It seems that days like Black Friday/ Cyber Monday are targeted at me. After all, I am a bootstrapped entrepreneur with a lots of insecurities, and a ton of questions that I need to answer. So every conceivable product and every conceivable service is making an offer, that I must learn to refuse. I created the D.U.M.B as a counter to marketing onslaught in my inbox, on my tablet and on my cellphone. Yes, Black Friday has arrived in South Africa, and has been in my Inbox for years. This year I am buying nothing unless it passes the D.U.M.B test.
Now, lets get a little chatty, before your download the worksheet below. The worksheet cannot work unless you read the article.
I could walk away from any sale without any regret, until I left my job. In starting my consulting business and trying various opportunities online, I became a buyer of just about everything. Black Friday / Cyber Monday became an important event in my business life, and I even loaded additional funds onto my credit card a couple of year’s back. The reason is that I thought I needed help with lots of stuff, from learning to sell to producing an online video. This year I intend buying nothing, unless the one product I really want goes on sale at about 80% of its normal price.
The reason is simple, I think I know enough to get started, and firmly believe that the best learning is from actually starting something with what I know today.
In addition, I have many products, services, courses and files that I have bought that I have never used. In fact, it has reached a point where I do not even know what exactly I have. I am busy cataloging my courses, WordPress themes and plugins, and an amazing number of unclaimed coupons to various software as a service offerings. There are some gems in the mix, but for the most part I was simply wondering why I bought most of these goodies.
I know have a guideline of questions to ask before I buy stuff for my business, that consists of a couple questions and worksheet (download available at the end of the article).
Advice on Buying
But, before we go there, four little bits of advice are important to note:
- No product is worth going into debt for: I have so far never ever spend money that I did not have on products or services. If you are going to go into debt to buy a product, do not do that. It is seriously dumb. Do not buy that overpriced product from whichever “guru” has managed to get you into a sales funnel. I am still totally amazed that there are courses for over $ 5000-00 that are on sale, with monthly installment plans. That, boys and girls, is more than enough to start your kids college fund. Think about that.
- Strategy before buying: I am guilty of buying without linking back to my business strategy. Mostly, it is just an impulse buy or to support a launch. It adds up over a year, every $5-00 launch special, every $1-00 to validate your credit card to access a free product, and not to forget the larger purchases. But, a key to getting going and staying in business, is to conserve your cash.
- Opportunity cost: Every cent you spend could be used differently, and more productively than buying a book, plugin, theme, course or other product that you will not use. For instance, instead of buying a self-help course, rather start your idea with a landing page. Or, instead of buying yet another product, rather hire an accountant to sort out the mess that is your finances.
- The best learning is from running a business. Enough said!
The D.U.M.B Guide
I need something to ensure that I buy stuff that is actually helpful, and so I developed the D.U.M.B guide. It helps me, and I hope it will help you to. D.U.M.B is an acronym for:
- D – Deliberate buying. Does this product link to my business strategy? If you do not have a strategy, you should not be buying anything.
- U- Understand the deal. If it is too good to be true, it probably is. Things to look out for include:
- Recurrent cost. Is the offering an extended trial with monthly bills in the next few months? Can you afford the monthly costs?
- Is the product really what you want? If you have not compared alternative products, than rather wait. Their will be another sale, and sooner than you think. Heck, Christmas and New Year are just a few weeks away.
- M- My Money – There is an old saying in my family “if you do not look after your money, it will look after you”. It is a snide comment that you should be in charge of your money, not the other way around. More philosophically, it teaches you that money has no intrinsic value, it is only a means of exchange, and you have choices in what you exchange your money for. When you understand that money is simply a means of exchange and no intrinsic value, things look a bit different, does it not? It is a lesson I have finally learned. Ask yourself:
- What is the value I will receive from buying this?
- Can I do without this product or service?
- Should I not be investing my money more directly in my business?
- Would it not be wonderful to be in a position to have your own deal running next year, rather than chasing every deal?
- B – Be. One of the major reasons entrepreneurs, and especially wantrepreneurs, buy stuff is because we have what is sometimes called a “burning pain”. For me it is about not knowing enough to get to the next step. Questions that speak to me include “how” questions (e.g. how to run an online store using WordPress), and “what” questions (e.g. what is your passion?). Increasingly, I am of the view that this is the wrong kind of learning. Instead, just be who you, with what you already know and just start. If you do this, your business will teach you what you much more than any course ever can. Here is the takeaway point: You could start your business online with as little as $50-00. That is a much better investment in you and your future, than any product that is on sale this weekend.
Here is hoping that I do not spend a cent over the next few days on shiny object. If you have got this far in reading this article, you may want to download my buying guideline. Feedback appreciated.