Frugal Entrepreneurship: Interview with Startup League

Thank you to Startup League for interviewing me about frugal entrepreneurship, my book The $10 Digital Media Startup, and Bootstrap Business. Enjoy the interview!

Tell us about your book, The $10 Digital Media Startup. What inspired you to write it?

My new eBook "The $10 Digital Media Startup" is about starting and monetizing an online content creation business where the only cost is purchasing a domain name ($10 cost on average). It allows an individual to create a flexible, evolving, and fulfilling side business or full time venture with a negligible cost and incredible upside. Compare that to option to the sometimes suffocating 9-5 traditional jobs or other entrepreneurial options requiring $10,000 - $100,000+ initial investments or selling 50% of your company before it even gets started. It also allows a person to grow their professional network, resume, and career for pennies as opposed to spending tens of thousands of dollars on college or graduate school like an expensive MBA program.

I was inspired to write the book because I lived it, and continue to live it today to an extent. About 10 years ago I had quit my job and basically had a non-existent budget to start my own service businesses. I had to get creative with marketing my company so I utilized all the free platforms out there such as blogging (WordPress & Blogspot), YouTube videos, Google listings, Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon. Social media and digital marketing were in their infancy at the time (before Instagram, Pinterest, Google Plus, or Snapchat among other staple platforms we all use today) but I recognized their potential and the power to help me even the odds against my corporate competitors. It helped my service businesses stand out and get customers, but eventually the digital content grew large enough to become a profitable business by itself. Over the years I've earned hundreds of thousands of dollars directly and indirectly from two of my online businesses that only required that initial $10 investment each. How's that for ROI?!

What are the most common mistakes businesses make to save money in the short run but end up losing more in the long run? 

That's an excellent question. While I believe it's important for most companies to keep a very tight budget, if you're too frugal or cut too many corners in certain areas it could be disastrous to your business. It's really tough to narrow down the most important areas of focus because it depends on the company, but I'd say that cutting customer service or data protection can end up costing you a fortune. It might just be a matter of time or energy as opposed to money but these areas usually can't be neglected. 

In addition, I'm a huge proponent of businesses having a strong and comprehensive social media marketing program. Without one I think you'll leave a lot of money on the table, and it could end up costing you significantly as well.

Also I strongly believe that bootstrapping is the way to go as opposed to taking on loans with massive interest or giving away huge chunks of equity in your company to investors. You should show profitability from the beginning and scale up organically as opposed to growing massively but losing money for the first 5-10 years. 

How can startups bring in frugality in their business decision making? (tips/tricks/mantras of frugality) 

The first thing I always ask myself is, "Can I do this myself?" or "Can I do this for free?". That's a lot easier in a 1 person business but you can always modify it to "What is the cheapest way I can do this without sacrificing quality?" for larger companies. If you're willing to hustle, educate yourself, and work with others you'll be surprised how much you can save on nearly any business decision
How can entrepreneurs become frugal in their personal finances too? 

I've always maintained excellent personal finances, even during the early years making minimal revenue, by treating everything like a business. I try to analyze the most efficient and cost-effective method of travel, vacationing, eating, working out, shopping, leisure activities... you name it. I think of short term and long term implications of changing out different activities or purchases. Just like in the business world, financial restraint takes patience and sacrifice. I drove a tiny Hyundai with no air conditioning or power windows for many years to save money and now I drive a Mercedes that I bought with cash. 

Remaining debt free and staying in your financial lane (or an even a slower lane at least temporarily) is underappreciated in this society. So many people overload themselves with loans instead of putting in the extra work to earn that money for themselves first. When you live frugally you are more resilient when negative events present themselves and more responsible when financial success occurs.

On a related note, my other digital media asset Frugal Fitness that I started in 2006 discusses free or affordable ways to eat healthy, lose weight, build muscle, train for sports, prevent / rehabilitate injuries, and more. That website of 900+ articles and YouTube channel of 300+ videos has millions of views across the globe, featured many times in Shape Magazine (among other publications), and received paid endorsements from several multi-billion dollar companies.

What are some frugal digital marketing hacks that startups can execute? 

People need to realize that they already have everything needed to start or improve their digital marketing abilities. Don't know how to build websites or write effectively? Teach yourself with Google, YouTube, free courses from top universities, tutorials, articles, blogs, and countless other resources. Even if you can't teach yourself everything or do it all on your own, you'll be much better off when it comes to hiring or outsourcing the work.

6) Tell us about frugal content creation. How can entrepreneurs use that to enhance their content marketing output?

Frugal content creation really rests on putting in the time and energy to create all aspects of your website, videos, ebooks, presentations, articles, blog posts, guest posts, infographics, and social media posts. Write and publish daily, take pictures, create captivating videos, create PowerPoints, collaborate with other entrepreneurs and writers, cross-promote on social media, interact with prospects, thank customers online... every single day! These actions cost nothing but create excellent value in the short term and long term for your companies or investments. 

I hope you enjoyed this post about my interview with Startup League about frugal entrepreneurship and my Bootstrap Business digital media.

Interested in more articles about lessons in startup success?

Read My Posts:

- 5 Lessons Learned From Super Startups 

Tips To Create Captivating Content

- How To Monetize Your Digital Media

Published by Michael J Schiemer
Owner of Bootstrap Business
Money - Marketing - Motivation
Digital Marketing | SEO | Social Media
Mike Schiemer Builds Better Business

Share This On Social Media:

Official Bootstrap Business Blog Newest Posts From Mike Schiemer Partners And News Outlets