My 3 Worst Financial Investments With the Lowest Financial ROI
During the course of building a business over the past four years, I’ve made a lot of financial investments into the growth of my company. Entrepreneurship doesn’t have a user manual, so some of these investments have not necessarily provided a financial return on investment.
However, that doesn’t mean there weren’t insanely valuable lessons learned from them.
For entrepreneurs who are a few years into their journey with only a limited amount of experience, this article will teach you:
- What frame of mind you’re currently in, based on the amount of business experiences you’ve had
- The value of investing, even if it doesn’t work out the way you think it will.
- How to take timing, results, and ignorance into consideration when making decisions
- How to not only be careful about your investments, but see the value in the lessons learned in not shying away from diving in.
So, lets’ dive in.
1. THE INVESTMENT: High-Level Viral Videos for Facebook (50k)
In early 2018, I was in the middle of making a transition from being a YouTube Fitness Influencer to becoming a Business Coach. From 2014-2017, my main focus had always simply been audience growth. I didn’t enter the social-sphere with intent to build a business, it simply just came to me as I grew an audience and created content.
Making a transition was proving to be a bit easier on Instagram, and far more clunky on YouTube (which is a story for a different article).
In my head, I felt like building an audience on Facebook was a good idea so I could have a separate place to post my new content about business, without feeling like I was giving content to an audience who didn’t necessarily want it.
Meeting the person who offered this service seemed like a really great networking and education connection, never mind actually purchasing their services. I knew I could learn from them. I also felt a sense of familiarity being in the world of content creation.
I assumed that building a bigger Facebook audience would help my business the same way having a big YouTube and Instagram audience had.
There were a few major missteps in this scenario.
Firstly, the logic that I needed to have a bigger Facebook audience to have a place to share business content freely was a move made out of fear, not logic. I felt as though I needed to hide from my YouTube channel as to avoid feeling judged, and starting “fresh” on a new platform felt “safe.”
Secondly, Building an audience is valuable, but not when you’re bypassing the connection with those who decide to follow. The videos we made were great, and my audience grew — but it wasn’t even close to the same feeling of connection I have with the audience with whom I connected in comments and DMs for years.
Next, the videos we created were personal development driven with a hint of fitness in them. They had to be highly “mainstream” to go viral, as per the formula for virality, but that didn’t exactly help with targeting entrepreneurs in this new audience. It essentially did not support my branding in the way it really needed to.
Lastly, it simply was not the right timing. If I had made the same investment today, it may actually make more sense since. Most of the holes are plugged, things are doing well, and we can handle an influx of a large audience and keep up with a new platform. But at the time, we should have been doubling-down on sales, delivery systems, and transitioning my audience in a way that made sense.
Finally: because my company didn’t have a large team yet, we had this money. My people-pleasing pattern reared it’s head extremely loudly when I made this costly decision. I had the money, it kind of made sense, and I wanted to run away from YouTube where I was getting a lot of backlash.
My Facebook page did go from 8k Followers to 30k Followers in 1 month, using only 4 Viral videos. One video hit 1 million views. We did not make any return on that investment, and I’m almost positive not one client came from that new audience.
This lesson was an extremely hard one for me to learn, but it taught me that what I had done up until this point wasn’t going to get me where I wanted to go.
As a content creator, I felt excited about investing in content creation. But what I really needed to do, was double down and focus on every other aspect of my business. Through this failed investment, we ended up doubling down on own coaching program – the Flourish & Conquer Accelerator — and making it the best 90-Day Business Accelerator program out there. We ensured that every hole and gap was filled.
Not only that, but this investment forced me to look at, care about, and make decisions through my numbers. With this lesson, I was forced to become a data-driven CEO, who has a clear understanding of what’s going in, what’s coming out, what percentage profit we’re shooting for, and what our budget is for outside contractors. It forced me to run a real business, and become a real CEO.
Without having made this investment, I may have never been in enough “pain” to change my operating system from Creator to CEO. It was a challenging shift, but it needed to happen if I wanted to build a business that was bigger than me. Although this was a hefty financial loss, it was an overall lesson that made the business what it is today.
