Essential Needs for Start-Ups: What to Invest In and What to Avoid

What Do Start-Ups Need? And What’s a Waste of Money?

Starting a business is exciting.

You walk away from “a job” into the world of the self-employed.

You are now your own boss. Then, hopefully, with success comes growth: engaging new staff, a new legal status, perhaps; an office, then maybe a bigger office.

You plan to take on your competitors. And win. Your products and services have an authentic edge.

You’ve got this.

What Do You Need?

To develop and offer you a positive work-life balance, what does your new business need?

What does it really need, rather than want, or do you vaguely think may work?

In Xpress Group’s opinion, there are a few essential elements to think about right here, right now. And, despite what you may have been told, a fair amount of not-for-now services and products. Don’t believe the hype, or conversely, embrace too much of a marketing tradition: some things may not offer you a decent return on investment.

The trouble is, you only know when you know.

So, with over 30 years’ experience in supporting client growth, we’re happy to offer you some sound advice. So that you’re aware, there are a few of these things we don’t offer but would highly recommend. However, as always, we’re here to provide in-the-round practical advice to help you progress.

Marketing and Sales

Why do businesses fail?

Bluntly, it’s because not enough money comes in through the door. Therefore, with a consultancy approach (solving companies’ problems) you have to sell.

You must. No sales equals no business.

Marketing supports and tends to overlap your sales process; it should be present in all stages of your business, from start to finish. A broad definition of marketing could refer to any action you take to attract your audience. Ideally, it demonstrates the value of your services, and strengthens brand loyalty and awareness. Plus, it stimulates revenue and creates loyalty.

So, when we mention needs, your number one must-have is:

1) A Plan – Goals, Time Frames, Who, What, Where Why

Or rather, a marketing plan.

In its most basic terms, a start-up marketing plan should contain all the things you will do to meet your objectives and business goals. It’s your how-to guide; your road map. That is to say, your approach. And, time frames. Who buys from you, and why? Consider your message, your differences, and the channels and tools you will use. Equally, how will you measure your development to know you’ve achieved each stage?

Also, what’s your budget?

2) A Budget

Essential need number two. Let’s bust the myth that you can start up without any money. Almost certainly, you can’t do this. Should you wish to avoid epic fail status and fall over at the first hurdle, you must set aside a certain amount to spend on your early-stage necessities.

Such as?

3) Effective Branding

Your business must have a distinct look and feel.

Likewise, you’ll want it to reach your audience in a way that touches their emotions. Yes, this sounds fanciful, but mostly, we don’t make purchase decisions based on logic. You know it’s true: we buy services because we feel it’s what we need.

Xpress Group offers design and branding expertise for marketing collateral, and we’d be pleased to discuss your needs.

4) A Website

As a fledgling operation, even a tiny, two-three page website is better than nothing at all.

Your prospects will be looking for your site. And, harsh though it sounds, they will be judging you. They also have short attention spans (we all skim-read on the internet), so it’s critical to be precise and to-the-point.

  • What you do
  • Who you do it for
  • Why people should contact you
  • How you solve their challenges
  • How to get in touch with you

Simple, and succinct. Start small, then expand.

5) Business Cards

Even in 2024, business cards are a straightforward, hassle-free way to offer someone your contact details. Designed well, of good quality and easy to read, your prospect can get in touch with you. Thus, they will remember you better than your card-free competitor.

Faffing around with QR codes, especially in a spot without Wi-Fi, could even, in a worst-case scenario, stop someone from buying from you. Why? Because they can’t remember who that nice person at the networking event was, who might be able to help me.

6) Flyers and Leaflets

If you sell to a consumer market, Xpress Group thinks flyers and leaflets are your secret weapon to marketing success. In fact, we recently wrote an article about them, which you can check out here.

If you sell b2b, they’re still highly effective as they offer more information than a simple business card. You can, within reason, fit more words and images into a leaflet. Nevertheless, they may not be super-cheap. For a corporate audience, go for high-standard, beautiful, elegant designs on thicker paper, with a subtle gloss. Ideally, you should balance outstanding words with meaningful graphics or pictures.

Leaflets are touchable, “leave-behind” materials. Make them the best they can be, and your prospect will keep the one you give them.

7) Product or Service Guides

We’ve included this concept, because a) it’s fairly affordable and b) it works.

Assuming an outstandingly good grasp of grammar, professional empathy, and the skill to keep sentences short, product guides can expand on your offering.

They may even offer more detailed features and benefits for those engaged to learn more.

With good branding and quality materials, these are worth considering.

To Avoid

If you’re a start-up, you may wish to swerve the following:

  • An expensive social media campaign. The key here is “expensive”. Less is more.
  • Compliment slips. These fell out of fashion many years ago.
  • Headed paper. Perhaps for later in your business journey.
  • Interactive, digital marketing. Fabulous, powerful and it works. But, in the very early stages, it’s not budget-friendly.
  • Too many branded products. Avoid the “swag”. It could all sit unused and unloved in a pile at the corner of your office and never see the light of day.

Last Words

Marketing, especially good-standard marketing collateral, is a must. It sets the tone for your start-up and creates expectations.

Choose carefully and well.

Contact Xpress Group for more information about how we can help you launch your new company into the world of business success.