When you’re building an online startup, you need to be careful about where you’re investing money. Your funds are finite. Protect them. It’s smart to DIY where you can to save money, but you should also expect to spend money in some areas to make money. Here are some of the best places to invest your funds when you’re just getting started.
1. G Suite
Every online startup communicates largely via email. You should own the email address you’re using for those communications. It makes you look professional and prevents people from thinking your messages are spam. It’s also good advertising for your business.
But G Suite is about more than just email. You get more apps and features than you would with a free Google account. For example, the business plan includes an application for app development. You can use it to make your own apps for your business. In addition, when you’re paying for G Suite you own the contents of your Google Drive and get even more storage space. A business account also includes unlimited cloud storage.
2. Graphic Design Software
Advertising is the perfect place to spend your money because you can usually see a clear return on investment. You’re spending money to get noticed, and getting noticed brings you business. Make sure you have some high-quality visuals that represent your business well online.
You don’t necessarily need to hire a graphic designer to do this work for you. With the online service Canva, you can create logos, infographics, flyers, and more. You can design based on templates or start from scratch.
If you have a little more design experience, you might consider investing in the Adobe Creative Cloud. With a monthly subscription, you can access one app of your choice or all the Creative Cloud applications like InDesign, Photoshop, and Illustrator. You’ll also get 100 GB of cloud storage to keep all your files safe.
But, Beware of Subscription Services!
It’s easy to see subscription services as great deals on critical tools you need, but don’t go overboard. Services like G Suite and the Creative Cloud are smart investments, but be careful they aren’t a drag on your precious cash flow. Don’t over-commit to subscription services. If you’re finding yourself not using a certain subscription to justify its cost, make sure you cancel the service.
3. Professional Images
Another way to appeal to your customers/clients visually is through high-quality images. You could do this in a few different ways. The cheapest option is using eye-catching stock photos from websites like Pexels, Flickr, and Unsplash.
If you subscribe to the Creative Cloud, you can also get Adobe Stock photos, including 10 free images for your first month. But don’t underestimate the power of paying for personalized photos as well. At a bare minimum, make sure you have some professional headshots of you and your team (if applicable) for your website and your professional email accounts.
Marketing is always a worthwhile investment, but especially when you’re first starting out and no one knows who you are. If you offer a professional service, Fiverr is a great platform where you can easily be found by people all over the world who need your services. Facebook ads are also a great way to target social media users, and they are more effective than Google Ads at focusing on a narrow audience. Figure out who can use your services and target them with your ads. You can use your Canva or Creative Cloud chops to create aesthetically-pleasing ads.
5. A High-Quality Website
Spend money on your website. As an online startup, your website is your storefront and can do a TON of heavy-lifting for you. If you want your customers to come inside, you need your storefront to be inviting. Not only should it draw customers in, but it should also convince them to invest.
For an online business, the website’s effectiveness is also a huge part of customer service. Your website should be fast, efficient, and safe. Hire a reputable web designer or use a company like Squarespace or WordPress to build your website using templates.
Don’t forget about the writing. Your website should have plenty of content, but not so much text that it overwhelms users. Make sure you balance the text with images to keep users interested. The content should be engaging; from the home page to the product descriptions to the about page. You may need to hire a professional writer to fill your website with high-quality content – but it’s worth the investment.
6. Reliable, Powerful Technology
As an entrepreneur, you’re going to spend a lot of time on your laptop. Make sure you get a reliable laptop but don’t go overboard with the price. Something too cheap won’t last you long, but something too expensive will drain your funds quickly. Remember, you can always upgrade in a couple years after you start making more money. Lenovo’s Yoga and Apple’s Mac are two brands of laptops that have all the capabilities you’ll need.
You need to be connected to the internet as much as possible so you can see orders and address customer questions. When you can’t get to your computer, you need to be able to get to your smartphone. You probably already have a smartphone, but is it good enough? Invest in the smartest smartphone you can find, but try to keep it as long as possible. Upgrading too quickly can also drain your funds without a lot of benefits to justify the expense.
But, Stay Away from Tablets
What you do not need for your online startup is a tablet. Don’t waste your money. A laptop will be able to do everything a tablet does and more. Many laptops also double as tablets. Between your smartphone and laptop, there is absolutely no need for a tablet.
7. Microsoft Word
Some businesses will have a need for software and applications that others won’t. But most online startups involve some kind of writing. Microsoft Word is the industry standard, and it’s worth investing in the latest version – don’t try to work around this. Although you can do a lot with Google Docs, it will not have all the same capabilities as Microsoft Word. You’ll look much more professional with Microsoft Word.
The Right Tools Set You Up for Success!
Some of these investments might be subject to what industry you’re working in. But these are all great places to invest funds for your online startup. With these tools at your side, your startup is set up for success!