Invest in Skills or Save Money?

ThatOtherGuy's picture
ThatOtherGuy - Certified Professional
Rank: King Kong | banana points 1,062

Hey everyone, I need some insight and input on how to think about investing in myself vs my savings.

I hit 25 this month and there's a TON I want to get better at: proper workout form, sustainable nutrition, public speaking, body language, etc. I also want to start a business of my own ~2 years down the line and have a nest egg ready so money isn't the constraint. My current savings goal is 1.5-2 years worth of living expenses ready in expectation of living in poverty while building out my business. However, I also know that this is my prime time to start changing habits and developing core skillsets by learning from professionals.

I'm inclined to believe investing in the right coaches will be worth it down the line but it comes at expense of my savings contributions.

To entrepreneurs/financial advisors: How much did you save before venturing on your own? What's the right way to think about the nest egg? I just don't want to be in a position where I'm short on rent. FYI, my investing account is separate and I stopped contributing to that outside of maxing IRA in goal of building the nest egg.

To everyone else: What skills do you think are worth investing money in professionals? I do a ton of DD on people I work with so I'm more worried about ROI in right info instead of the right person.

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Comments (16)

Jan 6, 2019

With respect your comments about the nest egg, bear in mind that most new businesses fail.

The fact that you don't already have experience starting and growing a business makes you more likely to fail.

I would suggest that for your first business:

Don't invest the entire nest egg
Consider partnering with someone experienced
Consider buying an established business rather than starting one.

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Jan 7, 2019

In regards to OP not having experience meaning he's more likely to fail: is that a general comment or does it have somewhat to do with his age (25)? Curious if you've come across something that may indicate the latter.

Then, in regards to partnering with someone experienced: do you know how many inexperienced entrepreneurs/new business owners go about finding experienced partners? Why would someone experienced want an inexperienced partner? How would an inexperienced business operator go about finding an experienced partner willing to team up?

Most Helpful
Jan 6, 2019

Good questions. It has nothing to do with age. In fact, his age may be an advantage, he can learn more quickly. I started two businesses before I was his age. The first one did well - maybe it was luck - and it was the second that failed. I didn't have enough experience.

I don't think there's any matching service to connect young people with motivation, drive and energy ... to older people who have experience. Maybe there are some programs to find mentors. Or he could simply pitch to angels and make connections there (even if he doesn't need angel money). Perhaps he could follow people he admires, in LinkedIn or wherever, keep appearing on their radar and then meet them one day and ask if they'd like to be a non-exec on his board. He could attend local networking events. He could join a Rotary Club (my club is stuffed to the gills with old farts who've retired and have more time on their hands than is good for them).

I don't know if any of the above is useful, I'm shooting from the hip here.

With respect why they would help - sometimes it's because they're bored. Being retired can be very frustrating and many want to get some action. It could be because they're getting something out of it (a paid non-exec position, for example). There could be a 'giving back' altruistic reason. There could be others, I don't know. I'm really sorry, this is not my area of expertise.

    • 4
Jan 7, 2019

Entrepreneurship is a very difficult path to go down that is easily romanticized by many. That does not mean to say don't go for it, but first read on, because I've been there and made it out of the tunnel.

No matter how much you think you're prepared to handle entrepreneurship, you won't totally understand until you're in it and I don't mean 6-12 months in, I'm talking 2-3 years and the potential is there and you're going to sleep every night depressed and fighting with every bit of emotional ability you have. This moment was my lowest point and also the turning point.

You're going to need more money then you've allotted and that goes for any amount you put away in an egg to fund this venture. You will hit a point and always need more. Businesses always need more capital, but if you can hit the point where the model you've set up is working, you can get funding whether from family or small business style loans. Never ask a good friend for money, you won't get any meaningful amount of currency in exchange for your friendship.

Skills wise, you will learn them on the fly out of necessity. The skills you'll pickup will be quite varied because in the beginning of a business you wear many hats. You just don't have the money to pay people, so you learn.

Be flexible and open to changing your business model as you go. Everything is new, the stakes are high and the bills pile up. Focus on getting paid.

I wish you great success when you head out on your own. If it doesn't work out though, don't sweat it. Entrepreneurship tends to be a serial endeavor before you "make it." Worst case scenario you head back to work and you can compliment yourself on a solid effort and that the lifestyle was miserable lol.

Good luck!

