I'll bet no one told you it was going to be this hard, am I right? This entrepreneur thing, I mean. Specifically, solving this mystery called marketing.

Being an entrepreneur usually means learning new skill sets or hiring someone to guide you in your success. Unfortunately, it can be quite confusing to know how to spend your money well. And misspent money goes hand in hand with wasting lots of time trying to "figure things out."

How do you know which programs and services to buy – which ones will really help you and which ones to walk away from – with so many options out there, especially online?

Here are the eight most costly mistakes I see entrepreneurs make when buying marketing solutions:

Mistake #1: Purchasing tools and programs for the wrong stage of business. If you're in your first or second year, you have totally different needs than someone who's more established. Your goals are different; your needs are different.

Let's use coaches and experts as an example. In their first year, coaches need to build an infrastructure (like legal, accounting and systems), generate quick cash, they need to hone their skills and they should be gathering testimonials from satisfied clients so they can prove how great they are to future buyers.

But many first-year coaches purchase expensive programs teaching them how to package up their expertise and market it as an info product to create passive income. Oops! There is a time and place for that and it is absolutely possible to create passive income streams. But your first year, you have no one to market your product to yet, and unless you're a genius coach, you probably haven't worked with enough clients to even have an original method or approach yet.

So, you lose out on tens of thousands of dollars in income opportunities while you waste time creating products that no one is there to buy. Meanwhile, those bills aren't gonna pay themselves. Focus on what's most important for your stage of business instead.

Mistake #2: Purchasing "turnkey" programs that are too general or over-simplify what it takes to be successful. It's not very often you can achieve 6- or 7-figure results by following "three easy steps," as many programs promise.

Ask yourself, "What do I actually need, to get me where I want to go?" and "What is my top priority right now?"

Put the promises the seller is making aside for a second, and look at the specific curriculum of the program offered. Does it cover new material for you? Even if a program sounds super exciting, are those the topics things you actually need to know about? Will you make crucial networking connections or some other secondary benefit, even if the program flops for you? Or does it just look alluring because the seller is making a lot of promises?

Last, ask yourself if it sounds too good to be true. If so, it probably is.

Mistake #3: Hiring coaches and consultants who just don't "get" you. Marketing experts teaching the "here's how I did it, and you can do it, too" model are a dime a dozen. The problem is, if you aren't similar to the seller in personality, talents and strengths, that method will never work for you.

Speaking of dimes, if I had a dime for every time I heard, "My business coach told me I had to put a video on my home page," I'd have a much bigger retirement account. Your coach should be LIKE you. He or she should understand what makes you tick. And by the way, don't real coaches empower people instead of telling them what to do?

I developed a set of archetypes you can use to discover your particular approach, and you can then look for people to hire who understand you. (It's free.)

Mistake #4: Your Inner Skeptic is taking a nap. Before you make any kind of substantial investment, take a moment and make sure your Inner Skeptic is along for the ride. Sleep on any purchase that's a stretch for you, and don't get pressured into "you have to buy right now if you want this big incentive." Look at the promises that are being made. Do they sound over the top? Research the testimonials. Do they come from people like you, or people who don't seem to share your traits and talents? Do they even look real?

I know so many people who have offered testimonials that were technically true, but that just weren't appropriate, just so they could get some free exposure on the seller's sales page. For instance, they said they doubled their income immediately after applying the seller's method to make six figures fast. Trouble is, they were only making $250/month before. Sure, they doubled their income, but $500 a month isn't what anyone assumes when they're reading testimonials on a "6-figure income" program page.

Mistake #5: Uttering these six words to a coach or consultant: Just tell me what to do. These six words are the kiss of death for an entrepreneur. If you ever say this to a coach or consultant, you are asking for trouble. You're giving them your power. You are an entrepreneur … if you want someone to tell you what to do, get a job!

Instead, say, "I want someone to help me to find the way that's right for me."

When does having someone tell you what to do make sense? When you're learning a how-to skill like, "I want to learn how to set up a WordPress site. Just tell me what to do." It doesn't make sense when you're talking about something more complicated, like, "I want to double my income this year while cutting my hours in half. Just tell me what to do."

Mistake #6: Getting starry eyed. A highly charismatic person wants to sell you something. This human being is charming, good looking, thinner than you, has beautiful, flowing hair (this works whether you're a man or a woman) and wears cool clothes … they maybe even possess some talents you wish you had or have a lifestyle you've always dreamed of. You admire this person. (Secretly, you might even want to be this person. Don't worry. Your secret's safe with me.) None of that is a good reason to spend your money with them. You still have to ask yourself if they will "get" you, and if what they are offering is what you actually need.

Mistake #7: Buying products or group programs when what you really need is one-on-one help. This is the costliest of all mistakes. Why? It is not always the amount of money spent. It's the time you spend navigating watered-down solutions as your business or household bleeds money. I know so many people who have invested $200 to $50,000 in superficial programs when what they needed was one-on-one in-depth help, and got ZERO results.

Some of the most popular group marketing programs out there go on for a year or more, and at the end, you literally have nothing to show for it. You end up asking yourself, "What is wrong with me?" or at the very least, you feel disillusioned and confused. Meanwhile, moths are flying out of your wallet and you're starting to get anxious. And by now, you realize you need to hire someone but you don't trust yourself to part with your money and make a good decision.

It's super important to ask yourself whether a program or product is really what you need, or whether you need direct access to an expert for some good old-fashioned guidance.

Programs are great for how-to questions or for getting clarity. But how to make six or seven figures in your sleep generally isn't something you learn from an over-simplified step-by-step system. It's just plain more complicated than that. (Ask anyone who is actually making six or seven figures from their business.)

Mistake #8: Buying solutions that are for a different "marketing foundation." (This has to do with that archetype thing again.) People buy from different people for different reasons. Do you understand why people buy from you versus someone else? If not, you can learn about the three elements that make up your marketing foundation in this video: http://budurl.com/mfoundation.

Starting a business is going to mean investing in yourself (there's only a 100% chance of this, though). You're going to have to learn an entirely new skill set and face personal fears that never seemed to pop up when you were working for someone else.

In fact, at some point, you're probably going to be terrified and wonder if you will ever have money to eat again.

You know what? You're going to be fine. In fact, you're going to be more than fine. And avoiding these costly mistakes will help.

Beth A. Grant is a writer, speaker, marketing strategist and thought leader who helps you be yourself in business, in love, in life. She blogs at www.truthandconsciousness.com

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