As small business owners, we’re all strapped for cash and we hate spending unnecessarily. That being said, not everything should be DIY (do-it-yourself). Sometimes trying to save money and do things yourself costs you more in lost time and lost business than you saved in cash.
Consider handing these over to the experts:
1. Business Cards
Sure, Vistaprint and other sites have free templates you can customize to create your own business cards, but do you really want to use a template that hundreds of other companies have also used? The point of your business card is to stand out and be memorable – and you simply can’t do that with a cut and paste template.
Alternative: Good designers can be cheaper than you’d expect. Especially if you choose a relatively new freelancer (perhaps a college student) or use a crowdsourcing tool like 99designs. You can also save by bundling several projects together, such as your business cards, brochures and direct mailers.
While you no longer have to be a programmer to design a good website, you still should have some sense for design and layout. Content management systems (CMS), while useful tools, don’t make it foolproof to goof up on your website design. And with basic CMS functions, you may not know about more advanced features that let you add in descriptions and metatags.
Alternative: If you insist on designing your own site, go with a do-it-yourself content management system that provides ample customer support so that you can get feedback and help, making your site more user friendly. Try Weebly, SnapPages or Yola. Or ask for referrals for a good web designer based on your needs. Realize that if all you need is a simple 4-page website, the cost won’t be astronomical.
3. Mobile Apps
There’s a reason there are over 500,000 iTunes apps, many of which have few to no users. Companies that have no business creating apps are doing so. There are DIY app design programs like AppMakr, but they don’t help you with mobile app strategy, and without that – your app is useless. After all, do we really need a store locator app for your brand? Doesn’t Google Maps do that? What are you really trying to accomplish with your app?
Alternative: Find a mobile app developer with experience in your space. If you’re in the travel industry, find a designer who’s created other travel apps. Let the developer guide you to building an effective mobile app strategy rather than being stubborn about how your future app will be more popular than Angry Birds. It’s simply not happening.
I could write books about the companies who undervalue good content. Suffice it to say, a lot of brands want content that will help them connect to customers, but they don’t want to pay its worth. Job boards like Elance are filled with writing gigs promising to pay a whopping $4 for 600 words (I’m not joking). If you devalue writing this much, you probably don’t get the overall content marketing thing. You pay to have a professional writer to create content that reflects positively on your company. For $4, you simply can’t guarantee that it won’t be riddled with typos and run-on sentences. Is it worth the savings to have to rewrite it?
Alternative: If you can’t afford a full-time writer or marketing staffer, outsource your writing to a freelancer or a firm. Look for a company or writer that’s written about your industry before and negotiate a rate for bulk numbers of articles.
Sure, there are plenty of freeware programs available and you’ll get a lot done with Google Docs and a free membership to Basecamp. But when you need software to fill a hole that the freebies can’t, it’s time to invest. Paying a nominal fee for accounting software will prevent a major headache, as will project management software.
Alternative: Rather than paying a big chunk of cash for accounting software like QuickBooks to install on your computer, try the online edition for a lower monthly fee (QuickBooks Online starts at $12.95 a month). You’ll constantly get upgrades, which keeps you from having to shell out another few hundred on the latest and greatest edition.
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