How to Properly Invest In Yourself and Your Business

Taxes are due in 36 days …

And, for a second, let’s assume it’s your first year filing as a freelancer or business owner.

Even though you’ve done your own taxes for years, you’ve decided to hire a professional accountant this time. After all, you’ve made some decent money from your web writing, and you want to make sure you’re taking the right deductions, so you don’t pay more taxes than necessary.

 You worked hard for that money!

 So, you do some research online, and find two qualified CPAs in your area. Before making your decision to call one, you take a look at their websites …

 John’s website looks like a school project. Half the links don’t work properly, images are running into the copy, and there are more colors than the rainbow in the design.

Bob’s website is clean and professional. The home page clearly spells out that his accounting firm specializes in small business and solo-professional taxes, and allows you to fill out a form to schedule a free consultation.

 Which do you choose?

The two accountants could have the exact same experience, same reputation, and same ability. Heck, John, with the lousy website, may even be better — and a tad cheaper!

But, the professional feeling you got from Bob’s website set your mind at ease. He’s your man.

Good thing Bob decided to invest in having someone else do his website. You see, for the most part, he gets his clients through referrals. So they won’t be impacted by his website all that much.

But, he knows that clients who find him online will need confidence in his ability to do the job. And, his website is the only opportunity he has to sell himself, so it better close the deal.

 Investing in yourself and your business is not a choice …

Investing in your business is a necessity. 

You already know that in order to grow your web-writing business you need skills. You need to appear professional. You need to keep improving so you can continue to raise your fees.

And the only way to do all that is to invest.

Now I’m not saying run out and spend $2,500 on website, business cards, and a four-color brochure. You have to pick and choose your investments, just like you would with investing your money for retirement.

(Although it should be noted that investments in yourself have the potential for a much larger return than the historic 9% average investments in the stock market receive … and vastly larger than the 2% of recent times.)

So, how do you effectively invest in yourself?

First up, decide what to invest …

The first thing that comes to mind when you think about investing is money. But there are actually other things you can invest …

For example, you can invest time to learn something. By reading this e-letter each week you’re investing 5 to 10 minutes to gain insight into making money online.

You can invest your skills in exchange for something else. Maybe you write the copy for your designer’s home page, in exchange for her designing a custom logo and header for your website.

You can invest in your business by working on spec when you first start out. If you’re looking to break into the health supplement market, but have no experience or past clients, consider doing a few things on spec to quickly build your portfolio. And then turn around and use that portfolio to get more clients — paying clients.

You can even invest by simply changing a situation, or removing a barrier. Roy Furr recently invested in himself by quitting his full-time job, so that he could invest more time into growing his freelance business.

Investing in yourself — as with any financial investment — is basically taking a risk in exchange for a return. The key is to find a return that balances (or exceeds) the risk …

What are some good investments for you?

Hopefully by now you’ve already started investing in your skills. Maybe you’ve decided that you want to write autoresponders, and have purchased Jay White’s Autoresponder Apprentice

Or, you want to get the skills needed to become a paid web copy specialist so you attended the Web Copy Intensive, or purchased the Homestudy Program.

AWAI Wall of Famer Pam Foster told me her biggest investment in herself was in hiring two coaches at different times throughout her freelance career. Both were instrumental to her progress, and the one-on-one mentoring she received is still being put to use every day.

Hiring a coach may be a good investment for you, too. Or, a more inexpensive option would be Nick Usborne’s Breakthrough Freelance Success where you get the benefit of his coaching expertise for about 1/10th the price.

Web writer Mindy Tyson McHorse explained …

“If I hadn’t invested in myself early on, when I first decided to become a freelance writer, I don’t think I would have taken myself seriously. My first big investment in my career was over $7,000, for AWAI’s Circle of Success. I actually took out a small business loan because, I reasoned, anybody starting a brick-and-mortar shop would take out a loan (and nobody would question it), so why not get a loan for my own small business (me)?

Every month when I made my payments, I was reminded of my commitment to succeed as a copywriter and got reenergized to find work to pay it all off. I’ve since paid off the entirety of the loan, though I estimate the value I’ve gotten in return goes far beyond doubling my investment.

From access to information to a powerful support network to conferences that made a major impact on my career, all of it began with that initial investment. If I had to put a dollar amount on what I actually got in return for my $7K, I’d guess around $52,000 … though that number is still growing.
 
