How Much is Free Shit Really Costing You? Teresa Cleveland

Teresa Cleveland ep22

On this week's episode ~

In this episode, I'm tackling how free can be costing you more than you realize. I share what I think it can be doing to our mindset and touch on systems, people, education, automation, email service providers, payment processors.

I'm a big believer that we should let where we are in our business dictate what level of program/services we need, not fear.

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Who said, "Sometimes one pays most for the things one gets for nothing." Come on inside and I'll give you the answer.

It's time for the Becoming a Profitable CEO podcast and it's all about providing you with the tools to succeed on this ever-evolving business-building journey. My mission is to make sure you know you are not alone, that it is possible and that you, yes YOU, CAN do this. You matter, the world is a better place for having you in it, and your voice is needed!

I’m Teresa Cleveland and I believe we can all make a difference and that having a successful online business is one of the best, most effective ways to do that.

Let’s get to it!

Hey, welcome to week 8 of 2021, I am so glad you're here. Thanks for taking the time to tune in to this week's episode.

First up, if you haven't yet done your weekly check-in with your goals for last week, I'm here, as promised, reminding you to do so. Keeping your goals and your progress towards them in front of you is the key to moving from where you are to where you want to be.
And I'd love to hear for those of you who are checking in on your goals every week, feel free to reach out. Let me know how it's going. Are you finding that it's holding you more accountable? Are you finding that it's helping you course correct when you need to rather than waiting until the end of the quarter or a campaign or anything like that? I'd love to know how it's working for you.

Next up, I just want to say that last week I combined the business building episode, like the one I'm doing today, I combined it with the interview because last week's interview was on point for the topic that I wanted to talk about, which was staying aligned with your mission, your why, your vision, whatever you want to call it. If you haven't listened yet, definitely check out Episode 21 with Megan Lamm. There was a lot of fun to record, and I'm so happy I was able to share it with you.

All right. Coming back to this week and the answer to the question at the beginning of this episode, who said, "Sometimes one pays most for the things one gets for nothing?"

It was Albert Einstein. Seriously! Like one of the two greatest physicists of all time said that. So he was born in 1879 and passed away in 1955, I believe. Somewhere within that period, he said those words and I'd love to know what he was referring to. I've done a little bit of research and I haven't found anything yet. So if anybody knows why he said that, feel free to let me know because I'm curious. I'm going to keep looking into it.

Now, what I will say is that that's much more eloquent than when I say to my clients that "free shit may be costing you more than you realize." Or I ask them, "How much do you think that free shit is really costing you?" I'll have to let my kids and grandkids know to check in and about 60 years and see if anybody's quoting me. (laughs)

Look, when we first start out in business, we may very well be operating from an extremely limited budget, pinching pennies sometimes.

Running a business can be expensive. When you have a tiny or nonexistent budget, you have to be really picky about where you're allocating your funds. Like what do you spend money on? What do you don't? And Lord knows, there's many resources available. So it makes sense in the beginning to download all the free options. You can read all the blog post, you can use all the free tools or at least try them out. Right?

And then we cobble together the knowledge that we can from all the webinars and all the YouTube's. And we pull that all together. So many times we're doing everything ourselves.

And I know when I started out, my bank account didn't lie. I didn't have a lot to work with. So I get it.

The problem that I've noticed, though, is that it's way too easy to continue to rely on that free stuff. Far past the point where it's really prudent for your business and for you. So free is fine when you're starting out, but it is no way to run a business long term. In time, you're going to outgrow all that free stuff. And refusing to invest in your business is going to cost you more time and money than you realize.

I'm in a lot of Facebook groups. I see a lot of people asking for free stuff. Like, they'll say they want a 100% free CRM that does everything or free in-depth course to figure out what to do next. Or they get mad because at the end of webinars, the business owner is selling a product or a cause without really stopping to think about the value that they gain from the webinar itself. So we're constantly looking for free tools, mailing list providers for free. I've even seen, believe it or not, I've even seen people ask for free interns.

I have to be honest, it always gives me pause because these are people who want all of this free stuff to build a business where they're going to charge for their products and services. So why shouldn't others also be charging for theirs? And there's that part of me that thinks about what comes around, goes around. I don't know about you, but I want people to pay me, so I am happy to pay for the things that are going to support me and my business and moving forward.

Look plain and simple, there is a cost of doing business and I'm all for being frugal. But let's stop and think about what it's costing us by chasing free stuff.

This first one's a big one. It's mindset.

So I'm just going to ask, is your unwillingness to invest in yourself and your business holding you back? Like, are you confident enough in yourself, your vision, your business plan and or your ability to create a successful business? Or are you afraid that if you invest in that course, that system, that tool, even that coach, that you're not going to see any ROI, that return on investment?

