Are You Spending Enough on Your Business?

On Friday, I did my weekly check of my account. On the free online personal finance tool, I saw that the balance on my business credit card was about four times its normal amount. A happy little shiver shot up my spine.

I knew where the money had gone. In the past few weeks I’d invested in a couple of consultants, signed up for a conference and bought some blog software–all investments in my business. Making those purchases was a little scary. With each investment, after all, I was taking a risk that it would pay off in the long run. But I’ve come to realize that success is impossible without risk–even if it means that I’ll need to budget carefully to cover my mortgage payments for a few months.

Years ago I interviewed the well-known financial advisor, author and radio host Ric Edelman, who offered this advice to independently employed financial advisors about building their practices:

You have to be prepared to commit the time and money needed to do it right. A lot of advisors refuse to grow because they say they can’t afford it, but I can’t spend enough money. The more we give away, the more we get back.

Those wise words came to mind in recent months as I’ve explored ways to break away from my old, established business as a freelance business writer, and grow my personal platform (and popular blog) into a media and consulting business. 

I joke with colleagues that I have a wildly successful blog that isn’t making any money, and I know that has to change. Still, there have been times I’ve felt overwhelmed and scared–sometimes to the point of quasi-paralysis. Am I crazy to step away from an established writing business? What if I fail?

But I know deep down that I have no choice: If I were to abandon my plans to expand into new areas I would regret not taking the risk forever. Worse, if I don’t throw myself into it full-throttle, I will likely find myself with two half-vested, sputtering businesses. In order to move forward with confidence, I need to buckle down, establish a plan and focus on a goal–and to do that I need to invest my effort and passion. I also need to invest money.

Spending money on any venture is risky, and there are never any guarantees. But I’ve learned that the more money I invest in my business–which is also investing in myself–the more likely I am to succeed. Making a PayPal payment to a web designer is an act of confidence in my ability to reap a return on that investment. Swiping my credit card for a business coach empowers my business–and me–to thrive. One of the maxims of effective pricing is that people value your services more if they pay for them. I value my own venture more if I also have a financial stake in it.

I often I wonder how–and if–all the financial pieces will fit together, and that can be really, really scary. But it’s not as scary as the thought of wondering what could have been.

Emma Johnson blogs at

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