INVESTING IN YOUR BUSINESS: SHARING OUR FINANCIAL DECISIONS
In episode 17 of our podcast, we discuss when to invest in your business, the financial decisions we’ve made for Sticker Guru over the past few years, how we knew when to invest and what we invested in.
So let’s first talk about how we pay for our investments:
We primarily use “Bootstrapping” (vs. other methods of financing). From Investopedia: “Bootstrapping describes a situation in which an entrepreneur starts a company with little capital, relying on money other than outside investments. An individual is said to be bootstrapping when they attempt to found and build a company from personal finances or the operating revenues of the new company.”
Other options for financing include loans (either from banks or family/friends), crowdfunding like Kickstarter, raising money with investors (like VC’s or Angel Investors), etc.
We fall under the bootstrapping category, which means it will take longer for us to grow vs. having investors, but we are able to do a lot of things like:
- Get creative and we’re forced to find less expensive solutions
- Make our own decisions about our business
- Not worry about paying back loans
- Stay confident that we won’t run out of money or have to fire everyone
Knowing when to invest and when to upgrade:
We’ve never regretted any of these decisions, if anything we had only wished we did it sooner.
Equipment (when to upgrade vs. purchasing the best item one time) - pay attention to bottlenecks that are taking up your time, if you find that you’re spending a lot of time doing something, you can probably invest in better or more equipment to save time. Some of the equipment we purchased or upgraded that helped us get back time:
- We highly recommend that sticker shops invest in multiple printers and cutting machines.
- Shipping label printer - we used to hand-cut and tape our shipping labels and purchasing a shipping label printer was a game changer.
- Thermal Laminator - we started with the cheapest and slowly kept upgrading as we got more orders for foiled stickers, and now we use a professional laminator that laminates at a faster speed with better quality.
- Packing tape dispenser - We use a water activated branded tape and we used to activate this by hand and it was very time consuming. After doing a Google search we found a machine that could dispense the tape, activate it, and cut it.
Paying for things like software:
- Subscriptions - For example, switching from Etsy to Shopify - determine if the price and service is worth it for you and if the benefit is there for your shop. You can also determine if the Shopify app add-ons are something that your business needs, and if so then it is worth it. You can always try something out and if it doesn’t work then you can discontinue it.
- Annually vs Monthly subscriptions - We committed to 3 years of Shopify Pro because this offered us the best rates. Evaluate when it is more cost effective for you to sign up for an Annual plan (pay for the entire year in advance) vs. a plan that is charged Monthly.
- Free vs. Paid - Evaluate when a service is worth doing the paid version for your business. For example: Canva - we use the paid version of Canva because the additional features we get on the Pro version are definitely worth it for us. We recommend using the free version of apps and software whenever you can, and then upgrade when it becomes necessary for your business.
Courses + Education + Reading
There are a lot of great resources available for continuing your education and learning about running your own business. We both got our degrees while working, but you don’t have to do that. You can still just take courses to help round out your knowledge (i.e. Marketing classes, business classes, courses on software like Adobe or project management tools like Asana, etc). If you like to read books / listen on Audible, look into business topics to continue learning. Podcasts are another great tool to learn more about all aspects of owning a business - be sure to check out the Big Plans Podcast for all our helpful tips and insights as sticker shop owners. Additionally you can take an eCourse: i.e. our Flawless Foiling course is a great option if you want to learn more about how to foil stickers and we share all the tips and tricks we’ve learned over the years.
We hired two employees, which allows us to have more time to focus on other parts of our business. We wished we hired people sooner and it’s been so helpful to have certain tasks freed up. You don’t have to hire someone to work in-person, which is something we thought for the longest time, and that’s why we held off on hiring for so long - especially because of the pandemic. Another piece of advice we have is to pay experts for things that you can’t do better yourself (for us this is for things like artists to create custom artwork for us and our CPA to handle all our accounting needs and tax preparation).
Each time we moved into a larger space, our business also grew, and we expanded with more inventory and equipment. Now we have a shipping and packing station, a cutting station, etc. We’re currently bursting at the seams, so it’s definitely time to move again. Having an office space doesn’t necessarily mean an extra expense, or doesn’t need to be a separate space you rent or own, but it can be an extra room in your house, or a basement, etc, and naturally as your space increases so will your business operations.
This list seems like a lot, but these are all business expenses that you can deduct. At the end of the day it’s definitely worth it to invest in things for your business, especially if it will help you grow!
Be sure to listen to the full episode for all the details!
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Thank you SO much for being here. See you in the next episode!
xo, Lisa & Lucy