Jen and Melissa are starting a new feature on the Pro Organizer Studio Podcast–shorter “minisodes” where we tackle a business topic that we are passionate about, but keep it short enough for a quick couple of errands in your car!
This week we start by talking about one of our favorite topics–when is it time to make some investments in your pro organizing business? “Investment” doesn’t have to mean multi thousands of dollars–it can mean “when is it time to hire a web designer” or “when is it time to stop using a free spreadsheet and start using an accounting system.” Knowing when to invest–and what to invest in–is important, and Jen and Melissa talk about their (sometimes very different!) philosophies on spending for your business.
If you are considering starting or growing a professional organizing business, we have a brand new for 2021, totally free workshop you can take that goes beyond this podcast–you can register here if you want to check it out!
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Investing in Your Own Business
Jen Obermeier: You’re listening to the Pro Organizer Studio podcast with Melissa Klug and Jen Obermeier. Thank you so much for joining in our mission is to broaden the horizons of savvy business women in the organizing industry by instilling confidence and inspiring authenticity. You’ll gain new insight into strategies designed specifically for professional organizers.
So now let’s get started.
Melissa Klug: We are thrilled to be here with you for our first ever Pro Organizer Studio minisode. Jen and I are going to be bringing you some minisodes about business and life and all sorts of topics. And this is our very first one where we are talking about investing in your business, which we’re going to get into it a little bit because Jen and I have a little bit of a different philosophy on this, like in a good way. So
Jen Obermeier: we do, we’re not going to fight or anything at all,
Melissa Klug: but that wouldn’t be any, I mean, it might be fun for them, but not fun for us. I was just about to say to Jen before we started, I think that what we might discover in this conversation is the perfect business person might be like halfway in between Jen and me.
Jen Obermeier: I do think we’re at opposite ends of the spectrum, but there’s a lot of good places in between.
Melissa Klug: Yes. Our topic today is when is it right to decide to invest in your business? And when I say invest in your business, I do not necessarily mean like, hey, I’m going to take out a $75,000 loan and build myself an office and like get people to work for me and start a corporation. I am talking about, maybe it’s as little as, Ooh, should I spend $197 on an Instagram course? Or should I buy an accounting solution like QuickBooks or FreshBooks when I could just use a Google sheet? Those are the kind of, you know, investments can range from tiny things to huge things. So we want to talk about that a little bit. Jen, do you have an overall philosophy that you tell people about in terms of investing in your business?
Jen Obermeier: So that’s a really great question because it’s not like I start started where I am now. And so if you guys are like trying to guess, which is the spectrum I’m on- I will reinvest money back into the business all day long because, I guess in my own experience and my time in learning about what things are worth my time and what I’m good at and how to sort of like leverage my own energy as best as possible.
You know, I’m testing different tools and different software and all that kind of stuff. But especially in the education and training line item every year is by far one of the things that I spend more on then. Anything else. And I, and you know what, I love it. Like it makes me, it makes me feel good.
I love being exposed to new ideas and new ways of doing things and being around new people. And so for me, I didn’t start that way. I could barely understand, for example, like when something would be profitable for me, for example, I spent a little bit of money on Facebook advertising when I first started and I got a few clients and then I was like, Okay. Awesome. Now, why did I abandon, why did I stop doing that? I don’t know. Is it cause I was kind of like, I want to keep as much of my money as possible.
Now I’m kind of on the opposite end of the spectrum, but you know, there’s probably some happy medium that if you were to ask me what my philosophy would be, it would probably be in that happy medium.
But at the same time, my personality type. I’m more comfortable being a little bit more not risky. That’s not the right word. Any investment, I guess, is a risk because you have to rely on yourself to follow through with it. But I know myself well enough to know the things I’m going to follow through on.
So it doesn’t feel as risky to me if that makes sense. So I spend big, I learn a lot. I get a lot out of it, but you could spend medium learn medium, get medium out of it. That’s okay. I think it’s a kind of a, kind of a process of figuring out like what you, what you can and will keep a promise to yourself about.
Melissa Klug: That is a great point because it’s easy to be able to say, okay, well I’m going to go buy 12 different courses, and then you don’t end up doing any of the pieces of those courses. So you have just lit a match to your money versus saying, I’m going to invest in this one course that is about this particular thing that I don’t know anything about.
And I’m going to learn the heck out of it. And then you know, implement those changes in my business. And so your point, knowing yourself to know, “yeah, I’m definitely going to do this course” or, “I’m just trying to make myself feel better by throwing some money at this problem.” For sure.
