So, you know I am all for keeping it real, right? Well something you may or may not know about me, is that I have started many ‘businesses’ in the past few years more than I would care to admit. Often in my naivety I would get carried away with the next million pound idea and before stopping to at least come up with a plan or strategy, I would jump right in and waste money on all sorts of stupid things. So, here is my list of pitfalls that I obviously want you to avoid:
1. BUSINESS CARDS
Oh my goodness, Vista Print has made some money outta me. Deep down we all know that having your name on a business card (or any other stationery) really doesn’t make you a businessperson, so why on earth is this one of the first things we think we need to do when starting a business? I mean, does anyone even really use business cards anymore?
In the digital age that we live in, business cards (in my humble opinion) are really no longer a necessity. Most people have found you on FB before you’ve finished shaking their hand and, if you do need a business card, they are so easy to obtain that you really can afford to leave this one way down the to-do list.
When you are sure of yourself, your business and how you are going to make all the moving parts come together, that’s when you can think about spending money on business cards. You can even get the pretty holders with your name engraved on it if that floats your boat (like it clearly did mine). #JustSaying
2. DOMAIN NAMES
So naturally, having a domain name is pretty integral to building your online presence but please don’t fall victim to the middle of the night inspiration angel. You may wake up one morning, or even on several mornings believing you have the ‘perfect’ business name but really it’s ok to take a bit of time to think about it.
Assuming the domain name you want is even available; try and picture your whole brand centred on that business name. Think about attaching that name to several things and use it in several sentences. Relate it back to your goals and mission, does it fit the perception you are trying to create? You should also think about other companies out there that have similar names to what you have come up with – if there are some you won’t want to be confused with them so think carefully.
Now, let’s just clarify, I think it’s a pretty good idea to go on ahead and secure your name as a domain name, if it’s available, because hey why not – you will always be able to use it if you want to. However, don’t rush in to buy a brand name until you are 100% sure about it. Trust me, I have bought several only to change my mind a few days, weeks, months later. Whilst domain names aren’t hugely expensive, you will be amazed how quickly 10/20 quid each time inspiration hits can soon mount up. Also, you just don’t want to waste time pursuing the wrong business and branding path.
3. SUBSCRIPTION BASED SERVICES
Last but by no means least are subscription based services – you know the one’s where we pay a monthly fee. When we are getting started in business it doesn’t take long to establish that there is a shiny tool for pretty much every need and desire. From email service providers, through to project management and accounting, there are literally thousands of applications designed to make our lives easier – but at what cost?
It is so easy to spend hundreds of £££s a month before you have even sold a single product or service. To be completely transparent, I know this is true because I have been that person spending £346 a month before I even started trading. It wasn’t until I sold a service, without even utilising my website and all of the fancy processes stemming from it, that I realised my level of spending was absurd.
Now don’t get me wrong, many of these applications are amazing and can help you do some amazing things like automate your business, freeing up time for you to concentrate on other things – but let’s be real, you need to have something to automate first. Until you get to this stage, there is absolutely nothing wrong with free or dirt cheap. For example, Mailchimp is great until you have a couple thousand folks on your mail list. Google Hangouts is free so why not park that Crowdcast subscription for a while? Do you really need Buffer, when you can schedule natively on Facebook, or Xero, when WaveApps does a great job for zero (no pun intended) £s a month?
It can be a minefield working out the best apps to use, but when your business starts to pick up pace, I implore you to do your research and take advantage of free trials. Most importantly only sign up for what you genuinely require so that you aren’t spending unnecessarily!
Are there any other things you have wasted money on in your business? I’d love to hear about it – drop me a line in the comments below.