It seems to surprise many in my community that they are required to invest in and spend money on their business before they are making any. Technology and the internet are beautiful things which have greatly equalled the playing field and made it possible for almost anyone to start a business, BUT the idea that you can create and run a successful online business for free just isn’t true.
If you are just starting out, you are a CEO and founder in startup mode. That requires an investment.
If you’re ready to grow and scale your business, that requires a whole other level of investment (i.e., hiring employees).
This is a post I’m hoping you bookmark and come back to again and again because it’s full of information that I wish I had when I began my own business. A lot of the recommendations that I give in the podcast are actually taken directly from the Wellness Business Academy. These recommendations are based on my own experience and the current landscape of the health and wellness business niche.
I first cover the basics of what you actually need to effectively and efficiently run any business. Then I’ll review the “nice to have items” for those whose business is generating $100 000 or less annually and are definite need to haves for those making more than that (or those wishing to).
But before we dive in, let’s briefly discuss the elephant in the room…Fear.
The BIG Mindset Monster
The fear of investing in yourself and your business before you start making money is common. Although there are many reasons why some of us feel insecure about investing in our businesses, it all boils down to fear and a lack of belief in ourselves.
If you have that fear, it’s time for a change in mindset. You need to ask yourself, “Who do I have to Become to build the business and life of my dreams?”
Start with this, instead of identifying with your professional designation, you need to identify with being a successful entrepreneur and founder. What do I mean by that?
Let’s use me as an example. When I was running my Nutrition practice, Instead of me saying, “Hi, I’m Lori. I’m a Registered Holistic Nutritionist,” I introduced myself as, “Hi, I’m Lori the founder and creator of the WOW Weight Loss System.” Sounds a lot different right?
The tools by which you transform lives are your professional designation, so whether you’re a registered holistic nutritionist, a personal trainer or a naturopathic doctor, you are a founder of a new business. If the CEO, entrepreneur and founder titles give you a boost of confidence, embody those identities and start taking yourself and your business seriously.
If you need more support on Money Mindset I suggest you check out Episode 22 and Episode 35 of my podcast. Working through your money blocks will likely be some of the most uncomfortable but also most important work you do for yourself and your business. Like most of it, it’s a constant work in progress. “New level, new devil” as they say.
Alright, let’s get to it. Here are investment must-haves for any business.
Investment Must-Haves for All Businesses
These are the essential recommended platforms that you need to a discovery call and webinar funnel. Those two funnels are applicable regardless of whether you’re running a business online or offline. For even more of my favourite tools to run your business check out this comprehensive list.
Essential must-have platforms regardless of revenue:
- Union insurance
- A business email
- An email marketing platform
- A marketing platform
- A booking calendar
- A shopping cart and merchant account
- Cloud hosting
- Invoicing and bookkeeping platform
- A practice management platform
You must have liability insurance as a health and wellness practitioner. Actually, you must have liability insurance if you’re going to be working with anyone, regardless of whether it’s online or offline. And it is recommended that you have at least $100 million of liability.
Make sure that your insurance covers you based on your designation and the specifics of what you do. Whether you give supplement recommendations, do home visits, email programs, etc., you need to get insurance coverage that is specific to what you do.
A Business Email
It is important to start with the right tool in place so that you feel professional and organized from the get-go. You should start with two types of emails: your personal one ([email protected] versus [email protected]) and a professional or support one for your clients ([email protected]).
A professional email address is essential as clients shouldn’t be emailing you personally regardless of whether you’re online or offline.
Email Marketing Platform
An email marketing platform is a must. An absolute essential. You actually cannot build your health and wellness business without it.
I recommend ActiveCampaign – because it allows you to do so much segmentation and funneling. Plus, the customer service and support is excellent.
Perhaps more importantly, it is easy to use once you start thinking in terms of funnels.
You can also look into email marketing service providers like MailChimp and Constant Contact. As long as you have an email marketing platform that you can grow your email list with, you’re on the right path.
And before you think of going the Gmail route, let me stop you here. It’s not professional or responsible to use Gmail to grow your email list. Gmail enables you to send and receive emails and that’s about it. An email marketing platform collects email addresses, does segmentation, email delivery and more.
You don’t need a website if you have a good marketing platform. *Gasp*. Yup, if you have the right marketing platform.
Thankfully, we tested everything out and we recommend ClickFunnels over a marketing platform like Leadpages because it is an all-in-one solution. It handles opt-in pages, webinar registration pages, sales and check-out pages, and even membership site functionality.
ClickFunnels pages also convert better than other pages so it’s a good investment. You can pair it with your email marketing platform so that when someone registers for your lead magnet through a ClickFunnels page, their email gets collected by ActiveCampaign or whichever email marketing platform you use.
You should purchase your business domain address even if you have no intention of setting up a website. Purchase and secure one as soon as you have your business name.
An online booking calendar is a must-have because they are super convenient, efficient and usually free.
Booking meetings with people or appointments with clients is the last thing you want to be doing. An online booking calendar takes care of all that for you. You simply need set up your online calendar and send anyone a link to book a time slot on it.
We use Calendy, but there are others out there to choose from.
Shopping Cart and Merchant
If you already use ClickFunnels, you can use their checkout pages and connect it to either Stripe or PayPal, depending on the functionality you need.
You can choose whichever shopping cart and merchant that works best for you, as long as you have one. There is simply no other way you can take in funds in an automated and scalable way without those two things.
Cloud hosting is the newest form of hosting that essentially spreads the resources required to maintain your site across various web services. The aim of it is to reduce chances of any downtimes in case of a server malfunction.
