THE BLOG
09/11/2014 07:13 pm ET Updated Nov 11, 2014

Why HR, PR, and IT Are Worthy Startup Investments

Co-authored with Tommy Scholl

Money is tight, especially as you continue to build your startup. We know as well as the next entrepreneur that the bottom line is always top of mind. However, there are a few particular areas in which you should focus on early to secure future success.

1. Human Resources To Build A Great Team.

The most important and continual investment that a CEO will make is his or her employees. Before any company sees success it must ensure that each employee it hires is not only on board with the company's vision, but also dedicated to seeing it through on a daily basis. This is not a do-it-yourself job, nor a peripheral executive function. Only a human resources specialist or proper HR training can lead to effective staffing assessments and ensure premium stock gets into your company. Your HR director or designee plays an essential role by scouting out the right types of people to share your goals and passion for the mission. This goes above and beyond the simple posting of job listings and advertising, and it means the difference between good employees and great ones.

As for the breadth of a human resource department's influence in the company, recruitment only scratches the surface. Once employees have been hired, they obviously aren't effective unless they stick around. Your HR department works to incentivize, motivate, and compensate your staff to create an environment of stability and productivity. Without competitive wages and a sense of efficacy in the company, even the star employees may hit the road. Forging a culture of positivity and self-improvement is crucial to bringing out the best in your workforce, and your company will suffer if there is not at least one appointed position to foster this notion. To neglect the welfare of your employees is to condemn the company to a low growth potential. When you're out of options and progress appears stagnant, you will look to your HR pros to provide a solution that goes beyond transactional measures and takes human potential into account.

2. Public Relations To Offer Cost Effective Ways To Build Awareness.

Traditionally, budgets put aside for marketing took into account one basic principle: infiltrating the media avenue that results in the largest audience seeing the brand. This usually means expensive TV ads, exhausting branding exercises, or even billboard displays. While mass marketing your brand can increase exposure, that isn't usually quite what a growing company needs in boosting growth. Thanks to the Internet connecting everyone across the globe, marketing can not only be more targeted and precise, but also focus more on quality publicity for a specific audience. In fact, you may not call it marketing at all, but rather an instrumental use of online media based on merit instead of quantity.

Save your advertising cash and focus on making an online presence through social media, business review sites, and survey reports. A PR representative can leverage your company's online media by getting your executives published by major corporate reviews. This is a two-pronged benefit: you are able to target a professional audience with maximum relevance to your business channel, while establishing credibility in the business sector that will ultimately spur interest in your company. PR is crucial to this process because professionals within that realm know what to share, how much to share, and where to get the most attention for your content. Without this expertise, you may struggle to establish the kind of presence on the web that you want, as well as reach your target audience. In the end, the content promoted by a PR professional is free, and the PR service may well be cheaper than a TV ad or banner. PR is subtle and effective, working to earn attention instead of grabbing it.

3. In-House Information Technology To Support Daily Success And Scalability.

In a world of ever-increasing technology dependence, the last thing you want to worry about is having dropped or spotty calls, printer problems, Internet outages, etc. As your company grows, so will the number of devices in the office. Nothing breaks down a company's day-to-day productivity more than technical issues, especially in phone-heavy departments like sales or customer service. You can't ask your employees to perform for you if you can't provide them with right tools consistently. Unless you plan to sprout a third arm or clone yourself, you are not going to be able to install, maintain, and repair the technology infrastructure of your company to satisfaction. Someone who knows the programs and devices inside and out will be invaluable to the organization, and it behooves your organization to create a position in the company for this person. In the end, putting an IT guru on the payroll will save you serious cash that you would otherwise be throwing at insolent computers. And computers don't care about wasting your money.

IT professionals can also provide insight into the scalability and technological potential of the company. This person is aware of the best methods for sustainable energy consumption, contributing to a more budget-friendly cash burn for your company's functions. They also know what it takes to maintain a technological edge in the marketplace. In a tumultuous economy, companies that look to increase complexity and scalability should not gamble on the uncertainties that evolving technology warrants. Instead, they should invest in IT to gain a vision of upcoming challenges and obstacles that inevitably arise as a result of growth.

You may not have previously considered investing in the above listed functions for your startup, but we urge you to examine and measure the possible ROI. It's critical to foster your team, build awareness of your new solution, and plan for daily success and scalability and, also, to do these things early. Good luck in your new endeavor, entrepreneurs.


Tommy Scholl is a student in the Public Health Undergraduate Program at the University of Maryland and served recently as an intern project manager at Consero Group, where he supported corporate growth.