Written by Tisha Kulak…
More consumers are adapting to the concepts of frugality, especially now during this time of economic crisis that is sweeping across the nation. There are more people searching for bargains and shopping for off-brand merchandise in order to save cash, despite the fact it may be of lesser quality than the more expensive brand alternatives. While this frugal lifestyle may be the best choice for consumers and their families, bargain basement discounts for a business is a different story.
While small business spending should be closely monitored and business owners should always remain cost-conscious, buying cheap may do your company more harm than good. Certainly there are ways to cut down on overhead costs but there are some places you should not skimp to save a few bucks.
Here are a few examples of where not to look for a bargain:
There is no way around it, advertising and marketing your business is essential. Without it, you will not have a business. Even worse than not having advertising at all is using ill-prepared material to promote your business. Think of what your first impression of a business would be if you received a cheap-looking brochure in the mail where words were misspelled and just overall looked horrible. You probably would not make it a priority to look them up for anything. You need to invest in professional looking, high quality promotional ideas to support your business. It doesn’t necessarily have to be the most expensive materials on the market, but understand what you are distributing to the masses needs to be professional and represent your company in the best way possible. If you are skilled at designing materials, by all means do it yourself but don’t produce just anything to save a few bucks. It is not worth it.
In this day and age, a website is often the first impression people get of a business. The internet breaks geographical barriers and allows consumers to shop anywhere on the planet. They come to rely on the information provided on a website when shopping for merchandise or services. If your site is of poor quality and you haven’t put much thought into any of the material or copy, you can probably forget about generating any online business. If you are not skilled at designing a website, invest money into someone who is. If you can not write good marketing copy, hire a freelance writer who can. Otherwise you are just wasting money on a website that will do nothing for your business, except maybe harm it.
There is a wonderful resource of information that can be provided by professional freelancers. More businesses, both small and large, are beginning to understand the importance of networking with professional freelance writers, web designers, marketing consultants, IT consultants, and accountants. Many companies can not always afford to hire and retain staff on a full time basis so they have come to rely on the experience of freelancers. There are many companies who contract outside services on a bid system and those who always hire the lowest bid provider are missing out. Just because the service is cheap, does not mean it will be good. Do it right the first time by looking at examples of work instead of relying only on the cost. Investing in the right freelancer and establishing a long-term business relationship could do wonders for your business.
Customer Service and Support
Selling a product or a service is more than just a monetary transaction. The best businesses also offer an open-door policy for assisting customers with questions or concerns about the purchase they made or service they have hired. Customers, especially in these times of scams and con artists, want to be reassured they have received the best bang for their buck. Repeat business is essential to long-term survival. Plus, word of mouth is sometimes your best marketing tool. Bad reviews will spread like wild fire and you will probably miss out on new business too. Be prepared to back your product or service and invest in help if it is needed. Provide appropriate and thorough training to anyone representing your company and make sure your business is accessible to your customers at all times, whether you use an answering service or freelancers to handle your calls and other customer correspondences.
There are several other areas that are worth larger investments of money and your time and it is up to your good business decision skills to ensure that you are doing all you can to grow your business and make it a success. Use common sense and do not let money always be the deciding factor. Remember, you really do have to spend money to make money.
Written for The Closet Entrepreneur by Tisha Kulak. Tisha is a writer for Creditorweb.com where she gives advice about credit card offers, business credit cards and small business finances.