Merriam Webster defines the term “Cash Cow” as a “consistently profitable business, property, or product whose profits are used to finance a company’s investments in other areas.” When I became serious about publishing a novel and asked for advice from my writing instructor, a five-time published novelist, he gave me great advice. To paraphrase, he said, “Be careful because there are a lot of people who will try to get rich off your dream.”
From then until now, I hear his words when I’m thinking of investing to further my goals. If you’re in a similar position where you have a dream and aren’t sure how much to spend to make it a reality, consider the three points below.
What Lasting Benefit Will You Receive?
A few weeks ago, my cousin called and said she was thinking of making an investment. She wanted to know how much I’d spent on my writing over the years. I didn’t have to calculate. “$TOO much,” I told her with a laugh. But then she asked a more important question: was it worth it? I had to think about it, and I realized that some investments were and others weren’t. Overall, most of the money that was spent on educational classes were always worth it because it was knowledge I could still use to this day. Like B.B. King said, “The beautiful thing about learning is that nobody can take it away from you.” But it depends on who is teaching the course, as I have definitely spent money on classes that ended up being a waste of time.
So like other investments that I regret, most of those were when I didn’t receive what I expected because I hadn’t done my homework. If you’re going to pay money, first put some time into doing research.
What’s The Source
One of the best ways to research service providers is to get references. After all, if you’re going to spend a lot of money, you should feel confident it will literally be worth it. Often times, people post testimonials on their websites. But you really shouldn’t stop there. Most likely they are only going to post favorable reviews, and people might feel pressured to write a good review for a friend or acquaintance. Actually speaking to someone who received the service and having a list of questions can be incredibly helpful to find out if you will get what you want. One time, I asked an “editor” for references. In response, she said her clients were “confidential.” Huge red flag. When people receive quality service, most likely they are more than happy to give a referral.
Is It Necessary…Now?
Once you determine that you want to invest in a service or product that will have a lasting benefit from a credible source, the last question to ask is if you need it, and more importantly if you need it NOW. There are some services that can be obtained free through networking, such as critiquing work or exchanging manuscripts. But scammers will claim you have to pay, for example agents that charge a reading fee. Do research to determine if you must pay. If a fee is necessary, can you afford it now? If the answer is no, is it necessary to incur debt or would it be better to save up and then invest later? Rushing into a large purchase isn’t advisable – especially if you can’t afford it. So, giving yourself a little space to think the investment over while saving up money is often a win-win situation.
With effort, intelligence, and business savvy, investing to reach your goal can be beneficial.