How to decide if you should buy a class or a book

I've spent the last 24 hours thinking and talking about how to know if something is right for you, where you are, with the business you have. You see, yesterday I opened the Starship to new members, and I've welcomed in three new members and heard from quite a few more. Our conversations have me reflecting on how I make these decisions in my own business, and how anyone knows that anything is the “right” for them. I have a few questions I ask myself before buying, whether it's a $25 guide or a $500 year-long adventure.

Do I know and like the person?

Does this person show up regularly and with integrity? Especially in a class, the way I feel about the person is going to impact my ability to learn. If you don't like who the teacher is, as a person, you're not going to trust the information they have and will spend time second-guessing everything. You learn better from someone you deeply trust. Also, if this is going to take longer than an hour, you want to like the person's voice and style, and look forward to spending time with them. (This is why it's so easy to buy anything Sarah or Diane makes – I want to hang out with them as much as possible.)

 Does it provide the structure that I need?

For me, this means something more than a simple PDF download. I learn best if the information is chunked up and delivered in pieces, and has some kind of accountability built in. The entire reason I joined Up & Running is that I needed a training plan and accountability on the regular.
But of course, not everyone learns in the same way, so this is something I've tested endlessly in the Starship. Sure, I've got great info on profitability or finding your customers, but how can I share that information in a way that results in real changes for the captains? The last 2 years have taught me that the best results come from apply-it-to-your-own business worksheets, regular emails that move you through the material, and then weekly and monthly check-ins with other explorers who are doing the same. It's a combination of question-asking and accountability-providing. This not only teaches information, it also keeps the regular movement of your business from where it is to where you want it to go. It makes big goals more reach-able and dreams more do-able

Does it fit with my immediate goals?

Is this thing aimed at what I'm working on right now? Even if the class has fantastic information, if it's not information I can use right now, I resist it.
Why? Because otherwise it will be a distraction from what I'm working on and I'll be frustrated that I can't put what I learned to work right away. (This is why we spend the first week of each quarter in the Starship setting individual goals and mapping out a path – so that you spend your time in the Starship working on your goals and avoid distraction.)

Does it fit in my long-term vision?

Is this going to help me build the kind of business I want to own next year and the year after that? Is this going to distract me by thinking about something short-term?
And the really hard question: Is this going to help me become the kind of person I want to be? Or encourage me to focus on being someone else.

This question is so hard to answer, but vital. There are super-compelling classes, books, and adventures that look fantastic. But if they don't promote my core values, or encourage me to be me, then I know they're not for me. Of course, the first step is to know what you value and define them, so that you can spot them (or their lack) in an offering. The values I look for in a class or book are exploration (trying and experimenting vs. certainty that THIS is the one true way), personal responsibility, sustainability (valuing the long-term over the short-term, conserving resources), and self-knowledge.  This reflects my business ethics and ensures I spend my time in integrity.


What do you ask yourself before you buy a class or book?

5 Comments on How to decide if you should buy a class or book

  1. Shan Watts
    March 20, 2013 at 7:02 pm (11 years ago)

    Hi Tara,

    I love these tips and will be applying them to everything I look at in the future. I particularly relate to asking whether the thing I’m contemplating fits in with my immediate goals as I have a tendency to accumulate books and courses that I want to do “at some stage in the future” or to use them as a means of procrastination. Great info – thank you!

  2. Tara Swiger
    March 21, 2013 at 9:22 am (11 years ago)

    Glad you found it helpful! I was doing the same thing – collecting things for “some day”…and then forgetting I had them!

  3. FostersBeauties
    June 3, 2013 at 2:07 pm (11 years ago)

    This is really helpful. The only thing I’d add is that sometimes you have to weigh whether you really have the time to commit to learning right at the moment. I’d LOVE to take your upcoming class on learning how to talk about what you do, but it’s during the final week of the school year here and I’m already juggling way too much. I’d have jumped right into it if it were over three weeks instead of three days, but I just know I don’t have the time to put in during those days to get what I want and need out of it. :-/ So I’m passing on it, and crossing my fingers that even though you said it was a one-time class, you guys will decide to do it again in the not-too-distant future.

    One of these days, I’m definitely climbing aboard your Starship. 🙂 In the meantime, I recently bought your book and I love your always helpful blog posts.


  4. Tara Swiger
    June 4, 2013 at 9:13 am (11 years ago)

    You’re right! (I can’t believe I didn’t mention time!)
    And thanks so much for your sweetness, I’m glad you like what you’re reading! 🙂