When you are building a business from the ground up, pouring a lot of money into it seems counter-productive. You’re trying to make money, am I right? Even if you’re starting with a bit of money to get going, you want to make sure you get a good return on your investment.
A return on your investment is all about making back exactly what you purchased plus more. However, you won’t typically see a one-to-one, clear path of payback. But you always want to keep this in mind when deciding what you should spend as a business owner.
I was awful, just seriously painfully awful, at managing my money in my first 3 years of business. I wasn’t covering my normal expenses (I was paying for lots of apps and subscriptions I simply didn’t need) and I kept buying every course or template that promised to turn me into a success.
Almost all of them barely scratched the surface or was more targeted towards a business owner in a different season than I was currently in. I wasn’t see any significant changes in my business but losing money every month.
Then I started booking consistent clients! I had changed a few things in my business (thanks to the guidance of a much appreciated mentor) but I was booking small, hourly projects and saying yes to everything. But I needed the money! Once I was making a small profit and knew I wanted a business that was a dream come true, I knew I needed to invest.
In October 2017, I made the biggest investment in my business since I began and throughout 2018 spent more on my own business than I had ever before. I was able to triple my income from 2017 to 2018 and even bring my husband Chris on full-time!
I want to share with you the three biggest investments I made this past year, what I learned from investing in those areas of my business, and what I’m investing in this year.
In October of 2017, I hadn’t booked anything past the end of the year and had failed to book one custom design package the entire year, even though that was the only thing I actually advertised on my website. I felt pulled in so many directions when in my heart, I only wanted to create custom websites.
I couldn’t plot out a roadmap that got me where I wanted on my own and coming to that realization took some reflection. I’d never been a business owner so why was I putting so much pressure on myself to just get it?
When exploring my options, I kept coming back to Jesse and Becky of Idealust. I had the opportunity to watch a talk they gave at Creative at Heart in the summer about social media and it really clicked with me. I’d been a big fan of theirs for a while, but I always assumed I just couldn’t afford coaching at all. It must be crazy expensive.
Once I took the leap and reached out to them, I knew I had to book them no matter what and when I did, I used most of the money in my business account. Not all of it, of course! But it was a big investment for me. I was a bit nervous but I knew I needed to change something. Sitting there, wondering why someone so talented like myself made barely any money or custom work, but doing the same things over and over, wasn’t working for me anymore. I knew I could have so much more.
The first month I began working with and following the guidance of Jesse and Becky, my business became something I didn’t recognize. I had booked a month out, made my money back from my first payment x2, and the projects I booked were custom! I even booked a business owner I’ve admired for years and am constantly blown away by.
With their help, each and every month, I had a clear path as to what I should be doing and when. I felt confident that I wasn’t ever wasting my time. They pushed me to do some things that scared me a bit and were constantly encouraging. I had to do a lot of work but I always felt like it mattered.
lesson learned: investing in one-on-one guidance, knowing how to fit all the pieces together and how to make better money allows you to invest in other important areas of your business. I suggest investing in business coaches after you’ve had time to explore what you really are drawn to in your business and who you want to serve, then get expert help!
When I finally made the transition to only working on websites, it was like a breath of fresh air. I was finally focusing on the part of every project I wanted to get to. I had always done my own brand because of course, I was a brand designer.
Mind you, I’m not bad at designing. I think I’m pretty good actually! But it wasn’t bringing me joy and it showed in my own brand. It always was half done, half thought through, I just wanted it good enough to build an awesome site. That isn’t how you should ever approach the voice of your business. Your brand is what showcases your message, story, value, and aesthetic that will impress your ideal client.
Who isn’t a fan of Angela? She is so multi-talented and when we connected last year, I wanted her to create my new brand and it worked out that way! She approached every decision from a strategic place which is essential and her ideas… she just has so many amazing gifts!
Having someone else create my brand could have seemed asinine, because I could do it. But would I bring the same style, talent, and true passion for branding design that Angela possesses? No way, and acknowledging that led to a beautiful but targeted brand that I love and my audience does as well!
lesson learned: you hear it all the time, just because you can doesn’t mean you should. But that extends to just because it can be ok doesn’t mean it has to be if you’re serious about building a sustainable business. Your brand will drive every decision you make in your business so having a strong purpose is essential and not everyone has the gift of bringing those elements together. Let an expert handle that!
Speaking of when I switched to just websites, the creative industry isn’t really used to that. Going to someone who doesn’t “do it all” seems strange to some, but I knew I could benefit my clients immensely by not only being well-versed in creating their website design and strategy, but I wanted them to work with other experts in their industry that shared that same care and passion, like branding, copywriting, and brand photography.
Through a lot of putting myself out there and connecting with amazingly talented and kindhearted ladies, I’ve built a small community around my business that I get to collaborate frequently. I get so excited when my clients are working with one of them and I know we can create something so above and beyond what could be created with just one mind in the process.
Investing in this situation was my time, not money. A lot of time is needed to build true friendships and clear, strong business relationships. But let me tell you, having a group of people that support you and you truly support them back back transform your business into an empire.
lesson learned: fuse intention into your time. When working on your own business, make sure you’re building with a reason in mind. Making a ton of business friends is great, but you want to be able to uplift one another not only with a shoulder to cry on or a buddy to celebrate with some wine over Zoom. You should be able to, in some way, invest in each other equally and fairly. You can provide one another something unique depending on your talents or needs in this season, but make sure to be there for your friends as much as they are for you.
This year, with all the lessons I learned last year, there are 3 major investments I’m making to continue the growth of Stefani Jessica and some other new, amazing opportunities and offerings coming this year.
There are so many new things coming this year, and I can’t wait to bring you along for the journey! What is your biggest goal this year?
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