remain flexible where you can, as you might have to give up a few of your terms in order to lower costs.
  2. Another great negotiation tool is to share marketing efforts. For example, I used the illustration firm Justin McClure Creative to help my company develop our first children’s book. From this, I interviewed the illustrator to get key ideas of how they work and then shared this knowledge on social media. Through sharing content across social media channels I was able to encourage likes for both business parties. Consider negotiating lower fees in return for sharing links, content and media blasts for your shared business.
  3. If you’ve enjoyed working with a particular business and have formed positive working relationships with them, consider offering them first right of refusal on future business. The promise of future work can help lower your costs now as you commit to working with them later. We chose an end-year date for the offer to expire and outlined the types of projects we were hoping to bring. Be sure you make realistic promises on what you can bring to maintain a positive working relationship.

With these tips, you may find you’re able to get just enough wiggle room to fulfill your projects and get the revenue you need to forge ahead. Hopefully, you’ll also find, as I did, that you create some wonderful working relationships when everyone is making commitments to reach a specific goal.

Chelsea Duggan is currently running Milestar Babies while chasing her sprinting boys, Trouble One and Trouble Two. She enjoys being an entrepreneurial guinea pig, serving up delectable scones with a posh accent, and playing every single day.

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