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How Can You Invest in the Future of Your Business When You Can Barely Pay the Bills?

The first year of my business, I spent nearly half my business time and income on training classes (like the Audience Business Masterclass).

The other half went to childcare that made it possible for me to work.

I was able to spend so much on training because I had a partner whose income paid for rent and groceries. Not all entrepreneurs have that luxury. But even if your business provides the only income for your household, it’s impossible to create a sustainable business without eventually investing in ways that will help your business grow. In the early stages, that might mean training and education. Later, it means systems to streamline processes and employees to take over tasks. And beyond that, it might mean investing in expensive marketing campaigns, better systems or highly-paid consultants.

But if you’re struggling to pay the bills each month, investing money in ways that will grow your business might seem impossible.

How do you find a balance between the two? How do you determine what’s essential and where you can cut in order to grow? Have you ever regretted spending money on an investment that you thought would grow your business but didn’t pan out? Have you ever made an investment that gave a great return? Do you currently spend money on training and growth, or is your business struggling just to make ends meet?

Tell us how you invest in the future for you and your business when bills are an issue.

About Lisa Baker

Lisa C. Baker is the founder and partner manager at Authentic Partnership. Her mission is simple: to connect your business with influential partners eager to promote your products and services to high-value customers.

20 comments

  1. Mark says:

    That was and is a truly awesome headline Lisa!

    And for sure, every newbie entrepreneur, on or offline has had to
    address that issue. And some of us more than once!LOL!

    But as you pointed out, in order to grow a reliable income from your
    business, at some point you have to be able to invest both time and money!

    Great read!Thanks!

  2. Francis says:

    I think books are the cheapest investment you can probably make (and yet are at the same time golden investments). Though trainings and courses are much better and can get you to where you want to be faster, sometimes a series of good books and rampant application will be able to get you to the top of the mountain as well.

  3. Jennifer Wenzel says:

    I have been in a barely-making-ends-meet, “which bill doesn’t get paid this month?”, “sorry but we are out of milk until I get paid tomorrow” situation for the past five years, because I fell in love with a wonderful, kind man and his two children, and we became a family. He is disabled, as is one of his (now our) kids, and I support all four of us on my salary. I’ve been wanting to invest in the Audience Business Masterclass for months, but had to wait until two things happened: my car was finally paid off, and my tax refund arrived (which happened yesterday!!! I signed up for ABM immediately!) Yes, I literally could not afford $127 a month and even had to make the first $97 payment with a tax refund!

    It’s so, so very hard to see these offers for classes and trainings and workshops and summits and the rest and literally not be able to even comprehend being able to afford them. But, what helped me was advice to just tune out all of the noise and find the ONE person or program you want to follow, and then do what you can to invest in yourself with that person or program. I have done this with Danny and ABM. Now that I’m a student, I have such fire in me to make this succeed that I feel I can’t fail. Even if that second (and third and fourth and fifth and sixth) $97 payment is going to be painful to make, I will do anything (including selling plasma, recycling cans, and collecting change off the street if I have to) to make those payments and make this business a success.

      1. Jennifer Wenzel says:

        Thanks, Lisa! Me too!! 🙂 It’s funny, over the decade-plus that I’ve worked on small entrepreneurial ventures, I have certainly spent more money in aggregate on little purchases (single e-books, short trainings, webinars, all things under $50) then if I’d invested into one large but comprehensive training program. However, I’m glad that I did, because that all got me where I am now with ABM. 🙂

        Also, forgot to mention yesterday in regards to your main question–sometimes, it’s possible to get scholarship or grant money to invest in business development (mainly when taking courses/programs). I have asked for and received significant discounts twice; both were coaching courses that I completed (an ICF-accredited course on life coaching and a non-accredited advanced course in retirement coaching) due to my financial circumstances. It never hurts to ask!

  4. I agree that it’s impossible to create a sustainable business without investing in it. But one message I see a lot of in the various emails I receive, goes: “Hey, ya gotta invest if you want your business to grow, and it’s all good, because investment in my product is gonna pay off!” And then the vendor gets to tell itself a story about the laziness or lack of seriousness of those who just don’t want to get of the couch and make that simple investment that’s gonna provide that huge return. But even if those dividends can in fact be expected — and they likely cannot be in every case in which these kinds of claims are made — this logic only goes so far. As Lisa Baker suggests, the element of balance is necessarily at play for a lot of us. Even if we’re talking sound investments that pay big returns 100% of the time, I’m still unable to devote 100% of my financial resources to investing (not to mention the time that goes toward utilization of the product purchased). And it’s this piece of the logic that you don’t often hear vendors articulate. Instead — and the language they use shows this — they assume the prospect is misguided if he doesn’t choose to buy. Lisa’s content is a bit refreshing — she assumes we need to find a balance.

    1. Lisa Baker says:

      Thanks, Kirsten! We really don’t WANT people to buy if it means they’re going to struggle to pay bills as a result! Especially with so many free resources out there, there’s no reason to go into debt to build an online business. Personally, I think that anyone who invests time and energy into following the principles in all the free resources here at Firepole, they’d be able to build their business to the place where they could afford to spend money on building it more! 🙂

  5. Barbara says:

    In the beginning of my online presence, I listened to all of the wrong people and put us into way too much debt. Most of those people were scammers — they took our money and were gone. I had a longtime part-time job and we both had Social Security, so we were still able to manage, although it was not totally easy. Then I lost my job due to the economy. One third of our total income was suddenly GONE! It meant cut-backs everywhere possible.

