How to know it’s time to invest in your brand.

People with a big vision. I love ‘em. Gutsy dreaming and doing (with heart) gets me every time. These are the people who are teaching girls to code and women to become self-made. And are building their own businesses to provide for their families and beyond.

That we need more of this work in the world is an understatement.

Which is why it’s disheartening at the very least—and often devastating—when your income and impact aren’t exploding the way you envisioned. Especially when it’s completely possible! Because you began your business for a reason. One you really care about.

Here’s the thing: Making a difference means getting real about what it REALLY takes to build a business and a brand that moves and shakes the world while making you serious money. None of us get there alone.

It just takes the right kind of support at the right time.

Here’s how to know when to invest in expert help—and the results you can expect when you do.

You don’t have a brand yet. But you do have a killer new business, service or product you’re ready to launch. And a million other things to do to get this thing off the ground, right?! Cutting corners and building your brand and marketing on-the-fly is super-tempting at this stage—not least because money may be tight—but it’s also something you can come to regret.

If the brand you establish and how you communicate it isn’t bang-on, overhauling your strategy six months down the track can be costly, time-consuming and confusing for your audience.

It’s easier to build it right from day one, and a clean slate is the best place to start. If your budget doesn’t extend to hiring a solo strategist or small agency, look for one who offers a foundational program or e-course that will help you lay down the basics (and then invest a little extra in them helping you customize it for your business).

You’re doing ‘everything’but wondering why it’s not working. You’ve garnered some smart, sophisticated and free advice from the high-profile web folks to follow. You’re pumping out an e-newsletter, have run Facebook ads, spoken at events and have a webinar on your radar.

But it all feels more ‘cobbled’ together than connected. And it’s yet to pay off in more clients or premium fees.

The reason why, is this approach focuses on the platforms themselves. Not your revenue goals, business model or audience. Your people may not even be on some of the platforms you’re favoring. There’s also no single platform that’s THE thing that’s going to build your business and brand (despite what the gurus tell you).

To succeed in a big way, your overall strategy, the channels you use to communicate and how you connect and prioritize the content on them must be highly specific to your individual business and the people you’re talking to. This personalized work is what a branding and marketing strategist will do one-on-one with you (and your team). First, taking a bird’s eye view, then getting deep into the details so you’re doing the right stuff, in the right places, in the right order. (And getting better results.)

You have a big vision and want a big outcome, fast. Like doubling your growth or influence in the next year. When you’ve built an established business and brand, there’s significant stuff at stake. More people to consider—from employees and customers, to investors and directors. A bigger industry presence. All sorts of pressures and points-of-view.

Botching it up is the last thing you want to do.

Here’s where you need a trusted advisor who can see through the lens of all these audiences and consolidate. Someone who gets you, your vision, brand and all the moving parts and can see the possibilities and challenges unique to your situation.

At this level, you can expect advice on the likes of adapting your existing brand and marketing strategies to expand into new markets, or take over a competitor; how to build passive and leveraged income to multiply your revenues; and ways to grow your industry thought leadership and long-term brand presence.

Successful entrepreneurs and business owners do the things others don’t. The rest do the same thing and stand still.

We all start somewhere—and creating the future you want to create for yourself and those you’re serving often takes a village. What’s been your experience with all this? Please share in the comments.