Question: What is one way a bootstrapping entrepreneur can increase innovation while keeping costs low?
Let Employees Own Projects
"Give your employees ownership of their projects or areas. Putting someone in charge and giving them free reign without micromanaging is the best way to inspire innovation in a productive, cost-effective manner. People love responsibility, and if you’ve done your job correctly they should be qualified individuals who do not need a lot of hand holding. Set them free and watch innovation flow! "
"Startups can cultivate a developer community and engage with them to develop new ideas or even MVP level innovations. There are tons of startups that host hackathons and challenge their developer communities to create new solutions, identify vulnerabilities or create new features that they can then use to make their product/service better. It can also be an inexpensive way to find great talent."
Trade With Other Companies
"I have traded so much work. I offer other companies what I'm good at for a little bit of what they are good at. You'd be surprised what you can get. Try to trade for everything. There will be someone who can help."
Take Advantage of Free Resources
"There are now many useful free tools, apps and resources that make it easier than ever for entrepreneurs to get started. Many of these services offer paid upgrades, but you can wait for this until you start making money. Some examples: social networks, Dropbox, connecting via Skype, arranging conferences via Google Hangouts and raising money with crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter."
Find Partners in Vendors
"Seek out vendors who you can count on as partners, such as other small or medium sized companies. Our printer, for example, has now become one of our strongest allies as they know each big win for us is also a win for them. Whether it is helping build a pitch CAD at no cost or brainstorming ideas, the synergy between us has grown, helping to keep our innovation cost low and our wins BIG!"
"Invite collaborative clients, trusted vendors and your mentor(s) to a roundtable get-together. Buy them dinner and drinks, pick their brains and let them sift through your ideas. The perk is that their advice is free (except for the cost of food!). Additionally, they will feel like part of your innovation and therefore are more likely to support products/campaigns they contributed to creating."
Share Your Space
"Share an office space with another startup in a different field. This type of space will enable you to talk to people in a different mindset, which is going to spark some new ideas. And the office cost is cut in half."