I subscribe to a lot of magazines. What can I say…I’m a sucker for the glossy images and the advice-filled articles. I’m intoxicated by all the new ideas (whether it be for dinner tonight or what to wear to that wedding next month). I get excited thinking about the hours of entertainment I get from looking at what other businesses are doing or what the hottest celebrity wore to the big awards. I subscribe to everything from People and Marie Claire to Inc, Fast Company, Self and Women’s Health. And rarely do I make it through the airport without buying a magazine I don’t subscribe to.
One thing that strikes me is how easy everything seems when you read the article. Yet then when it comes to implementing it, you’re all on your own. That healthy recipe – well it still requires going to the grocery store and finding the right ingredients (half the time my local store doesn’t have them). And the 2 hours of chopping – you’re on your own for that, too. The blow out that looks so fabulous on the model, well for whatever reason I can’t make my hair look like that even if I follow the directions to a T and buy all the products they recommend.
And by the time the workout about looking great in your bikini comes out, it’s probably already too late for most of us. We know, deep down, that it takes more than a month to get bikini ready. Yet we still buy the magazine, try the workout and cross our fingers hoping that this time it will work for us. But let’s be honest. We probably really only do the workout a few times before we abandon it for something else new that promises to work even better. So that bikini workout that was so exciting and held all the answers just a few weeks before is long forgotten.
And I’ll admit, I can be guilty of this business, too. A solution’s promise to save me time, automate something that is now being done manually, expose my business to thousands of new fans who are hungry for what I do….it sounds good. Really good!
And often when the price is right and the timing is right, I’ll invest. Sometimes the programs work really well and sometimes they don’t. But what I’ve found that stacks the deck for success for me really has less to do with the program itself and more about how I approach the program.
Here are my 6 tips small business ideas on how to get more out of your education:
1) Before you buy – know who you’re buying from. There are a lot of get skinny fast, get rich quick, have a great life programs out there. But who is really teaching the program? Before investing, really dig in and find out if the person who is promising the world really has such a rosy life on the other side. Much of what you see is someone who has had moderate success relatively quickly trying to teach others with no real credential to back it up other than that little bit of moderate success. Have they been recognized by their industry association as being a leader? How long have they been in business? What is their training? Are they certified, degreed, or just teaching from experience? That personal trainer to Oprah – who else has he worked with? How long has he worked with Oprah? What are his other success stories? Do most of his clients put the weight back on?
2) Commit to completion. If you do invest, make a decision right when you plop down your credit card that you are going to see the program through until the end. You are going to follow all the steps, you are going to do exactly what the instructor says and you’re going to give it a fair shake. You’re not going to move on after doing a lesson or two to the next shiny thing. Because if you do, that investment is likely going to be a wasted investment for you.
3) Understand how much time is required. Those P90x videos that will transform your body in 90 days require a commitment of an hour a day, 7 days a week. If you don’t have the time, then there is one thing you can count on. The program isn’t going to work for you. If you know your plate is full and you will not make time to do what the program requires for success, save your dollars for something that fits into your schedule.
4) Quiet the excuses. If you’re a person who easily has an excuse for why everything you’ve invested in hasn’t worked, every diet you’ve tried has failed, or why your business hasn’t been a wild success, you may want to look at your approach. If you come into an investment thinking this is going to be another failure and have a list of excuses buried in the back of your mind (be honest, if they are there, you know they are there), you probably need to do a little soul searching and ask yourself why you are even planning to invest if you already think you may fail.
5) Plan for success. Before you invest, think about what you want the results to look like. Define success for you. Is it losing 5 pounds or gaining 10 pounds of muscle? Is it attracting 5 new cients or 50? It’s hard to accurately judge a program and your investment if you don’t even know what success looks like for you.
6) Carve off time for implementation. By scheduling time to make sure the program I’ve invested in gets implemented (setting my alarm early to get the run done, saying no to other commitments during the course period so that I can focus on what I have already committed to, protecting a chunk of time each week for implementation) I make it a priority to get results from my investment. Without this, things like Facebook, sleep and other shiny things get in the way of my success. So I try to make sure I have time scheduled to implement if I’m going to make an investment.
These are my some of my favorite small business ideas, but I’m sure you have your own favorites, too. Share with us what your tips are for making sure you get the most out of what you invest your time, money and effort in for your small business.