Jen Obermeier: And there is something, I think this is a, I don’t know what the term for this is, but. There’s a psychological term for, when you spend money on something, you sometimes feel like you’ve already accomplished the action, just by paying the money or becoming a member of something work.
Like we know everybody does this with a gym membership all the time. I mean, if I’m completely transparently honest with you right now, I have something that I’m paying for this, like an online fitness thing that I have been paying for for probably three months. That I have yet to do at all, but the thing, my way is that that represented, I probably need to cancel it and I’ll get around to it, but it represented a promise to myself that at that moment, I was like, “Ooh, this is a good deal, I really want to do this. I really want to keep this like top of mind.” And so I, I took the action of paying for it. But that did not actually solve the problem. You’re right, there has to be a follow-through or else, like you’ve just said, you’re kind of like lighting your money on fire right on the flip side.
Melissa Klug: And I’ll talk a little bit about my philosophy on spending money and investing, but, I do also think that there is something very real about if I have spent money on something I need to, like, I am going to do it. Like I am currently paying a nutritionist every month and. I am following everything that she tells me to do because I’m paying for, if she gave all of that same advice for free on her Instagram, I’d be like, man, I don’t know.
Jen Obermeier: But because you’re exactly right about that one, right?
Melissa Klug: I need to remember what Amanda says about what I’m supposed to be eating today, because I’m paying her to tell me what to do. And that’s important too.
Jen Obermeier: No, it definitely, I think you’re right. I think there’s a good balance of somebody who will hold you accountable.
Like that’s why people pay professional organizers. Right. Because they can’t do it by themselves. But see, this is a big thing to me is I’m like, if you’re going to be selling a service where people are investing in themselves, I think it is pretty important that you have had the experience of investing in yourself.
Because otherwise you, I think we’ll always have this tension of. I want them to spend really big on themselves, but I would never do something like that. And I think that that puts you at odds with them where you can’t really relate. And then you’re not really building the bridge of you really can’t get further with somebody than by yourself. If, if you, if you really value that investment and follow through on it.
Melissa Klug: Absolutely. I will tell you that my philosophy, because I had never been an entrepreneur before. Right. And so when I started my business, I was like, Oh my gosh, I’m trying to replace corporate income. I had a very, very nice job. And so I felt a little bit of pressure of like, I need to keep all of those dollars for me. The concept that we talk about in one of our workshops about minimum viable product, in terms of, what is the bare minimum you can do to get a business up and running?
So I definitely believe in that, but I also know that I sub optimized a lot of things, especially in my first like year and a half of business, because I said, Oh, I’ll just do this. I’ll do it this easy freeway. Versus in some cases where I’m like, wait, you’re telling me, I could have spent $15 this month and made my accounting easier or like whatever.
I sometimes say I’m a really good business coach because I tell people all the mistakes I made, so they don’t have to make them because I definitely made them. I realized that I needed to do some of that investing because it was going to save me money in many other aspects of my business, or more importantly, it was going to make me a lot of money.
And that’s the piece that I was missing.
Jen Obermeier: Yeah. So what’s your philosophy now? What would you tell people if, if they asked.
Melissa Klug: My philosophy now is that investing in your business is always going to pay an ROI as long as you are careful about what you invest in. And like you said, make that commitment that I’m going to use that education.
So even for me, if I’m, if I’m only spending yeah let’s say it’s $97 on a course, even though that’s not a huge, you know, multi thousand dollar investment, I still need to tell myself you’ve spent your business’ money on this. Therefore you need to go implement these things. But I would also tell myself if I had to go back to the beginning, I would say, even if it’s a four figure investment, that is an investment that’s going to pay dividends for me. And it’s going to, it’s a mindset issue now with me more of like, well, I can take my business to here versus having it stay here. So I view it as a growth thing rather than an expense. So I don’t view it as an expense. I view it as a re-investment.
Jen Obermeier: Yeah, no. And that makes total sense. And so what I will say is I do, like, I’m not totally crazy. I do have this limit of , you know, there’s always a shiny new object. There’s always another new course. I have, like I said, I bought, I have reinvested a lot into training and education. I try to make sure that those things are not just another version of another thing that I already paid for and didn’t do , but there are sometimes some things that, I’ll, I will, I know that I need, and I’m not quite ready for it yet. And I let it marinate a while and then I go back to it. So I don’t feel like I have absolutely zero regrets about that, but I also think , there’s the never ending amount of things that you could spend money on in order to level up level up level up. And so, I do shy away from certain types of business coaches or, or certain business training programs, where as soon as you buy the first thing, then there’s another thing. And then there’s another thing. And then there’s another thing.
