As entrepreneurs, we think a lot about investment. We seek investment in our companies. We buy tools, investing in people and resources.
But when was the last time you invested in yourself? If you can’t recall, or if you immediately point out that you dropped a bundle on college, it might be time to start thinking about what you can do to support your most important asset – you!
We reached out to a group of successful women, all at different points in their careers, to ask them to share their thoughts on self-investment and the most crucial self-investments they made.
So you’ve got a great idea for a new product or service–but what comes next? What is the first step you take in bringing your idea to fruition? Is the idea even any good? Does it have the potential to thrive in an environment that is constantly being replenished by new innovations?
Tiffany S. Williams, MBA, founder of Rich Girl Collective Group, a business consulting brand based in New Orleans, suggests investing in a market research tool that can help kick off your business with confidence.
“When starting a new business, research is one of the most important steps,” Williams said. “Invest in quality research tools to quickly and accurately grab statistics for market research such as demographics, pain points, and messaging. I’ve helped thousands of women pursue their passion projects, and getting stuck at the research level is one of the most common problems they deal with. Those who invest in research can expedite the process.”
Whether you are a seasoned entrepreneur or just beginning to embark on a new venture, one of the most valuable self-investments you can make is a career coach. Among other things, career coaches dispense knowledgeable advice, help you set concrete goals, and keep you motivated during the rough patches. Many of the women we heard from named coaching as critical to their success.
René Serbon, a skincare expert, consultant, and the founder of Dermal Systems, Inc., a skincare brand based in British Columbia, finds coaching so helpful that she invests in three a year. “Usually I work with one for personal development, one for business development, and [I] also have a finance coach,” Serbon said. “As an entrepreneur, it is important to me to have someone trustworthy to talk to about my ideas. And as my company grows, so must I.”
Often, coaches can help embolden entrepreneurs to take major gambles. Melissa Okabe, a real estate agent at Atla Properties in Torrance, California, has found this to be personally true. “Coaching has been an important investment for me because it has kept me accountable, has helped me overcome my limiting beliefs, and [has encouraged me to] take action on opportunities that were out of my comfort zone,” Okabe said. “Coaching has enhanced my entrepreneurial mindset and helped me to say yes to things I may have shied away from in the past.”
Olivia Summerhill, CFP®, CDFA®, the founder of Summerhill Wealth Management, a Kirkland, Washington-based wealth management company for women, had a similar experience with her career coach. “The few months I worked with the career coach was well worth the $4k because she and I decided I needed to open my own financial firm to help women during and post-divorce,” Summerhill said. “I would have never done this on my own without her helping me work through it and build my confidence. The financial investment to help support your career pays off every time.”
As we know, one of the best ways to grow your brand and create opportunities for yourself is through networking. Annual business conferences provide entrepreneurs and innovators with the chance to expand their network and find new ways to promote themselves.
Galit Ventura-Rozen, a Top 100 real estate executive and entrepreneur, is the Broker and Owner of Commercial Professionals, a real estate company in Las Vegas. She makes sure to participate in conferences or networking events each month. She named the Commercial Real Estate Women’s Network conference and the Women of Global Change conference as prime opportunities to expand her influence. “These events have paid off by…providing me connections to [similar] businesses that I can collaborate with or work with,” Ventura-Rozen said. “They have provided me [with] many corporate training opportunities and speaking opportunities [with] companies that attend.”
Okabe believes that conferences have the power to inspire entrepreneurs and help them gain a better grasp of their industry. “[Conferences are] an important investment because [they provide] an opportunity to network and share experiences, be exposed to new, higher-level ideas, better understand trends, and hear first-hand about best practices from those that are rocking their business,” she said.
As the old adage goes, “you learn something new every day.” Many of the women we spoke to agreed that a lifelong passion for learning is central to their businesses’ evolution.
Catherine Way, the Digital Marketing Manager at Prime Plus Mortgage, a hard money lending company in Scottsdale, Arizona, has found simple ways to grow her skill set and augment her career opportunities. “I am continuously learning new skills to help me advance in my career. I read two books a month on various business or self-help topics, and take a class on skills I want to improve, such as Excel, so I can make better reports. Both of these pay off because I am continuously motivated and focused to improve the process for myself and my company.”
Kelly Shoul, the co-founder of In Love and Adventure, a wedding and elopement photography company based in Colorado, has also seen her educational investments pay off considerably. After investing in an Elopement Photographer course offered by Adventure Instead Academy, she gained a clearer idea of how to create a thriving photography business. “Before taking the course, I was really just guessing at how to make this new business of mine successful and was not succeeding,” Shoul said. “This course changed my life. [It] is set up to give you real, tangible changes you can implement into your business to set you up for success…Since I’ve completed the course, I’ve been averaging two inquiries a week, and have booked elopements I was only dreaming about shooting a year ago.”
The saying is “You have to spend money to make money” but maybe it would be better to think of these kinds of expenses as investments in your growth and success. What self-investments do you make every year? Leave your answers below!