I’m excited to dig into the big sometimes-scary topic of investing in your handmade business today.
For the past ten (nearly 11) years, I have been operating and making financial decisions about my businesses. I have spent about half that time working with small business owners full time, so I am very familiar with all the hesitations and concerns of making business investments. It might surprise you to know that I have found most of those concerns are the same regardless of how significant the investment is.
my investment journey
It’s important to note that investing in your handmade business and spending money is so personal. How and where we each spend our money is our business. It’s absolutely none of my business what you choose to do with your money. I am regularly asked about investing, though. I want to give my response to those inquiries a bigger platform here on the blog. If you’ve ever considered making an investment or buying something for your business – education, service, software, or tool-based investment specifically, maybe you’ve had questions and concerns similar to the ones I’ve heard and have had myself.
During my first year in business, I cannot recall investing/ spending money on anything beyond the basics. I had to buy packaging supplies and craft supplies, and other essentials. I never really questioned any of that. None of that felt significant. Worth noting: I was not tapped in enough to know what I could or would invest in beyond those things.
In the second and third years, I started to become aware of investments I could make. I started my business in 2010; Instagram wasn’t even a thing until later that year, and Facebook wasn’t what it is today. I was not aware of what services, software, or support tools ever existed. That sounds wild, I know. Primarily because in today’s world, we are constantly aware of these things. I do not recall having awareness about courses, templates, automation tools, or any of the sort.
Of course, over time, that changed
My first time investing in my business
The first ‘big’ investment I made in my business was Marie Forleo’s B-School program which cost about 2000 dollars. I believe it was that same year I invested in a website design. I went from 0-100 rather quickly.
The decision to join B-School was easy. I knew I liked Marie, and I felt that her vibe aligned with mine. The program had great reviews, people seemed excited about it, and it was clear she was a professional who herself was investing. That was meaningful to me. I know I debated for a few days about joining because 2000 dollars is nothing to sneeze at. It wasn’t then, and it isn’t now. But I knew I wanted to join and I was excited about the content. The decision was easy, but pressing the button and investing in your handmade business is hard.
There were so many doubts, but they were more about ME than the program.
- What if it doesn’t work for me?
- What if I don’t finish it right away? I know I can go back to it but will that impact the efficacy?
- What if I already know something that’s covered?
The list goes on.
None of that is about the program. There is no way for a program that anyone could buy to be absolutely 100% relevant, at every single turn, to every single person. It’s literally not possible. Just because one thing in there might not be relevant to me doesn’t mean I won’t learn a lot. Just because I don’t consume it all right away doesn’t change the impact it could have. My experience with that program was good. I did not complete it all in the first 10 weeks or even the first year. I didn’t even need to know some of it at the time I took it. And yes, there were things in there I had heard before.
investing in your business is what you make of it
My experience was good though because in hearing things more than once I gain deeper and more diverse understanding and perspective. In going through it at my own pace, I maximized the parts of it that were most useful to me instead of rushing on to the next thing. And in investing at all, I held myself accountable to the material and the process.
difficulties with investing
It is hard to see the end result clearly on service, tool or education-based investments. Obviously, it is much simpler to see that if you buy a printer, you get the benefit of being able to print things at home. The visual projection of benefits is not as clear with education, software or services.
For this reason, it’s easy to understand why some things feel scary to spend money on. That is why the question comes up a lot. I never heard anyone say, ‘should I buy packing tape, or can I just get by without it?’
But I do hear ‘should I invest in this service? Or can I just get by without it?’
Ultimately the answers are the same: sure, you COULD get by without it. But ‘get by’ is a low bar and I know you didn’t start your business just to ‘get by’. I know you actually want to thrive. Can you build a business that thrives solely on free services and internet scraps? I personally do not think so.
Again, the decision regarding do you or do you not want things is easy. It’s the feeling confident in investment enough to push the button and make it happen that is hard.
So let’s talk about that.
The question of investing in your handmade business is one that comes up quite a bit. It usually sounds like this: “should I invest in my business even though….” fill in the blank.
Everyone can make a statement like that no matter where they are at in their business.
That blank could be filled in with any reason or hesitation.
- “Should I invest in my business even though I have three kids?”
- “Should I invest in my business even though I haven’t been in business that long?”
- “Should I invest in my business even though I have already been in business for several years?”
- “Should I invest in my business even though my product is low priced?
I’ve heard six-figure earners ask the same questions as four-figure earners. The reality of investing and growing a business doesn’t change – it still feels a little uncomfortable to invest even as a veteran business owner. I’ve bought things for my business that cost $60 and $6000 and $24000 and every time, no matter what, it does feel a little scary.
Investing in your handmade business is really personal – we all have different values and different things that are important to us, but I’ll share with you what I tell myself and what I’d tell anyone who asked me directly, which does happen often and I have told them this same thing – 3 things actually.
I think YOU as a human person are worth investment. Period. You as a human being are worthy of learning and growing and nurturing.
I believe that the lowest risk investment you can ever make is in your own education.
And further, I believe the best investment you could make in your business is in YOURSELF as the owner of that business. (Listen to this episode featuring Grace from Maker Mountain Fabrics to hear from another fellow maker about overcoming fears about investing.)
As the owner of your business, YOU need to know what to do, when to do it and how. I have found, in my own experiences and through working with so many other business owners, that that sort of information is not generally available for free. Because it’s not as simple as “here are four things to do” or “press these buttons in this order to make such and such a thing happen” it’s cognitive, over time, and comes from learning how to take in information and make decisions.
I believe that YOU are worth the investments you want to make and that your business will only ever benefit from you investing in yourself. I hope that helps you feel a bit more confident about the investments you might make in the future.