    • 1
Jan 7, 2019

I agree with the Peg. Starting a business/startup might sound glamorous but the reality is very grim and dark. The 2-3 year low that @Peg Leg mentioned is something that nobody talks about in depth, but is a part of the journey that separates the good businesses from the shitty ones, and more importantly, the separates the persistent and resilient entrepreneurs from those putting on a front. As far as self-improvement goes, get mentally tough. If you think banking requires long hours just wait.

Here's my advice on starting a business - why wait 1.5-2 years when you could start now?
Depending on the type of business you can get started with very little up-front cost, if any.

Most people these days forget that bootstrapping a business is a very viable (more than ever btw) way to get initial traction and early customers. If the business is legit, you'll have no problem finding $.

Start now, bootstrap, and in the 1.5-2 years that you would have spent time "saving to reinvest" you already have an early stage company ready for growth and will be 1/4 the way through the darkest time of your life. That "nest egg" will be bread crumbs compared to the upside of your startup.

Just my $0.02

Also, I've never had a profession "coach" let alone one that I paid for. In lieu of this I recommend finding a mentor that is successful in the industry you plan on starting up in and learning from them. If your motivation doesn't come internally your paid coach will become a sunk cost.


    • 1
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Jan 7, 2019

Re: skills, check out Derek Sivers' succinct thoughts in How to Get Rich. In particular, number 3:

Learn the multiplying skills.

Speaking, writing, psychology, design, conversation, 2nd language, persuasion, programming, meditation/focus.

Not pursued on their own, they're skills that multiply the success of your main pursuit.

(A pilot who's also a great writer and public speaker.)

(A chef with a mastery of psychology, persuasion, and design.)

These skills multiply the results of your efforts, and give you an edge over others in your field.

    • 2
Jan 8, 2019

My suggestion: start working on your business right away. Learning skills and building a nest-egg are merely forms of procrastination; most people who say that will never really start out on their own. There's nothing like learning by actually doing. You can quit your day job when your business makes enough to keep a roof over your head.

    • 1
Jan 8, 2019

Accreditations cost money. Developing skills can be free if you want it to be.

I'm also a bit surprised that you don't seem to acknowledge the learning and development that will come from starting and running your own business.

Jan 8, 2019

Great points everyone. Thanks!

I don't know if this helps, but a big part of my current job is working with early and growth stage entrepreneurs on various projects although I concede it's not the same as doing your own but I find helping them through serious struggles quite insightful. Part of what keeps me on the gig is wanting to see through what a successful execution of a strategy looks like and being a part of it (also learning by watching entrepreneurs make "death cross" level mistakes).

To many of your points, working on fleshing the business out while in a job is key.

    • 1
Jan 7, 2019

That's a fantastic way to get familiar with the startup scene and getting your own business running. Similar to how I got started with my first biz.

Make sure you connect with everyone, treat people well, add value beyond your normal 9-5 role, and network your face off. Build a strong network of developers, sales people, investors and mentors.

If you do this you won't need a 1.5-2 year "nest egg" to cover living expenses when you start because you'll be able to execute 5x faster than you would if you were starting from scratch.

Keep at it.

    • 2
Jan 8, 2019

Proper workout from and nutrition can be learned quickly by some quick google searches and a few hours doing research. These can be done with little to no cost.

Agreed with everyone else above.

Jan 9, 2019
Marti Kahn:

Proper workout from and nutrition can be learned quickly by some quick google searches and a few hours doing research. These can be done with little to no cost.

Agreed with everyone else above.

Agreed, unless he's talking Olympic type lifts... it wouldn't hurt to get a coach for a few sessions with it being SO technical.

Jan 9, 2019


Invest in your near future (skills) and your long-term future (savings).

    • 1
Jan 14, 2019

Everything you want or need to learn is online if you look hard enough. I've accessed free class notes from MIT's MSRED program, for example. Used old versions of textbooks are dirt cheap on Amazon. Any workout program can be found online.

An example where I employed a professional was 1 on 1 Muay Thai training, because you cannot train self defense properly without sparring in a ring with a good coach. This or boxing does wonders for self confidence - there is primal level fulfillment in it.

This sounds silly, but its much easier to face any hardship/trial when you've been beaten/bruised in the ring and come out alright. The human body (and mind) can handle so much more than we realize.

    • 1
Jan 14, 2019

Agreed with everyone else above.

PLUS: Before you start your business attend network events go out in bars/clubs and talk to ppl. You will meet the right person to start your business. I always meet high network individuals while I go out.