    By then I was beginning to make a few online friends. Some were more of a casual friendship, but a couple of people were concerned when they heard my story, and began to help me figure out how to do things the right way. Companies had owned my two websites, and one left suddenly, and there went one of my websites and blogs! The good friends told me that I should own my domains, websites, and pay for the hosting, which I now do for both of my websites.

    Then I started learning from any free webinars and free classes that I thought would help me be able to monetize my websites the right way. No “fast money” offers, no more listening to people I didn’t already know enough about online to feel they had helpful info. I have had to find patience, and manage our bills for our best survival financially.

    Since we are still barely making it from month to month, I don’t have any money that I can spend for anything other than total necessities, like food, medical, car and home expenses. But I am still learning, and I plan to be successful even if I have no money to invest in business for the foreseeable future. I don’t need to be a millionaire, I just need to make enough money so we don’t have to worry about the what-ifs in life.

    I appreciate people like Danny Iny who share their knowledge to help people like me!

    1. Lisa Baker says:

      Sounds like you’re building a great foundation for your business! One great thing about investing in your business — sometimes investing TIME is every bit as valuable as money. It takes longer, but it works!

  6. christopherjrush@gmail.com says:

    YouTube. Some free internet research can tell you how to optimize your channel, and then it’s just up to you to make the great content. If your stuff is good, people will find you, and you can start to build an audience from nothing that way.

    1. Lisa Baker says:

      Thanks for commenting, Christopher! YouTube is definitely one way to do it — there are lots of free ways to build an audience! People don’t always find you, though…sometimes you have to go where they are to help them find you… 😉

  7. Jessica ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    There is really no alternative to trading either money or time for the resources you need to build your business. But there are some creative ways to find the former.

    How do you determine what’s essential? In my business, it came down to cutting every expense that didn’t help me serve my best customers better. Even if it was $6 a month, if I couldn’t draw a straight line between a certain resources or tool and a benefit to my clients, it was gone. That process led me to triple my net profit in 2014 and write the guide that my name links to in this comment.

    When people are just starting out though, and they need some money to fund their business growth, they tend to look externally – loans, investment, kickstarter – for financial support. But for a lot of us in online business, external funding doesn’t make sense, because we’re such small companies.

    So the money has to come from you (or your family or friends if you’re lucky). That might mean saving $2 a month – literally – if that’s all you can afford. Or it might mean going through your closet, taking out all the clothes you never wear and consigning them, and putting that money into your business. Or it might mean getting takeout one less time per month, and taking that savings and applying it to your business. With a microbusiness, every dollar counts, and there are a myriad of places you can find a dollar. Add ’em up.

  8. suzan says:

    Along story shortened. I lived in Ontario for 23 years. Was raised in quebec. When I chose to leave my marriage, I packed up my car and left to come to Joliette, a place I had never heard of , here because my daughter was here. I left my husband, marriage, house, province, language, my fabulous doctor and the business i had started .
    I will not go in to the details of the tremendous hardship I went through and my resistance to having to speak french all the time.
    I wanted to focus on trying to learn about business and how to run one online. I cannot tell you how many things I tried, listened to, bought, not having a cent and a tremendous debt load, which I still have.
    I have been listening to Danny and if i had his gift of the gab, I would be a millionaire.
    I design and make jewllery and want this to be part of extra income when i retire.
    there are times when i don,t have an ounce of self worth or self confidence, and then i meet someone who loves what i do and it encourages me.
    i want to succeed. I don,t have the money for the course but It must be devine intervention because Danny keeps coming up.
    I get not having the money but failure is not an option.
    Please check out my website and let me know if you feel the course Danny is offering could help me build this online store.

    Thank you
    Suzan Evans

    1. Lisa Baker says:

      Hi Suzann, thanks for commenting! To answer your question…yes, the Audience Business Masterclass can help you build ANY type of online business…but it’s not a quick fix. We guarantee you’ll be making income from your business after a year, but if you’re struggling to make ends meet right now, we don’t want you going into debt to buy ABM! — it’s not going to solve your income problems instantly. ABM will help you build a sustainable business through a long-term strategy.

    2. Peach says:

      Suzan, I feel like with a heavily competitive business like making and selling jewelry, there is no substitute for getting out there and doing a few shows to see if people will pay for your jewelry. Also just listening to what they say. If you’re making real jewelry (14 kt gold, sterling silver, etc) then I would advise getting a job, any job, in a jewelry store first just to see if you like the business. If you’re making costume jewelry, then craft shows are OK to meet people although I’m told they’re no longer profitable really. But I don’t think there’s any course that takes the place of live experience. What I learned was that I’d prefer to keep my jewelry making as a hobby because I truly enjoy only one element — cutting and polishing stones and do not enjoy the rest of it — such as setting up online stores, making and photographing finished pieces, dragging a huge load of items to craft and gem shows, etc. In fact, I just do stone cutting at the moment and rarely try to sell at all. I do know many people who make money making jewelry but it is a huge investment in time and money. I personally would not try it during a stressful period in my life. It’s something to experiment with once you have a steady income by another path. That’s just my personal opinion and experience though. But many of the retirees I see who are doing this and having success at making extra cash have a lot of outside income such as social security, a paid-off RV to allow them to travel to shows, etc. Ebay is kind of dead for online selling after the changes in their search algorithm and people just going there now to buy cheap Chinese junk. Etsy charges a fee for each post which makes it seem as if they get paid whether you make any sales or not, so they are not invested in your success. I know people who are doing well on Facebook but Facebook is soon going over to a paid model so that door is going to close. I’m sorry to sound so negative but you sound like you’re in real financial trouble and I sincerely believe you might want to try another type of business first. I’ll read the other comments with interest, in case I see anything helpful to me. Right now I’m just keeping this as a hobby.

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