So, which is better? Investing straight in your business, or investing in yourself?
It’s a big question, so today I’m diving headfirst into investments...
- What's the difference between investing in yourself and investing in your biz?
- What does a good investment look like versus what does a bad investment look like?
- What's the difference between an investment and an expense?
- And if you were going to invest in just one thing this year, what would it be?
This post looks at how invest in your biz like a pro, or more specifically, where you need to invest your biz to get the most bang for your buck, based on whatever stage of business that you're at right now.
VIDEO MORE YOUR JAM? WATCH IT HERE:
Tip #1 Stay in your lane
Now, just like with everything else, you need to stay focused with your investment strategy. In other words: stay away from all the shiny things! There's definitely no lack of things that you can invest in with your business, whether it’s courses, web designers, branding experts, copywriters to get your messaging right. The list goes on.
Girl, you need to be very focused on where you're choosing to spend your money and what's going to be most impactful based on where you're at. Don't worry about what other people are investing in - just worry about you and what makes sense for your business.
TIP #2 Check in with your goals
What I’m saying is, your investments need to relate back to your goals. Remember them? (You can go back and check out my last post on Setting Intentional Goals for 2021 here.)
Essentially you want to be focusing on just a few goals at any one time, two to three primary goals for this year. So whenever you get to a point where there's a possible investment, does this relate back to those specific goals? Will it help you reach those goals? Or is it a….. Distraction? There, I said it.
TIP #3 Affordability
Also, you need to check in with your finances. How much can you afford to invest? One of my golden rules is to, never, ever, ever invest more than you can afford to lose.
Here’s the test: if you went to the bank, took out the amount of money you are looking to invest and set that on fire… Would you be ok?
If the answer is no, really consider if this is the best course of action for your biz. And your sanity. Will this get you a return on your investment, and how soon? Can you afford to make mistakes, or even fail? It can take time for some investments to really show a decent return and you need to be able to weather that.
Now, this money should also be money coming from your business, not from your personal bank account. Bear with me, because in the beginning you might not have much to get your business going other than personal savings. But you need to focus on turning a profit as soon as is humanly possible. And from there, any investing done should be with money from your biz.
So if using dipping into your own money is going to put you at risk, or out of business, if it's going to mean that you can't pay your rent next month, or your storefront rent, then really consider if this investment is worth it.
Do you need to take out a loan or a credit card? Because, girl, if you’re already struggling, now is not the time to go into debt. If you know what you’re doing and your business is already profitable, maybe you can leverage debt or loans to get a good ROI.
The bottom line is that the method you use to fund your investments is highly dependent on your business, and where you are with it - but you need to know your finances.
Investment or Expense?
The next question is whether this is actually an investment, or an expense. Investments are something that you should be able to get a return on. Again, it's not always the financial return, although in most cases ideally it is. But that could be a return of additional time that you can now spend doing other things that are going to be revenue generating.
It could be additional resources, like additional energy. (PS. Don't underestimate energy!) As CEO, you have a lot of other things going on, and you NEED the energy to really dig in deep and get things done and accomplished, and come up with new ideas, and have the proper mindset for your business to keep going forward. Energy is invaluable, ya feel me?
To give it a formal definition, the primary purpose of an investment is to change the future revenue of your business for the better.
And a bad investment is one which does not do that :(
Remember that some investments are going to be shorter term, in terms of how long until you see the payback. Some are longer term. So you have to think about what your business is ready for right now.
What makes a good investment?
Good investments allow you to do your job better or more efficiently. That could even be inventory! But this can be tricky in ecommerce, because your business relies on inventory, but if you're over-buying, you're never going to actually see a profit. So you want to be really careful in terms of inventory. But it is at least capital that you can sell, right? You will make money on it later.
So, what else?
Branding and marketing, hiring a mentor, hiring staff... These are all generally good investments. But again, it depends on where you're at in business, too.
And here's the thing… All of these could also be a bad investment. Does your mentor have experience in your niche? Does your new hire have the tools and skills needed to help someone that runs a product based business? Before you hire someone, do your due diligence so you know you are working with the right person based on where you're at in business.
It’s the same thing with inventory. When you're just first starting your boutique, you don't want to go balls law on, $1000s worth of inventory, because you're not going to be prepared to sell it yet! (Unless you have a really proper marketing setup from the get go!)
My advice is to start small on what you know that you're going to be able to sell, and then continue growing from there.
So to take that a step further, a bad investment is one that is counter to your goals, or just isn't an alignment with your goals, or just doesn't make sense for where you're at in business right now.
