When you are just starting your business, making an investment is so hard. You have to have money to invest, right? But then, you start to make money. The last thing on your mind is to spend money on or in your business now because you’re trying to make as much as you can.
That was my story for first three years I was in business. I’m always super open with the struggles. I experienced in those first few years because I want others to avoid those same struggles. In my fourth year, I knew something needed to change.
My own journey
I was awful at managing my money in the beginning. I wasn’t covering my normal expenses (I was paying for lots of apps and subscriptions I simply didn’t need) and I kept buying every course or template that promised to turn me into a success.
They all barely scratched the surface and I wasn’t seeing any significant changes. Then I started booking consistent clients! I had changed a few things in my business (thanks to the guidance of a much appreciated mentor) but I was booking small, hourly projects and saying yes to everything. But I needed the money! Once I was making a small profit and knew I wanted a business that was a dream come true, I knew I needed to make an actual investment.
So, how’d it go?
In October 2017, I made the biggest investment in my business since I began and throughout 2018 spent more on my own business than I had ever before. I was able to triple my income from 2017 to 2018 and even bring my husband Chris on full-time!
Since then, I’ve invested almost $100,000 into my business and while that may seem like a lot, most of my investments have paid off in huge ways. While every investment I’ve made did not net a return on my investment, the best investments I’ve made have made enough money to cover those mistakes and help us to keep moving forward.
Since 2014, I’ve found there are three instances when investing is best for your business. Now an investment is not always money, but most of the time, that’s what you’re putting back into your business. Your time can also be invested and we’ll talk a bit about that as well.
The best time to invest
When you make an investment, you’ll see four possible results:
- you’ll get a direct return on your investment
- it’ll contribute to you getting a return in the future
- you’ll lose out on your investment entirely
- you’ll gain a non-monetary return that is worth the original investment
So long as you’re clear on what you are looking to gain from the service or product you’re investing in, you have a better chance of gaining everything you’re setting out to get.
When you’re launching something big
Whether you’re launching a new service or product, the momentum and income from a launch help make investing a lot less painful. Normally a launch will have you bringing in a sum of money in a relatively short amount of time, so you’ll have the money to make larger investments when it’s time to elevate your business.
What’s best to invest in?
Visuals and strategy will enhance your efforts most when launching something new. This is a pivotal time to rebrand, get a new custom website, hire a strategic copywriter, and get brand photography.
When I finally made the transition to only working on websites, it was like a breath of fresh air. I was finally focusing on the part of every project I wanted to get to. I had always done my own brand because of course, I was a brand designer.
Mind you, I’m not bad at designing. I think I’m pretty good actually! But it wasn’t bringing me joy and it showed in my own brand. It always was half done, half thought through, I just wanted it good enough to build an awesome site. That isn’t how you should ever approach the voice of your business. Your brand is what showcases your message, story, value, and aesthetic that will impress your ideal client.
We worked with April of Third West Studio to create the perfect brand and the investment we made was well worth what we paid. Her direction has shaped our website and brand photography and showcases our value to our ideal clients. It’s priceless. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean that you should.
When you feel stuck
There are many seasons in business and there are ones where you feel like there is a wall in your way. Your growth has stunted and you’re looking for a way to continue expanding.
Networking, going to a conference, or attending a summit can be the answer. When you start applying the new skills you’ve learned, you will see a return on the investment when you reach a new audience or provide more value to your clients and customers.
What’s best to invest in?
I felt so stuck when I transitioned to just websites. The creative industry isn’t really used to that. Going to someone who doesn’t “do it all” seems strange to some, but I knew I could benefit my clients immensely by not only being well-versed in creating their website design and strategy, but I wanted them to work with other experts in their industry that shared that same care and passion, like branding, copywriting, and brand photography.
Through a lot of putting myself out there and connecting with amazingly talented and kindhearted ladies, I’ve built a small community around my business that I get to collaborate frequently. I get so excited when my clients are working with one of them and I know we can create something so above and beyond what could be created with just one mind in the process.
Investing in this situation was my time, not money. A lot of time is needed to build true friendships and clear, strong business relationships. But let me tell you, having a group of people that support you and you truly support them back back transform your business into an empire.
But I’ve also invested in conferences and summits often and you can get a lot of value in a short amount of time. It makes implementation easier because you have all the information now, you just have to roll out changes as you see fit.
How to ensure you get a return on your time investment
When working on your own business, make sure you’re building with a reason in mind. Making a ton of business friends is great, but you want to be able to uplift one another not only with a shoulder to cry on or a buddy to celebrate with some wine over Zoom. You should be able to, in some way, invest in each other equally and fairly. You can provide one another something unique depending on your talents or needs in this season, but make sure to be there for your friends as much as they are for you.
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When you’re aching to take things to the next level
There are also seasons of familiarity. Your business is going great! But you also are ready to build an empire, get from 5 to 6 figures (or even 7), or build a team so you can work less. Masterminds and hiring out can take you there but you absolutely get what you pay for. Make sure to do your research and invest an amount of money that speaks to the change and return you want to see.
In October of 2017, I hadn’t booked anything past the end of the year and had failed to book one custom design package the entire year, even though that was the only thing I actually advertised on my website. I felt pulled in so many directions when in my heart, I only wanted to create custom websites. I was making money and booking consistently, but it was all smaller projects that weren’t inspiring me.
When exploring my options, I kept coming back to Jesse and Becky of Idealust. Once I took the leap and reached out to them, I knew I had to book them no matter what. When I did, I used most of the money in my business account. Not all of it, of course! But it was a big investment for me. I was a bit nervous but I knew I needed to change something. Sitting there, wondering why I was never booking custom work wasn’t working for me anymore.
What’s best to invest in?
Within a month, I made my investment back and more. To get to the next level in your business, a place you’ve never been, you need some guidance or to free up your time to create more. Coaching or joining a mastermind can elevate your goals and approach to get you to more income, less work, or whatever you’re looking to achieve. This is where you’ll see the most direct return on your investment.
Are you looking to accomplish something extremely specific? There are programs out there to help you every step of the way. It’s like group coaching with a lot of education thrown in. We’re a part of the Accelerator program with Mariah Coz and it is giving us all the support we need to launch our first courses and make them evergreen. We also hired a VA this year. Having more time to create and give our clients a premium experience will get us to our goals. This type of investment is all about saving time and minimizing mistakes.
The longer we’ve been in business, the more we’ve seen our bigger investments leading to bigger results. High quality education, services, and products can lead to big changes for your business. What have you invested in recently? Did you see a return?