When You Can’t Afford To Invest In Your Biz

In yesterday's post I mentioned a great event, and a great guide. Both of which I highly recommend. But you may be in a place where you can't afford to invest money into your biz.

And I'm not talking about just feeling unsure (or waffling) about spending the money, like I was when I bought my very first ebook (which still cracks me up, lol).

I'm talking about being honestly broke and having to decide between groceries and a $27 download. Hey - I've been there. When I started over after my divorce, I didn't just start from zero. I started below zero, with an overdraft account -lol. 😛

I didn't have tons of money to pour into my business. In fact, I didn't have any in the beginning. But I still made it, and now run a very successful online business.

So I'm going to share one of my secrets with you that works - that will really help you get your internet business off the ground - and that won't cost you a dime...

"I Can't Afford The Help I Need, So I Can't Succeed Online."

You may have looked into coaching programs, hiring a mentor, training systems, products, membership sites etc and felt deflated because you couldn't afford them.

Maybe it left you feeling hopeless, and thinking you may never be able to succeed online because you couldn't get the proper start with these products/services.

I'll tell you from experience that is not true. It's just your perception. Because I made it without ever tapping into a single paid resource. It wasn't until well after I had my business established, and a regular online income, that I began investing money back into my business.

That's not to say *some* of those things aren't incredibly helpful when you're just starting out. But thinking it's a "make it or break it" thing is just plain wrong.

Analyze Successful Marketers In Your Niche

You'd love to hire a coach or mentor, take a detailed training program, or join a private brainstorming group - but you truly can't afford it right now.

No big deal. I'm going to show you another way to "learn from the best" - without even hiring them or buying their products. And this is a GREAT way to learn what you need to know, and kick start your online business idea...

Simply watch what they do, in great detail, which will often teach you more than any product or one-on-one time with them ever would. 😉

This is how I started out, and it's called being "self-taught".

You can learn A LOT by observing the Market Leaders in your niche, and even by observing successful online marketers across a variety of niches. Here's how...

1. Choose Your Mentors & Market Leaders Wisely

This is the most important point. Don't just choose from the "Internet Marketing" pool. Choose market leaders that are actually successful at what they teach, outside of the IM space. (Note, it's a much smaller pool - lol)

More importantly, look at the market leaders in YOUR niche. Who are they, why are they popular, and what are they doing? THAT is who you really want to study.

2. Set Up An Easy Way To Study Them

You want to do two things when you start this process. You want to set aside a specific amount of time for learning (vs working on your business) - say, an hour a day. And you want to set up a way to monitor their activity that doesn't flood your inbox or clutter your virtual work space.

I like to set up a separate Gmail account just for monitoring market leaders, but you can also create a folder to filter their emails into. If you set up a separate Gmail account, you'll also have a separate Google Reader account to browse their current blog posts. But you can also filter that as well if you prefer.

On Twitter & Facebook, you can put them into Lists so you can easily watch their updates as well. Just figure out a system that works best for YOU, set aside a specific time each day to study them, and make notes on things you observe or learn that you can apply to your own business model or niche.

3. Monitor Them Closely (What To Look For)

So what are you looking for exactly? How often they post content, what they post, what gets a response, where all they are active online, how they frame their "call to action", what they're promoting, what they offer in the way of products/services of their own, the flow of their funnel, headlines & copy that compel you, plugins & programs they're using.

Basically just get a feel for what they're doing and why, and what seems to be obviously working well for them.

4. Subscribe To & Monitor Their Mailing List

Take note of how often they mail their list, subject lines that intrigue you, their content, length of email messages, number of promos, format, etc.

You'll find that each marketer may be totally different from the next in many of those elements. Make note of what you like, what you don't like, and what appeals to you most on this side of the marketing message.

5. Observe Their Social Media Channels

How active are they on Twitter and Facebook? What other social media channels do they use, and HOW do they use them? What do they share, how often, and what types of updates get the most engagement?

6. Study Their Low-Cost Intro Products & Free Downloads

Most marketers have a lower cost introductory product to get you into their funnel and/or free downloads. Analyze their funnel, how it's set up, what they offer on the back end, how they follow up - the entire process.

