Thursday: Global Entrepreneurship Week....Top things to invest in as a startup
When you start up in business there are just SO many things to buy……..combined with lots of people wanting to sell to you. From experience here’s my top 10 list of things to invest in when you are just starting out!
- Great Design/Logo
When you start up, no one knows you from an adam. Your logo is generally the first impression that they have of you. You’re going to live with it [hopefully] for a very long time so invest in something good!
- Good Photography
You’re going to need some good product shots and/or a very good head and shoulders picture. Don’t skimp, don’t get some friend to take a picture of you on a mobile phone. Get good photos done by a professional photographer. It doesn’t need to be expensive and the results will be well worth it.
- A well designed Leaflet/Brochure
Even if its a pdf, then make sure you have something that looks [and feels] great. It should succinctly explain exactly what you do and why you offer a point of difference. Invest in some good design – in my opinion its not worth trying to cobble something together yourself. Top tip: don’t print too many……you will probably change direction ever so slightly from your start up vision, so doing a huge print run to last you years is false economy, no matter how attractive long production runs look price-wise.
- A good Accountant
Get a good professional – someone who can guide and steer you. You’ll have enough to worry about in business without having to worry about having the authorities on your back too! A good accountant will be experienced to handle HMRC, companies house etc
Register your trade mark. It doesn’t need to be expensive to do this with the Intellectual Property Office in Newport. If you register everything right at the start then you won’t have to be looking over your shoulder later worrying about trademark infringements or people registering your trademark from under your own nose.
- A financial Management programme
Don’t rely on shoeboxes for your receipt – invest in a system to manage your finances. I personally use Sage, which I picked up for a very good price on line. It doesn’t need to be expensive, but will make your life much simpler [eg VAT returns is a doddle] and will save you time and money in the long run.
- FSB Membership
Worth its weight in gold – membership provides just a brilliant network for entrepreneurs. Benefits include legal advice line, legal insurance and tax advice line. They’ve also got some great downloadable document templates which will get you off on the right path. I always think of it as a trade union for small business owners, and you’d be foolish not to join.
- Website and website addresses
Buy the .co.uk and the .com of your trademarks. Get a website up and running, but don’t invest loads in an all singing and all dancing website at the start. Get an expensive one built 12 months down the line – it’ll be better for the wait. Get a basic 4/5 page one built to get you going. Again, invest in something good.
- Business cards
I barely used any business cards when I worked for big business, but they are a neccessity as a small business owner. Use your well designed logo to get some great business cards done. You can get some very basic ones done via one of the online sites [the ones you see on TV loads], and these might be enough to get you started. Over time though you will need some better ones – good quality ones are worth it!
- Vitamin C Tablets
You’re going to be working really hard and can’t afford to be ill. Make sure you look after yourself!
And these would probably be my top list of what NOT to spend your money on right at the very start:
My advice would be to start with either nothing or the very very bare minimum – branded invoices are printed off Sage, letterheads can be done off the PC. Work out exactly what you want, and what you’ll need and get them printed 6-12 months after you start. You’ll be older, wiser and will make a better decision.
- Vehicle Wrap
Branded up vehicles look great, don’t get me wrong, but they are VERY expensive, and you’d be best off starting with a plain vehicle and then getting it branded when you know exactly what message/styling you want. A year down the line you’ll be much clearer and you will do it differently to how you would have done it right at the start.
- Vast livery of branded clothing
Again….just get something cheap and cheerful to start off [or do it yourself with iron-on]. Over time you’ll refine what you want, your colours etc……….that’s the time to really go for it!
- A swanky office
Unless your office is a key part of your offering and at the heart of what you do [eg a shop] then you don’t need anything flash. Investing too much in your office set up [or rent] is probably just for your ego, rather than for your customers benefit.
- Branded gifts/pens/coasters/mouse mats
Err………if you’ve got enough money to spend on these, you’ve just got too much money!