2. THE INVESTMENT: Website Custom Design (10k)
Because I made a big transition in my content and business, my website essentially needed an entire revamp. I had all new programs, courses, and wanted my website to represent my new brand. My old website was a year and a half old, and my brand had evolved too quick to keep up. Truthfully: a person with whom I connected in the entrepreneurial circle offered their services, and I said yes without doing any research or shopping around.
Not only that, but this decision was one of pure ignorance. This is like hiring a plumber because you found them on google, without checking their references; simply because you trust all plumbers can do their jobs. When you invest into something in which you are not educated on and don’t know how it works, you have to put all of your trust (and money) into the contractor you pay, and hope they’re excellent.
I invested in a desktop-heavy website redesign when the Internet was in the transition to a mobile-only world. Building a website that was heavily focused on how it looked on a desktop was unnecessary. Not only that, but having a custom website built from a custom designer meant that I need to re-hire them to make any adjustments to the site. That being said: it was both not the right time, and not the right investment. I’ve now learned from mentors and friends that a website redesign not only doesn’t need to be that expensive, but it needs to be simple and mobile-friendly. The investment was made from the perspective of a desktop user; in general, 2017 was a mobile-first world and a super robust desktop site was unnecessary. But my audience specifically was coming from social media, so they were mobile-only.
We ended up needing to hire someone else to re-do the website, because it was becoming too expensive to work with the custom web developers. We did a decent job at cleaning it up, and still need to do a re-design to ensure everything is mobile friendly. In fairness to them, they were a newer company who was doing the best they could. Website design seems like a tricky industry, and there are a lot of moving parts.
When you’re new to something, you don’t know what you don’t know. There are so many areas of entrepreneurship that require experience, time, effort, and energy to learn.
Whether it’s web design, graphic design, marketing, social media content creation, hiring and delegation, or client delivery. Making sure you have people in your corner — whether it’s a mentor, a mastermind group (apply for my Flourish & Conquer Mastermind here), or a community of people who are doing what you are — it’s absolutely necessary.
Otherwise, you may hire people to take the job off of your hands, and you have to simply hope for the best. This is also why I’ve learned how to do almost every role in my business before I delegate it now. Otherwise, I ask for support from my mentors or ask friends for direct referrals for contractors.
3. THE INVESTMENT: Marketing Agency
A marketing agency is a company that helps support with copywriting, funnel building, lead magnets, sales pages, and integrations. It felt very clear to me that getting support with higher-level marketing was necessary, because it was an area I didn’t have much experience in at the time. I was working on launching a few products for the second round, and making sure those launches were optimized was important.
Similar to the website scenario — I didn’t have a contextual awareness of the specific type of marketing I was paying for, so I ended up flying blind.
They charged for services, and I just had to trust that it was good — but I had no real way of knowing it was good, because I didn’t study marketing and copy myself yet.
At times it “worked,” which was actually worse. We were converting all the leads that were ready to buy from me because I created the exact products they needed, and they were extremely loyal to me and the brand I’d built. The level of rapport you build with an audience after years of not selling services to them is extremely high, so almost anything will “work” marketing wise — even if it’s not that great.
The agency took a good bit of credit for their work, but in hindsight — it wasn’t really great copy, and didn’t match my brand voice in the way I would have liked it to. They didn’t do any testing of headlines or high-level marketing we could have gotten for the same amount, but I had no true way of knowing.
We actually had very successful(six-figure) launches utilizing email marketing and webinars in combination with social media marketing — but it was more to do with the fact that we put in extra effort through sending emails, rather than the emails themselves being really good.
I needed to learn how to truly tell if they were doing a good job. Over the last few years, my business has had this “evening out” period where my audience is used to me selling. While I’m still very much the beneficiary of loyalty-driven sales (that is, there’s still a notable percentage of my audience who are eager to work with me based on years of rapport, added value, and trust built through content they’ve found helpful), “red-hot” prospects make up a smaller piece of the pie. Continued growth (measured by sales and revenue) requires a higher level of great copywriting and marketing.
