Stacey Trock is the entrepreneur and social media maven behind FreshStitches, the uber-popular and innovative crochet design company. Stacey has a sharp understanding of the motivations that underlie consumer purchases, and she specializes in connecting small businesses with easy-to-implement and trendsetting marketing ideas.

Today, Stacey explains why it’s a good idea to start scrappy, but it’s also wise to hire help when you need it. Here’s how to know when that time has come.

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Most of us begin our businesses as one-person shows. We make our product, take the photos, make the listings on Etsy and answer the emails. And that’s great! In my opinion, starting small (with as little debt as possible) is the best way to begin your business. You’re agile with your product, can test what’s working with your customers and get a hands-on feel for what needs to change.

However, after a few years of growth, many solopreneurs feel growing pains. Maybe sales have plateau-ed. Maybe a new social media network has you feeling like you’re out-of-touch and not doing as great of a job at marketing as you thought. Maybe it’s a feeling that you’re not as cool as your newer competitors. Does that sound like you?

I have certainly been there! And I want you to know that those are good feelings! These growing pains are nudging you to make a change. And that change might be making an investment in your business.

You see, we all reach the limits of our own abilities. We can’t be expert sewists, social media experts, photographers, bookkeepers and tax attorneys. It’s impossible! If we want to keep our businesses growing at a healthy rate, we need to make the investment to hire an expert who can not only take a task off our hands, but also contribute something amazingly new and beyond our own imaginations!

Abby Glassenberg, co-founder of Craft Industry Alliance and blogger at While She Naps, recently make an investment when she hired a designer for a newsletter redesign. She initially began her blog as a hobby, and later started blogging about business topics and created a newsletter, based on her experience in the craft industry. With a natural investigative demeanor, her newsletter quickly took off with hobby crafters and industry professionals alike. She says, “I got to the point where my newsletter was driving a tremendous amount of traffic to my site and sales in my shop.”

But the look of her newsletter was still very similar to how it began, years ago and on a budget. At 18,000 subscribers, Abby knew it was time to give the newsletter a professional overhaul. “The newsletter itself was really important to me and to my business and I wanted it to be an outstanding product, not just in content but also in readability and deliverability. Working with a professional designer who truly understands newsletters was an investment, but it was worth every penny!”

Her new newsletter format is not only beautifully designed, but the new format allows newsletter subscribers to easily book consulting, sponsor podcast episodes or purchase classified listings, income-generating items that are already paying back dividends on the cost of the redesign.

I felt growing pains few years ago with my own business, FreshStitches. I had a successful crochet business, but my website was looking dated. And even though I was very technologically-savvy (I was running a WordPress site), I was becoming increasingly frustrated with the amount of time I was spending researching plugins and struggling to make small modifications.

And so I hired a web designer.

And then I hired an illustrator to create a new logo (I had drawn my old one myself!) and graphics for my site.

Working with these two professionals was an experience I had never had before. I had previously hired freelancers to do a task. I told them what to do, and (if I was lucky), they did exactly what I told them to do. It saved me labor, but the result was what I had asked for.

Hiring a professional web designer and illustrator was a game-changer. They brought ideas to the table that I would have never thought of. They brought experience about what would work in the long term and what wouldn’t. They brought an aesthetic to tell me what was trending and what wasn’t. It was experience and expertise in addition to just plain design skills.

Variations on the FreshStitches owl logo.

Working with my illustrator, April from Studio AM Design, was particularly exciting. I gave her a feel of what I wanted, and she drew mock-ups that I would comment on. We went through a couple rounds of revisions (where I said things like “I like A2, but with less large pupils and a tad bit more asymmetry) and I was very pleased with the final result. I think it’s made my brand so much cleaner and more professional! Making a large investment in new equipment or services can feel scary, but it’s essential to move your business forward.

I encourage you to brainstorm a bit about what would help your business take a giant leap forward. Where are you lacking? Where are you leaving money on the table? What would reenergize your company? Here are some ideas:

  • Website redesign
  • Graphic design for new packaging for your product
  • Creation of a sales funnel for your email newsletter
  • A spreadsheet coder to automate calculation processes
  • A new piece of equipment for production
  • A photographer for new product photos
  • Fresh product descriptions (from a copywriter)

To get started looking for professionals to hire for your business, I recommend checking out upwork.com, it has one of the largest listings of freelancers along with reviews and ratings.

P.S. I’ll be teaching a class at Creative Live on Outsourcing Work to Grow your Business, and I’d love for you to join me! You can watch the class live (for free!) on Thursday, June 29th at CreativeLive.com.

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