This blog post is inspired by another recent blog post "The Boom of The Instagram Guru".
More specifically it is inspired by a client who contacted me shortly after I wrote the post asking me if she should invest in a specific program she had found online.
This is a hard question for me to answer because I have no idea what is contained within the course. It could potentially have some great content but it could also be a lot of fluff and hype. That's the problem with most online programs, you just don't know. It's a total crap shoot.
Even though it's risky, many of you are still tempted to purchase these courses. For that reason, I wanted to give you three pieces of advice to consider before you do.
#1 Don't buy a course or program from anyone you have not personally interacted with in some way.
If you have personally worked with a business coach who you trust and who also happens to offer online programs or courses then, by all means, I would say this is worth the investment and risk.
If you have taken a free workshop, class or course from someone (either in-person or online) and you felt as though you received valuable information that you could implement immediately into your business, it may be worth considering buying their course.
If you have done a free consultation with a coach and 90% of the call was them giving you personalized, real-world advice (as opposed to just trying to sell their product) then they may be someone who is going to offer valuable information.
#2 Don't spend any money on a course or program that you can't afford to lose!
The course in particular that my client was considering purchasing was around $800. This isn't a huge amount but I know, for a lot of people, $800 isn't something they have laying around or could afford to lose.
If you happen to be in the fortunate position where spending $800 (or $300, or $1200, or whatever the cost may be) isn't going to have an effect on you in any way and your goal is to simply seek all of the information available you can find, then sure...go for it. Why not?
If on the other hand, you are scraping together funds or going into debt or having to do without to buy a program, hoping that it will FINALLY be the answer you are looking for, I would hold off...at least until you follow my third piece of advice!
And, let me just put one more thing out there for you to consider. I would imagine that anyone who has $800 (or $1200, etc) laying around that they can just throw away with no concern, is someone who is probably doing well enough financially that they don't really need to buy a course or program!
#3 Don't buy a course or program or hire a coach until you read these four books!
I mentioned in my last blog post that when I started out, there were no IG gurus. We didn't even have the internet! lol
I learned the basics and fundamentals of business by devouring every single business book I could get my hands on. Some of the information was helpful and, just like many of the courses and programs available today, some of the books were filled with fluff and hype. But, in my case, I was only out a few bucks for the cost of a book, not thousands of dollars.
I am still a voracious reader. Every time a new business book comes out, I'm typically reading it!
And, I can tell you that I am much more likely to trust someone like Michael Gerber who INC. Magazine called “The World's #1 Small Business Guru.” over a 20 or 30-something "IG Guru" who is showing you pics of her new Chanel bag and telling you that you just need to "manifest it, girlfriend!"
I don't know...that's just me!
This takes me to my list of the four books that every small business owner should read and that you should absolutely read BEFORE you spend any money on a course or program!
This is personally, my favorite business book of all time. Maybe, because it is the book that turned everything around for me when I first started my business.
I know that it is the reason I am SO passionate about creating systems.
This book is a super simple, easy read and although it was written way back in 1986, the information is just as relevant today (if not more so) than it was 30+ years ago.
And, for only $11 for the paperback on Amazon, that's an investment worth making for anyone!
Goals!: How to Get Everything You Want - Faster Than You Ever Thought Possible by Brian Tracey
Another super easy read that walks you through, not only how to set effective goals but how to determine your true goals, clarify your values and analyze your beliefs.
I revisit this book often when I feel like I have gotten a little off track and I am feeling overwhelmed or scattered. It always helps me to refocus and get back on track.
The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth About Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller
You may be noticing a theme with all of these books. They aren't about getting your business to the top of Google or creating the perfect marketing plan. They are all about the fundamentals of business more than ONE particular strategy or approach.
A lot of my success has come from being productive and constantly moving forward and, The One Thing gives, in my opinion, the best advice on productivity that I have found.
Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brene' Brown I love Brene' Brown SO much! I know that this is not technically a business book (she did write a business book, Dare to Lead, fyi) but if you are an entrepreneur, you know how challenging it is and how we are constantly being tested mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Brene's book on vulnerability is an absolute must-read for any business owner (or human being for that matter). Instead of giving you a synopsis, I think that this quote that inspired the title of the book sums it up perfectly. “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; . . . who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”—Theodore Roosevelt CONCLUSION I think the problem with most people today is that they have a low tolerance for pain. They don't want to put themselves in the arena, it's too hard and scary! These books aren't going to give you a quick fix or easy answer. These books are going to make you start to think about business in a different way which is only the first step. BUT, it's the most important step! The only true "answer" is you have to do the work! Now, I'm sure that some of you may disagree or even be a little irritated. I AM willing to work hard, I just don't know what to do! Listen, I understand your frustration and, if this is where you are at in your journey, then your only job is to keep looking until you do know what to do! Keep moving forward, keep failing, keep getting up and dusting yourself off, and trying again, until you figure it out! My advice is to start with these four books! You will probably learn more for under $50 (or cheaper if you buy them used) than you will from your $800 IG Business Guru course! If you finish these four books and you are still not sure what to do, then give me a call and I will give you a free 60-minute coaching session where I will spend 100% of the time helping you figure it out.
But...only after you have read all four books! Deal?