I believe that there is a hidden danger that we don't realize and it could be by far the costliest of all. It's the subconscious message that we're sending to ourselves. That we aren't worthy of the investment. We get caught up in the questions like, what if my idea doesn't pan out, and what if I fail? And while these are legit questions, it's important that we don't let them paralyze us.

So let me ask you this. Are you able to take somebody from point A to point B from where they are to where they want to be? And if the answer is yes, then I want you to flip those questions around and I want you to ask yourself, what if my idea does pan out? What if I do succeed?

Would it be worth the investment then? Whatever you're considering, would it be worth the investment if you knew that you couldn't fail, if you knew that your plan, your product was going to be successful?

For me nine times out of ten, the answer is yes. And I say nine times out of ten because I just it's hard for me to go like all in on that, because I always think hmmm, because I don't really like to deal in absolutes. So I always think there could be that one thing out there that could cause me not to invest in it.

But as you can see, what I'm saying is the majority of the time, the answer is yes. So thinking about your business and where you are right now, if you've outgrown the free version of a system that you're using and you're like piecing together all these workarounds, I want you to just stop and ask yourself why you're not upgrading.

Is it because you think it's not worth it? Or is it because you don't have the confidence that you can generate the dollars to pay for it? And don't get me wrong, I'm not saying you should invest your time and money in every system out there. Just simply take the time to evaluate why a particular purchase may or may not be a good fit and let where you are in your business dictate what level of program you need, not your fears.

So to move forward positively, here's a tip to help you move beyond that fear set goals as to when you're going to upgrade in different areas. Maybe it's when you reach 250, 500, 1000, 5000 or X number of subscribers, if we're talking about your email marketing system or X amount of sales of a particular product or service or 6 months from now. So regardless of what you choose, just remember that you get to decide the details so that the metrics are driving the decision, not your emotions and not that negative self-talk.

Let's talk about some things to invest in when you're ready.

So first up is systems. If you're constantly losing things and if your tasks are falling through the cracks or messages are disappearing into thin air, it might be time to pony up for a project management system. There's a lot of them out there. I know some people love Asana. There is Click Up, it's really taking off, and a host of others. Personally, I use Teamwork here at The Purposeful CEO and it's completely changed my business.

I really couldn't live or run my business without it allows me to keep track of all my clients, my team members, communications between all of us and all kinds of to-do lists. I even have one for my home projects that is in there. I know that a free program couldn't do all this because, believe me, I've looked at them and tried quite a few. What I know is that it more than pays for itself each month.

So when it comes to project management systems, if your free one just isn't cutting it anymore, find the one that has all the features you need so that you can run your business sustainably and more profitably.

OK, next up on the list is people.

And this one is huge. There is just no substitute for good, solid support. And unfortunately, I can't say that two months into your business, six months into your business, two years, there's really not a timetable that says this is the right time to bring people on.

So here's something to consider. If you're still doing all of those small, repeatable, everyday tasks in your business that you could train someone else to do, and that's taking time away from you going out and being the face of your business and showing up and affecting your consistency, it may very well be time to bring someone on.

Also, if you're struggling to figure out the tasks that you could just hire out, why don't you? I can say this, after being in the online space for over 12 years now, I think about the time that I spent either taking courses to learn how to do something or the hours that I did research on YouTube and different places to figure out how to do a task. And I think to myself, oh, my goodness, the headaches that I could have prevented by just hiring someone to do it. And looking at the money that I spent on courses, anywhere from $500s to over $2000 to learn how to do something. And I think, oh, my goodness, do you know how many hours of support that would have paid for? But we all learn as we go and here we are.

So if you're doing work that someone else can do, you're wasting your precious time and losing money. If you could pay someone $25, $35, $45 an hour to do some of those things while you're working with your client, that your hourly rate averages out to $100 or even $80, you're still making more money than if you were over there doing it all yourself.

And the time that you spend messing with your own tech stuff. Somebody else is going to be able to do it probably in half the time, which would again free that time up for you to go out and do the things that only you can do. I truly believe this is an area with high ROI, a return on investment. So look into it if you're still doing everything yourself. You can start small, bring on a virtual assistant just to help you get out of the weeds. And over time you can build up the team that you need to support you in making a greater impact.

One of the common threads that I have heard throughout the time that I've been doing these interviews with other successful female online business owners is that a lot of times that's where the shift when I talk with them about, you know, the biggest shift or one of the biggest shifts and their journey. Many have said that it is that point when they've decided to bring people into their business.

And sure, there's fear before we do it, sometimes we may not start out doing it right the first time. But they have said that that's where they saw the biggest shift in their business. So just something to think about.

Next up, I want to talk about education, right?

This is an area where people really, really chase those free resources. And don't get me wrong, a lot of people are giving away incredible stuff for free, but it usually just comes in small pieces.

