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The Clarity Journal

Tactics, Tools, and Truth for Creative Entrepreneurs

3 Ways I’m Investing in My Business This Year

This post contains affiliate links.

My dad is incredibly frugal. For instance, he rarely turns on the air conditioning unit in his home (that is in the south) because “if you open the windows it feels just fine.” He comes by it honestly. His mom, my grandmother, grew up during the Depression and has a special knack for finding uses for things that other people would throw away. In the 90s she used to save the free AOL Online CD-Roms that you would get in the mail and use them as coasters for her potted plants. She uses old yogurt and margarine containers as Tupperware and still shoves extra sugar and ketchup packets in her purse at restaurants.

This legacy of frugality has rubbed off on me (though I do have my weaknesses). Being cost-conscious is helpful in life, but limiting in business. I find myself more often than not wondering if I can “really afford” certain things in my business or whether I’m being wise and responsible in the way that I’m spending money. Maybe you can relate.

Managing Expenses vs. Growing Revenue

What I am learning is that you can’t grow a business by obsessing about your expenses. Instead, you grow a business by investing in things that will help you make more money. Many of us, myself included, think that our businesses have to reach a certain level before we can invest in things like systems, trainings, branding, contractors, and more. But oftentimes our lack of investment is the very thing that is keeping our business from growing in the first place.

In the past few months, I’ve been kicking my penny-pinching mindset to the curb and embracing strategic investment in my own business. In this post, I’m breaking down all of the strategic investments I have made this year. To give you some idea of cost, I’ve labeled each investment as small (under $1,000 per year), moderate (between $1,000-$2,000 per year) and large (over $2,000 per year).

Training

I tend to have a high view of my own ability to figure things out without help (Enneagram 3 problems). This year, I’m fighting against this tendency and have invested in training from experts that can help me in areas where I need to grow.

Instagram training, Follower to Fan Society with Tyler J. McCall (Moderate)

In the Spring of this year, I knew I needed help with Instagram to make sure my use of the platform was producing real results, not just a pretty feed. I have been incredibly happy with my return on this program**; not only do I feel much more confident in what I am doing on Instagram, but I also have higher engagement, more followers, and regular clients coming directly from the platform. 

Business By Design with James Wedmore (Large)

This program is the biggest investment I have ever made in my business, but it was both well-timed and sorely needed. I’m making some changes in my business in the coming months that simply would not be possible without this training. While I haven’t seen financial results yet, I absolutely expect this program to pay for itself many times over.

Outsourcing

One of my main takeaways from BBD has been that doing everything in my business myself is holding me back. As I result, I’m exploring ways that I can buy my time back from my business.

In the process, I’ve learned that delegating is not just an investment of money, but it also takes time and energy to hire, onboard, and properly train and provide oversight to your team. It’s important to recognize this on the front-end so that you can make sure you are supporting your people well. Below is a list of the people and services that I have started working with in the last two months.

Bench Accounting (Moderate)

Bench** is a service that I have been recommending as an affiliate for about six months, but I hadn’t signed on to use the service myself because, “I have a finance degree, I should be able to do my own bookkeeping.” Recognizing the flaw in this logic, I signed on with Bench** last month and it has been such a preserver of time and energy. For a longer description of this service, read my post here. (Note: If you click on any of my links to Bench**, you can get 20% off your first six months.)

Virtual Assistant (Small)

Up until a few weeks ago, I was handling every single administrative task in my business personally, from emails to travel arrangements to setting up my weekly newsletter. I realized that even if I could just get five hours a week back from these tasks, it could make a real impact on my business results.

This month I hired an overseas virtual assistant through OnlineJobs.ph and have been training her on the routine admin tasks in my business. It can be challenging to let go of these kinds of tasks, but I already am seeing the benefit of having extra hours back on the margins. I’m actively looking for more ways to offload to her.

Freelancers (Moderate)

I’m working on a super-secret project right now that I absolutely could not pull off myself. For this, I’m working with three freelance professionals – a designer, copywriter, and digital marketing specialist – that are bringing their own skills to my party. As someone who has worked alone for almost three years, it has been both exciting and refreshing to work with a team again, even if it’s only one project.

Tools

There are so many tools and software programs available, and it is easy to feel like you are frittering away all of your profit on $20 and $30 per month subscriptions. But, I’ve chosen to keep investing in programs that help me run my business with less time, energy, and headache. These are the core programs I use in my business; they are all small investments (less than $1,000 per year).

  • 1 Password – Password manager that allows me to create secure passwords and usernames and share them between different members of my team.

  • Canva Pro – I recently upgraded to the paid version of Canva to make my VA’s life easier when creating branded graphics.

  • ConvertKit – I moved away from Mailchimp earlier this year and am blown away by how much easier it has made my list-building life.

  • Evernote – The real workhorse in my business. I wrote about how I use Evernote here.

  • Leadpages – This is a pricier program that makes it easy to create high converting landing and opt-in pages.

  • Nozbe** – My preferred task and project management tool.

  • Planoly – I use Planoly to plan and schedule all of my Instagram feed posts. 

**These are affiliate links, which means I will receive a commission if you decide to make a purchase. I only refer you to programs and services that I use personally and trust completely.

Tools + TacticsKatie Wussow