I always get negative reactions to this, but my technique of cycling tanks is simply:
1) if you have it, take some media from another tank to get it started
2) stock the tank very lightly with fish
3) add some plants if you can
4) do lots of big water changes for a few weeks. so much that the ammonia and the nitrites/nitrates can't reach any toxic levels but the beneficial bacteria still starts to stabilize
5) after a month or two, it will all settle down
It seems that concept of doing huge water changes to prevent over-accumulation of ferts is well accepted, but why not use that same mentality for cycling a tank? A 50g tank with just a few fish in it will slowly develop a bacteria base and if you do a 50% water change every couple of days you aren't risking the water getting too nasty for the fish, right?
I have python connected to a tub right near the tank, so doing a huge water change is much easier than testing and fooling around with the cycle. I like the brute force approach of frequent water changes.
"The fewer our wants, the nearer we resemble the gods." — Socrates