By Susan Guillory

Small business owners are notorious for being skinflints. Now, I’m not saying that’s a bad thing; I’ve certainly done my fair share of penny pinching in my marketing firm. But there’s a difference between opportunities in your business where it’s smart to not spend (you probably don’t need a fancy phone system if you’re a micropreneur) and where cheaping out can cost you big.

In the following circumstances, you’re better off investing in these areas to grow your business.

1. Design

I’m willing to bet you’re not a professional graphic designer. If you are, skip to #2. Your visual branding — think your logo, website design, marketing materials — is a key component in how potential customers view your brand. If you try to DIY design, you risk making your company look amateur.

Quality design can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. You can get a great logo designed through crowdsourcing site invoices, or simply look for a graphic designer that caters to small businesses (and small budgets). It’s an investment, yes, but it’s an investment in the future growth of your business.

2. Marketing

Some business owners love doing their own marketing and blog writing. Others don’t have the time or skills to do so effectively. If you’re in the latter group, don’t hurt your own efforts by bumbling along with your marketing…or not marketing at all.

There are so many options for outsourcing your marketing, including:

  • Hire an agency to handle all of it
  • Hire a copywriter for your marketing copy or blog posts
  • Hire a freelancer for ad hoc projects

You can pay by the project or a flat fee, if you need recurring services, like social media management. Remember: you can’t grow your business or increase sales without marketing, so it’s an essential expense.

3. Accounting

If you’re not a whiz at managing your finances, this is another area to consider getting help in. It’s important to stay on top of your invoices and expenses so that, come tax time, you’re organized and ready to file.

Small business accountants often work by the hour or for a flat monthly fee. Consider what you can hand over to a professional: payroll management, expense monitoring, bill payment, and invoice collecting are all tasks that are time-consuming. Having a professional handle them can free up your time significantly, letting you put more focus back on your business.

4. Software

Investing in your company is more than just hiring other people to help you. It’s also about having the right tools to help you be more productive. There are plenty of software programs that offer free plans or free trials, but if you’re outgrowing them, it’s time to consider what’s worth spending money on.

For example, MailChimp has a free plan for accounts up to 2,000 subscribers. If you’ve exceeded that number, you can upgrade your account for as little as $10 a month. Or if you need customer relationship management software to manage your contacts, you can consider a platform like Insightly, which has paid plans starting at $12 a month (there’s a limited free plan too). Investing in the right software doesn’t have to be expensive. It’s all about finding the tools that will help you do more and putting resources toward them.

Spending money is scary, especially when you don’t have a ton of it. But if you’re strategic about where you put your funds, you’ll quickly earn your investment back while growing your business exponentially.