You may not have this problem – I hope you don’t.
If you’re super focused and well disciplined, you should be able to avoid digital dust in most of your business.
I haven’t. I fight the curse constantly and usually give in to my quest for that next great resource that’s going to propel my business into the heavens.
Digital dust is what all those business tool software and information products turn into over time.
It’s pretty much worthless, and often turns into a total waste of your business budget.
I guess maybe I’m just a push-over for a good sales pitch. I’m the kind of guy a smart product developer can sniff out in a crowded room.
Maybe “gullible” is permanently stamped into my forehead.
I’m always keeping an eye out for the latest software or information that is going to be a boon to my business.
As it turns out, the parade of products and gizmos that are available is constant and never ending.
The problem with digital dust, of course, is the fact that buying each of these new products depletes the pocket book and clogs the computer hard drive.
You know what?
I’ve even found a product laying around with dust all over it that’s been sitting for years that I never got around to even taking off the shelf once I made the purchase.
What a waste!
My motives in buying tools are fine – I want to be as efficient and productive in daily operations and in my knowledge of the field as I can be.
But for someone on a fixed budget, my restraint is often lacking.
I usually justify my purchase at the time of the sale by saying to myself “this is going to add so much to my income – it will pay for itself in no time.”
No purchase pays for itself if the product is never used.
When I clean house and sweep the dust away to the recycle bin, no amount of justification about why I had to buy that product compensates me back for the money lost on the sale.
If you have the curse that I suffer, here are a couple of tips that might help you to better evaluate your next digital product buying decision:
1. Ask yourself, “How often will I really use this tool?”
If the answer is less than once a week, the chances are very good that you can do without it for now.
When it becomes a daily necessity, then you’ll know that the time may be right to pull out the wallet.
2. Recognize that most digital products have a useful shelf life.
Technology and the Internet change so quickly that most products become out-dated and sometimes obsolete in less than two years (my guesstimate of the average life of software tools).
If you’re buying a product for future use, think twice about your timing.
Also, if the product you’re looking at has been out on the market for some time, the odds are pretty strong that a new version or a replacement product is just on the horizon.
3. If you’re really intent on buying a product, you might want to check the user forums and do a little Internet searching first.
(a) previous buyers have had success and good things to say about it,
(b) you can find any clues that newer or more advanced versions are coming out soon,
(c) you can find a sale or special offering for the product, or
(d) you are purchasing from the best source (sometimes there will be bonuses included at one vendor that are not offered at another.)
You might want to see if eBay or another auction site offers a discount buying opportunity.
4. Determine if there are other more reasonably priced tools and products that provide some portion of use that your desired product does.
Sometimes you’ll be able to find free resources that are 80% as beneficial as an expensive custom tool might be.
That trade-off of foregoing 20% of the usefulness compared to saving the total cost of the product may be a wise choice for a cash-strapped business.
5. When it comes to purchasing software, check to see if there is an application service provider that can deliver a hosted remote solution at a lower cost than an outright purchase.
Besides the cost savings, you won’t have to fool with installation, ongoing technical issues, and you will always have access to the last upgrades. I’ve see software that costs over $1,000 off the shelf become available as a $25/month hosted solution. You might be able to afford to pay monthly but not be able to afford the $1,000 all-at-0nce hit.
6. Whatever you do, develop a little bit of restraint and discipline in buying every new business tool and resource that comes along.
Often needs and wants are two different animals. So the next time you are contemplating an “upgrade” or new purchase, show some restraint if you can do without for the time being. You can always purchase later (most often at a reduced price tag).
If you don’t, you will end up with heaps of expensive digital dust and a business budget that isn’t what it could be.
Just in case you’re wondering, this article is not about “shiny object syndrome.” While digital dust and SOS share some of the same characteristics and solutions, I consider them different problems.
To your online business success,