I ended up taking on learning how to do copywriting myself, which showed me how the process actually worked, and I got good enough at it to know if it wasn’t up to par.
With that, I’ve gained the experiential knowledge of trying, testing, and reviewing the data on my own copy and marketing efforts to truly learn what works and doesn’t work.
It’s the difference between reading about something, and actually getting in the ring and doing it.
My 3 Best Financial Investments With the Most Financial ROI
I won’t reveal the exact rate I was charged for these investments, as they have likely changed and adjust based on each scenario. Since I’m directly referencing people or companies, I’ll respect the privacy of their rates. The first two investments were year-long investments and had very specific delivery methods, that are justified in my experience of them.
1. THE INVESTMENT: Lewis Howes’ Greatness Mastermind
When I was making the switch from Fitness YouTuber to Entrepreneur, my only awareness of what success looked like was either to become a famous Instagram Fitness model, or to keep growing my YouTube channel large enough to the point where I can make my own clothing line or start a gym. Those were the three options for those who were highly successful in the fitness YouTube industry – and I wanted nothing to do with any of it. I came into the Mastermind with a big following, a ton of potential, and a low-level awareness of the world of “business.”
I knew there was so much more I wanted to do, and a more aligned way to be on my platform that didn’t have to do with promoting other peoples products that ultimately, weren’t really helping people. I never felt super aligned with being in the eCommerce/product industry, especially as a brand rep. I felt like joining something outside of my industry would give me the exact level of awareness I needed.
And that it did. The moment I joined, I got the idea to create the Fitness Online Coaching Academy — a program that has served over 300+ fitness coaches to learn how to serve their clients in the safest and effective way possible. I also was able to build my flagship program — The Flourish & Conquer Accelerator — and learn how to run a group coaching program. That program alone has generated over 1.5 million dollars in revenue for our company, and around 2 million dollars total for the clients we’ve served. Our clients have, at the least, made thousands of dollars online, and our best clients are making $500-700k only 1-2 years after joining.
Not only that, the results I got from having the network were powerful. I got many speaking engagements (Chris and Lori Harder’s Masterminds and Events, Bedros Keullians Events, etc.), guest coaching sessions, podcast interviewees and interviews, connections for getting featured in Entrepreneur and Inc. magazine, amazing connections and friendships, and direct support from the members.
The power of a network is invaluable, and that Mastermind paid for itself after the first night.
Your network is your net worth.
Getting plugged into a network of people who knew what I didn’t know and have done things I haven’t done was everything for my business. I had so many people supporting me with creating online courses, building webinars, and hiring team members at time where I really needed it.
Paying for proximity (to someone like Lewis, for example) served to be highly valuable, and I’ll never stop talking about how grateful I was for the experience. Lewis is really great at creating experiences, and ensuring his Mastermind members get plugged into his network. Because of the work he’s done on his podcast, he’s plugged into the network of some of the greatest humans in the world — all of whom he’s had on his podcast.
Not only that, but seeing Lewis run his Mastermind inspired me to create my own. I started my own high-level Mastermind for 6-Figure female entrepreneurs, and run it in the exact way that is of my highest level of service. This Mastermind is where I can teach women how to navigate all of the challenges I’ve experienced with scaling a business as it relates to making decisions, making investments, hiring team members, and structuring programs. Experiential knowledge means making mistakes, and helping other people avoid them. I created the exact Mastermind I would’ve wanted a few years ago. If you’re a 6-Figure female entrepreneur who desires a network of people with whom you can collaborate, retreats that create deep learning experiences, and a 1:1 coach who gets exactly where you’re at — the link to apply right here.
2. THE INVESTMENT: NXTLVL Group Consulting
I met the Owner of NXTLVL, Tim Bishop, at Gold’s Gym. He knew me because his girlfriend had watched my YouTube videos, and we ended up connecting for some podcast episodes later on. I felt a very clear hit that I needed to work with them somehow, simply by the way Tim synthesized his concepts. I wanted to learn from him, and we ended up working with his company for the last year and a half.
