My finger hovered over the mousepad on my MacBook Air, as my thoughts vacillated between “Oh my goodness, that’s a lot of money!” to “Do it, the business needs this!”
My heart beat fast. I could feel my chest expand as I took a deep breath to calm my nerves. Deep down, I knew this was the right decision, even though the numbers staring back at my from my computer screen were more than I had ever spent on my business.
I did another mental calculation of my upcoming business expenses and checked the balance in my bank account one last time.
With one final deep breath, I clicked on the button on the screen. A screen popped in front of me, thanking me for my purchase.
I let out a deep exhale as a sense of calm mixed with excitement cascaded down my body.
I knew I had made a wise investment in my business.
As a the sole owner of a small business, I notice every amount of money that goes in and out of it. From the 20 cents I pay to renew a listing on Etsy to the monthly fee I pay for the newsletter service I use, I think long and hard about each financial decision I make.
Related reading: 15+ free and low-cost online tools for your creative business
Over the years I have learned that not only is ok to spend money on my business, but that wise investments will help it to thrive and grow.
Have I spent money on products or services that have not actually helped? Probably, but I see each of those as a learning experience.
With time, I have also learned when and where to better invest my financial resources.
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1. When you feel like you are at a standstill and you don’t know how to proceed
At the end of 2015, I was feeling frustrated with the state of my business. Sales of my book, which had been low to begin with, had stopped. I was losing money and wasting time at craft shows. My business, which had morphed so much over the year, didn’t feel cohesive. I knew I needed to make changes, but I wasn’t sure where to go, or even where to start.
Related reading: 5 lessons I learned after surviving my first craft show season
When an opportunity opened up to work with April Bowles-Olin of Blacksburg Belle, a business coach who I greatly admired and respected, I jumped on it. I knew I needed the assistance of an outside person to help move me along. She is the only business coach I have hired, and it is one of the biggest financial investments I have ever made for my business. I was nervous about the financial aspect of it, but she helped to guide me and my business that I would have never seen as someone so deeply entrenched in it.
If you are in a place where you feel like you are stuck and need that one-on-one guidance, or just need someone to help bring your business to the next level, the right business coach or a meeting with a business can end up paying dividends on your business.
2. When the cost of your time greatly exceeds the cost of hiring out
Since I opened my Etsy shop, I had done 95% of my product photography. When I decided to totally redo my homemade jewelry product line in 2016, I realized the time had come for me to hire a professional photographer. Was I capable of doing my own product photography? Sure, but the amount of time it would have taken me to do it would have cost me hours that I do not have.
Photo by Lorna Stell
As solopreneurs, we often feel like we have to do everything ourselves. (And when you are just starting our, you likely don’t yet have the capital to pay for someone.) But our time is limited and precious, and it’s best to spend those hours on things that will be the best value of your time rather than trying to do it all yourself, whether it’s hiring a Virtual Assistant to set up Etsy listings or hiring a professional to do your product photography.
3. When you are lacking a skill set that someone else has
Along the way, I have hired professionals to do things such as build a new website from scratch, redo my logo, and design the cover for my book. I realized early on that these are skills that I do not have, and I would have wasted a significant amount time and energy trying to do them all myself. Just as with the previous point, hiring people who know what they are doing will to give you to the time to work on the skills on which your business is built.
4. When you want to do something new, but aren’t sure how to proceed
This may seem like it’s contradicting my previous point, but there is a difference between hiring out for skills that you lack and working to enhance skills that you already have. Perhaps you want to start a subscription service on your website, learn how to start a blog for your business, or write better copy for your products.
In 2016, I knew it was time for me to up my wholesale game and get my jewelry in stores. I signed up for Megan Auman’s course on selling your products to retailers, and it was one of the best investments of both my time and money. Thanks to this course, I gained the skills and confidence to apply for and be accepted to my first wholesale trade show.
With some digging, you could probably find all of the information you want online for free, but consider the value of your time and how much time you would spend digging around versus taking an online course.
What’s the best financial investment you have ever made in your small business?
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