editing disabled

Shoestringing, which, I’ll say is an extreme form of bootstrapping, is all about optimizing cash and equivalents most effectively. It isn’t, as some will argue, about minimizing costs while maximizing profits. It’s more than that. It’s a theory. It’s a mindset. And it’s something every business, whether new or old, small or large, can use.

Universities

Universities are a great place to look for interns. Interns generally work for less money, tend to be much more flexible, and can bring new-age skills to the job, such as online marketing.

Family

You’d be surprised what they have lying around. Ask around for things you need (desks, chairs, etc).

Online software

Cutting legal, marketing, and accounting expenses by using online software. In fact, many business processes can be handled via free (or very inexpensive) software. Here are some samples:

URL: http://www.skype.com/ and http://get.live.com/messenger/overview
What: Voice communication and chat
Cost: Free
My Take: Both Skype and Windows Live Messenger, have become the international de-facto standard for chat and communication. Both have great connectivity and Skype’s video chat is unparalleled.

URL: http://www.freeconference.com/
What: Free conference calling
Cost: Free +
My Take: Users will have to listen to a short blurb in the beginning, but the service works great. Time limit is set at 4 hours and there can be up to 150 callers. 1-800 numbers cost extra.

URL: http://www.efax.com/
What: Fax by email
Cost: Free +
My Take: While I rarely use the service, some clients need to fax documents, so the free plan is great. I receive an advertising email every few weeks and can’t pick the fax number. Note: I’ve heard bad things about canceling paid plans.

URL: http://www.aweber.com/
What: Email marketing
Cost: $19 / mo +
My Take: Reliable email marketing that has great templates and customer service. Standard features, like autoresponders and “reply to”, are included. Best of all, Aweber integrates with Wordpress (any RSS feed, really) with their “blog broadcast” feature and Feedburner.

URL: http://www.legalzoom.com/
What: Legal documents
Cost: Varies
My Take: The best service for filing for LLC, DBA, and other legal forms required by the Government. Fast and inexpensive compared to going through lawyer. I’ve used them for both a DBA and a LLC.

URL: http://www.echosign.com/
What: Automated e-signature collection and management
Cost: Free +
My Take: Great easy-to-use service, with built in templates (e.g. NDA) and option to upload docs. It’s fast and secure. Free accounts can have 5 docs / mo. signed, with restrictions lifted on paid accounts. Integrates with SalesForce and eFax.

URL: http://www.basecamphq.com/
What: Collaborative project management
Cost: Free +
My Take: A product of famed 37signals. Intuitive user interface, integration with Freshbooks, and document sharing means that everyone working on a project is on the same page and knows what they need to do. The free package is very limited.

URL: http://www.freshbooks.com/
What: Invoicing and time tracking
Cost: Free +
My Take: Free account is extremely limited with only 3 clients, but the service is very feature-rich and customizable. Great support and you can also send “snail mail” invoices. Has Basecamp integration.
Also consider http://curdbee.com/.

URL: https://www.iacez.com/
What: Accounting and bookkeeping
Cost: $14.95 /mo +
My Take: One of the simplest accounting and bookkeeping programs available. Allows you to easily track sales, generate reports, and it integrates nicely with Freshbooks.
Read my exclusive review.

URL: http://www.vistaprint.com/
What: Printer
Cost: Free +
My Take: Decent quality, with exceptional prices for a great value. Business cards are popular and their “foil” feature helped mine stand out. Often have deals for free products, which is great for sampling. Don’t sign up for their email newsletter, unless you want an email every 2 – 3 days.

URL: http://www.godaddy.com/
What: Domain name registrar
Cost: < $10 / yr +
My Take: After more than 500 registrations, GoDaddy is still my registrar of choice. While the checkout is clunky and fragmented, their customer service and prices are industry best. Be sure to look for coupons. I don’t recommend their hosting at all.

URL: http://www.liquidweb.com/
What: Web hosting
Cost: $14.95 /mo +
My Take: Not the cheapest web hosting, but they have great update and industry leading “heroic” support. Own their datacenters and are located in Michigan.
Also consider http://mediatemple.net/.

URL: http://wordpress.org/
What: Web publishing platform
Cost: Free
My Take: No longer just a blog platform, I use WordPress for all my sites. There are great plugins and templates available and the rich-text editor means just about anyone with Microsoft Word experience can use Wordpress. It’s easy to install and works with (just about) any LAMP host.

URL: http://wufoo.com/
What: Web forms
Cost: Free +
My Take: Great for contact forms and collecting leads. Free account is great; paid accounts add features like upload space, SSL encryption, and Paypal, Google Checkout, and Authorize.net integration.

Hyper-productive

According to a study conducted by Jon Peddie Research, adding an extra monitor will give your output a considerable boost. In fact, it’s 20 percent to 30 percent. (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/04/20/technology/20basics.html?th&emc=th)

This wiki entry was added by Dave Rigotti (@drigotti on Twitter), an honors student at The University of Toledo majoring in entrepreneurship and marketing. Dave is also the owner of Freezing Hot, an Internet marketing company that services clients nationwide.