Have you ever purchased a book with information that you need, and then just put it on the shelf? Never actually getting to the part of reading the book, as if somehow, the act of buying the book would take care of the problem.

Reality check… It doesn’t

There is a big difference between just spending money, and investing in yourself and your business.

Investing implies – no actually – it demands that there be a return for the money that you have put forth.

As you know, when you set intentions and become clear about what you want, expect, and intend to see as a return, the more likely you are to receive exactly what you are after.

When I learned how to invest in myself, my business took off.

All the money that I spent in photography, in branding myself, and in education and coaching, has had very specific intentions and outcomes in mind.

When I started investing in photographing my work, my intention was to have a photo that could win a local ASID award and be published in the local Home and Garden magazine, and that is exactly what happened. As a result, I also increased my “celebrity” status in the community, and had a great piece for my portfolio. All of these things combined, attracted new high-end clients to my business.

Another investment that I made, and not an expense, is my branding; this means a specific look and feel to my printed materials, portfolio, social media and website, and it is my personal look. This is the polished way I need to present my business to a client, including clothes, accessories and grooming. In my design studio business, I have a great deal of intention around first impressions because I want to win over that new client immediately.

The most important investment that I make on a regular basis is in education and coaching. This is what has really pushed my business ahead. I continually seek out webinars, coaching programs and opportunities that will teach me what I need and want to know next. To be cost-effective, I approach each one with a specific intention of what I want out of the experience, and what I am going to do with that information and training in my business.

I personally am a lifelong learner; if I find one gem in a seminar I am happy. Most often, there are many a-haas that allow me to attract new clients, or discover new ways to make way more money out of a job opportunity.

Here are three simple steps to help you judge for yourself, if you are just spending, or if you are making an investment in yourself and your career.

Step #1 – What is the information that is available for me in this opportunity?

Ask yourself… is this information something that I can use right now? How will I apply it? Will it generate income?

This step implies that you are making a commitment to take action with the things that you will learn, and that this is may be a priority in my life. An investment is something that you make use of now. Remember, it id you that is making a commitment, and NOT put the information away in a file and forget about it. Repeat to yourself… I know how I am going to use it.

Step #2 – What do I specifically intend to learn about right now that will change or add income to my business?

I always set an intention about learning one main topic, and then I add two more things that I would like to know as well.

The result is the clearer I am about the outcome that I want, the more likely I am to get what I am after.

Step #3 – What do I intend to receive for a return?

Or how many new clients, and how much income, will it take to make this a good investment?

My answer is usually just ONE! One good client is worth thousands of dollars to my business over a period of years. And, as they continue with me for years to come, the numbers get into many, many thousands of dollars.

Just ONE editorial piece published with my room photo, and a story about how the client and I worked together to create her dream room that expresses so many things about her life, is PRICELESS. You can’t buy this. You can only set the intention and do the work to create the scenario that will make it happen.

The power of ONE is amazing!

Next time a learning opportunity presents itself, use these steps to analyze the situation. Is it just an expense, or is it a great investment opportunity for your business and your life.

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