Well, I just about wrapped up my first quarter of full-time freelancing! Taxes are done. Can I get a sigh of relief? I thought with the conclusion of this milestone, I would share a bit of insight to where I invested my money during the first three months, as well as where I think any small business should start in terms of investments.
Before diving into it, I wanted to say THANK YOU to everyone who shared their excitement with me about the
series, and filled out the survey! I am loving the responses so far, and am still in a whirlwind trying to figure out the best way to structure the series. So far, it is looking like a weekday lunch Google hangout. If you are interested in joining, I would love for you to fill out this
, so I understand what you would like to learn, and if you have any suggestions! You can also sign up for the
to receive more updates as I refine the structure. I will keep you updated once I set a date for the first hangout!
Back to my first quarter expenses. Here is where I recommend investing your resources if you are a new small business:
If you are about to start a business, or are in the early stages, I would recommend one of the first places to invest your money is establishing a brand identity. I don’t just recommend this because I specialize in brand identity design, I truly believe that a quality visual identity propels your business forward. Even if you aren’t fully off the ground running yet, you will need branding to give a face to your business. Fake it till you make it, friends!
A quality brand identity is useful for building an online presence, preparing presentations or even business cards to hand out at networking events. This is a great place to start also, because you will have to do some serious thinking about the vision behind your brand throughout the brand identity process. I typically send out a questionnaire to my clients, getting to the heart of their brand so that I have a greater understanding of what their message is. This helps me craft a creative visual identity that is unique to their business.
Luckily, since I am a graphic designer, this service was free for me! Costly in terms of time… designing for yourself is
This is where the bulk of my expenses fall into. A whopping 70% of my first quarter expenses were for promotional purposes! Most of this cost was for my website. I designed this site myself, but hired a developer to code it up + make it responsive. If you don’t have that much money up front, you can always start with a template website. I actually started offering a design package that includes branding + website template customization. This is a great way for small businesses to establish a quality online presence, without the cost of a custom site. My site is custom, and the price tag for development was pricey! As a designer, this cost was worth it to me as it is my most frequented marketing tool.
I am SO excited that I am getting some custom photography done at the end of this month! The photography will consist of styled prop photos for my blog + website. There are several resources for stock photography, but I could never find anything that
with my brand aesthetic. I reached out to a photographer friend I met through Twitter, and am so excited to see what she comes up with. The price for this is very reasonable and actually would probably end up the same, or less, if I were to purchase stock photos. Worth it. I would definitely recommend investing in photography, especially if you are in a creative industry. Photography makes all the difference when presenting yourself.
A must for every business. Honestly, I hardly hand these out as most of my business is online. However, I would hate to be in a situation where I was embarrassed that I didn’t have business cards.
offers low-quantity options so there is really no excuse!
Oh man… where would I be without
? I have said it before, and will say it many times more, Basecamp is my jam! I have tried several other project management systems, but Basecamp is where I have landed. Is it perfect? No. But you can’t beat the simplicity + customer service. My clients love it, and find it so simple to use. It keeps me organized, on track, and I always know at a quick glance where I am at on any project. Highly recommend if you are in a project-based industry!
Adobe Creative Cloud
There is no getting around it, I need
to run my business.
Various Office Expenses
Accountant + Quickbooks
One decision I made early on is that I did not want to mess with accounting. I have so many other things to juggle when just starting a new business, I was not up for learning about bookkeeping and all of the tax laws! I am so glad I hired an accountant to do my quarterly taxes for me. I also use
to keep track of bookkeeping throughout the year. It is great because my accountant can login to my Quickbooks easily and reference what he needs to know for taxes. I highly recommend hiring an accountant. It really wasn’t as expensive as I initially thought, so well worth it. Saved me hours of stress, headaches and confusion if I were to try to figure this out on my own!
As a designer, it was about time that I purchased my own set of
. These, just like Adobe CC, are necessary for the design industry. The swatches indicate specific colors that are assigned a Pantone number. If you aren’t a designer, you won’t need these :).
Another must have for designers! I have really had to keep an eye on how much I spend on fonts. It is so tempting to just go on a spending spree and purchase several fonts at once! I limit my purchases to when I have a client that I think could benefit from a different font that isn’t in my library yet.
There are several other minor expenses, but the ones mentioned above are the major expenses I have endured for my first quarter of full-time freelancing. I think most of these categories translate to other small businesses as well! Yes, I could have saved money and cut corners when starting my business, however I knew that I wanted to start on the right foot. I was strategic about where I put my money... it was not on an iMac (I work from a laptop), several fonts or other equipment. I spent my money where I could make the most impact (promotional/website), and made sure that I presented myself as best as I could upfront. Presentation really contributes to your brand, and conveys the type of quality that you produce to potential consumers.