The way in which we ended up working together was actually directly with my entire team. We consistently, for a year and a half, have consulting sessions with their entire team, and my entire team. They have taught me how to build a real company. They’ve not only taught me how to manage a team, but they’ve taught my team members how to be ON a team and support a start-up company with a big vision.
Tim has always made it very clear that they will always have my back, in any way, shape, and form. They’ve made sure to always give us more value than what we’re paying for, and prove their worth month after month in working with us.
A team of 7, extremely aligned, energized personally responsible team members who are fully bought in to the vision of what we’re building. My team works when I’m not around, takes initiative, picks up the pieces, and creates results with ease. We gel extremely well, everyone feels energized by their roles, and there is complete clarity and ease with how we all work together as a unit. That is 100% because of NXTLVL.
Not only that, but we’ve been able to save money on unaligned employees, finding ways to incentivize our team members through the success of the company, and see a bigger picture of how we’ll be able to grow from a 1-3 million dollar company, to a 6-10 million dollar company in the next 5-8 years.
When you’re scaling a business, some of the biggest energy leaks will be people energy leaks.
You may struggle with how they work, how much initiative they take, how empowered they do or don’t feel in their roles, etc. It’s like managing a romantic relationship, where you need to learn how you work well together.
Building a unit requires a high-level of energy to make sure things gel. Doing this for the first time is not a technology we’re all automatically born with, and it’s something most CEO’s and Solopreneurs need support with.
3. THE INVESTMENT: Marketing Consulting with John Romaniello
In the current state of my business, we’re putting a higher level of energy and focus onto our courses and lower-priced products. The market is changing constantly, and although we’re incredibly proud of what we’ve done, we still have some gaps to fill. The obvious next step for us was to invest in consulting with someone who can solve our exact problems.
It was a new investment, so the results will reveal themselves over the coming months. But the immediate results included finding a way to save $63k/year in expenses, saving more money by having a more streamlined backend system through technology and integrations, finding more energy and time for our team members with a more streamlined system, building out a large funnel and backend marketing system to support the automated income streams our company needs and is looking for, and finding even more ways to serve our clients powerfully by filling in gaps and holes in our product suite.
Because of this investment, we will be able to create revenue streams that generate us money for years to come — rather than relying on launching and filling up our coaching programs. This is the switch we need to make to scale from a 1-2 million dollar company, to a 3-4 million dollar company. Not only that, but this shift will provide me the space I need to write my book. And, of course, what we sell is always in service to those who purchase the offers — the more entrepreneurs we can help have the easiest possible time growing their business and growing their platform, the better. Our mission is to help you fulfill your mission with ease, grace, and intentionality.
This investment will be invaluable over the years our company exists.
Hire people who have a LOT of experience doing what they do.
John is someone who knows the industry I’m in extremely well, and has deep experience building and running a team, diving deep into the digital marketing space, and has a high-level awareness of both the lifetimes of the Fitness and Business industries.
Having someone who can expand your awareness and look at both the meta-picture and support with small, money-saving and game-changing tasks is one of the most valuable, priceless investments you can make.
All to say: Investing into your business can be a mysterious, confusing, and anxiety-inducing experience without the right guidance.
Some investments I made out of fear, some were out of trust, and the more that I learn–the more I’m able to make more educated and well-thought-out decisions.
Building a business that’s bigger than you is one of the most challenging, emotional rollercoasters you can choose to put yourself on.
I’m not a fan of real rollercoasters. But the feeling you get from riding the roller-coaster of business building, to me, is so worth the mistakes along the way.
The reason I created my Flourish & Conquer Mastermind is to make the rollercoaster less overwhelming for women who have a big vision to get their mission out into the world.
If you have a 6-Figure business and feel in over your head, doing things you’ve never done before, and want someone whose gone through exactly what you are…I’d love to work with you and be your ally in this.
Amanda Bucci is a business coach who helps people master the art of business growth, social media strategy, and personal development. Check her Instagram for daily updates and strategies for improving engagement, increasing revenue, and enhancing impact.