When you first start off in business, it can be so tempting to live from your earnings, revel in those first invoices being paid and very little else.
Believe me, I have been there.
Continually investing in your business means investing in yourself.
It's an investment in your future, your skill set, your development personally and professionally, and it pushes your possibilities to the next level.
Fear is often the driver behind hesitation to invest, usually in the form of "what if I can't afford it" and "I don't have the time"; so let's deal with those two bad boys right now and look at how to begin investing in yourself for awesome success.
1. Start small
It is highly unlikely you will make a huge leap from no investments to a 10k coaching plan or an all singing all dancing website (although stranger things have happened...).
Start with something that feels comfortable. Buy yourself a book that will stretch you, then progress to an e-course, maybe a membership programme, a coaching session, and move up from there. When you first start out in business cash flow might not necessarily be in abundance at the beginning, so take incremental steps that are doable without breaking the bank.
If you use and implement what you learn, your skills will evolve, your knowledge will progress, and your income will take a step up accordingly. When that happens, take the next step up, in what the awesome Denise DT of Get Rich Lucky Bitch calls "incremental upgrades".
Reaching too high too soon can overstretch your budget and comfort zone too much. Feel the stretch, feel the burn enough to really use what you are taking in, but don't run before you can walk in terms of taking on committments and investments.
2. Know what you need next
I keep an Evernote of "training porn"; essentially, a running list of awesome courses with information to plug current knowledge gaps from people whose work I admire and whose products I feel would be a great fit for my needs. Being aware of your needs for the next level is key to making a good move in investment for your business.
Find out who and what your mentors are investing it, watch how they are growing. Far from being a copycat, it will give you a list of people and resources to check out, and to "feel" your way into a fit with them, their products or services.
3. Surround yourself with the right people
Surrounding yourself with people who are not only on the same level as you, but working on a higher level too is essential for so many reasons.
Firstly, you see what is possible in the next level of success, and that stops those confidence gremlins from taking hold.
Secondly, people one or two rungs up the ladder from you have recently been where you are right now, and are ideally places to give you some hints and tips to succeed through their experience.
Thirdly, you have a close up view of HOW they are making waves in their businesses, who their coaches are, what they are investing in.
You don't need to do a carbon copy journey (impossible anyway, since all our journeys and skills are individual), but you can glean key names and contacts from others.
They pick me up when I feel like a useless entrepreneur.
They coach me, hire me, set goals with me, and keep my sights set high. Of course, we also need human interaction, so as often as possible I spend time offline with people who are inspiring, ambitious, and who see the value in investing in themselves. Whether that is a Skype call, coffee meeting, Hangout or lunch, all are amazing, valid, and will rally you to higher heights of awesomeness.
4. Read, learn and absorb daily
Investment and development need not always be a financial outlay.
Time and energy are equally as important, and development can happen in the "forgotten" corners of life.
I stick on my podcasts to go for a walk or to potter around the house; I watch tutorials when getting ready to go out; I read books before bed and when on journeys.
Absorbing info from many sources means that your learning is constant, your knowledge continues to grow, and your skills (and value) do too. Whether it's a blog post, a podcast, an ebook, a video, a webinar, a book or a course, they all add up to help propel you forward.
5. Take action
Of course, none of these investments are worth anything if you don't apply yourself and give time to your development.
How many times have you paid for an ebook or e-course and not done it, or not shown up for the office hours or coaching?
When you truly invest in yourself financially, in a high quality product, course or coaching, you are more likely to show up, take action and make it work for you. After all, you need to show a return on your investment when you pay a premium price!
When I invested in my website, I made a promise to my partner that I would keep at it, that when I felt like everything was going wrong that I wouldn't give up. Guess what - I know earn the cost of the website over and over again in any month. Result.
6. Know when to learn and when to outsource
This is key in learning to invest.
You don't need to learn to do everything yourself.
You can begin to invest in yourself by outsourcing (and here is a handy guide on what to outsource and what not to).
Getting this balance right will be an individual process - things that I outsource may or may not be things that you wish to - but start to invest in leveraging other people's time as soon as you can, and watch the difference it makes to your productivity and overall work happiness.
7. Enjoy buying from others and upgrade the experience
This is something I love, love love.
Spending money on yourself and your business is a privilege.
It is also so lovely to be a client - to be treated to the lovely customer service and premium treatment you would expect from making a real investment.
When I invested in my website I adored getting the emails and proofs. and felt like a VIP customer. When I get coaching I love the whole process of getting the materials, the time one on one, the whole deal.
Because I know that every time I make that leap, my business moves forward too.
What barriers around investing in yourself and your business have you found?
What steps are you taking next?
I would love to hear in the comments.