Setting up your own business can be exciting and unnerving at the same time. Your new business may be a result of some random idea that popped up in your head during a long commute or it may be something you have been chewing over for months, may be even years. Once you are 100% sure that you are going to be an entrepreneur, it would be time to sit down and review the finances needed to propel your business. No matter how good you are at predicting business start-up costs, be prepared for a few surprises once the wheels are set in motion. There could be a time when you will be tempted to write off some of the non-essentials under a ‘Tackle Later List’, but here are six areas you cannot afford to skimp on if you want to ensure a great beginning for your dream business.
1. Market Research: Business ideas come a dime a dozen. How do you determine if your business idea has what it takes to be a business opportunity? By doing market research, of course! It is a critical part of every business plan and the understanding that comes with knowing your customers, your competitors, and exactly how your product or service is solving a particular problem will help you as a business owner to make informed business decisions in the future.
2. Domain Name: This is one expense that should never be earmarked for ‘later’. Getting a domain name for your business should be your number one priority as soon as you have settled on a name for your business. Loosen your purse strings a little and get your business the perfect domain name, even if it means shelling out some extra bucks. The internet is transforming the way we do business and businesses need a strong web presence in order to get ahead.
3. Professional Design & Content Writing Services: Sure, you may doodle a little or may have taken an art class in college, but it is not going to do you any good when it comes to designing a logo. A business’s logo is not merely an icon denoting its name, it is so much more! It has to have a brand recall value, it must convey trust to your customers, and wouldn’t it be great if it were to be interesting enough to get your business some free PR?
Branding completely determines how your business is perceived by consumers and competitors alike. Once your business is up and running, it is serves as the most important factor at every brand-customer-touchpoint. Your company name, your company colors, the logo, what typeface you are going to use in all your printed material are all part of branding and all these distinct elements have to jointly come together in order to appear as belonging to a unified whole – your business.
Hire a professional logo designer because they are experts when it comes to knowing everything about colors, fonts, graphics, representation, subtlety and everything else that goes into the creation of a great business logo. The same goes for content. You want everything to be perfect and there is absolutely no room for error (read typos, grammatical mistakes, incorrect punctuation, etc.) when you are launching your business.
4. Customer Service: Acquiring new customers would be the priority for any business. But once your business acquires a customer, how do you make sure you retain them? In other words, how do you convert a one-time buyer into a repeat customer? By offering excellent customer service. So, if you don’t want to lose your customers faster than you are gaining them, be prepared to allocate a part of your finances to setting up a dedicated customer service team.
5. Legal Advice: Unless you have a background in law, chances are that you are just as clueless as everybody else when it comes to laws pertaining to setting up and running a business. Hiring a good lawyer will help you avoid pitfalls and also speed up the process of navigating the various forms and legal requirements needed to start a business. It will also save a lot of time that you, as a business owner, could devote to other aspects of your business that are your strong suit.
6. Quality Employees: Building a successful business from the ground up can be tough work if you are planning on bearing the load all by yourself. Every business needs dependable and enthusiastic employees with a good work ethic. Start small by hiring people to fill just the main positions first – an accountant, a sales and marketing person and a customer care representative could very well make up your initial team!
While interns and part-time employees are easy on your business budget, they lack the experience and knowledge that somebody who has been in your line of business for at least a while would have gathered. When you are hiring, keep your eye out for the latter as they will turn out to be an asset, and seldom a liability, for your budding business.
While being frugal is a fine quality for an entrepreneur, one must also know what is worthwhile and what is not. So, ensure that you take wise and informed decisions while planning out your business budget. And remember, as the saying goes, “You get what you pay for.”