What’s the Investment?

If you want to build a real true business that supports you financially and emotionally you have to come to the understanding that you will make many investments to get it up and running.

You will invest money, time, emotional and physical energy.

Anyone who tries to tell you building a business can be done on the cheap, with little time or emotional investment is lying.

There’s an example on every corner of the person who had $100 and built an empire. Yeah, yeah. I can sell you a bridge, too, wanna see it?

{Side note. Unless you see cold, hard facts, spreadsheets and tax returns, those stories you hear about riches and money and numbers of clients, blah, blah could be fairy tales spun for our naïve ears. Shelve them with the Harry Potter books when you’re done reading them.}

Think I’m the buzz kill of small business entrepreneurship? Let’s chat over lattes shall we?

Question: Before the dawn of the internet, did people check out a “Start a Business” book from the library and think they could start a business with sticks, a pen and a phone? No, because they needed an upfront investment for physical space and furniture and often inventory.

Then the internet came along and a bunch of yahoos decide to sell the idea that the internet makes it cheap and oh-so-easy to work from your kitchen table, in your underwear and make a living.

No one bothers to tell you that you either a) need to know how to code your own website, shopping carts and leverage social media like a boss or b) you need to pay someone to help you do those things if you aren’t a ninja at them (which you probably aren’t because they aren’t skills we learned back in the ‘80s and ‘90s BECAUSE THE TECHNOLOGY DIDN’T EXIST.)

Now, yes, you can go learn all that stuff. But can you learn it for free? And if you can, will you learn it fast enough so you can actually build a business using it?

Trust me, you can’t. Sure, I can learn how to code, but how long will learning take me? Can I learn it out of a book, “Coding for the Clueless”? I doubt it. If applicable learning was that easy why would we go to high school, college and graduate school?

You probably already invested in an education to get you to where you are now. If you want to build a new kind of business, you’re going to need to invest in learning and growth again.

So many people bump against resistance of this reality.

They think, “I can do this new business thing on the cheap.” And there are a lot of people who will take what little money you have to give you a “blueprint” that supposedly gets you raking in the dough. Know any mega success stories who used the cheap blueprint? I don’t.

If we could build real businesses for little money, what the hell are those people doing talking to investors on Shark Tank? What is this asking for $150,000 to sell cupcakes? You mean I can’t do it for a $197 six week coaching program?

Fact. If you want to build a real, honest, to goodness business, you need to invest.

If you don’t really want to invest your money, time and energy, don’t chase cheap, duct-tape-it together crap that just bleeds you dry 97 bucks at a time. Just stop planning  to grow a business and get on with it. I always say, there is nothing wrong with staying where you are. There is nothing wrong with saying “no” to entrepreneurship. It isn’t for everyone.

However,  if you do really want to open your own business, invest the money, time and energy wisely. Set a realistic budget. Plan to hire contractors, a coach or consultant, set benchmarks and plans to get a realistic return on your investment.

If you don’t have the means to invest, you need to take a good look at how to get the capital. I wish I could say “Here’s a book that will get you started,” but you’ve probably read the books and you are here.  There is no “secret” formula. No one is out there just waiting to fund your business.  I bootstrapped. I borrowed money from my bank. I made money and reinvested it in the business while keeping my day job. That’s how most small businesses grow over time.

Realistically, you can start the process of doing everything yourself. It will take a long time. You will have to do it in your spare time when you aren’t  at your other job. But even then, you’ll need to pay for a phone, website hosting, back end tech like a shopping cart and credit card processing. You should have a PO box. You’ll need to market somehow and that takes cash. Yes, even on Facebook and Google (especially on Facebook and Google). Even sending snail mail letters to colleagues and referral sources will cost you for the letterhead, envelopes and stamps (snail mail isn’t cheap).

Can’t swing investing in marketing but still determined? Start saving. Get a second job. Freelance, sell some stuff, stop weekend outings and put the cash in savings.  Almost every entrepreneur I know has a story of “the days of Ramen Noodles,” “living in my car,” or “no cable.” I once lived in an apartment with no furniture except my bed. I probably see two movies in an actual theater every year. I worked retail for awhile (Working retail was highly motivating to start my own business).  Buying new clothes is still a luxury for me.

It’s ok. I’m doing work I love. The clothes don’t make me happy. Doing this work, writing this blog, coaching my clients, being home when my son flies through the door on a Friday afternoon  –  that gives joy.

We have choices about what we invest in. Know that investing in your business is a way to invest in yourself, your family and your joy.

The idea of investment in self and business is what inspired my Pay Your Own Rate  approach to business coaching. You can read more about the philosophy here.

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