Art by Jonan Everett
Investing in yourself is essential to growing wealth and advancing in your career — it’s Personal Finance 101. But for small-business owners like me, it presents a dilemma. Do I invest my earnings back in my business to keep it growing, or do I invest in things like my retirement savings?
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I started my business in January 2017 — an entrepreneurial venture focused on financial education for women. I had to pay for up-front costs like getting my LLC designation, and I’m funding our events with money from my personal savings. That’s money that I could be directing into retirement funds or using to save for a down payment on a house. It feels like I’m forced to choose between my business and myself. But is that really the case?
How to Invest in Your Business
To grow my business, I need to host events on a semi-regular basis and provide top-notch online content. The old maxim “you’ve got to spend money to make money” is true — investing in your business is essential. That said, there’s no reason to spend money needlessly, or to spend on things that don’t grow your business.
I invest in my business by focusing on what works. I’ve seen Instagram direct people to my website, so I make sure to post there every day. I’ve also seen that longer-form pieces do well on my site, so I make sure to have posts in the 800- to 1,000-word range. These are investments that cost me nothing.
Free investments are great, but there is a line. I can’t host my events in my own home, so I’m learning to spare some money to rent spaces. When a cost is essential to your business, you need to make it happen. If affording that expense is difficult, you can try negotiating the price or trading for services.
Start out doing small things well and follow the trends that work. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your business won't be, either.
Invest in things that you absolutely need and things that will allow you to grow.
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How to Invest in Yourself
Investing in yourself is a smart move to make for both personal and professional reasons. Getting an advanced degree or professional certification can both advance your career and give you a chance to learn.
I get a little anxious when it feels like I’m sacrificing my personal savings for my business investments. Overcoming that anxiety was critical to becoming a business owner; you have to be comfortable with taking some risks.
I want my business to start generating revenue by the end of the year. For that to happen, I need to create profit systems, which means investing some money. I feel better about investing money I have now, knowing that it’s going into a potential moneymaking system.
And I made sure that I reached my goals for my emergency and retirement funds for 2016 before officially launching Bravely.
Knowing that I had a fully stocked emergency fund — and that I had done everything I wanted to save for retirement last year — gave me the confidence to take the plunge into entrepreneurship in 2017. I’ve also set a new retirement goal for this year, which I save toward every month. I plan both personal and business goals each month so that a sense of balance is maintained.
Ultimately, there will be some months when personal needs trump business needs, or vice versa. That’s a risk that comes with entrepreneurship. But business and personal investments don’t need to be mutually exclusive.
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