THE BLOG
06/17/2013 01:52 pm ET Updated Aug 16, 2013

Show Me the Money

For people starting a business, access to finance is perceived as difficult, not just because traditional lending is at an all-time low, but because starting a business is inherently time consuming.

Applying for funding can be a waffly minefield of form filling, interviews, reports, credit checks, number crunching - and lots of guess work. To most people raging against the machine, it seems outmoded and irrelevant. Not to mention risky.

Hungry entrepreneurs tend to find a way around things that get in the way. It's in their nature.

This explains why we are seeing more and more people starting out lean, bootstrapping a start-up while perfecting the model as they go. How the business starts may not be how it ends up, but the net effect is that they reach their goal, slower than desired, but nevertheless debt free.

What are they doing? Well, they are budgeting and 'pivoting' their offering, developing their product as they go while making enough income to cover costs.

They are collaborating. They'd much rather offer a service in return for the expertise they need than spend hours filling out a 30 page business plan with a ruddy-faced business adviser for some cash they'll have to pay back.

Is this the right way to do it? I'd say yes as they've tried, have no debt and learned valuable lessons along the way.

At Enterprise Nation, this bootstrapping approach is an established way of working. Many people we profile and meet are keeping the day job and starting the business at night and weekends. We call it 'Working 5 to 9'

Or they are growing by taking on freelance help and focusing on what they do best and outsourcing the rest to fellow professionals and experts.

And they are applying for tiny pockets of cash they can access without wasting their most valuable commodity - time.

In fact to these people, small amounts of cash has a disproportionate amount of impact. By popular demand we're bring back Fund 101 - a chance to win a £500 cash injection and some excellent freelance help. The form takes five minutes to fill in - and that's it - you're in with a chance.

We've done all the hard work - PayPal is supplying the funds and Elance is literally offering a helping hand.

Last year Sock Monkey Emporium founder Emma Maudsley put her £500 to good use. She paid for her soft toys and business cards to be put into celebrity goody bags at a film premiere. This then led to orders coming in from celebrities across the globe!

Emma said: "I was adamant I didn't want to go down the route of finding external funding for my enterprise. For me that would have been more of burden than a help. So I bootstrapped. While it's been tough, it's amazing how resourceful and hungry for success it makes you.

"When I was awarded Fund 101, I was determined to put the money to good use. And it's moved my business on so much more than I could have imagined. I could never have afforded to do what I did otherwise, but it's shown me that some investment, however small, can make a big difference."

Invested wisely and not frittered, £500 can do wonders. And it's free! You don't have to get into debt and pay it back or have an investor telling you what to do!

Small is beautiful, as they say and Fund101 shows a small amount of money can go a long way.