The joys of being a business owner are plenty. We get to wear so many different hats all the time. We’re the bookkeepers, the custodians, the web designers, and everything else in between. It’s not that we want to be those things, but when you’re starting out, and have a limited budget, (and even more limited list of clients), hiring out is just not a smart idea.
The good thing is that hustling, and putting in a lot of work in your business helps it grow. It’s like a plant. The key to being able to scale your company is having an idea of what’s important at what time, and giving it the attention that it needs.
For example, if you’re 1 person shop that provides a service, and want to seen as the place to go, and attract bigger clients, you need to project that image out to your target market. Your self-made website isn’t going to cut it anymore. It’s things like that why you need to have a line of your budget sheet for expansion.
Hiring your first employee becomes a bigger task if you’ve never done it before. My two biggest expenses was getting a lawyer on retainer, and hiring an accountant. We also hired a HR lead to deal with things that I was not smart enough to understand.
WHEN IN DOUBT- DO YOUR BEST, AND HIRE OUT THE REST.
Do these things cost money? ABSOLUTELY. Are they worth it? Yes.
My goal initially was to re-invest every single dollar I made back in my firm for the first 2 years. I like to credit that as being the reason why we grew as fast as we did, and why I’m NOT driving my Audi A5 right now. But you make sacrifices when you’re a business owner, and that one was worth it to me.
That being said, not everyone has the big budgets to pay for things, and needs help planning things out in a organized way.
Here are some ways to make your business look professional on somewhat limited budget:
1) Focus on your external image. This is your logo, your website, and any thing that you leave with the client. Something as little as a business card needs a lot of attention. BUT you don’t need to spend $5k on your branding. Find someone who understands your vision, and can produce the quality of work that you want. Outsource if you need to. Sites like Elance, and Odesk are wonderful places to find talented people. The key here is interview and make they understand you well.
2) Find a lawyer. This can be a friend, or a small firm. But you need to have legal documents for EVERYTHING. This is twice as important if going into business with a friend.
3) Find an office space for meetings. Most cities have incubators where you can rent office space for a short period of time. Co-working places are a great option for meetings. These work well for bigger meetings, and will help impress your clients. I’m all for meeting in coffee shops, but you can’t do that and win over bigger clients.
What you put in your business is what you get out of it. I’m not saying go overboard, but treat your business with the respect that it deserves.
I have a friend who rents an office for her accounting business. She shares a conference room and a receptionist with about 5 other businesses. It is more professional to have clients come to her office rather than her home.