How can you know when an investment is right for you? Should you hire this coach, or take that course? How do figure out if it's the right time, or the right price?
On the show this week I'm tackling all things business investments, and I'm so excited to talk about this, because this is a big thing everyone is curious about!
In this episode, you're going to learn exactly how to make business purchasing decisions with confidence. So the next time you see a program, course, or package from a coach or service provider (or even a job opportunity!) you'll know whether it's right for you now or not.
We're asking the big questions here: How much should you spend? How do you know when it's time to spend it? Do you have to spend money to make money? How do you recognize the right opportunity? How will you measure the outcome of your investment? And much more!
Here's a sneak peak and outline of the episode to help you navigate it. Listen in order, or skip around to the topics that most interest you:
The three different kinds of investments you can make (hint: it's not just financial!) [03:06]
What investing traps you should avoid [11:00]
How to figure out whether it's the right time to make an investment [23:08]
How to know whether it's the right person or opportunity for you [27.36]
How to determine your ROI - Return on Investment [33.54]
Any time that you're faced with the opportunity to make an investment in your business -- a new course, coaching package, or service -- you should consider 5 different pieces of the puzzle:
What kind of investment is it?
Are you falling into any investment traps?
Is this the right time to invest?
Is this the right person or opportunity?
What kind of ROI are you going to get?
So let's get into it and break these down!
The Three Different Kinds of Investments You Can Make
The first kind of investment is the one you are probably thinking about, and it's obvious: financial.
That's the first place our brains go whenever we are thinking about where to spend in our business: spending money in order to take advantage of some opportunity.
Pretty straightforward, right? You see a program, or a coach, or even a piece of equipment. You look at the price tag, and you have to ask yourself: does this feel worth the money?
You can also, however, make a time investment.
I spent about three years at Fizzle.co, working with Corbett Barr who has had, at the time, a decade of online business building experience. I learned everything I could from him, like how does a business get multiple tens of thousands of people onto an email list, or how to get hundreds or even thousands of people to sign up for a service.
These days, doing an apprenticeship of sorts, like this, is less common. People always think, I could be spending that time working on my own business, stay at my corporate job and continue the side hustle. So in a way, I did forgo time in order to pursue this opportunity.
Arguably, our time is more precious than our money. So when you're evaluating whether or not you should take this job, or if you should take on contract work -- think of it as a time investment. Yes, it will have some money attached to it, but is it worth your time? Are you getting some exchange, like learning a new skill set (the way I did)?
3. Opportunity Cost
And the third is an opportunity cost.
If you're someone who has a day job, which many entrepreneurs these days do, you may be thinking about getting out there and pursuing your business full time. Or maybe drop down to half time in your job and take on some VA (virtual assistant) contracts to get more immersed in the entrepreneur world. If you're taking that salary cut from your cushy corporate job, that's an opportunity cost.
So next time you're faced with an investment you could make for your business, think not just of the financial price tag, but the time and opportunity cost, as well. All of these three types of investments have merit!
"I would argue that there's not any one solution out there. There's not one program, there's not one coach who's going to be the magical key that unlocks your success. In reality, your success is going to come from a combination of you taking steps on your own, trying and failing, and doing scary things."
Investment Traps to Avoid
I'm betting you're excited to hear about the mistakes, right?
These are going to be the reasons that people don't invest, when maybe they should. And of course reasons people invest when they shouldn't!
The first piece of this is, of course, fear.
I would say that the number one reason I see people passing on good investments is because they are afraid. Maybe you're thinking about a course or training program that you really, really want to take. And it's a big decision, there's a scary price tag associated with it. Or maybe a large time investment or opportunity cost (like you'll have to cut your salary in half).
The first thing we have to do is to separate the real reasons why we should not do it from basic, good old-fashioned fear.
You don't want to avoid investing simply because you're afraid that it's not going to work out. On the other hand, if you were taking a 50% salary cut and you literally couldn't pay your mortgage, that's a different story. But if you run the numbers and it looks like it's possible, but you are flat out scared? You think you can't do it, that you're too old, what if you fail, etc... Those are not good reasons to pass on the investment.
So ask yourself: do you have reasons to not do this right now? Or are you just scared?
2. Impulse Buying
On the other side of the fence, you have your impulse buyer and fix-my-problem-itis. That's the second investment trap. Just as there are people holding themselves back with fear, there are equally as many people just buying up all the crap because they want a shortcut or to play business.
That may sound harsh, but stick with me:
When you invest in something, even if it's something small like a planner or something, it's easy to convince yourself that you are in business. If you're taking yourself through these steps and everything, it's easy to say you have a business. But I think we can all agree that in order to be in business, you've got to be generating revenue. So if you know that you are prone to impulse buying, if you've jumped from course to course, and you keep thinking that if you just find the next solution to fix your problems then everything will be solved -- make sure you check yourself.
Be wary if you ever get the feeling that this next course or program is going to be the "the thing" that gets you on your way. I would argue that there's not any one solution out there. There's not one program, there's not one coach who's going to be the magical key that unlocks your success. In reality, your success is going to come from a combination of you taking steps on your own, trying and failing, and doing scary things.
This is not to say that you shouldn't work with people or make investments. But if you're ever tempted to believe that you just need to buy this one thing and everything's going to come together for you, that would be a red flag that you're falling into an investment trap.
There's probably not one single investment out there that's going to just totally launch you to the next level. Most likely, it will be a combination of different things that help you get there.
3. Sticker Shock
Let's also talk about sticker shock.
When you see a big price tag, it's easy to say, I can't afford that, that doesn't feel like the right price for me. How can you evaluate where the value is relative to the price?
I've recently made a several thousand dollar investment in an accelerator program. It was the biggest investment I've made in my business so far! You bet I had sticker shock when I looked at it. I thought, Oh my gosh, what are all the things that I could do with that kind of money? So how did I make a decision like that?