Also study their product, the layout & format, the quality of content, delivery method, etc. This is just as good as purchasing a guide that teaches you how to create & deliver an incentive or product. 😉

7. Interact With The Market Leaders In YOUR Niche

While you're studying the successful marketers in YOUR niche, interact with them. You'll want to do this from social media accounts you have set up for you niche/business - not from a personal account. See How To Use Social Media

Share their best content, like their best posts, retweet their best tips, comment on their blogs, etc. This is a great way to "get on the map" in your niche, simply by leveraging the current market leaders (and their following).

Free Resources To Help You Get Started

In addition to studying what the successful marketers are already doing, you can tap into free resources and get the help you need while you're just starting out.

In fact, there are three easy ways to ask ME a question anytime you feel stumped or need technical help. 😀 You can tweet me a question to @LynnTerry, you can post a question on my Facebook wall, and you can brainstorm in the Main Internet Marketing Forum section of my discussion forum - which is free.

And don't hesitate to post in ANY of those places - I love questions! 😉

There are also tons of free tutorials here on ClickNewz such as how to set up your blog and how to write a blog post and how to write a product review - and plenty more, such as my Organic Marketing Strategy.

If you have a question and can't find the resource or tutorial here, just tweet me with what you need and I'll send you the link!


About Lynn Terry

Lynn Terry is a full-time Internet Marketer with over 17 years experience in online business. Subscribe to ClickNewz for the latest Internet Marketing trends & strategies, Lynn's unique case studies, creative marketing ideas, and candid reviews...more»


  1. Hey Lynn,
    Looking back to my start online, I think I would have been better served to take this advice even though I was not broke. If I had pretended I was, I would have avoided buying a lot of junk.

    • A lot of people do that in the beginning. Even if it's not "junk", we're definitely better served working on our own business - instead of looking for solutions (or the "easy button" lol).

  2. Thank you...this is a huge help. I am that person at the rock bottom but I will make it. This information is very simple and wise. Will use it.

  3. Again, so giving...no wonder your f ollowers like you so well...AND you are so successful! What goes around really does come around! Thanks for sharing!

  4. Great post, Lynn! You certainly have the knack for posting solid info for those looking to make it online the right way.

    The key for me has always been to just get started and do something. And then build on it a little at a time. Even MY lazy butt can do that! LOL

    Rick Wilson aka CorpRebel 😎

  5. S. Emerson, General Business Help says:

    Great ideas.

    One I would add is to follow your chosen mentor's website/blog via RSS feed. If you have a RSS feed reader you can keep up with them without visiting their website/blog every day and not miss anything.

    When I started on the internet I signed up via mailing lists and groups, like Yahoo! groups. Some are still around and I'm still subscribed to.

    • I agree. I did mention this in the post, and recommend setting up a Gmail account just for monitoring lists & feeds (via Google Reader). It helps to keep it all organized. 🙂

  6. Your BEST blog post of 2012. So far. Lol. It's so easy to use excuses such as; I can't afford a mentor, a coaching program, a $97 ebook, etc and then throw your hands in the air and give up. There's tons of FREE information on the web, till you make it - use these free resources and continue to build your presence, product, service and so on.

    I love this advice and hopefully others are listening and paying attention. Those who follow you and practice what YOU preach. Bravo.


  7. Excellent stuff Lynn, I think being "self made" is something to strive for, you learn way more by having to stick it out yourself. And by the time you are ready to invest money into your business you'll be spending it more wisely because you know the cost of things if you've already done it yourself before.

    • That's such a good point, Josh, and I agree. There's a lot of satisfaction in doing things yourself, and doing things YOUR way (figuring it out as you go, based on your market and your unique approach). *cheers*

  8. Not being able to have money to invest in ones own business can be really depressing and I know exactly how it feels. I also faced a similar heart break some time ago, but I managed to convince others about the benefits of my business and managed to get investors. Liked your post has great options to help people in financial dilemma.

