Don’t let a busy schedule get in the way of your personal development. Investing in yourself can help your business grow.
As creative entrepreneurs, we invest time and money into a lot of things: developing our products, running our businesses, attending to family and social obligations (the list goes on and on), but we often neglect to invest in ourselves. How many of us actually set aside time and resources to focus on our personal and professional growth?
In my business, Le Papier Studio, I’ve found it very helpful to set aside a small portion of my income for personal development. This investment fund can be something you contribute to each month, either from your shop revenue or another income source. Here are three areas you can invest in to ensure you keep moving forward and growing as a person and a business owner (without breaking the bank).
1. Invest in Ongoing Education
When you’re just starting out, it can be hard to remember to invest in education. Your education doesn’t have to stop after you’ve earned a degree. In creative industries, skills and technology can change quickly. Invest some money and time in developing new skills that keep you on the cutting edge or align with your personal goals. Each time you save, it can also serve as a reminder for you to take that class or buy that book your friend has been raving about.
The internet is full of business-growth opportunities (software tools, products, coaching programs, etc.), and it can sometimes be hard to decide which one is best for your business. Be strategic about your choice. Don’t invest your money in a program or tool if you know you don’t also have the time to invest in taking advantage of it.
A few years ago, I invested in a higher-price program. Before taking the leap, I researched the program and read reviews on it from various well-established business owners. I had a pretty good idea going into it about what to expect and how my business would benefit from the program in the long run. I also knew about the cost of this program months in advance, which allowed me to start saving for it. I didn’t make this decision on a whim — I planned for it.
If you want to make a smaller investment, there are plenty of online courses available for creative entrepreneurs. Skillshare offers classes in business topics such as marketing and SEO and crafting techniques like knitting and jewelry design. Lifestyle blog A Beautiful Mess sells online courses in photography and business development. You could also sign up for free email seminars from Etsy or set aside time to read more articles in the Seller Handbook.
In my opinion, it’s never too early to invest in such programs. The way I see it is this: I could spend months or years trying to figure it out on my own, or I could invest in a program that will teach me what I need to know to take my business to the next level right now.
2. Network With Your Peers
Set aside a fixed dollar amount for networking with like-minded people outside of your circle of friends. By doing so, you will make it a priority to seek out new professional opportunities, creating new relationships and building on existing ones. These interactions will sharpen your interpersonal skills and boost your confidence. I like to set aside as little as $25 each month for networking. If I sign up for a conference or attend an event that will allow me to interact with professionals in my industry, I pull money from this fund.
I recently moved to a new city and was introduced to a new group of women who gets together once a month to discuss various business-related topics and exchange useful resources. Check out the Etsy Teamsin your area to find other creative entrepreneurs who are meeting to share their tips.
Before you attend any events (even the free ones) make sure they are worth your time — and by that I mean, make sure that they are aligned with your business objectives.
3. Treat Yourself
Not to be confused with splurging, this fund is there to allow you to recognize milestones and celebrate your progress. I like to put some money in this fund every month, but redeem it every three months. Use these funds to take a weekend trip (and a quick break from your shop), a nice dinner with a friend or your significant other or to buy something you’ve been admiring.
This exercises my patience, ability to plan ahead and also my willpower. I make sure to check in every month and see what I have achieved and how close I am to my end goal. This is my favorite fund to invest in, not only because of the anticipation of rewarding myself, but also the extra motivation boost it gives me to keep working toward my professional and personal goals.
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How do you invest in yourself? Share in the comments below.
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