When it comes to investing in your business to help it grow, you need to set your priorities first in order of what you need to actually fulfil your duties. This could be an accredited industry membership, it could be a piece of equipment to help you make your products, or it could be a logo to give your business an identity.
Below are a few different ways you can invest in your business this year:
Logo Design and Branding
Most new start-ups will create a DIY logo and I understand that you may have a very small budget in order to achieve this. However, your business needs to look good, but also feel attractive too, especially to your target audience. Therefore getting the right look for your business can be such an important factor. A lot of background work goes into a logo design and brand identity, including research, competitor analysis, colour theory, target audience analysis and then good old concepts and pen and paper sketches.
Cost: Logo designs are all various prices depending on where you go. For new start ups I offer one logo design idea for £60 and you get all final logo files at the end of the process as well as a brand stylesheet so you can see the fonts and colours used. I would recommend getting a logo designed before getting a website done.
Business cards are also a great tool for marketing your business. You don’t know when you’re going to meet a potential new client so to have some business cards handy with all of your contact information on them would be a great asset for your business.
Cost: For good quality business cards, I recommend using Elliott Print and Design. Their business cards start from as little as £30, they have a quick turnaround (1-2 working days) and free national delivery available too.
Depending on the size of your business and what it is you do, leaflets can also help drum up more business. When it comes to investing in your business, you always have to weigh up the return you’re likely to get. The last thing you want to do is invest in something and not get a return, although brand awareness isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Leaflets are meant to be designed with purpose, so for example, a leaflet that’s going into a leaflet drop is going to be designed completely differently to a leaflet that’s going to be handed out to people by you as the business owner.
Cost: The cost of getting leaflets printed all depends on size, quantity and stock choice too, but they can cost from as little as £31 (using Elliott Print and Design) and the design from as little as £30.
Social Media Advertising
Facebook, Instagram & Twitter all offer options to pay for advertising. Boosted posts on Facebook and promoted tweets on Twitter can cost as little as £1 a day.
Make sure you analyse your current insights on your accounts. For example, if your Facebook page’s audience is more than 80% female and the majority of them are 25-55yrs old, then that is the audience you need to be targeting for your boosted posts. I wouldn’t recommend boosting a post if it’s had a low reach and you want it to be seen more. I would instead recommend boosting a post which Facebook recommends you boost, or which has a decent reach already.
Local Networking Groups
Being a business owner at times can be isolating, especially when you’re working day in, day out at your desk or kitchen/dining table and you don’t get out of the house much. Joining local networking groups online and in person can help with this. Most online Facebook groups have themed days so you can get involved that way to build up rapport with the other members within the group.
There’s always local networking groups having meetings too where you can go along, have an informal chat and meet like minded business owners and maybe learn something too.
I have personally paid for annual membership for The Inspire Network, which is a local North East network with over 8000 ladies in there. They hold meetings in and around the North East and have different speakers at the meetings too, to share their knowledge and help you grow your business in the right direction. The annual membership is £20 and is a fantastic resource with so many benefits.
If you’re not from the North East, do some research online, ask business owners you already know in the area about local networking groups you can attend.
Cost: Each networking group is different. Online Facebook groups are free to join, and meetings can be as little as £2-3.
Have you got a website yet for your business? If you haven’t I would recommend getting one. Websites are like an online shop front for your business. More and more people are opting for more of an online presence and a website is a great way of doing this.
You can create a DIY website, however since having worked previously in a web development company for 6 years, I would recommend saving up the money to get a professional website done. Getting a professional and fully functioning branded website will evoke the right impression to your target audience. Your brand (business) has values it needs to upkeep and those values need to be instilled in everything you do as a brand and business.
I work very closely with Helena Borthwick-Hill from 49Digital.com who is an amazing website designer. If you are considering getting a website done, I would highly recommend speaking to Helena.
Cost: Domain names can be as little as £4-5 a year depending on who you register the domain name with. Hosting costs start from £30 a year and getting a professional website done all depends on who you use.
Mailchimp is a fantastic tool to use if you have service and/or product based businesses.
I’ve used it for a number of years now and help clients with their email newsletters using Mailchimp and it is a valuable tool to have.
The website is very easy to use, with templates available to customise using your own branding. It’s an easy drag and drop approach to building up the content within your newsletter and the reporting is extremely insightful. Once a newsletter has been sent it shows you how many link clicks you’ve had and which was the most popular, the number of unsubscribes, the number of opens and how many times people have opened them too etc.
Cost: You can set up a free account and have up to 2000 recipients in your mailing list. Once you go over 2000, there are payment options available.
If you make and craft handmade products or edible items, then craft fairs and art markets are something to look into. There’s so many out there now, especially here in the North East so there’s plenty to choose from. Each market will have it’s own targeted audience so do some background research first. Visit the markets that you’re looking at and assess the types of people that are there and review whether it would be the right fit for your business or not.
Also, look at ALL the costs associated with doing a market or fair too: travel time, your time being there, crafting time, cost of products themselves and your profit margins and weigh up whether it’s worth it.
Costs: Markets such as the Newcastle Quayside market can cost as little as £14 for a pitch that day, depending on you having your own marquee and tables.
If you’re operating from a small budget, then look into investing in a digital camera that you can use to photograph your products yourself. Look on Pinterest for inspiration and product photography ideas and set up a secret pin board. Pin some ideas onto there for the look and feel you want to go for. There will also be loads of tutorials online for taking your own product shots.
Also consider the cost of props too to help enhance and compliment your products within the photographs.
Having said that, I would also consider saving up some money and looking at getting some professional photography done. Being a graphic designer, I absolutely adore it when clients have had professional photos taken that I can work with. Photographers have a wealth of knowledge and will know what works and what doesn’t. It’s their field of expertise and will more than likely have their own set of props available or recommended places to go to as well.
If you would like to go down the route of professional photography and you’re in the North east, I’d recommend speaking to Sue Todd, from Sue Todd Photography.
Costs: A bridge digital camera can start from as little as £99.99 from Argos.
Training & Personal Development
If you’re not sure in how to do something, such as SEO for your website and have a small budget to play around with then have a look at online courses that are available.
I’ve done a few online courses previously with Shaw Academy and can’t recommend them enough!
A mentor is also a great way to invest in your business. They’re business owners themselves and have been on their own journey. They’ll have a wealth of experience and knowledge and will also be able to offer you advice from a completely different perspective which is exactly what you need.
Failing that, why not set up your own Mastermind group of like-minded business owners and you can bounce ideas off each other for all of your businesses.
Cost: a cup of coffee and some cake (obviously) for each meeting.
If you have invested in anything else other than what’s been mentioned above, I’d love to hear about it and why you chose to invest and the results achieved.