Since starting my own business I’ve realised that you almost instantly have to adapt and create two different versions of yourself, especially when it comes to finances…
Investment vs cost
When I first started on the path to running my own creative agency one of the first things I did was consider joining the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), but when I was told it was around £130 per year I had to think carefully about it. Don’t get me wrong, I was still in full-time employment and I was on a reasonable income and so, of course, could easily afford it. However, any sort of outlay has to be considered carefully, whether it is a holiday, a new washing machine, a car, or anything else. Although these things have a value they are essentially a cost, but when you are looking at things with your ‘business brain’ a different calculation has to be made.
Firstly of course, can you afford the outlay? Assuming you can though, the important question is what value should it bring to my business? This value could be direct income from new customers, but it might also be a little more indirect like building brand awareness that can then lead to more direct business. In the case of the FSB, it is a no-brainer, the value of the services it provides for that one yearly fee – access to helplines, insurances, discounted services and help if you are investigated by HMRC – all provide peace of mind, the value of which easily surpasses the cost, and this is what I mean about the need for two ‘brains’. When considering a purchase of perhaps hundreds of pounds as an individual I might think “hmm, that’s quite a lot”, but with my ‘business brain’ I’ll be thinking “will it pay for itself and lead to new business, either directly or indirectly?”.
All the pieces of the puzzle
Not everything has a directly attributable Return-On-Investment that is easily quantified, more often than not there are a number of factors involved. Take for instance a professional brand for your business: If you use a cheap or badly designed logo for your corporate identity, then your prospects may not take you seriously, but having an expertly designed logo won’t get the phones ringing on its own either. The fact is that if an experienced designer creates a brand for you that you are proud of, you will use it more – it’ll be more prominent on your social media, on your website, in your printed materials, in fact, you might start doing lots more promotion and in lots more effective ways. A consistently and professionally applied brand, when used on well-designed marketing materials, indicates that you are serious and helps cement the idea of who you are and what you do in the eyes of your customers and prospects alike. If you combine this with a high-quality product (or service), and wonderful customer service then your brand image will begin to lift above your competitors. If you get the product/service and customer service right, but use a poorly or cheaply produced logo, or apply it inconsistently then you may still succeed, but it may be harder for prospects to take you seriously initially. Your brand image is the face of your business and is the first thing that potential customers make judgements on – don’t make it easy for them to dismiss you.
Good-quality logo design and branding takes time and costs money, but it should be seen as a vital investment. If you’d like to know more then please get in touch, but remember to bring your business brain when making decisions about it…