Now, I’m quick to invest where I see an opportunity for my business to grow. This includes signing up for e-newsletter subscriptions/membership sites, hiring web designers and graphic designers, and purchasing research materials. I know they’ll pay off tenfold — or more — in the long run.”
 
There are many ways to invest in yourself … you just want to make sure the return you’ll make on that investment (ROI) is worth it.

So what kind of ROI should you expect?

There is no right answer to that question, as the ROI can vary based on your personal needs and risk sensitivity. The only thing it must be is realistic.

Last week, I shared with you my life as a freelancer, and how I hired Nick Usborne as a coach a little over a year ago. Before we started our sessions together, I determined I needed to make five times my investment.  

Because that’s what made the risk — both the money and time I was investing — worthwhile to me. Anything less simply wasn’t worth the investment.

The key is to filter out investment opportunities that will only give you a tiny return. 

People who came to the Web Copy Intensive invested $5K because they wanted to make $50K, $150K, and more a year. They know their investment is going to continue making them money year after year. (Some have made it to all three Intensives!)

Says returning attendee Henry Bingaman …

“The hardest part of starting my freelance business was learning how to invest intelligently. I’m kind of an information addict. As a copywriter myself, I read through most sales pitches that land in my inbox to see what they’re doing and how they’re doing it … and as a consequence, I get sold on a lot of products.   

But about six or seven months into my new profession, I realized that I was wasting a lot of time and money on things that were only increasing my ability to earn money in very small increments. 
So I’ve slowed down and become a lot more careful about what I invest in. 

Before I buy anything, I have to be convinced that the product has lasting value.

For example, I won’t buy a product that teaches me how to make money on Twitter, but I’ll consider a product that teaches me how to use networking to find new clients … because the principles behind the latter are fundamental and will hold true in any medium.

Here are two investments that have had an incredible ROI …

1. 2009 Web Copy Intensive ($5,000+ in conference fees and travel expenses). Not only did I learn a ton of essential skills about writing online copy, but I got incredible confidence in myself and my skills as an online copywriter. That confidence came from knowing I was going home with more knowledge than most of the people already making a living in my ideal career.

2. Macbook Pro with video-editing software (about $3,000). Having the right tools is essential for any professional. Although I was nervous when I first dropped the cash for this machine and the software, it’s paid for itself many times over. It saves time and allows me to function efficiently at a high level. Also, it’s really nice to have a computer that works — and works the way it’s supposed to all the time.” 

How can you evaluate an investment?

You have to think through the input and output. How much does it cost? What time do you have to commit? What are your potentials for output? How fast will you breakeven?

Let’s look at a couple of examples …

 Jay White’s Autoresponder Apprentice program costs $500. But, you can make that back with your first project. And, it only takes a weekend to learn. So, breakeven is after week one. Let’s assume you land only one project a week for the first month. You’ve made three times your investment in a month. 

With four projects under your belt, you’re golden. The return on that investment will increase 10 times, 20 times, and 50 times throughout the course of the year.

Now, let’s look at the Web Copy Intensive. That’s $5,000! But, the skills you learn can have you up-and-running as a paid web copy specialist when you leave. And, if you make $75K throughout the remainder of 2010, that’s a return of 15 times your investment! 

Another way to evaluate is by savings. Wealthy Web Writer is a great example. You pay $47 a month. Yet each month, there are at least five webinars that would sell for at least $79. So, each month you’re automatically saving $348. Then, when you add in the unlimited content, free feedback, roadmaps, and more, that savings can grow up to $1,000 before you know it. Not to mention the Job Board, member forum, discounts, and more …

Autoresponder King Jay White has invested in himself and his career a lot over the years. And in his opinion, “Investing in yourself and your career is not throwing money away — it’s throwing money into a huge machine that spits out MORE money in return.

By investing, you’re taking a big step … a step that 95% of others will never take. It means you have the guts to move forward and actually make something happen. And, believe me — if you follow the leads of other successful entrepreneurs and invest in yourself, you’ll reap HUGE rewards. It’s the safest bet you’ll ever make!”

What’s your next investment in yourself?

 Share with me by posting a comment below.

Rebecca Matter

Rebecca Matter

President of American Writers and Artists, Inc and founder of Wealthy Web Writer, Rebecca has over 20 years of direct marketing and publishing experience.

One Comment

  • Invest in yourself is great advice.

    Choose your investments wisely and buy only what you will take action on immediately, not 6 months down the road, but TODAY.

    You will be farther ahead and in a shorter amount of time.

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