How Much does ‘Free’ Cost You?
Self-employment and business start-ups are becoming ever more common.
Reasons for opening a business are numerous and varied. For some a second income stream is the motivation while remaining in full/part-time employment. For others setting out and going it alone is all about freedom and control over schedules and work experiences. Others simply want to say goodbye to their bosses, constraints on promotion and salary stagnation.
Some come to running a business with a good amount of experience, others have no experience at all. Whether large or small or ‘business on a shoe-string’ all businesses begin with budgets that are limited. Apportioning start-up funds is a challenge with cost-saving being a priority. Freebies are a director’s delight. All too often, however, savings are made in the wrong places.
With most small business owners being without a business plan they are essentially without a roadmap. If there is no business plan there certainly won’t be a brand plan. Without a business and brand plan there will almost certainly be avoidable problems along the way. What might those problems be? One could be that due to the absence of desk and field research a substantial amount of time and financial resource will be targeted at the wrong market sector. Another example could be that advertising materials won’t resonate. Perhaps to save money the business owner will opt for a cheap, or even free template website that will finally prove to be poor in design, lacking in well-written content, ineffective in generating enquiries and sales and restricted in build and development potential. Perhaps incoherent marketing via Social Media will cause a degree of confusion, an element of caution and thus a decision not to buy.
These avoidable outcomes are very common. That said, they are understandable too. Why choose to spend money on something you can do yourself? After all, until customers arrive there’s often plenty of time on the hands of the business owner to do things for themselves.
When Free Becomes Expensive
However, if the business owner is serious, if their venture is to bring truly needed income now and into the future isn’t best we all know what we don’t know and avoid doing what we can’t do? Isn’t it better to apportion start-up funds in such a way that the essential elements to opening and running a business are left to the professionals? Surely, a secure foundation to your business is the right place for your investment.
A secure foundation will comprise a clear picture of your business, detail about the product and/or service you want to sell, a clear analysis of your target market, its demographics, growth patterns and trends. Your strategy for implementation will be key to your planning too. Your brand and how it will win attraction, association and loyalty will prove hugely significant. Then there’s human resource and the financials, both equally essential.
Ultimately, the business owner must be prudent with start-up resources. That said, avoiding costs upfront for quality research, careful planning and a winning brand in favour of solutions that appear fast-track, inexpensive or even free is likely to result in free becoming expensive and perhaps even a failed launch!
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