one of the discussions i find myself having time and again with clients is how to maximise their small budget as a 'start up'. before we go any further let me state something very clearly: small budget does not mean cheap!
a small budget can be used to create a massive impact in the right hands. cheap design work is ill conceived and poorly executed. the difference is important.
one of the most common mistakes i've found is cutting back on print costs. when your dealing with print quality, your dealing with a tangible item. cutting corners in this area is going to show out like a sore thumb. when your building a business from scratch you need to make a good impression every time and the difference between a flimsy, digitally printed business card and one that's been litho printed with special finishes is going to be the difference between those businesses who are taken seriously and those who are going nowhere.
the secret to getting more from your designers is in the planning stage. the more time you take to sit down and discuss your needs with the designers, the more scope there is for them to devise and solution that won't crush your bottom line.
instead of not paying for decent print work or a reputable agency, how about not paying for six redesigns because you can't decide on the copy structure. being organised before you approach the agency will radically reduce the amount you'll pay for project management and artwork.