I understand. The life of a solopreneur can be tough, but are you making smart business investments?
You’ve come a long way bootstrapping your business and building it from the ground up. You’ve had to wear many hats in your enterprise. You’ve done everything, from taking care of your client to taking care of your printer, when it doesn’t quite want to cooperate. You dove in and built your website, learned the ins and outs of social media, and figured out just how that shopping cart works.
In this article, I am going to teach you how to better manage your two primary resources: time and money. You will learn when it’s better to invest money rather than time, and the other way round. Keep in mind that skillfully juggling both these resources will put your small company ahead of the competition.
The general rule is, we can’t create great things out of nothing. In an enterprise, we either spend money or time. And if we take into consideration the fact that money is, in fact, the compensation for time we’ve spent working (and value we’ve created), we can safely assume that money equals time. When we spend our time, we save money; and when we spend money, we save time. It’s simple.
Many entrepreneurs who have just started their businesses, don’t have as much money for investment as they’d like. Hence, they try to generate profit by overcompensating with their time. Only once earnings have started to roll in, do the entrepreneurs gather the courage to invest money. For this reason, we will discuss the time investment first. It pays off to spend your time on:
- Jotting down a Business Plan – Like you might have realized, an idea, no matter how brilliant, isn’t enough to create a truly successful commerce. You must have a plan; it’s a map without which you’ll quickly become lost on the dangerous oceans of trade. Remember that the main reason why people don’t earn money on their hobbies is lack of a business mindset: these people don’t plan their expenses, and don’t spend time wondering how to create a real revenue. They just do what they like, be it painting, singing or writing. If you want to succeed, you must step out of the “it’s my passion” mindset. Ask yourself, what products (or services) you will be offering, how you’re going to create them, how much money (or time) you will spend on them. Think in advance, who will make the first purchases, and how you’re going to find new customers. Many soon-to-be CEOs make the fatal mistake of counting on the help of their friends and family, which often leads to disappointment and bankrupcy. Some of your close people might buy your services to show some support, however, the majority won’t even share your Facebook posts. To make real cash, you need to sell to strangers – and to do so, you need a strategy.
- Learning new skills – When you learn something, it’s yours, forever. You will use the knowledge you have acquired over and over again in your business, and it will allow you to reduce some of the expenses. If you know a foreign language, you don’t need to hire a translator each time that you want to send an e-mail to a foreign client. Moreover, the more you actually know, the more business opportunities show up for you: you can create more products, reach new markets, and so on.
- Finding free materials – The Internet is full of royalty-free resources, and if you spend some time looking for them, you’ll be able to find everything you need. Nearly every popular program has its freeware alternative, and the same goes for service websites. Then, there are free libraries containing photos, illustrations, vectors, videos, and music. Websites like Pixabay allow you to download royalty-free photos, while Canva is a graphics design application that allow you to get creative with your social media graphics and your other creative needs.
- Research information for government programs for small businesses – If you live in the US, consider contacting a local bureau of the Small Business Administration. It will help you find business grants and assist you with the application process. There might also be state and local programs in your area where you can find help. If you’re up for the challenge, you can create a Kickstarter or Patreon campaign as another alternative.
- Creating passive income – Since you want to quit your day job, it’s understandable you’re hoping to generate real income; you want to get by, and not rush back to the job-seeking market after two or three months. You want a situation where you can eventually replace the income from your job with the income from your business venture. Yet, creating strings of passive income, that accumulates slowly, is worth your time. Passive income might be a lifesaver: in the future, it might cover a part of your company’s costs. That’s why you really ought to spend some time thinking about it. You could create digital products related to your home business and sell them later and making a plan for how to create it. If your business niche is gardening, you could film a video course, or write a chain of short e-books on the best type of soil to use for your plants. Initially, passive income will bring little to no revenue; but if you stick to investing your time into it, you will thank yourself in the future.
And now, let’s discuss the limits of time investments. Lots of small business owners (me included!) have worked way too many hours, ending up burned out and frustrated. Doing everything on your own isn’t sustainable in the long run; that’s why you should opt to save your time, and instead, invest your money.
When I ask why entrepreneurs don’t outsource, the biggest concern I hear is, “I can’t afford to pay anyone else.” Does this sound familiar?
If yes, then you’re letting the scarcity mindset keep you from acting and making the investments which could have a significant impact on your business. Nevertheless, as a business owner, you must step out of your comfort zone. You can’t afford not to invest money, if you want your business to survive its early years.
Now I’m not suggesting that you spend or invest every single penny that comes through the door. That’s not recommended if you’re trying to make a name for yourself. Learn to save your money, and then to invest it. Nobody says you have to start from investing 1000$. You can begin with as little as 5$. Fiverr anyone? Here are a few suggestions for financial investments, which will pay off (either now or in the long run):
- Delegating easy (and difficult!) tasks – Think about everything you could get done by outsourcing. By assigning tasks to better suited talented individuals, you can concentrate on more important things – and shake some stress off your shoulders. In the free time you win, you can create new products and/or services, take your content marketing game to the next level, record video and audio content, and concentrate on your email marketing. Or, my personal favorite: you can enjoy quality time with your family. Isn’t that why you decided to pursue your online business in the first place? So, try to look at outsourcing as you’d look at an investment. Even the most manageable tasks require some effort; and when we aren’t really sure how to tackle them, we not only waste time but get frustrated as well. If you are struggling with taxes, and don’t have time to retrain, hire an accountant. When I was helping my clients with the accounting aspects of their businesses, it never ceased to amaze me the number of people who said the services paid for themselves in terms of business savings and stress.
- Using automated tools – When starting out, you may stick to free or low-cost free resources that have limited features. This may result in a piecemeal system where you are spending a lot of time getting the pieces to “talk” to one another. Consider upgrading your business tools (for example, funnel automation on social media) to help increase effects while saving time. If you’re looking for something to help you with your email marketing, I highly recommend this tool. This is what I use to operate a substantial part of my business and it makes things so much easier!
- Building an audience with the help of ads – Although it is possible to build a solid base of target customers organically (e.g., by creating useful lead magnets for your audience on your website), it takes time and effort. One way to speed up this time-consuming process is to pay for ads. Although spending money on likes and reblogs might seem counterintuitive (these aren’t sales, after all), you build useful connections. Not all will be profitable, but many might increase your chances for better sales. Facebook ads seem to be the current favorite among business owners. If you have questions on how to create Facebook ads, this might prove helpful in getting you started.
- Coaching – Whether you’re an online or offline business owner, you can always build a business on your own. When I think of that, it reminds me of the Chris Rock joke: “you can also drive your car with your feet, but that doesn’t make it a good idea.” Take a peek at what others are doing and find a way to reverse engineer it. You should absolutely invest in the best training in your niche. However, we all need just a little more sometimes, don’t we? A coach can help you get to the next level in your business. They can push you past the blind spots, allowing you to work through things holding you back. They can guide you towards the steps you need to take for your business to continue to grow and prosper.
At times, it might also happen that you don’t get a return on your investment. If so, take a close look at who you are contracting. Maybe this person (or website) isn’t qualified to perform the job you’ve assigned them. If this is the case, don’t get discouraged, and continue searching for better investment options. It’s going to take time, but eventually, you will find a person (or website) which will be worth your money.
Please keep in mind that the longer you are in the business game, the more you know, and your investments will generate more value. So, don’t let the fear of failing hold you back; cause investments pay off exponentially down the road.
If you have some successful stories related to past investments, please feel free to share them in the comment section below! I also invite you to check my HBB Resource Library. It’s a free online resource containing free guides dedicated to company building. You can sign up for it by clicking here!