Finding help when resources are tight

Are there times when you aren’t sure where your business is heading? When all but anything you try doesn’t seem to be working out?

At this point, you probably feel that you need to take on a different perspective and expand your knowledge. But like any business, you are also considering costs and how making changes that can impact your limited budget.

The good news is that there are ways in which you can invest both in yourself and your business despite having limited cash on hand. But before I go into these options, we need to have an appreciation of the relationship between time and money.

As a business owner, you need to understand that when you spend time doing something, you are taking time away from other tasks. This also means that if you want to free yourself from other tasks to focus on what matters, you need to find other resources to fulfill these tasks. In short, your time is money. You need to learn very quickly that your time is too valuable to be wasted.

In my experience, there are three things you can do to expand your knowledge, develop a new perspective, and possibly bring your business to a new and better direction. Each option will impact both your time and your budget differently.

Do your own research

Doing your own research means learning about product development, marketing, social media, and customer service all on your own. This means experimenting with different aspects of your business—and weeding out what doesn’t work from what does. It means actively talking to your customers, and learning about what they want and don’t want. It means being active in business forums and communities where your business belongs.

The clear advantage of this option is cost. It is the most cost-effective because it doesn’t require you to spend anything—that is, except for your time. And that is the downside, it is the most time-intensive options because doing it on your own means spending your time learning what works and what doesn’t.

Invest in books and courses

You may also spend a little bit by investing in courses and books that have been created by entrepreneurs and specifically for entrepreneurs. The idea is to learn vicariously from the experience of others through knowledge transfer.

The advantage of this option it saves you time by learning from the success and mistakes of others. The disadvantage, however, is that the lessons from each course or book are limited. The courses tend to focus on specific topics or creating fixed solutions to a pre-determined problem. Unlike self-learning, the lessons you acquire may not always be apt to your business needs.

Get a mentor or advisor

Another way of investing in yourself is to bring in a business advisor or mentor into the business. Of the three options, this is the most capital- and cost-intensive because it requires hiring someone to help you in the business. Having said that, finding and working with the right business advisor or mentor could also be cost-effective.

  1. A business advisor can bring his or her knowledge and experience. Unlike self-learning, you need not spend time experimenting on what works and what doesn’t. You can take advantage of your advisor’s expertise—he or she can help you zero in on the problem and find solutions immediately.
  2. A business advisor can provide advice specific to your needs and problems, unlike business courses and books that provide broad solutions to common problems.
  3. Your business advisor can serve as your guide and your sounding board. Your advisor can provide a fresh perspective into the business—helping you see things differently and perhaps, even more objectively.



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