Your Business Roadmap
Need to see where you are on the roadmap? Check out this handy guide! This can help you figure out what sort of things should be investing in when you're just starting out, versus three to five years in.
When you're just starting out, you're creating a vision for your brand and getting a basic logo, right? Your focus should be building a functioning website with quality product photos, and finding your ideal customers and growing your email list or text club.
REMINDER: At this stage you do not need to be doing all the fancy things. (Otherwise you’ll probably go broke pretty fast.)
That's why at the beginning, DIY is a great place to start. Because you can always grow and expand on this, once you've got the money coming in.
When you’re looking at a website and branding overhaul, for a beginner, our rates for our packages are quite an investment, right? But they're actually super competitive, when you consider the quality of work that we're offering. But it will likely seem a lot to someone just starting out. And when you’re just starting out, you don’t need a $10,000 logo. Who does?!
So if you go ploughing all this money into your biz right at the beginning because someone sold you on the next best thing, you’ll never get to that next level. But if you start small and grow sustainably, then one year on, 3 years on, 5 years on… Your biz will look very different. (And by different, I mean successful). Heck, it might even be 6 months away! But if you’ve just invested too much at the beginning on this elaborate brand, and storefront signage, or boutique truck signage… This really adds up. Not many businesses can afford to do that at the beginning.
But a lot of times, starting simple with a basic $50 logo on Etsy until you are really ready to dive in further, then six months down the road, a year down the road, then you have the money to invest from your business, from your actual profit, to really grow.
So. At the beginning. DIY in what you can, getting things in place. Even if it's temporary, that's okay, you don't have to have it all figured out right from day one.
Phase two, where you're growing, you're going to want to start investing in things like brand design and photography services. You're going to want to start looking at upgrades and improvements for your website, getting better tools, both physical and digital. And you're going to want to think about using 10 to 20% of your revenue on marketing and branding.
The trick is that you're reinvesting in your business to keep growing up so you don't just stay the same.
And then phase three, as you're starting to expand, you're gonna be looking at optimising your website to maximise sales. At this point, you should really be driving traffic to your website. Again, make the absolute most out of that profit. Think about things that will increase your average cart total on your conversion rate, expanding your inventory, growing your team. This might involve outsourcing areas of your business, or hiring a mentor or consultant to help you level up.
After that, you're in the scaling phase. Here you want to look at automating your systems and processes and making sure everything is really scalable. The idea is that at least several aspects of your business could basically run without you. So things to focus on are how to maximise the use of your marketing channels, hiring and outsourcing.
You want to think about investing 5 - 10% of your gross revenue in marketing and branding. You're going to be investing even more in things relevant to marketing and branding, and even expanding your team for that matter. But once you kind of hit that point where things are pretty well sorted out from here,that's when you dial back on the investments because all the things are already in place. And you just keep growing.
Recap on INVESTMENTS
The key thing to remember is that it's not always just about when to invest, but also where.
In the beginning, focus on revenue generating activities, and what is going to help you sell your product. So that's good photography, a website that works - it doesn't have to be perfect at that point.
When you're scaling, though, you want to focus even more on your site. Now, every little thing matters, because you want to keep growing, keep driving traffic and generating revenue. And all of your systems and processes for everything you can think of should have a process.
And with this, I like to always remind you guys to have that CEO mindset.
So when you're looking at investments and whether this is a good decision for you, don't just look at right now and tomorrow. Look ahead. Where do you want to be in six to 12 months? Make your decision from that place. For example, “if I want to be here in a year, does this investment make sense right now?”
You don't need to have all the answers, you just need to know where you want to be in that six to 12 months. To get to where you want to be in a year, do you need to make this investment?
The trick here is to know when to let go of all of those hats and release them to other people or other tools so you can start doubling down on your own goals.
And final reminder… Always relate investment decisions back to your goals. So if you want more revenue, then focus on revenue generating activities or investments. DIY at the beginning, but as you grow, you want to be taking some of those hats off, so you can get out of the weeds and have time to fry those bigger fish.
If you want more traffic, invest in your site. What are investments you can make for that... speeding up your site ads, organic traffic marketing, a new look for your site?
And if your goal is to have more time, focus on outsourcing. What investments can you make to help automate your systems? What sort of team members can you hire?
Wherever you're at in your biz, we got it, we've been there. That's why we created packages to serve your e-commerce shop owners at whatever point you're at in your business.
Because at the end of the day, you simply can't do everything yourself. You just have to choose what will be the most impactful for you to get the return on your investments so that you can keep growing and keep reinvesting back into your business to keep growing even more. And that’s what we want for you girl.
To your continued success, cheers!!