How much should I invest into starting a business?
I totally get it. I have been there myself, so it’s difficult not to.
When starting a business as an entrepreneur, it’s scary to spend large amounts of money on something that we have no real evidence that it will eventually work. And I am not even talking about setting up whole production lines or buying property – but simply the cost of setting up a business.
Creating a brand strategy, setting up a website, creating a logo, contracting a bookkeeper, setting up a company legally, buying materials, renting a physical location – and the list goes on and on. Understandably, we try to save wherever we can. Bookkeeper? Maybe I can do that myself, in the end, I have a friend who is an expert, and perhaps he could help me out from time to time! Legal help? I heard that there are excellent YouTube videos on the topic, why don’t I just go and check out those… Branding? Isn’t that something only big firms need? I think I will be fine creating my own logo on a free website – in the end, no one knows my business better than I do, right? Physical location? Maybe I will just start inviting my clients home and then see how it goes…
These are thoughts that we have ALL gone through when starting out. When you haven’t made a single Euro yet with your business idea, it’s complicated where to draw the line, and how much to invest or do yourself. The more professional-looking your business is when you start out – the easier it will be to find customers. On the other hand, if you invest less, you also lose less in case you don’t manage to sell anything.
So where exactly is the fine line between outsourcing tasks and doing them yourself? And which ones should you choose to invest in exactly?
As every business and every entrepreneur is different, there is no secret formula that fits all. Of course, what makes the most sense is to outsource areas where you are not an expert, and do the ones you know you will be able to do well by yourself.
Is branding something I should invest in for my small business?
But I firmly believe that there is one area of starting a business that is greatly underrated, and this is BRANDING. People believe that a BRAND is something that only big companies need as they are the only ones that can afford it. Very few entrepreneurs seek professional help when doing their branding, for 2 main reasons: 1) they are entirely convinced that it is not really essential for their business or 2) they know it is necessary, but because they know it is costly to outsource, they don’t even really look into options.
What they usually do instead, is study the market and their competition, and try to copy it in one way or another, thinking that this will do the trick.
Why do I know this? Because what I hear entrepreneurs say is «Oh I need someone to do my logo» or «Oh, I need a website, who can help me set it up» or «Oh, I am not sure what to put on social media, maybe I should hire someone» – but very few entrepreneurs ever say «Oh, I need help with setting up my brand».
And if I can tell you just one piece of advice when starting out, it is this: – PLEASE make it a priority and take the time to set up a real brand, BEFORE you decide on your name, design your logo, set up your website or write your first social media post. Whether you do it yourself or outsource it, is totally secondary, but please do not skip this step!
I am totally convinced that setting up a unique brand will be the make it or break it off your business! If you manage to stand out from the crowd in a unique way and truly connect with your target audience, the most significant part of the job is done. Closing the sales is usually the easy part – what is very difficult is to get your customers’ attention to listen and to figure out what the real problem is that they are struggling with.
Now I understand that you might not be totally convinced. So let me try to demonstrate this based on three examples.
Three case studies that showcase the importance of good branding
1. What do you think is the difference between McDonald’s and the burger joint around the corner that is about to go bankrupt? Taste? Maybe, but most likely the burgers are tastier at the local burger place. Price? Even here, the local joint might win. BRANDING? Bingo – McDonald’s gives you a clear promise (tasty burgers in minutes) and delivers on it every single time you enter a restaurant. In ANY of their locations, they have the same menu and the same quality – all around the world, and they deliver on the promise of it being fast! Simple, right? You know what to expect, and you get it.
Now the local burger joint? Even after spending time reading online reviews, you still don’t really know what you will get. Speed of delivery of the burger? No real promise made there. A choice on the menu? You will read it for the first time, so be prepared to spend some time. Quality? It can range from horrible to excellent, even despite positive online reviews. Of course, it can turn into a much better experience in the end than going to McDonald’s, but the risk and the unknown is much higher. McDonalds’ Marketing takes the guesswork out of your decision and simplifies your life. End of story.
2. Why do you think Obama and Trump won the election, while McCain and Clinton were left behind? Correct: BRANDING. I do not want to go into the depth of this question – or start a long debate about politics, I just want to prove what a good brand vs a bad one is capable of doing. So let me ask you this: What does Obama stand for? Right, ‘YES, WE CAN.’ I bet you even remember the campaign logo. And Trump? Correct again, ‘WE WILL MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN.’ 3 and 6 word promises that EVERY SINGLE PERSON in the developed world can state when woken up in the middle of the night. Now, this is what I call a powerful brand.
Ah yes, I forgot to ask: what does McCain stand for? And Clinton? Hmmm, not so clear, right? Well, maybe this has something to do with why they did not win the elections…
3. Why are people willing to pay 6 Euro for a cup of coffee, when the local coffee shop sells the same quality for 1.99 Euro? Right again, BRANDING. Starbucks revolutionized the coffee shop industry, by creating a 360° brand experience that people value so much that they are willing to pay 3x the price. This is an excellent example of inventing something that customers didn’t even know they wanted! No one would’ve said that they want a more expensive coffee. But they did want a coffee shop which is like a second living room, where they can take time for themselves, be with friends, study or work or whatever they felt like doing that day. And Starbucks now can make a fortune with it.
I know that now you will say – sure Starbucks and McDonalds have it easy – they have multi-million dollar budgets to create and execute world-class Marketing. How could a small entrepreneur compete with these huge corporations?
Can my business become a lovebrand?
Yet I am very comfortable to tell you that any company – big or small – can have an incredibly strong brand.
The local pastry shop, where you stop every morning before work can be a love brand for you, and they might not have spent a cent on their branding. But they do bake the best croissants in town and have the most fantastic service, and this makes them unique and meaningful to YOU. This does not mean they are meaningful to your neighbor (who might not like pastries), but this is precisely the critical point: they give you a customized solution to YOUR problem, not your neighbors.
So this is the true art of branding (vs. a big budget): how well can you identify the problem that your customers have and how unique is your solution to it?
The more concretely you identify these two things, and the clearer you can communicate your offer to them, the more successful your business will be. Easy, right? WHO, WHAT and HOW.
Take the time, think about it, write it down, and then re-write it until it feels right. Then show it to your friends and relatives, ask them if it is clear enough. If they get in 3 seconds what you are trying to say and can repeat it back to you without any difficulty, then you are done.
Then go ahead and do all the other things that were worrying you in the first place, like designing a logo and setting up a website and posting on social media. All of these things are super hard – if not impossible – if you are not crystal clear on what you want to be recognized for! Or how you are different than your competition.
But once you nailed down why your product or service is unique – everything else will be a piece of cake.
Ready to start?
Oh and – by the way – if you are having trouble figuring it out by yourself, or your relatives don’t get what you are trying to say in 3 seconds, you are still on time to give us a call 🙂 !! We at BEE A BRAND are obsessed with branding and would be delighted to help you figure out what exactly makes you unique and how to best communicate it so that you can stand out vs. your competitors in the market! Our aim is to help you make your business dreams come true and truly connect with your customers so that you can focus on building your business and let your brand attract your customers. Let us know if we can help!!
BEE A BRAND. – Imagine. Create. Thrive.