    • Thank you Clark! I started both of my businesses from scratch - with nothing. My first business was an offline physical brick & mortar biz and we started with no phone line, no business cards, no nothing. LOL. But we made it. 😀

  9. "Simply watch what they do, in great detail, which will often teach you more than any product or one-on-one time with them ever would"

    You should follow this advice to the point - watch and DO what they do, don#t do what they tell you to do 🙂

  10. Where was this post 6 years ago when I was making bad business investments and spending far too much money in order to learn how to make money online? 🙂

  11. Hey Lynn,

    Your article reminded me that I had set most of this up and then kinda forgot to do the monitoring part. I love your tips on how to zero in and focus on the leaders in your niche. 😀 I like your idea to set an hour a day to stay in tune with the leaders. Have an AWESOME day! smiles 🙂

    • Thank you Gary! It's important to set aside a specific block of time for this task, otherwise you could be "watching" all day and never implementing what you learn, right? 😉

  12. Where did you get that picture of my wallet 8=) It is a struggle to justify the expense when you're not seeing the results that you'd hoped for on the efforts to date.

    But there is a lot to learn that can be had for free. There are many generous people who share much of what they know (like you Lynn) but it takes a lot of work to find them.

    My advice to anyone is to find one thing that works and focus on it. Don't get distracted by all the options. Find one. Once you've mastered it and had success then you can find something else to compliment it. That is probably the biggest mistake I've made so far.

    • Thank you Bill, and great advice! It's important to study what you purchase, and implement as you learn. Not just to buy products and hope that act alone will bring results. Implementation is key, and I try to do that before I purchase *anything* else!

  13. Thanks Lynn for this post. I am in some debt and that's where a lot of my money is going at the moment. It's the reason why I haven't made some of the moves that I know I should.

  14. Hi Lynn
    You are so right about throwing money away on different systems, especially when one doesn't spend the time staying with that particular purchase to make it all work. I think that having a daily system is one of the hardest disciplines to apply, but it is so important. It is so easy to get "side-tracked", and forget why you are doing what you're doing. Thank you for these great tips.

    • That's true, Diane. I create a daily "priority task list" to keep me on track. I also have a coffee with the sunrise every morning just to have a moment of focus & gratitude. Without those two things, I can see how it would be easy to "piddle online" every day and call it "work" - LOL. You really do have to have a system, and the self discipline (and desire!) to work that system...

  15. This is great article! You realize when it is wise to invest in your business or not. Anyway, that is the reason why its there. Why waste your time on something that is not useful to you. Great tip!

  16. Lynn is the first marketer I've seen who has addressed this issue head-on. How many have you read or heard from, many otherwise good and honest marketers, who've blithely advised that you have to "be willing to invest in your business" if you want to make it, etc. ... ad infinitum. If you're not "willing to," then you just don't want it enough. It's not the need for investment that I argue with; we all know it's needed. It's that "willing to" thing. Fat lot of good that does an ambitious beginner on minimum wage drowning in debt.

    Most of the attitude is market-driven, of course: If you don't have money, you're not part of their market base. You may well feel the same way about your market. You want a market with the money to buy from you.

    I want that too, need that. But in my business I also want something else. I want to find a way to truly pay it forward, to help people make it who haven't anything to start with, like me now. Especially people unlikely to find a traditional job again ... remote business is the present and future. People decimated by today's systemic economic changes need a chance to make it without startup resources. Lynn, you addressed the issue. No one else has.

    I've had marketers who've refused to do free coaching calls with me because they knew I couldn't afford their full program. One even stopped the call before finishing when he found out I was broke. What are the chances of my ever working with them again, in different times? You guessed it: nil.

    Let me assure you, I have a long memory. When you sell or recommend good products and I'm in a position to buy, I click on your link before anyone else's. And not just because you provide quality free content, but because you addressed my needs when I couldn't buy anything.

    • Good points, Ana. I do think we should all invest in our business, AND in ourselves. But when you don't have money, you still have something to invest: your time. And that's exactly what I did starting out. And honestly, recommend everyone do when they are just starting. Financial investments come into play when you KNOW what you need, and more importantly WHY you need it.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts! 🙂

  17. Alex Aguilar says:

    Inspiring post Lynn. The beauty of online marketing is that anyone can start from absolute zero (or below zero in some cases!) and still make it.

    I would go as far to say that wasting money on junk products is not a complete loss, provided you learn why these products are worthless and know what to stay away from in the future. Being cautious is good, but you still need to take the occasional risk to make any headway.

  18. Lynn,
    I loved this post...so much so that it was part of my inspiration to write a Kindle book (my first) on this topic. Like many professionals I hear from people all the time who want/need to hire me but really can't afford to, so I created a new resource. I cover some of your points and a few others. It's nice to know I'm not the only one who is listening to people when they are cash strapped. Thanks

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