And they were like, well, if you want to continue learning with us, you need to take all that money you made and reinvest it. And it’s like, yeah, At the end of the day , there’s gotta be not just some more than enough left for you. And that, that really comes down to a rule that you have with yourself about what you, what you always keep as profit.
Which I will say. You know, I, I am more, it’s almost like I want to spend my fun money on more business, stuff like that for me is just a personal lifestyle choice. But knowing like that limit is, I think is super important. There are plenty of times on this podcast. We’ve, I’ve brought up the book called Profit First by Mike Michalowitz, even if you don’t follow his system, precisely, I think it’s super important to know what your number is that you have to take home from your business and that you’re not like pushing all your chips in on the table, like, okay, I’m going to go all in and then, hope that it all works out.
You gotta pay yourself enough to know that you have some stability in order to have fun. Like you just mentioned the growth thing. The growth thing is supposed to be fun. That’s how I feel. I feel like businesses, not going to be sustainable. If it’s not fun, if it doesn’t feel fun to grow because you’re putting the money you need to some new opportunity that does not feel good.
It would never have felt good to me. And I would never ever push somebody to go like way beyond what their comfort zone is. I will say that that probably does kind of define like my limit on my philosophy is it’s not like an, a never ending upward spiral. You got to go at the pace.
Melissa Klug: That’s right for you. Right. Yeah, it’s not, so it’s not a 100% reinvestment in your business. You invest in yourself too. I think too, making those right choices and making sure that it fits with your risk profile and your budget. So, being really realistic like this year, I did invest in a business coach that was more money than I have ever spent on a business coach before, but I had a very specific goal that I wanted to attain.
I knew this person could help me attain it. But it’s also important when you’re investing in something, like not only do you have those hurdles, but also knowing that like, it’s not a magical, no solution, no business coach, no program is ever going to be a magic. Like you just wave a wand and business success will come at you.
Like you are still going to pay for a coach or a course or whatever, but you are also going to have to put in the hard work. It’s like the personal trainer, the personal trainer is not going to do the sit-ups for you. I mean, that would be amazing if that’s how it worked. And I would pay for that.
Jen Obermeier: don’t you feel kind of like what a professional organizer does though, is they come and they can actually do like hard exercise and diet of getting your house together, like for you and all those things , here I’ve, I’ve done the hard work like I have to do for you. So that is, that is kind of like the closest thing to magic that you can think of.
Melissa Klug: Yes, we get to give those people that magic, but we don’t get to take it and return on our own businesses.
Jen Obermeier: Right? Well that, well, right.
Melissa Klug: And so taking that word, that commitment that you’re talking about, and you are going to spend money on something, knowing that you will put in the work and go through that course and go through whatever that person, that expert is teaching you.
Jen Obermeier: And I’m speaking from experience only because I’ve been much, much better about making money in my past, then holding onto it and being strategic with it and more intentional with it. But I have learn from those mistakes and figured out like, okay, I don’t have to have every single thing in the world outsourced and delegated to every single person, but the strategic things that I am not as good at and that I don’t enjoy, I either need to find an app for that, or I need to find a person for that.
You know, those are the things that are really going to be that return on investment ROI. Like. Oh, I’m really happy that I’ve gotten my businesses point where I can afford to do those things. And then the other things you can keep doing yourself.
It doesn’t have to be like this, all or nothing. I have everything outsourced, I’m spending all this money to make all this money. It doesn’t have to be like that, but there can be a balance. Especially if you’re at a point right now where, and I think a lot of organizers are like this.
They’re used to being able to do a lot of things themselves. And so even when you start at the beginning and you. Need to do everything yourself. You can get to the 0.1 day where you’re not [00:15:00] going, like hog-wild on having every other thing in the world , outsourced to somebody else you have to pay for, but the things that somebody else can do for you or an app that can do it for you, those are like recurring expenses that I feel are very, very valuable that enables you to keep all of your energy for the things that only that you can do and that you want to do.
Melissa Klug: What I realized about myself was sometimes those, those things where I said, Oh, I can just do this on a spreadsheet. I can just keep track of this versus like, um, this is a silly example, but mile IQ, which is five 99 a month. It’s an app where it attracts all of your mileage. So you know exactly how many miles it took you to go to a client.
