If you’re beginning your own startup, congrats! That’s a big step in your professional life — one that requires a lot of time and effort. The good news is, in the end, you’ll finally have your own business. But getting there is a different story. Starting your own business means incurring a ton of expenses. And while you may want to forgo things like marketing or legalities, it’s important to understand what items you should definitely be pursuing.
While all businesses differ, these are the top items that the majority of startups shouldn’t consider optional:
Legal and finance assistance
It may not seem worth it initially to hire a professional to oversee your legal structure, but to avoid running into problems later (which could be pretty costly), it’s smart to get the assistance you need now. These experts can help answer your legal and financial questions, help you draft a particular agreement and ultimately save you money in the long run. If you really can’t afford a lawyer or accountant for all they offer, use them to double check that everything you’re doing is copasetic with the laws. They’ll be able to put you on the right track, while you still sidestep retainers or monthly fees.
Marketing and advertising
“Most small business owners think marketing is too complicated, too expensive, and won't work for them,” says small business marketing expert Mark Satterfield. “The biggest problem they have is that they never get started because it's too overwhelming. Depending on which statistics you read, up to 80 percent of businesses fail within the first five years. I don't think it has to do with quality of product or service but with lack of consistency in marketing."
In other words, marketing is important and shouldn’t be overlooked because of price, since many techniques don’t actually cost very much. Instead of paying a marketing company for ongoing work, just get help for your website design and branding. Then you can do the rest on your own: social media, blogs, claiming local listing in search engines, etc. When you’re too busy to maintain the work, then you can spring for a web marketing company’s help.
A business plan
“As awesome as your idea may be, you will very likely lose money if you don’t have a concrete business plan to back it,” says Daniela Baker, a small business blogger at CreditDonkey. It’s essential when starting a business that you have a goal of where you want it to go and how you’re going to get there.
“Whether or not you have to present your plan to anyone, it’s great to have it as a reference for your own goals and strategies,” Baker says. “You want a reality check as you put it together and then as you get the business underway.”
“Doing your own taxes wastes countless hours that could be better spent on your business,” explains Sujan Patel, entrepreneur and marketer, VP of Marketing at When I Work. Typically, tax professionals don’t cost as much as you think, and if you know you’re not number savvy, then it’s smart to avoid hurting your business by doing your taxes yourself.
If you have no other staff, putting money toward customer service will be beneficial for your business.
“It’s been said that sales without service is like putting money into a pocket with a hole in it,” says Patel. “Customer service is an extremely profitable portion of your company, and it pays to invest in it.”
Customer service won’t just make your customers happy (which shouldn’t be underestimated), but it’s also your key into important product feedback and insights. This could be the pipeline for ensuring exceptional customer satisfaction while honing in on your business.
Money can be tight when you start a business, but that doesn’t mean cutting corners. Spend your money wisely and you’ll reap the benefits later.