Brand Ambition isn’t that old – so we still (really!) remember our start-up hustle phase. (I think we’re still in it!?) But there were definitely some purchases that we made early on that made a big difference in our initial growth.  Here’s some of what we recommend:

1. $40/month spent on quoting and invoicing software called 17hats. I can’t say enough good things about this software. It was the secret to my early success. I was TERRIBLE at billing and asking for money and this program did all the icky parts for me. It’s constantly being upgraded, and now it offers everything from bookings to client management – even workflow automation.  The time you invest in setting this app up will pay you back over and over again in saved time, and efficiency.

2. $300/Month Rent. Should I move my business out of my living room, and pay for it to be somewhere? It’s a question a lot of start-ups wrestle with.  Luckily, at a networking meeting, a contact of mine offered me a teeny tiny office for $300/month. It was in an office building with a bunch of other businesses, and so I rationalized that it would be worth it for the exposure. While I don’t think I sold ANYTHING to the other people in the building, my business instantly EXPLODED.  I think it projected commitment and my friends and family and “sub-networks” thought “Oh, this is a real business” and took me more seriously. I am not sure all the reasons, but I would say that every time I have increased the square footage of my office – my business has grown. So if you are wondering if commercial space is a good idea – I think it is.

3. As Budget Allows – Photoshoot – If I had to start all over again, I would start with photography. It’s so key for content, creating an aesthetic, becoming memorable, communicating your brand… I could go on. Our first photoshoot cost $300 and I SWEAT over the investment wondering if I should do it.  Now, I would easily spend $1200 4 times a year on quarterly shoots – not because I am a baller or anything, but because I understand the VALUE and the return on investment of those photos. Get Pics.

4. As Budget Allows – Instagram ads. For us, they make all the difference. They perform better than Facebook ads and our primary form of advertising. Don’t worry so much about your FOLLOWERS when you buy ads.  Some people will click through to your website and make a purchase, and those people rarely go BACK to follow you.  So when you’re measuring the value you have to take into account all the actions that could be happening as a result. Some people will never like, never click through, never comment, but they’ve SEEN your brand, and it’s priming them for future action. So there are all kinds of hidden value in ads.

We are super curious about how other businesses have grown and found success, so if you’ve made better (or different!) investments, Let us know what they were!