And that’s how you do your taxes. I didn’t use my, like you for my first year of business. And I had to manually calculate every mile that I went and it took me hours and hours and hours to do. And I was like, there was an app that could do this for me for five 99 a month and make it automatic—or accounting. I spent probably 40 hours getting all my accounting together. My first year of business versus now I pay fresh books, 50 bucks a month, um, to do all of that for me. And those kinds of things actually free me up to be a much better business person on the other end and so many ways. Yeah.
Yes. So being super strategic and saying, I have got to pick the thing and I’ve got to delegate things I, got a virtual assistant recently, and that has been a major game changer because the first project I gave her, because I always said. There’s nothing preventing me from doing these things that I’m giving to her.
So I took it as a badge of like, well, no, I should be doing this because I can. The first project I gave her was something I procrastinated on for a year. She had it done to me the next day. The day after I hired her, it was done. And by the way, I didn’t even take her that long. Took her maybe two hours of our 10 hour package.
It’s stuff like that, where I go also, guess what? We’re small business people. I’m supporting a small business. I’m supporting a fellow small business person by hiring this virtual assistant. To do this work for me, I’m helping , a single mom raise her kid. And so I think in the same way that you said, if we’re looking at people who are hiring professional organizers, and if you want to trust me to come in your house, we should also be supporting other small businesses where we can.
Jen Obermeier: Hmm. That’s an interesting way to look at it. I also think that just recognizing that. Your energy is really best spent in some specific place because every single one of us has a million options for what we can do or what we think we should do. You know, I was talking to you a few weeks ago on our podcast about lessons learned in 2020.
I’m like. I have always eaten going to the grocery store, but I never gave myself permission to use Instacart. Never gave myself permission to do that until I couldn’t. And now I’m like, I’m not going back to that life because I always hated that. And it always felt like a drain on my energy and time.
So that’s interesting, right? Because it all blends together with that feeling of what we think we should be doing quote unquote. And that is, I think, where some of that obstacle wise. But I would encourage anybody who feels like, okay. I’m like on the verge of burnout with my business because I’m trying to serve other people, but I’m also scrambling to do everything on the back, end myself all the time that there’s gotta be one little thing right now that you’d be willing to give up.
And then it probably would not that much money, but it is going to help you grow your business in the long run. Even if that’s something on the personal side, like. Grocery delivery,
Melissa Klug:: Grocery delivery, or getting your house cleaned or whatever.
Jen Obermeier: I think the wrap up with this conversation is that I think everybody has a different comfort level and different goals. Not everybody wants to grow their businesses, this huge, huge, huge thing.
They just want to have extra money to have fun with. And so therefore it’s not as big of a conversation about what they are outsourcing or in reinvesting into the business to grow. But I think I just want to encourage anybody who thinks that they have to DIY literally everything literally all the time that is I think a fallacy because there are so many other people out there who have already figured out the answer that you’re about to spend 20 hours trying to Google.
Melissa Klug: Yes.
Jen Obermeier: They, they have an answer for you and you can buy it right now, or that’s their thing. They’re an expert in this and is it okay to defer to them and just, take their mentorship or take their advice? Whether that’s in the form of a, a course or an app or whatever, it’s like that those things exist and it’s okay to use them like this.
Not like you said, the badge of honor of I did all this myself. I figured all this out myself. Like, no, we have the internet, like we can move forward faster because we can learn from people who have done all the hard work in advance. I think that’s like a really important thing to recognize.
Melissa Klug: Well, there is so much out there that is asking for your time and energy and attention. And we are happy that we have you guys listen to us talk and we are thrilled to give advice on this great, great industry of professional organizing.
And, thank you, Jen, for all of your insights.
Jen Obermeier: thank you, Melissa.
Melissa Klug: Find that person that meets in the middle of, and me and we’re going to have the perfect entrepreneur. Jen Obermeier: Thank you so much for listening into the pro organizer studio podcast. If you’d like to get our roadmap for success as a pro organizer, head straight to www.poroadmap.com.
Thank you so much for listening into the pro organizer studio podcast. If you’d like to get our roadmap for success as a pro organizer, head straight to www.poroadmap.com.
Still not sure about starting your own Pro Organizing business? Cick here to read about the 5 things you need to know BEFORE starting your organizing business.
Feeling ready to start? Great! Check out this post on how to start your business stress-free!