Put your money where your mouth is.

I am sure you have heard this saying. It’s the same as walking your talk, except a little more expensive, especially to your wallet.

The consultants and coaches that I work with are often supporting clients who are increasingly concerned with the return on investing in training for their teams. When clients engage a consultant to help them solve a challenge, they want to see results.

The same idea applies to the work that consultants and coaches do regarding their own professional development. What’s the return on your investment in yourself?

In this post, I’d like to remind you, the coach or consultant, to actually do this. The money you spent to go to an event to get inspired, or motivated or start over. The time you invested (and time equals money), to learn a new app, test out a new product or watch a webinar, or attend an online or in-person course. What have you done with that money? You will never get that time back—so has your investment paid off?

When was the last time you wrote out an action plan, and made a commitment to be at a specific point in your business goals by a certain point in time? Are are tracking to achieve your goals? Or did your plan get filed away somewhere, only to be forgotten in the hustle of day to day activities?

Let’s do an exercise together:

  1. Calculate the money you invested in the last six months on courses, webinars, conferences and travel for those events. Don’t forget to include soft costs as well—calculate how much time you spent on each activity, and multiply that by your hourly rate.
  2. What was your goal/objective for each instance of time or money spent? (If you didn’t have a goal or objective, why not? What made you spend that time or cash?)
  3. Dig out the notes, or folders where you added all the lists of to-do’s and action points from those events and commitments that you made. Are those notes collecting dust, or have you transferred them to your calendar?
  4. Check off all the action steps you have completed. Give yourself a pat on the back for each one.
  5. What’s left? Look at what you have not completed. Was it valid or useful, or just a good intention that did not need to have action? This happens.
  6. Calculate how much money or time you just wasted by the percent of incomplete actions of what you planned/noted/committed.

A sample calculation may look something like this:

  • $5,000 invested in courses, travel, and time spent on professional development in the past six months.
  • A goal of $10,000 in new business as a result of those new connections/developing new skills by the end of the year.
  • A total of 25 action items (sending out introductions to new prospects, following up with new connections, revamping your pitch deck, creating a new proposal template, etc.).
  • 15/25 action items completed, with 10 high value items left incomplete.
  • This means that of your initial $5,000 investment, $2,000 of it has been wasted.
  • And presuming that your goal was attainable, it also means you’re likely tracking to secure just $6,000 of new business as the result of your investment by the end of the year—short $4,000 from your goal.

It’s your decision how you spend your money right? And it can be difficult to track results from investing in training directly to your bottom line. However, difficult does not mean impossible, and it does not mean that thinking through your investments carefully is a waste of time.

Let’s flip this over—would you suggest that your clients spend money on engaging you to help them with a problem, without thinking through the benefits to their organization? How would that work out?

My suggestion is this: think about where you are investing your time and your money, and put in place the practices to make it worth your while. You do this for your clients, so why not for your own business?

In my role as Strategic Business Coach, I support our Consulting Partners as they look at the possibilities in their business, help them think about how to scale their business beyond simply trading time for dollars, and become a trusted advisor to their clients. It takes time to help them see this because our community is quite unique and varied in style of work, with different types of clients and ways of getting things done. Helping them see or even start to imagine the big picture can be hard. And when it comes to dollars and cents, there is the need to balance out the now with the future. This is where the saying “put your money where your mouth is” comes in—if you are investing time and money, what is the outcome you are planning to deliver? Just like your clients—when they spend money with a coach or consultant, it’s because they are looking for an outcome.

My challenge: in your next spend, what is your intention/objective? What will investing this time and money do for you? How will you put your money where your mouth is? The goal of personal and professional development is fine on it’s own, but without an action plan and follow-up, you’ll be leaving money on the table. Can you afford it? And even if you can, do you want to? Treat yourself and your business the same way you treat your clients. The results will follow.

Investing in Yourself