When do-it-yourself is the bad choice: 5 items small business owners should invest in

Small business owners as a group are often prioritizing expenses to determine which options fit into the budget and which don’t. We try to do many things ourselves in order to save funds and improve our bottom line. However, there are some things in which an investment is a good idea. Otherwise you run the risk of losing precious time that could be more wisely be invested in your business, giving you the opportunity to gain more dollars than you would have saved. So which items are more worthy of a monetary than time investment?

1. Business Cards

Regardless of the myriad of free templates available on the Internet, opt for custom business card printing. Remember, the purpose of a card is to communicate pertinent information while standing out in a crowd of commoners. To be memorable, you need to move beyond the cut and paste template.
Get price quotes from several designers. Your local copy center often has an onsite designer to assist you. Many companies offer deals if you bundle services together, e.g. cards, brochures, and direct mailers. For an even more economic solution, consider the services of a freelancing college student in graphic design.

2. Website

Website design is becoming increasingly easy; you don’t even have to understand html code anymore to have a working site! Even so, there are still the areas of layout and design to consider. If you don’t have a keen sense of graphic design, your site could suffer. There are also advanced features that will pull traffic to your site. Trust a design expert to set up your company website and watch your hits increase.
Of course, there are those of you who will insist on designing your own site. If you do, choose a content management system that provides ample customer support so that you can get feedback and help when you need it.

3. Mobile Apps

There’s an app for that. But that doesn’t mean there should be. Of the more than 50,000 iTunes apps, many are not used. Even with an app design program to build the application itself, you still need a mobile strategy to experience app success. Before you decide you need an app, ask yourself what you hope the app will accomplish. If the application merely helps users find your brick-and-mortar store, leave that to Google maps.

If your app has a clear and necessary purpose, find a mobile app developer with experience in your business genre. Allow your developer to guide you in design and marketing strategy. And, before we forget- let go of the dream of being more popular than Angry Birds.

4. Content

In the SEO world, content is king. To have quality content, you need to pay quality content prices. Offering a professional writer $4 for a 500-700 word article will get you poor quality work. Poor quality content will translate this same lack of value to potential customers. Instead, invest in the services of a professional writer and pay them what they’re worth. Quality content prices can range from $10- $30 per article depending on the specificity of the content and the research required.

If hiring a full time writer isn’t an option, utilize freelance boards or other classified sites such as Craigslist. Ask potential writers to provide clips of previous publications so you can see if their style and voice match what you are seeking.

5. Software

If you have maxed out the capabilities of Google Docs for your business purposes, it may be time to invest in software. This is especially important in the area of finances. A major headache can be prevented when you invest in accounting software.