Here's my trick for this: I did the math on how many sales I would need to get in order to make it worth it. You know the price point of your programs, so you can easily figure this out. Then think about whether it's doable for you to get that many sales in order to get your investment back -- given the kinds of skills or knowledge or systems that this investment will teach you.
We're going to talk about ROI further down, but going back to the first section -- it may not always be a financial return. For instance, I work with a mindset coach and I can't point to actual dollars and cents that it got me, but I know that working with her made my brain completely change, which made running my business easier.
So don't get intimidated by the price tag and understand how you can break it down and decide if it's possible for you to walk away from the investment feeling like it's worthwhile.
The last investment trap we'll talk about is do-it-myself-itis.
This is when you think, I can figure this out myself. I can listen to podcasts, Google, or talk to friends.
But here's the deal: at a certain point, what is your time worth? What if you could shorten your learning curve from two years to six months? Is that worth the price?
Can you actually figure it all out for yourself? Of course you can -- the Internet is chock full of information. But it's really important to check ourselves because it's easy to lose sight of just how valuable our time is. I'm all for being scrappy and running a lean business, but there are definitely moments I've waited way too long to make key investments. For example, I edited my own podcast for the first 80 episodes, when it's not that expensive to have it edited for me, and it opened up a lot of time and mental space to actually grow my business.
So ask yourself: are you making a smart business decision by doing something yourself? Or are you falling into do-it-myself-itis?
"When they say, "Come follow me, and you can have a life like mine" -- that should be a red flag for you. Everybody's definition of success is different. It's not possible to follow someone's cookie cutter steps and have the wonderful life. That's not how we should decide if we're following the right person."
The Right Time for Making an Investment
The biggest factor in getting the most out of your investment is YOU.
So, nothing is more important than where you are right now in your life. No matter how good of a program you invest in, if you're not ready to roll up your sleeves and implement, it won't do you any good.
Ask yourself: are you ready to put in the work? Are you fully aware that you are your own biggest limiting factor, and your own biggest superpower? Do you feel that the time is now?
There's a good way to know if the answer is "no" from fear or for actual reasons. When you're scared, you'll feel butterflies and be excited and scared at the same time. You'll lay awake at night thinking about the possibilities. On the other hand, if you're feeling a pit in your stomach, that's a "real" no. You'll feel deeply concerned, like there's something off about it. Journal about it and try to understand where your feelings are coming from.
Also remember that there are seasons of our lives. At the time of this recording, I'm 36 weeks pregnant and I have a 3 year old. So I know firsthand that there will be seasons to focus heavily on work, and other seasons to focus on personal stuff. And during those personal stages, it's okay to not make huge investments. It doesn't mean you can't do it later!
The Right Person/Opportunity to Invest In
How do we figure out if the person offering the training program, for example, is the right person for you to learn from? Why this opportunity? Why this person?
Ask yourself: what about this person or opportunity really lines up with your personal criteria?
1. Don't Chase Their Lifestyle
Beware of being taken in by someone else's lifestyle. When someone says, come follow me and you can have a life like mine -- that's a huge red flag. Everybody's definition of success is different, we all live in different places and no two of us have the same life. It's just not possible to follow someone and their cookie-cutter steps and have a wonderful life. So lifestyle is NOT how we should decide if we're following the right person.
Instead, you should be following someone because you believe they have the experience. Or the way that they do business really connects with your inner compass in terms of your values, your integrity, how you want to show up in your business. Or you see someone who has a business model similar to what you want to create. Or that they are the best in the industry and know what they're doing. These are all great reasons to go with that person.
Make sure you separate that from this aspirational Instagram-like quality of, wow, that person has a really great life, if I sign up with them maybe I can have a really great life too.
When you're evaluating the person or opportunity, remember to always look at YOURSELF, not them. Does this line up with your personal criteria for success? Will taking this course allow you to grow your business in a meaningful way? Will working with this coach help you work through some stuff you've been carrying around?
2. More Is Not Always Better
In a similar vein, avoid the temptation to make it all about how much time you're getting with someone, or how much is included in the program.
Instead, focus on the RESULTS!
What you're really buying is the outcome you want, not X number of modules or Y number of hours on calls. You only care about what you or your business will benefit after taking this program or course.
Let's put it this way: would you rather spend one day or 10 days to get a result that you want? Furthermore, would you rather watch 10 modules, or 20, for the same outcome? It's tempting to pick the one that has more "stuff," but keep in mind that too much content can weigh you down and get you stuck.
So when you're considering whether a person or opportunity is the right one, remember to evaluate whether it's the right one for YOU and the results you want to achieve in your business.
Define Your Own Personal Definition of Return on Investment
To wrap all this up, whenever you're making a choice of investing your money, time, or opportunity cost, you need to ask yourself, what is the core reason you're considering this opportunity?
You need to decide what a good return on investment looks like.
It might not always be financial. How would you want to be supported? How would you want to feel?
Here's what you do: fast forward to the end of the relationship, and ask yourself, what would success look like at the end? What is a good result for me? What do you want to be able to say that you accomplished? Then compare that outcome to what the opportunity is promising. Do they match up?
Don't let FOMO - the fear of missing out trip you up.
You will always have friends who are taking this sexy course, or that cool program, or make this huge investment. You're going to have friends who spend their money more freely, and those who hang onto it more tightly. Don't look at anybody else's paper, and consider what is right for you and only you.
In closing, it all boils down to having your own personal definition of success. Match up all the opportunities and investments you come across against the outcomes you want to attain for yourself and your business. If you start to feel lost or unsure, come back to your own goals and ask, "Do I know exactly how this opportunity is going to get me closer to that?"