I’ve found that building a business from the ground up is a lot like raising a child: you bring it into the world and nurture its development, pedantic about its well-being and optimistic about the future. A little hesitance is natural when it comes to leaving your business’s reputation in the hands of an outsider, but there comes a time in every business’s trajectory when expert advice is essential.

For us, after 10 years of running everything from daily operations to new business acquisition on our own, we knew that we were spreading ourselves too thin. Bringing in the marketing and communications ‘big guns’ would free up more of our time to focus on the things we’re good at – like industry relationship-building and innovation. However, we wanted to be sure that we knew our business inside and out before seeking external help, understanding our product and its place in the market is key.

Our business philosophy has always centred on giving the customer what they want – an adage as old as time, but important and relevant as ever. When resources are limited, your success as a start-up entrepreneur relies on nurturing strong and positive relationships with customers, and building their trust.

The Slo-Jo brand is known for its innovative take on flavour and markets a range of drinks – from ice teas and smoothies to milkshakes of both the traditional and tipsy varieties – to restaurants and cafés on a global scale. We’ve been around since 2000, and found that the more we narrowed in on what our product offering entailed, the better we became at defining a target market and pitching to the right people.

Having a clear understanding of your sales and marketing strategy is a crucial aspect to consider before bringing a team of consultants on board, and helps to identify which markets your marketing and public relations teams should be focusing on. Use every resource available to research markets and competitors – and learn as much as you can about your customers by engaging with them face to face.

We recruited our in-house marketing guru after realising that we were jacks of all trades and masters of none, trying to get as much done as possible with limited time and resources. While we had a fairly competent approach to marketing our products, professional marketing services assisted us to create consistency throughout our product range that aligned to our brand identity. This was imperative to getting the right message across to stakeholders.

Once we had a clear strategy in place and an understanding of the message we wanted to send, we were ready to bring a public relations team on board to help create a stir in the industry and take our communications efforts a step further. Outsourcing this vital business function helped us to prioritise our responsibilities as directors of the company, and allowed us to focus on how we could make more meaningful contributions to the business.

We raised our business with all the vigour and optimism of a protective parent, but we also knew when to ask for help. Marketing and PR services are effective in helping businesses gain further traction, but time and place are important considerations – have a clear understanding of your business before you appoint anyone, and be sure to choose someone that you trust, and who understands your business objectives.