When is the right time to invest in your business?

Running your own business is no small feat – it requires dedication, creativity, and a lot of hard work. As you navigate the exciting journey of creating and building your business, you will likely find yourself pondering if it is time to invest in your business’s growth. Many aspects of growing a business are a leap of faith, but taking that leap doesn’t mean blindly jumping in. It does mean weighing all options and making thoughtful, considered decisions to minimise risk whilst maximising returns. Assessing your finances, processes, and purpose is so important. This process will help you decide when, and how, to invest in your business.

Checking In

Being your own boss means it is up to you to get honest about what is and isn’t working so well in your business. You should be checking in with yourself regularly to make it less overwhelming and to keep on top of any emerging issues before they become big problems. This should be done even when things seem to be going well. In fact, especially when things are going really well – you want to be able to keep that up!

The Good and the Bad

Start your assessment by making a rough list of the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ aspects of your business. We are not talking about products, services, or offerings, though if anything comes up, you could note it for another time. Your focus should cover things like:

  • work-life balance
  • how you feel about your business
  • how you feel about certain things you need to do within your business
  • where you spend your time – both working and not working
  • do you feel you are reaching your goals
  • do you have defined goals
  • how is your family coping with you and your business

It can be hard to think of everything, and this will be a work in progress over time. What you want is to get into the habit of noticing when things aren’t going so well. This helps you to address whatever is going on and make a change. Sometimes it is too easy to get caught up in the busy-ness of business, and that can become a cycle that is hard to escape from.

The same principle goes for things that work well too – sometimes you don’t understand why things are going well, you just know they are. Let’s face it… if things are going well you don’t want to rock the boat by making any changes. But if you don’t make an effort to understand why something is working, it is really hard to keep the momentum and build on it. And  it can become a pitfall. Not wanting to change anything to keep the good streak running also means not changing any of the aspects of the business that are causing problems for you.

What Needs to Change?

Now that you are gaining an understanding of what looks good and what doesn’t, you can give some thought to what to do about it. Thinking is an extremely important part of the process, as you want to make sure you have considered things from many different angles. Do some research and get input from others about the available options. There is always more than one way to do things, and finding the right solution isn’t about running with the first thing that pops into your head. Having said all that, there is a caveat: at some stage you will need to put your thought into action. As good as it is to spend some time understanding all the options, it will not help at all if you let yourself get stuck in indecision. Sometimes you just have to pick something and give it a go.

What Needs to Stay the Same?

Almost as important as finding solutions to problems, is finding ways to continue doing what is working. This will help keep your business on the right track for success. If these are processes, find ways to make sure they are consistently implemented. If it is a certain level of customer service, make sure you offer initial and ongoing training to really emphasise the level of service expected and needed from yourself and your staff. Try not to think too small or superstitiously about why certain things seem to work.

Often it is not just a single thing, but a system or a few pieces that make a whole. It is also important to note that as your business evolves, so too will the things that work. Just because something has always worked well, or previously gave excellent results, doesn’t mean it will continue to do so forever. At some stage there will be things that move from your ‘good’ list to your ‘bad’ list. Part of being a successful business owner is knowing that this is nothing personal, it doesn’t have to be bad, and in fact it can pose an exciting opportunity to think outside the box. Ultimately, you are going to find more often than not that trying to stay the same will stunt your growth. Spread those wings and rise to the challenge!

When to Take the Leap and Invest in Your Business

The real question this article set out answer is how do I know when it is time to invest in my business? Having read this far, the answer still might not seem obvious. Mainly because it isn’t straight forward, but rather a matter of ‘it depends’. Every business, person, and situation is different, which is what makes owning your own business so exciting and rewarding. However, it can leave you feeling a bit stuck and unsure. Having assessed your weaknesses and strengths, you should have a handle on what you can keep and what you need to tweak.

To start yourself off and get into the swing of it, choose some smaller things that you can easily fix. For example, if you have been feeling overworked, pick a time to ‘down tools’ every evening. Don’t forget weekends and holidays too. Set any devices related to your business to do not disturb during your down time. If you can’t because it is your personal phone, an easy solution would be to get a business phone. Creating a divide between home and work is a very simple way to start getting your work-life balance right. Many other things will also have simple fixes. Others will be a little more complicated, costly, or time consuming. Learn to prioritise and remember, if you’ve done your research first it will pay off in the long run.

What Should I Do?

Our next article will look at what you can do to address a range of issues. This will give you an idea of how to invest in your business. Now that you know what you need, it is important to take steps to make it happen. You might have already figured out your next steps as part of this process, or you might feel more lost than before. Either way, this much is clear: your actions (or inactions!) will determine your success. Adopt the practice of being honest with yourself and checking in often. It will make such a difference in your business, and for you personally.