So, you’re a start-up, an entrepreneur or looking to get out of the corporate grind and need a change.

You know you need to market yourself but look at your budget and think you can’t afford a design firm. Your beer goggle confidence has you thinking, “I have Microsoft Publisher, Word and FrontPage” how hard can designing a logo, brochure and website be?”

After combing endlessly through Microsoft’s vast clipart collection, sifting through Google Images and finding a half-baked GoDaddy website template, you’ve found one thing to be true, you’re not a designer and you don’t even know how to use two of the three programs you thought might help you become an overnight Saachi & Saachi.

“I have Microsoft Publisher, Word and FrontPage” how hard can designing a logo, brochure and website be?”

So what do you do?

You take a deep breath, a step back and look at your business goals and think if you market and brand like a 99 cent store business from the get-go, what sort of clients do you think will be knocking at your door?

DIY design looks like your business image was the lowest item on our priority list — a pure afterthought. It’s like going to a wedding in shorts and a tank top with a six-pack of Bud at your side. (every wedding has THOSE type of people — you don’t want to come off that way with your marketing.)

Investing in your business image even on a smaller budget is one of the most important things you can do. So you don’t have a 10K-50K budget — that’s fine, but you should have a budget and it needs to be realistic. You can’t have a million dollar idea and promote it and your company with a $500 budgeting cap. You don’t have to go gangbusters on the marketing all at once, you can phase into it but having it professionally done is key, only IF you want to be taken seriously.

Do it right the first time, hire a company with a strong portfolio, who knows what a deadline means and if necessary will hold your hand through the entire design process. (especially if it’s your first time) If you don’t hire Effusion, hire a firm that knows what the heck they’re doing. It’s not all about dollars and cents — it’s about value, who you are as a company and how your marketing helps to convey that message.

You don’t have to take a second mortgage out to look like you have your marketing act together — but investing with a design firm and NOT going DIY commando style is a must. You’ll thank yourself later — trust us on that.