Picking yourself up by your bootstraps doesn’t just refer to recovering after a disaster. It also means pushing hard, every day, to make the most of your company’s potential. It means never allowing your business to coast—you’re always pushing forward! After you’ve done your homework and received initial funding, the serious work of a small business owner begins. Establishing, buying, or expanding a small business takes ingenuity, persistence, and a whole sequence of smart decisions. If your business is like most, one of those decisions is to prioritize ways of squeezing all the value you can from tight resources. And you’ll need capital to operate the business consistently. To weather unexpected financial headwinds. To grow the business in ways you didn’t anticipate. To take advantage of opportunities. That means optimizing income and expenses. It means finding new ways to maximize revenue and minimize costs—without sacrificing product quality, marketing or client relations. It’s a tall order, admittedly. But consider these possibilities for bootstrapping your way to success: \t Contractors: As your business grows, you’ll need to bring on new people. Instead of adding to your employee headcount, consider engaging one or more contractors. You save on the cost of training and benefits and can schedule contractors around your busy periods. It’s also a great way to spot potential new employees for when you do need to hire more staff. \t Unused capacity: If your plans call for growing into a space eventually, chances are you’ve got square footage that’s not producing revenue right now. You may be able to rent out extra facilities—like, say, an unused office suite—without pinching your company’s growth. And the revenue goes right to the bottom line. Similarly, if you have expensive production equipment that isn’t operating at full capacity yet, consider leasing the excess capacity to another business. \t Advertising: Your website is an asset. The side of your building is an asset. In some circumstances, you can use these to rent ad space to other businesses that are aligned with yours. If you pick your potential advertisers creatively, you may be able to generate added revenue or trade out for goods and services you’d otherwise need to buy. \t Repackage: Your product or service appeals to a defined target. By expanding your definition of the audience, you can sell more. Maybe that means widening your geographic target. Or finding new uses for your core product or service. Again, think creatively. By tweaking your offerings only slightly, you can expand the universe of who you sell to. And create a whole new revenue stream in the process. \t\f Discount strategically: It’s not a new idea. Existing customers will buy more of your product or service if you give them an incentive to do so. Prospects who don’t buy from you will check out your business if you offer a clear reason to try it.