Back when I started my first business (and, really, probably for a good 7+ years after that) I was eating up everything I could get my hands on about business growth and personal development. Often, I ran into the advice, “Invest in your business.”
I thought, “Yeah! I should do that! I want my business to grow and thrive, so I should invest in it!”
But, honestly, I was totally at a loss for what that actually meant. I pretty much thought it just had to do with buying better office equipment and fancier software. So, accordingly, whenever I had “extra” money in my business (which, let’s be real, doesn’t happen very often when you’re bootstrapping) I would upgrade my computer, desk, email marketing software, or whatever else was sorely in need of improvements.
I felt like I was missing something, though. My business growth wasn’t nearly as healthy as I wanted it to be, and I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong. It seemed like I likely needed to somehow “invest” in it, but I didn’t feel like I had any money to invest, or even what I’d do with it if I did.
Fast forward several years, and I’ve now spent a lot of money on many different components of my business. Some of these expenses were… well, let’s just call them learning experiences. Others, however, have had some amazing effects on my business growth!
These various expenses fall into three main categories, and today I just wanted to take a few minutes to share with you what those are. I know younger-me definitely would have appreciated some guidance in the right direction in this area of business…
3 Ways to Invest In Your Business (even when you don’t have much to invest)
As small business owners, there are so many different hats that we wear on a daily basis. Often, we do nearly everything ourselves: graphic design, customer relations, PR, bookkeeping, advertising, and the list goes on. Chances are, unless you had an extremely abnormal education, you weren’t actually trained to properly do all of these things.
(But kudos to you for taking matters into your own hands, believing in yourself, and learning anything you set your mind to!)
However, even though you’ve figured out how to get-by-and-DIY many areas of running your business, I’m sure you’d be the first to admit that you’re no master. In fact, there are probably plenty of things that you do knowing full-well that you’ve got massive room for improvement.
So, the first way to invest in your business is to invest in yourself and get yourself the education that will enable you to run your business a whole lot more effectively.
There are some things in your business (oh, younger-me) that simply do not care enough about to ever be truly excellent at. But these tasks are vital to the health of your business, and you’ll never see the kind of growth you desire until someone does them properly.
I’m a bootstrapper to the core and I spent years trying to learn how to do everything in my business. Some things I finally got good at. Others were just wretched until I finally had the good sense to hire someone who could actually do them well.
Because, after all, what makes a great business great? Great products, great customer service, great branding, great marketing, great copywriting… all these things come together to make the most successful companies what they are.
And it just straight-up vain of me to think that I could possibly be world class at all of these [very diverse] skills. Sure, I might be freakin’ fantastic at a couple of them, but it’s unlikely that I could even be good (much less truly great) at all of them.
Especially considering I’m also trying to effectively run a successful company. Which is obviously a full-time job in and of itself.
So, the second way to invest in your business is to hire amazing people who can make your company great.
Want your company to really grow as big, as successful, as fast as possible? After you spend some of your profits improving how your company is run (see above) reinvest everything else into targeted advertising.
Because, ultimately, what will grow your business is having more customers. And that’s exactly what effective advertising produces.
Sure, at first you may not get the most stellar ROI on your ad spend — when you start out you’ll be fumbling around in the dark, trying different platforms and strategies, just looking for something that works.
But those dollars aren’t wasted, because they’re necessary in order to learn what works, so that you can eventually spend your marketing budget on actually acquiring customers.
And, no, nobody likes spending money on ads… until they realize that they can buy customers — that they can buy profit.
(At which point we go all in.)
Don’t have any money to invest?
- Clearly you need to increase your profits. So: advertise to get customers. (See above.)
- Don’t know how to advertise? Educate yourself. (See above.)
- Want to get results faster? Hire someone who already spent their time learning how. (See above.)
- I really wish I could go back and tell my clueless younger self these things. Hindsight really is 20/20.
That’s all for now!