There are many different cloud hosting service options to choose from: Google Drive, Amazon S3, Dropbox, Adobe and more.
Although I wouldn’t recommend Dropbox if you need to deliver content to your clients as they would need to have a Dropbox account in order to download the content. I would recommend Amazon S3 which is cheaper and offers direct downloads.
The bottom line is that you will need some type of cloud hosting if you’re delivering any sort of content to clients. Otherwise, if you keep all your documents and files on your site, your prospective and current clients will experience an extremely slow site.
Invoicing and Bookkeeping Platform
This is not really a must-have as long as you have some form of bookkeeping. You can use an excel spreadsheet but that can get messy and tricky.
There are some inexpensive and great platforms that enable you to send invoices and take payments online.
I personally use QuickBooks. What I like about it is that I can download my sales reports into it and it helps me to reconcile my accounts at the end of the month.
Practice Management Platform
This is really a must-have if you’re working one-to-one with clients on a signature program or service package.
If you’re going to be doing client intake, client forms, scheduling payments, etc., you should definitely look into a management platform. I recommend Practice Better as it does everything for you.
But Lori, What About Social Media? A Website??
I intentionally did not include social media platforms or a website on this list because the former is free and the latter is not something that you need right off the bat. A website is also expensive and time-consuming.
You can use a marketing platform like ClickFunnels at the very beginning to actually do everything you need a website to do. You can build a website when you have the cash flow and the brand identity.
So we’ve covered the must-haves. Let’s cover some additional investments, that are not really must-haves, for businesses operating at $100,000 or less annually.
(You can actually choose to do everything on this list yourself, but your growth would be much slower and you’re likely to feel super burnt out.)
(for businesses operating at $100,000 or less annually):
- A signature program
- A webinar platform
- A virtual assistant
- Tech support
- Facebook Ads
- A bookkeeper
- Time and sweat equity
- A professional photo shoot
A Signature Program
You shouldn’t spend 6 months creating your own program. You can either enroll in the Wellness Business Academy (and get it done really fast) or invest in a signature program because that is the foundation of a business.
Think about it: A signature program is a methodology or program by which you can actually transform lives. So it’s pretty important.
Webinars are an amazing tool to quickly build rapport and trust with prospects before converting them. They’re also amazing for building your email list.
We recommend Zoom as a webinar platform as it allows you to live stream directly to Facebook, which is quite handy. It also allows you to do interviews side-by-side and all sorts of awesome things. We actually run all of our team meetings on Zoom as well as podcast interviews.
A Virtual Assistant
The more you grow your business, the longer your to-do list will be. You’re a founder, so you can’t have the mentality that you’re going to do everything yourself. That mentality will make your business grow so much slower.
Having a virtual assistant – someone who works with you virtually – can be of tremendous help. They could help you with social media, graphics, Facebook live streams, your marketing funnels and other marketing tasks.
Calculate the opportunity costs (of you spreading yourself thin) and if they’re high, you need a virtual assistant to take some of those tasks off your plate.
Managing technology is usually at the bottom of the to-do list for many small businesses. We would all like to focus on the front-end stuff while the tech stuff magically does its thing in the background.
However, your tech infrastructure needs constant steady support for it to function. So you should find an IT expert that can work with you 5-10 hours a month. It will not only save you money, but could also determine whether you’ll survive an emergency or power ahead for growth. Or check out the Tech Mentorship offered by our friends at ZigiMedia.
I’m going to contradict myself on not doing everything yourself in this section. You need to understand Facebook Ads inside out. That way, you’ll know if the person that you hire to do them is actually doing them well.
I worked with several ad agencies who weren’t targeting and running my ads correctly. Thankfully, I knew what needed to be done and went into Facebook Ads Manager and corrected it. That knowledge saved me money and helped in my business development.
Bottom-line: Only outsource your Facebook Ads management once you have a solid understanding of it yourself.
Once you start making money, it’s important that you reconcile your accounts at the end of each week or month; and that you file your taxes on time. You basically need to have a good handle on what’s coming in and going out in refunds and expenses.
In fact, one of the first things I did was to hire a bookkeeper. I knew that there was absolutely no way that I’d be able to keep track of everything on my own while growing a business.
Time and Sweat Equity
Although time and sweat equity isn’t a financial investment, you need to understand that you’re a founder in a startup. A lot of you may feel like you don’t have a legit business because it’s on the internet – you never change out of your PJs so it doesn’t feel real.
But it is. Real. The fact that you are starting a business with the intention to transform lives makes it all that much more real.
Don’t underestimate the time and sweat equity that you are going to need to put in for years, not just ninety days, but for years. Years of time and sweat to get your business to a place where you can slightly take your foot off the gas. Slightly.
This is especially pertinent for businesses that are doing less than $100,000 annually because they’re really in the startup mode.
Professional Photo Shoot
It’s important to have a couple of professional photos, especially if you’re going to pitch yourself to podcasts, guest blog posting, speaking, etc opportunities. It’s particularly important for branding purposes.
Where Have You Invested Your Money?
That’s the basic rule book for investing your money to grow your business. Where have you invested your money so far?
Do you have any stories to share with me or business investments gone wrong? Or a tech tool or platform you’ve found that you couldn’t have built your business without? I want to hear ALL about them in the comments below.
I also dish out advice on how to invest your money to grow a $100,000-$300,000 annual revenue business on this podcast episode so be sure to check it out if you’re ready to grow and scale.