When we surf the web, we see a lot of info on when to invest in our businesses and how investing in a course will help us grow or how investing in ourselves helps our business grow. And while all of this is true, there is also an issue that we need to keep in mind. It doesn’t matter if you are just starting out and are considered a “baby boss” (I’m not terribly wild about it but the internet forms it’s own language) or if you’re a seasoned business owner who knows that investment is part of the growing process, investing in your business means spending dollars that you have worked your ass off for. And spending money on something intangible, like educational resources is absolutely terrifying. Even spending money on something tangible like a new piece of equipment or tech is really hard to do. Perhaps I’m just adding to the noise on this one, but I think that there is a certain ranking that investments should have.
So let’s talk priorities.
Priority Number 1: Web Presence Basics
If you are online at all, which let’s face it you kind of have to be in this day and age, then you need to understand that your web presence is your single most valuable asset to your business and should be treated as such. You’re working hard on amazing products but the wed is the conduit that takes people through your sales process and lands clients in your calendar and money in your bank.
This web presence gets split into three categories for me personally.
The first is hands down your domain name. I am talking a custom URL that you have purchased and it is yours all yours. What this means is you have purchased the URL name for your business (yourcompanyname.com) and plan to maintain it. Now you can have multiple domains (.com .net .org) and have redirects, but frankly, unless you’re Nike or Google, you really don’t need to do that. Start with a domain that you can live with and know you actually want. This can change later, but for now, purchase one and maintain ownership. The last thing you want (unless you are rebranding) is to lose your domain.
The second is your social media handles. Now I know you’re probably thinking, “I’m this and this on these, that’s good enough.” which you’re right. It is good enough. But If I wanted to be nicolinamchugh everywhere, there is a process to go through. First, you can check and see that your user name is available before committing to one. Second, if it's not, see who has it. If you have the money and the time, there is a chance they may be willing to part with it. This is of course optional. Good enough is to have something damn close ( @nicolinamchugh on Twitter, @nicolina.mchugh on Instagram) and still on brand.
The third is your branding. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’m sure. When I say branding, I don’t mean the visuals. You’re branding should be something that you are willing to invest in. If you don’t know how to brand your business, you can find lot’s of inexpensive or even free resources from amazingly reputable people that can walk you through every step of the process.
Spending your hard earned dollar here in this first priority is so valuable to your business down the road. Your web presence helps to make or break your business and needs to be nurtured. And sometimes, that means spending the money to make it happen.
Priority Number 2: Education
Don’t be scared! When people talk about continuing education, it is super easy to toddler stomp and say, “NO!” because you either a) are still paying down student loans or b) don’t want to go into debt for your business (good call, boss.) But there are so many ways to continue education at low or no cost, let alone the now booming online e-course business that has produced some incredible resources from some amazing creatives.
And let me just debunk something really quick. The whole “can’t put a price on an education” schtick is bull. You can, they do, and some of the time, it’s too high. There is such thing as a cost that is too high. And our traditional education machine is really good at making sure of that. </rant>
Depending on your budget, there is a growing trend of not only payment plans (angel chorus here) and DIY courses, but there is also the option of investing in yourself in increments.
My personal advice is to only spend what you can and feel comfortable with. Someone out there may be making something that is going to knock your socks off, but fact is, if you aren’t willing to make the investment comfortably, chances are, it will be there when you are.
Priority Number 3: The Tools of Your Trade
Just this last weekend, hubs and I almost talked ourselves into buying a desktop that we could have kind of afforded. Luckily, we are really good at saying, “We’ll check it out in another month.” Because we almost dropped money we really shouldn’t.
What I’m getting at with that is that while, yes, it would be amazing to have a desktop to work on rather than my laptop, I really don’t need one. My laptop was top of the line four years ago and for how quickly tech goes obsolete, it has hung in there with the best of them. This is the third priority because most of the time, you can make it work.
You’ve been making it work thus far, and you can continue to do so. If you need something new (your rock tumbler crapped out, your laptop fell off your desk and is not repairable) then that’s the time to invest. But if you can make it work for a while longer doing what you have been, you don’t have to spend the money.
My advice for handling this is to make a wish list. On that wish list, write everything that would make your job easier. Make this list and then rank it in order of importance. That’s what you need, not what you want. Pick out models, price up what you need. Is it something that can’t wait? Put a plan together to pay for it.
Can it wait? Set yourself goals and reward yourself those items. An example of this would be when I book three clients for 2017, I’m going to get that desktop, come hell or high water. Yes, it’s a want more than a need, but if I book three clients, it means I’ve been working awful hard and deserve it.
Wrapping It Up
In an ideal world, you would start your business and the money would just come flowing in. But in most cases, that just isn’t the case. And that is ok. This just means that we have to make smart decisions. I say we, because this applies to business owners new and old alike. Investing in your business, however you decide to do so, is not an impulse decision. And remember, the internet is a big place with tons of free resources from really reputable people. But there are some things your business needs right out the gate and those investments just need to be done wisely.