Last week, I wrote a column here on Inc called: 10 Social Media Predictions for 2017 (and Where You Should Be Spending Your Time).
Overnight, my inbox flooded. The article clearly resonated, and while some people reached out simply to acknowledge they enjoyed the read, the vast majority of the messages looked something like this:
"Hi, our firm read your article about crushing it on social media and that's what we want to do this next year. However, we have a small budget. Help!"
"I really enjoyed reading your article on using social media in 2017. I completely agree. And I want to 'crush it' too, however I don't have the time or budget to make it happen. What do I do?"
"We run a small business on a tiny budget and want to know how we can crush it on social media. Please tell us what we should be doing."
First things first, I read every single e-mail that comes through. Every single one. And the majority of the time, I will respond to people asking a clearly defined question.
Second, I devote a lot of time and energy to providing all sorts of different content to help people skip the learning curve and do things the right way. It really does boggle my mind how many small businesses, companies, and individuals pay hardly qualified or experienced people for help, none of which actually moves the needle. I find it to be an injustice, and spend a considerable amount of time trying to figure out how I can help people skip all that and just do stuff that works (the vast majority of which is done through free content).
But here's the answer 99.9% of businesses (big and small), individuals, entertainers, artists, online personal brands, consultants, and all the rest need to hear.
If you want to crush it, at anything, you only have two options:
1) Hire someone who actually knows what they're doing--and anyone who actually knows what they're doing, in any field, is going to be expensive.
2) Take the time to invest in yourself and learn how to do it on your own.
Those are your only two options.
And yet, the overwhelming question everyone, everyone, everyone asks over and over again is: "But how do I crush it on a minimal budget?"
Here's the brutal truth: You don't.
This isn't just social media we're talking about here--this is life.
Want to 'crush it' as a consultant? You either need to pay someone who knows what they're doing to teach you how to do it too, or spend a ton of time teaching yourself and mastering your craft.
Want to 'crush it' as a YouTube entertainer? Either shell out big money to put all the right resources behind you, or grab your iPhone, start recording and figure out how to climb your way to the top.
Want to 'crush it' on social media? Either invest in someone who can carry the team for you, or accept that you have no budget and do what successful ones have done: grind.
It frustrates me when people want the best of both worlds. They want a viral-worthy social media presence but scoff at the price tag that comes with it.
And yet, you don't scoff at the price tag of a brand new Ferrari.
If you want to drive a Ferrari, you need to pay the Ferrari price--or you need to figure out how to build that Ferrari on your own.
Just to give some perspective here, do you know how long it has taken me to build what I've built using social media? I have invested the past four years of my life obsessively reading and studying every aspect of digital marketing: social media marketing, automations and funnels, Facebook ads, influencer marketing, banner ads, retargeting, the list goes on and on.
I had to teach myself because I was a broke college student. I couldn't pay someone to give me all the answers because I simply didn't have the budget. In fact, instead of spending money, I did the opposite. I got a job working at a digital agency in Chicago, where I got paid to learn how a lot of these digital tools worked. I chose to invest heavily in myself.
So now, look at things from the opposite perspective. I know what I am doing. I have built multiple successful, six-figure ventures for myself and others solely off digital media channels. I have learned how to automate processes. I have learned how to build an entire personal brand online on zero budget--nothing except pure hustle and a whole lot of studying.
What do I do, then, when a company comes to me and says, "We want to crush it on social media! But we have very little budget."
I cannot take that project on. It's simply an opportunity cost. If I'm spending my time with you, I'm not spending my time on myself or a more lucrative project. And this isn't just me, this is every real consultant, in every industry. This is every person who has mastered a certain skill set that is in high demand.
I share this with you, small business owner, company executive, or aspiring individual, because the sooner you can grasp these two options, the faster you will ultimately move yourself to where it is you want to be.
You can't have both. You can't say, "I want to crush it," and at the same time say, "But I'm not willing to spend the money, and I'm also not willing to take the time to teach myself."
You have to choose one or the other. You either have to be ok with either investing serious capital, or investing serious time. Otherwise, what you're asking for is a brand new Ferrari at the price of a Volvo--or worse, for free.
If you want to crush it on social media in 2017, this is the first step toward doing that. You need to decide which path you want to take. If you don't have the budget, but you also don't have the time, then figure out which is more feasible: either work harder so that you do have the budget, or scale back so you have more time to invest in learning how to do it yourself.