(Heads up, this post contains some affiliate links which means I or both of us may gain a discount from the referral if you go ahead with buying the product.)
There are a tonne of free resources out there on setting up and running a business. I mean, this blog is full of them. You can type a few words into Google and easily find help in the practicalities of growing your business- but building a creative, purpose-driven business requires more than that. Your business is an extension of you so it makes sense that to build something successful, you need to develop and invest in your business and yourself. Your business is worth it.
I know we all get a bit itchy and uncomfortable when talking money, but stick it out. Sit with that feeling. Why do you feel like that whenever investments or just plain money comes up? It might be worth sitting down and discovering why, as that will help you get out of your uncomfortable mindset when it comes to money.
Although a necessity for any business, branding is always the expense that is pushed to the wayside, particularly by small businesses who don't have huge amounts of cash in the bank. It can be hard shelling out thousands of pounds for anything, let alone something you may think isn't worth a large chunk of your expenses, but it really is worth investing in.
Your brand is your business' identity. When you invest in your brand, you are allowing your business to grow and to become more noticeable, as well as to reach those all-important potential customers. In today's competitive market, it's imperative to invest in your branding, and that does mean paying a bit of money to a professional who will give you the results you need and deserve. You could get a mate’s mate to do it for a tenner, but you get what you pay for, and you’ll most definitely end up rebranding 6 months down the line.
There’s more on this here.
Coaching/ self development
Having a coach for my business changed my life. I wish that wasn't such a cliché-sounding statement because it really did. Having a therapist changes my life daily.
A good coach is skilled in asking the right questions, allowing you to access and explore new ideas. The coaching conversation is a safe space to explore ideas, without fear of judgment. Entrepreneurship can be lonely sometimes and having someone to bounce thoughts off can be the catalyst for taking your business to a new level. A therapist keeps my mental health and wellbeing in check, meaning I don’t have to miss as much work and I have the tools and resources I need to get through a hard day without going home and hiding under the covers.
When I first started in the land of creative business, I was adamant I wouldn’t ‘waste’ money on things I could do myself, or get for free. I had two paper diaries (one desk pad for daily use, one diary for monthly scheduling) and then a Google Calendar filled with pretty much the exact same things on those paper versions. I also just had an @gmail.com email address, which didn’t exactly scream professional. Now, I have a Google domain (£89 a year) which has all of the G-apps connected, so I can just use Google Calendar for my scheduling. I also use Acuity Scheduling (£9 a month) for booking coaching clients. It takes payments for me, lets me put in my availability and connects easily to my Calendar so I don’t have to look in two different places. For the coworking space, I use Cobot. It’s a brilliant management software specifically for coworking spaces where the most work you have to do is create your membership plan, invite the prospective member, accept them and then Cobot handles all of the invoicing, day booking and terms. It’s a lifesaver!
An accountant (or at least accounting software)
I used to do my books via Excel, in a huge, confusing sheet that didn’t make sense to anyone but me. I also had a paper version which was just a little reporter’s notebook I would carry around with me EVERYWHERE, making sure every little incoming and outgoing was written in there. As I’m sure you can imagine, this got confusing fast. I think I stuck to it for about a year (which is pretty good going for me when it comes to numbers, I’ll admit) but I soon realised it was making everything so much harder for myself. I’m dyslexic with numbers, so it came time for me to admit that maybe I needed some help. That’s when I discovered Freeagent, and I haven’t looked back. You can easily integrate your bank account to your feed, and it automatically adds in any new transaction, so you don’t have to spend hours manually adding them in. You can also send invoices and time track any project.
I also hire a local accountant who deals with a lot of small creative businesses to do my tax return each year (usually £240 a year). It saves so much stress and heartache.
Simplified Accounting have a great blog post about Return on Investment, and how it doesn’t have to just have a monetary return, you need to look at the bigger picture too. I’d definitely recommend giving it a read!