Self-Inflicted Wounds - bleeding your business by going it alone

There are many tools out there for the do-it-yourself-er. Quite possibly the whole self-made man idea is compounded and frankly, confounded, by companies like Home-Depot and Lowes who taut messages of how you can do it and they can help, or how you can build something together. Home and Garden television teaches you how to do just about anything yourself.

perplexedThese companies, and others, have made millions enforcing the message that anyone can do anything armed with an example, a little knowledge and a tool or two. And while this is great fodder for the homeowner, home gardener, home chef, home entertainer, it is generally not the right path for the business owner.

Sadly, however, so many small businesses start with budgets that are incorrectly allocated and don't appropriate funds to employ professional advice and services when really needed. Books, internet sources, even videos attempt to teach how to be your own attorney, bookkeeper, CPA, financial adviser, and yes, marketer. But all-too often the start-up company allocates funds into the storefront build-out and inventory, and miss the critical planning stage with professionals who will not only save time and money, but often can save their business.

These wholly self-sufficient businesses cause self-inflicted wounds. A company bleeds the budget because it gets started without an attorney's review of important contracts and purchase agreements, without a sound budget or financial forecast, without setting up the proper accounts and records for government compliance, and without the marketer's research for product, price and promotion.

Since Inspired 2 Design is an advertising agency, we tend to lean toward using a marketing firm or advertising agency to help get the business "P's" established before the start-up funds are all allocated to inventory you don't know how to pick, price or promote. You really need to answer some important questions when you plan your business model and create your business plan: Who's the target market? What are their buying habits? Demographics? Discretionary income? Does the product require discretionary income or is it a necessity? With that in mind, how should the product be priced? How much profit do you need to become and remain profitable? What's the competition doing? and of course, How should the product be marketed? How do you display the product in your store? What media capture the attention of the target audience? How much should be spent on each media and promotional effort? How do you measure results? How should you test markets, products, prices, promotional messages and media? All of these questions need to be answered before you spend your first dollar on product or site build-out.

Once these questions are answered with the help of a professional team behind you, you can make your product choices, build inventory and build-out your storefront with a plan in place that directs how you spend, what you spend on, and what to do when items succeed and when they don't. It comes down to this...are you willing to risk it all on your self-inflicted legal, financial and promotional knowledge?

My grandfather used to say, "Jack of all trades, master of none." Be the master of your business, the one area you know best, and as you consider taking the leap, remember do-it-yourself is fine for some things, but sometimes you've got to call in the pros. In business, the risk is great and the rewards can be even greater, so team up with professional advisers who can provide you the advice and expertise needed to get your business off to a great start. Inspired 2 Design, LLC