What are the most important investments you can make when launching a business while working (and a behind the scenes look at CGL)?

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If you’re launching a business, no one can give you an exact list of every area you should invest in along the way. These decisions must be aligned with your specific business goals.
The most important investments you can make are when:
    • You don’t have the skills to do something on your own.
    • You don’t have the time to do something on my own (if your launching a business while working your time is a precious commodity)
    • Your time would be more effective in other areas of your business

    I wanted to share the major areas of investment in CGL and the challenges those investments helped me overcome. I’m hoping it will help you map your own priorities.

    During the start-up of CGL I invested in the following:

    • Business plan consultant
    • Business set up and renewal fees
    • Web design
    • Graphic design

    I wish that I’d also invested in working with a business coach and a brand strategist but I didn’t realize the importance of those areas until later on.

    Coaches and Consulting

    I’ll be honest. I overlooked the value of a business coach when I first launched my business. I’m a lifelong learner, and I don’t mind picking up a course, or a good business course. In fact, I love it. However, in year two of working my business full-time, I began to realize I really needed to bring in other people to fill in the gaps between where I was currently, where I wanted to go, and what I needed to to get there.

    The real value in hiring coaches is that they shortcut your learning curve – you don’t have to spend your time (because time costs money) figuring something out and working through rounds of trial and error. Someone who’s an expert can coach you through. Likewise, with consultants, no matter how much I read and learned on my own, I knew there were pieces to the puzzle that were missing. What’s the saying? You don’t know what you don’t know. I knew enough to hire the right person to help me, but not enough to figure it out for myself.

    The key areas where I invested are:

    Storytelling consultant. Everyone wants to know your story. But, I have a really challenging time talking about myself, and therefore struggled with my story. I knew it was there but pulling it together was tough. I worked with someone who helped me see the common thread in my story and the key messages that support what I do and who I serve.

    Content strategy consulting. I loveeeee to write, but for a while I abandoned my blog because I had a never ending case of writer’s block. During this time I realized that I needed help. Because I serve clients and am building CGL, developing blog content fell by the wayside. The content strategy consultant developed blog topics for six months out. Her work was incredible. It helped me get the ideas flowing and my content has been really strong ever since.

    Business model consulting. Let’s just say I knew something was wrong with my business model after my first year in business when I served 26 clients and made zero profit. I reworked my business model on my own, and then worked with a consultant to help me do another revamp so I could better serve clients at each stage of their business and increase the profitability of my firm.  I would have never been able to bring on other attorneys with my old model. Now, that is no longer the case.

    Group business coaching and community. As business owners, we don’t roll out of bed knowing how to be a CEO. Most of us go from being someone else’s employee to our own employee. It’s not uncommon to get stuck in the minutia of the day instead of our leadership role as CEO. I participated in a nine month group coaching program where I had the opportunity to connect with other like-minded women business owners but also get expert training on everything from building my team to effective time management.

    Monthly business community and business strategy coaching. I needed to talk to a business strategist as-needed when things just didn’t seem to work or as I rolled out new aspects of my firm. This investment gave me access to a business strategist who always provides killer insight, along with a group of like-minded entrepreneurs to bounce ideas around with. I learn a ton from them even though we’re in different industries.

    Courses

    Creating and selling an online course, course. This purchase actually provided an unexpected, valuable lesson. I made the investment thinking that I wanted to create a course. Ironically, by the time I finished this course, I realized that I didn’t want to create my own at all. I either wanted to teach in-person where I could incorporate smaller clinics specific to people’s individual situations OR I would offer my online legal ed for free. I realized that I didn’t believe in charging big bucks for general legal information, and that I wouldn’t do it. That lesson was priceless because it revealed to me one of the major ways I was different from others in my industry.

    Value based pricing course. Value based pricing intrigued me because I try to stay away from an hourly billing model (as much as possible). It doesn’t support the type of relationship I wanted with clients. The outcome is still yet to be determined because I can’t implement it overnight. I have some research and learning to do before I can fully apply it in my industry.

    Building a business that stands out course. I took this course because it was an opportunity to learn first hand and in person from my favorite business strategist. I knew anything that I learned from her would help push my business forward. I walked away with refined positioning, clearer on how I best served clients, and with ideas on how to incorporate it all into marketing and services.

    Email marketing course. I had zero knowledge about email marketing. None. I knew it was an important way for me to connect with prospects and develop new business. This is still a work in progress but I’m very clear on my plan and expect to see results once I finish getting the pieces in place.

    Selling conversations course. I hate sales but as a business owner it’s an obvious skill that I needed to develop. The main outcome of this course was that I was able to develop an authentic, feel good sales process.

    Other Contractors

    Bookkeeper

    I tried to manage books on my own during the first year of my business and will never make that mistake again. It was more expensive to bring someone on board after the fact to tighten things up than to hire someone from the get go. Now, with regular bookkeeping support, I focus my time and energy on areas of my business where I can have a greater impact (i.e. delivering the service, strategic planning, new business development).

    Copywriting

    I love to write and have written my own copy, but I don’t have time to do all of my copywriting on my own. Also, I get hung up on it because copywriting is a different beast from blogging. Outsourcing it was a true CEO move. I saved money by letting someone handle it who is a true pro, got rid of a source of stress and refocused my energy in other areas of my business (such as strategy).

    Other areas where I regularly invest are:

    • Web design
    • Graphic design
    • Content marketing assistant
    • Legal assistant
    • Publishing assistant
    • Accountant

    There’s a natural tendency to want to DIY as much as possible in order to save money. In some situations, you’ll need to reframe from looking at spending as “costs” and instead see them as “investments”. They are investments that either shortcut your learning curve (which will help you start making money faster) or because they allow you to spend time on more high-value activities in your business.

    Imagine how awesome it would be to launch your business while working with a clear plan.

    What if you can avoid wasting money by and get it right the first time around?

    What if you can free your time from minutia and preserve it for money-making work?

    What if you can leave the cubicle and walk right into doing the work that you deeply desire to do while actually earning profit from it?

    It starts with knowing where you want to go and being armed with a master plan (yes, a legal plan).

    I love helping clients develop a legal strategy to quit the day job for full-time entrepreneurship. If you’re ready for this move, let’s chat.

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