How Free Sh*t May Be Costing More Than You Realize

“Sometimes one pays most for the things one gets for nothing.”
― Albert Einstein

We're nearing the end of another quarter. Have you done a review of last quarter? I hope you met your financial, productivity and other goals. If not, today’s post may be just what you need to help you push forward this quarter.

When we first start out in business, we may very well be operating from an extremely limited budget, pinching pennies even. Running a business can be expensive, and when you have a tiny (or non-existent) budget, you have to be really picky about where you’re allocating those funds.

There are many resources available so it makes sense to download all the free opt-ins you can, read all the blog posts, use all the free tools, and cobble together the knowledge you can and do everything yourself.

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 I’ve noticed is that it is way too easy to continue to rely on the free stuff far past the point where it is prudent.

[bctt tweet=”Free is fine when you’re starting out, but it’s no way to run a business long term.” username=”TeresaCleveland”]

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 (probably more than I should be…oy vey!) and I see a LOT of people asking for free stuff. 100% free CRMs that do everything. Free in-depth courses. Free tools. Mailing list providers for free. Even free interns believe it or not!

And it almost always gives me pause. These are people who want all of this free stuff to build a business where they will charge for their products and services. 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 in that endeavor.

How Much Is Free Shit Costing You

Plain and simple, there is a cost to doing business. I’m all for being frugal, but let’s stop and think about what it’s costing you by chasing free stuff.


This is a big one so I’m just going to ask.

Is your unwillingness to invest in yourself and your business holding you back?

Are you confident enough in yourself, your vision/business plan and/or ability to create a successful business? Are you afraid that if you invest in that course, system or tool that you’re not going to see any ROI?

I believe 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 we send to ourselves that we aren’t worthy of the investment.

We get caught up in questions like “What if my idea doesn’t pan out?” and “What if I fail?”

While these are legitimate questions, it’s important that we don’t let them paralyze us.

Are you able to provide a product or service that helps your audience solve their problem? What if your idea does pan out? What if you do succeed?

Would it be worth the investment then?

If you’ve outgrown the free version of a system and you’re trying to piece together workarounds, maybe it’s time to 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 $$ to pay for it?

I’m not saying you should invest your time and money in every system out there. Simply take the time to evaluate why a particular purchase may or may not be a good fit. Let where you are in your business dictate what level of program you need, not your fears.

[bctt tweet=”Let where you are in your business dictate what level of program you need, not your fears.” username=”TeresaCleveland”]

Here’s a great tip to positively move forward, beyond the fear:

Set goals as to when you will upgrade in different areas. Perhaps it is when you reach 250, 500, 1000, 5000 or X number of subscribers, X amount of sales of a particular product or service, or 6 months from now. You get to decide the details so that metrics are driving the decision not emotions.

What to invest in (when you’re ready)


If you’re constantly losing things, if tasks are falling through the cracks and/or messages keep disappearing into thin air, it might be time to pony up for a project management system. I use Teamwork, and it has completely changed my business. I couldn’t live without it! It allows me to keep track of all my clients, team members, communications between all of us, and to-do lists for all kinds of projects.

A free program couldn’t do all this, and it MORE than pays for itself each month. Get yourself a project management program with all the features you need if your free one just isn’t cutting it anymore.


This one is HUGE. There’s just no substitute for good, solid support.

If you’re still doing all of the small, repeatable, everyday tasks in your business that you could train someone else to do, or if you’re struggling to figure out tasks that you could just hire out, why aren’t you?!

If you’re doing work that someone else can do, you are wasting your precious time and losing money. Time spent messing with your own tech stuff when someone else could do it in half the time is time you could spend making more money.

This is an area with a high ROI, so look into it if you’re still doing everything yourself. Start small. Bring on a Virtual Assistant to help you get out of the weeds. Over time you can build up to the team you need to support you in making a greater impact.


This is an area where people really chase the free resources. And don’t get me wrong, a lot of people are giving away incredible stuff for free, but it usually comes in small pieces. You’ll save so much time if you invest in a course that teaches you exactly what you need to know (all in one place!) than if you try to cobble something together with free downloads and Youtube videos. Many times, you also have the benefit of feedback and answers to your questions directly from the course creator.

If you’re been struggling to learn something for free, it’s time to invest in the education so you can master it once and for all in the shortest time possible.


Are you spending forever on something you could automate for a fee? Think of scheduling social media posts, emails, etc. Pay for a system to do that for you and use that reclaimed time to make even more money.

Think about it. If your investment allows you to make even more money, isn’t that worth it?

Email service provider

This is an area where you get what you pay for, and trust me, you can’t afford to hold back here.

If you find yourself thinking things like “I wish I could do an automated series” or “I’d love to have more than one opt-in” or “I wish I could do A/B testing, but I’d have to upgrade,” then it’s time to upgrade!

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, and I have total faith that you can make more than enough to cover that cost each month.

Collecting Payments

I hear a lot of people complain about Paypal and other payment provider fees.

It costs money to get paid securely. It costs money to keep your books. I feel like the fees I pay for these services are less than what it would cost to have a person collecting and processing payments.

“But I can’t afford it!”

If this is the thought that runs through your head when you think of investing, I want you to shift that thought to “What do I need to generate to do to be able to easily afford it?”

A lot of everyday business things cost money, and that’s how it is. Those expenses should be built into your prices. If you aren’t charging enough to cover your costs, it’s time to restructure your prices!

For example, say it would cost $30 to upgrade your mailing list provider. Instead of looking at $30 per month that you’re losing, what can you do to generate an extra $30 per month?

What do you need to do?

  • Raise my prices?
  • Do a webinar?
  • Create an add-on for one of your existing packages?

This is a great way to get out of the lack mindset and into a place of abundance. Investing in your business and having faith that it’ll pay off is how you grow a business!

Time is money.

How much time (and frustration) is it costing you to come up with workarounds? Are they even effective? Ask yourself how that system or program can support you in creating more income.

Are you fearful of spending $20+/mo on a more robust email marketing system? Will it allow you to get in front of, and stay in front of, your audience to provide them with your solutions tailored specifically to them? Would one or two sales from the offers you share with them pay for the email marketing system for the year or at least the next quarter?

Will that project management system help you provide a higher level of support to your clients by eliminating dropped balls and unforeseen gaps in the workflow? Will shoring up these areas

allow you to provide your client with a level of service that will cause your clients to shout your praises from the rooftops and refer more ideal clients your way?

In a nutshell

As you grow, investments are necessary. Invest in paid programs that take a ton of work off your plate. Invest in training to help you do things faster, better, and more efficiently so you can earn more money. And especially, invest in people to free up your time and fill in your skill gaps.

I’m not saying you should go into debt or bankrupt yourself. I’m simply inviting you to look at your reasons for NOT investing to make sure you’re not just making excuses and holding yourself back.


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  1. Adele S. Busch on January 8, 2020 at 8:25 am

    Let us not forget, that OUR business services are not for free either. Charge what you are worth so you afford to have the revenue that you need to grow your business the right way with the right tools.

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