What Does Your Business Really Need? Get the Basics Right First!

Lately, I’ve been sorely tempted to invest in a mobile broadband connection for my business. I conduct quite a bit of business online and the ability to simply jump online anywhere I am seems extremely tempting. For mobile computing, I currently use an old laptop and simply jump on wireless where it’s available.

So I sat down and started pricing out my various options. I found a package through Verizon which met my needs very well and sat there for a moment with my credit card data already entered and my cursor hovering over the submit button.

Then I asked myself “What am I doing?”, promptly logged off, and walked away.

Here’s the truth: I didn’t really need the mobile broadband. As I sat there contemplating the purchase, I had a hard time visualizing even one time in the last year when the service would really come in handy. I could think of a few possibilities, mostly revolving around getting caught up on work on a road trip, but even then, the opportunities would be fairly rare.

I would be paying roughly $500 a year for a service that seemed useful in principle but didn’t really serve the foundations of my business.

If I’m going to invest $500 in my business, why not invest it in ways that grow my business or, at the very least, make it more sustainable? I could spend $500 on a tightly focused marketing campaign. I could spend $500 on servers. I could spend $500 on design work to improve the public face of my businesses. Or I could just sock it away for a real emergency – equipment failure and the like.

Outside of emergencies or tremendous opportunities, I propose using the thirty day rule for small business expenses. In a nutshell, the thirty day rule says if you’re considering a non-essential purchase, put it off for thirty days. Spend those thirty days asking yourself whether or not that purchase really helps the bottom line of your business.

If, at the end of thirty days, you can’t make a good case for it – or, more likely, you’ve forgotten about this extra expense – just let it go and instead invest the money in the core of your business (or collect it as profit).

It’s just another good way to keep your eyes on the prize.

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