So you're going to save so much more time if you invest in a course that teaches you exactly what you need to know, like everything's going to be all in one place. It could be something to help you be more comfortable on camera. It could be something that helps you be a better speaker. Whatever it is that you need, there is probably a course out there about it that can help you get better in that area. And so many times you also have the benefit of feedback and answers to your questions directly from the course creator, which I have found to be invaluable.

So if you've been struggling to learn something for free and you just know there's something missing, it's time to invest in your education so that you can master it once and for all in the shortest time possible.

So let's talk about automation. Are you spending forever on something you could automate for a fee? Think of scheduling your social media posts, emails, anything like that, pay for a system to do that for you and use that reclaimed time to make even more money.

You know, think about it. If your investment allows you to make even more money, isn't it worth it? I mean, at the end of the day, that's what we're going to ask about each of these areas.

And we can't forget about email service providers. This is an area where you get what you pay for. And trust me, you can't afford to hold back here.

I'm not saying run right out and get Ontraport or Infusionsoft if it doesn't make sense. But if you're finding yourself thinking things like, I wish I could do an automated series because it's not included in the free version of whatever you have, or I'd love to have more than one opt-in or I wish I could do A/B testing, but then I'd have to upgrade. If you're thinking those things, it's time to upgrade and your needs might vary greatly depending on the size of your list and how many opt-ins you have or want to create.

A small investment of $20 or so per month might get you all the features you need for your list size right now. And I have total faith that you can make more than enough to cover that cost each month.

And the last area I really want to talk about is collecting payments. And this is probably just a pet peeve of mine, but I hear so many people complain about PayPal and other payment provider fees.

Look, it costs money to get paid security. It costs money to keep your books. I feel like the fees that I pay for these services are less than what it would cost me to have a support person on my team collecting and processing payments. And depending on what you're using, there are some built-In perks. I use Stripe and PayPal a lot and I have QuickBooks. One of the things that I love about QuickBooks, and I like to use it on really large invoices, is that if my client pays ACH, from their bank account to mine, there are no fees and most businesses are willing to do that because they understand as a business owner, we want to save money where it makes sense.

So thinking about all these different areas, if the thought that runs through your head is, 'but wait, I can't afford it,' then I want you to shift that thought and ask yourself, 'What do I need to do to generate the funds to easily afford it?'

There's a lot of everyday business things that cost money, and that's just the way it is. Those expenses should be built into your prices. If you're not charging enough to cover your costs, the cost of doing business, it's time to restructure your pricing.

So, for example, say it would cost like $30 to upgrade your mailing list provider. And instead of looking at it as thirty dollars per month that you're losing, just look at what can I do to generate an extra thirty dollars per month. So what do you need to do? Raise your prices? Do a webinar? Create an add-on for one of your existing packages? Or send an offer out to your list, give them an opportunity to say yes?

When we stop and question these thoughts that come up that are going to prevent us from moving forward, it's just a great way to get out of that lack mindset and into that place of abundance.

Investing in our businesses and having faith that it's going to pay off is how we grow our businesses.

As we all know, time is money. How much time and frustration is it costing you to come up with these workarounds? And are they even effective? If you're afraid of spending that $20 or more a month on a more robust email marketing system, just remind yourself that it's going to allow you to get in front of them and stay in front of them, providing them with solutions tailored specifically for them. And ask yourself will one or two sales from the offers that you're sharing with them pay for the email marketing system for the year or at least the next quarter?

That project management system, will it help you provide a higher level of support to your clients by eliminating those dropped balls and unforeseen gaps in the workflow? Think about it. Is it going to allow you to provide your clients with the level of support and service that is going to cause them to shout your praises from the rooftops and refer more ideal clients your way?

My hope is that the things that I've shared with you in this episode are going to inspire you to really sit down and find out where you can begin investing in your business in ways that will allow you to improve the level of service that you're providing.

So in a nutshell, as you grow, investments are necessary. Invest in paid programs that take a ton of work off of your plate and training that's going to help you do things faster, better and more efficiently so you can earn more money. Invest in people to free up your time and fill in your skill gaps and allow you to get out there and do the things that only you can do.

And I want to be clear. I'm not saying that you should go into debt or bankrupt yourself. I'm simply inviting you to look at your reasons for not investing, to make sure that you're not just making excuses and holding yourself back.

I know it's a lot, and sometimes we don't even know where to start or what our next best step is. Like, which one is the priority? Where should I start investing? If that's you, let's talk. You can schedule a time for us to talk by going to

All right, well, that's it for this week. Be sure to tune in this Thursday for my guest interview with Karla Moss of Savvy Tusker Fitness. Until then, let's go make a difference.

Thanks for tuning in to another episode of Becoming a Profitable CEO. I'll be back next week. But in the meantime, let's continue the conversation. Head on over to our Facebook group at and share your take on today's episode.

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