Invest In Yourself

This might be old news to some, but to others it might be sound advice. It is a lesson I learned that has helped me a lot and I wanted to pass it on.

When I started in this business I did it, literally, with no money out of my pocket. I had a computer and an internet connection. I got free hosting and found a couple of sponsors that gave me some free content to use and got started. I worked on the cheap and basically ran my business from a fold up card table that I put in the corner of my dining room. I sat on a hard wooden chair that broke your ass after about and hour of sitting on it and I did all my work on a small IBM laptop. I was as happy as I could imagine. 

I continued to work at my day job as I learned this business and started to make some money. Then that day job came to an end and I had a decision to make, work full time in this business or get another job. I decided to give myself a few months and see what I could do. I did well. I was making more money then I was at my old regular job and I had the freedom to work when I wanted. I put in a lot of hours, but there was no use in getting up at 6am if I didn’t want to. I kept everything cheap and worked my ass off. It seemed, however that I was starting to plateau. I knew it might be time to invest in myself.

My first investment was the obvious. I bought a domain name and got some paid hosting. This was back when a domain was $70 and Netsol was the only place you could buy them. Hosting was expensive too, but I knew that if I was going to grow I needed the freedom these things would give me. I was right and my income increased. I grew a little more and got my own server and several more domain names. As costs of these items shrunk I actually stated paying less and less for them. Today I have a dedicated 10mbps server that costs me less per month than my first virtual account which only gave me about 1/10th the bandwidth. These were the easy decisions and investments. The harder ones were not so obvious.

About 5 year ago (some three years into my adult webmaster career) I bought a house. I had been living in a small one bedroom apartment that sucked. My new house had a spare bedroom that I would turn into an office, central air and a kitchen that was large enough to actually cook something in. I decided then that the old card table, laptop and uncomfortable chair had to go. I was going to make an office that I wanted. I knew I would work better in an environment like that, but I could have no idea exactly how much better.

The first thing I did was paint the room and put down some new carpet. Then I bought a nice corner desk and a second piece of furniture that had a few shelves for a printer and fax and some storage cabinets on the bottom. I got a nice desktop computer and a 19 inch monitor. The coup de grace was when the old dinning chair went back to the dining room and I got myself a really nice high back leather chair. I spent a lot more money than I had been planning on and at first I thought doing so was stupid and wasteful, but once I sat down and went to work at the new workstation it was like night and day. 

No more pain from the chair or because I was hunched over a table. No more problems with straining my eyes on the little 14 inch laptop screen. No more noise from the TV or phone or any other distraction if someone happened to be home or in the house while I was working. I could shut the door, turn on the radio, sit in my new comfy chair and work. And my productivity took off.

These things, things I thought were creature comforts, were really investments in me which by default then meant investments in my business. I worked faster and with more comfort. I found myself being able to concentrate longer and I got more done each day. I didn’t start to squirm because of the chair or my back or eyes after a little while and end up getting up and doing something else only to not come back to work for several hours, if at all. I became more creative and my income went up. I was happy and life was good.

Investing in things like nice chairs, ergonomic keyboards, big monitors and nice desks are things every serious webmaster should look at. My brother works in construction and he spends $350-$400 on a pair of work boots of which he buys 2-3 pair a year. A lot of people tell him he is stupid, but he tells them, “I make my living with those boots.” Well, we make our living sitting at a desk so buying that nice chair or desk or monitor is no different than a construction worker buying nice boots or a logger buying nice gloves and a good chainsaw. They are some of the tools of the trade and help us work better and faster with more comfort. The less we are thinking about our personal comfort or other distractions that not having a good place to work can cause, the more we can focus on growing our business and making things better for ourselves.

I challenge everyone to look at their working situation and ask themselves how they think they can make it better then do so. You don't need to buy a house with a spare room or rent an office. Just making small changes can have a huge impact on your productivity. Investing in yourself in these ways may seem foolish at first, but I’m confident you will find it to be some of the best money you have ever spent.

Reader Comments: (2 posts)

Nikhil says:
We really loved Skeleton Creek #1. Reading #2, Ghost in the Machine, and haivng difficulty making the links to the videos work. Any clue as to what we may be doing wrong. We've had to put the book down until we fix the technical gliche, which is a real disappointment. Thanks!Donna
September 28th, 2012
at 1:19am EST
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Agatha says:
Good to see a tnlaet at work. I can?t match that.
June 30th, 2011
at 12:28am EST
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