We all sort of know that when we are our business we have to invest in ourselves, yet somehow that knowing doesn’t always filter down into doing. Maybe we feel it’s selfish, maybe we convince ourselves we don’t have time, maybe we feel we’re not worth the money. But in the end, who suffers from you not investing yourself? You do, of course, and that should be bad enough; but so do your customers, who may not get the best of you, or even discover your product in the first place. And so do your friends and family, who get a tired and stressed you as you try holding everything together.
I totally get that it’s a big leap of faith to actually take steps to invest in yourself. It feels counterintuitive, and you worry about all those things we just mentioned. But more than that, it’s the scariness of taking yourself seriously, of committing to your business and putting your head above the parapet and saying “I want this”.
But, I promise, that’s the hardest bit.
When we talk about investment we think about parting with large sums of money, but it doesn’t have to be just that. It can be as simple as having an early night or treating yourself to a cup of tea and a biscuit. Here I’m going to give you some big and small ideas of things you can do to invest in yourself and your business. Because you deserve it, and you owe it to yourself and your people.
Give yourself time to recharge
Last night I had a bath, and usually I do stuff in the bath (I’ve spoken about this here) – reply to comments, listen to podcasts, catch up with GBBO… But last night I was tired, really tired. And although I had emails and comments to catch up on, what I really needed was to sit in candlelit hot water and close my eyes. So that’s what I did. It felt so luxurious, and I went to my early bed feeling considerably less frazzled and much better rested. For once I drifted straight off to sleep instead of lying awake with a buzzing brain.
Giving over that time just to myself was an investment – in my head space and in getting a good night’s sleep. It may seem small, but for someone who’s always ‘doing’ it was a pretty big thing to leave my phone on the other side of the room. So do whatever is your equivalent of my bath – give yourself half an hour to read your book, go for a walk or have a nap. The work you’ll do after this period of rest will be much better than that which you would have done during it.
Reward all your wins
Are you one of those people who, once you complete a project, strikes through it on the to do list and moves on to the next thing without a backwards glance? Because I certainly am. And I only realised recently that some of the things I so quickly move on from would have been celebrated with slaps on the back and team beers in my old job. Why don’t I treat myself in the same way?
When you’re your own boss, you take on the responsibility for congratulating and geeing yourself up. I spoke about this on the Courage & Spice podcast; when you leave a job you lose the mechanisms for your self belief, i.e. your KPIs and a boss telling you you’re doing well. You have to do that for yourself now.
So when you complete a big project, take yourself for team beers (or cocktails, if that’s more your jam). Finish that proposal that’s been weighing on your mind? That deserves a sit down with a cuppa and cake. Sign a new client? Perhaps that’s dinner out or a spa day (any excuse 😉). Working for yourself isn’t supposed to be penitential; treat yourself a few times a week to tell yourself you’re doing a good job.
Boost your knowledge
I have mixed feelings about online education. On the one hand, I know how valuable it has been to me in getting under the skin of things, but on the other I know how we can kid ourselves into thinking that reading articles and listening to podcasts is work. Learning shouldn’t be a substitute for doing, and so often waiting until we ‘know everything’ (spoiler: that’s impossible) holds us back from achieving the things we want.
That second kind of education, the browsing of blogs and consuming free content, is the least productive form of boosting your knowledge. On that road you end up losing hours and hours, and you come away with only generic, half-heartedly consumed, knowledge. Why I choose to invest in paid courses is, quite simply, if I’ve paid for it I’m more likely to commit to it and squeeze every tiny drop of value I can out of it. And more than that, paying is a commitment to myself that this is something I’m going pursue for my business’s sake.
Get one-to-one help
Yep, this is the big one, but in my experience it’s the most valuable. I have been coached over the last 6 months, and having someone to talk things through with about my business, without worrying that they were bored or didn’t understand, was so freeing. It was all the best things about having a colleague: someone to ask my questions to, to bounce ideas around with, to challenge me – without having to make eight cups of tea all the time.
Getting a coach or a mentor is also one of the biggest commitments you can make to your business. It’s a promise that you’re going to take it seriously, a statement of intent that you want this and you want to make it work. Just the act of giving yourself that permission is incredibly powerful for your mind set. By signing up to a one-to-one coaching program you’ve set an intention, and you’re halfway there to making your business a success.
Of course, there is a financial implication for many of us, but for me, that just amplified the effect I described with the paid courses. Knowing I had an investment riding on the experience I went out of my way to do every exercise, to get what I wanted out of every conversation, to ultimately push my business into success. I owe a lot of how far I’ve come to that investment, and the way it made me behave in such a focused and purposeful way.
How about you? Have you been putting off investing in your business?
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