It’s completely understandable if you’re hesitant to spend money on your business.
After all, it’s unlikely you have the hefty cash reserves of a bigger company. Of course, managing spend is critical, as you always want to have a cushion for down times and unexpected expenses. But if you watch your money too closely, you could prevent your business from achieving true growth.
As a solo PR pro, you must become more comfortable making financial decisions and loosening your grip on your wallet. Remember: Spending money isn’t always an indulgence — sometimes, it’s essential to taking your clients to the next level and scaling your business.
“As solo business owners,” Solo PR Pro president Karen Swim says, “we wanted the flexibility, we wanted the freedom to choose who we work with, we wanted the freedom to define the type of business we want. But you can't enjoy any of that if you're struggling financially. And to not struggle financially, you have to bite the bullet and write the checks.”
In a recent episode of That Solo Life: The Solo PR Podcast, Karen and her cohost, Michelle Kane of VoiceMatters, discuss investing in your business. Here are three insightful takeaways.
1. Audit, outsource, delegate
Take a good, hard look at the way you work. Are you spending your time wisely? (Be honest.)
That means not procrastinating, not getting distracted by the bottomless pit that is the internet and not dedicating hours to tasks someone else could easily do. Instead, you should be spending most of your day focusing on the things that allow you to add the most value.
For example, Karen realized she doesn’t actually have to keep her own calendar, put together reports or even be the one writing pitches. She can hire people to do those things, which frees up room for her to set client strategy and manage the overall health of each account.
Figure out those to-do items you can train somebody else to do, and hire a contractor for it. Karen suggests leveraging tools like Fiverr, Upwork and virtual assistant services. Just because it’s your business doesn’t mean it’s all on you. “I want you all to take this to heart: You, personally, are not responsible for doing every job in your business,” Karen advises.
After Karen hired her first regular contractor a few years ago, paying those invoices was scary. She felt nauseous for the first six months. But “writing those checks every month was the greatest motivation in the world for taking my business to a new level pretty quickly,” Karen explains. “When you’re paying people and money is going out of your account, trust me — you’re going to make sure you have a steady pipeline.” These days, Karen is able to write bigger checks to even more people.
2. Get good at math
When you consider dipping into your funds to purchase something for your business, whether it’s securing a freelancer or finally splurging on a laptop that doesn’t die every two hours, the initial price tag can be intimidating. That’s why you need to get comfortable looking at and understanding the numbers. “Math is your friend,” Karen says.
For example, imagine you want to buy a tool to automate a certain task, but it comes with a monthly fee of $200. As a solo PR pro, you can’t just go throwing around hundreds of dollars all willy nilly. But let’s say your hourly rate is $100, and you spend 20 hours a month on that task. When you automate it, you’ll free up enough time to make up to $2,000 more dollars a month. That initial investment ends up paying off, big time — like $1,800 a month big time.
You also want to get good at numbers so you can make sure you’re getting a good return on investment (ROI). If you decide to spend money on a marketing activity, like a Facebook ad, “don’t just set it and forget it,” Karen says. “Watch it, monitor it, track it, improve it until you have maximized the ROI out of every piece of that marketing element you’re utilizing.”
And hey, if this last part seems overwhelming to you, keep in mind you can always hire a marketing contractor to take care of it for you!
3. Schedule thinking time
When you’re running a business, you may view pure thinking time as a luxury — something that’s nice to have but definitely not a priority. But Michelle believes it’s “really something that’s necessary, both for your clients’ sake and for yours. Because how are you going to take your client to the next level and keep things going if you’re not taking the time to just sit and think?” Giving yourself this breathing room will spark creativity and help you set goals and grow your business. “It’s not a waste of time,” says Michelle.
Book strategic chunks of thinking time into your calendar every week, and treat it just as you would treat an appointment you make with someone else. It’s important, so you don’t want to be late or cancel it unless absolutely necessary. You could even treat it like a mini retreat and “cater” this thinking time with a boxed lunch.
It’s a bit of a different type of an investment, but it’s an investment all the same. Think about it: If your hourly rate is $100 and you spend three solid hours a week solely thinking about your business, that’s technically an investment of $300. But it’s completely worth it — because that dedicated brainstorming time will help you be more strategic and efficient when you’re working on projects for your client. And, ultimately, you’ll be able to scale more quickly.
What’s one way you already have — or plan to — invest in your solo PR business? Let us know in the comments or on social media using #solopr!