Money is personal. It is a concrete object that represents a feeling inside of all of us, and whether we like it or not, it often validates us. Those that don’t have it want it and those that have it guard it. When I was a little girl, I was raised in a home that monitored money because it was limited. Throughout my childhood, I learned that money is not guaranteed and the way to make money is to work hard. I lived my life by this rule for a long time, and the equation did in fact provide a steady income for my family and me.
What I did not consider was that I focused so much on providing for my family, that I never experienced the comfort that money provided. I never looked up from working, and I created an idyllic view and definition of “enough money” that kept me constantly working. Money even defined my life and its purpose at times.
As a small business owner, we live with a constant awareness of money. Like my friend Snoop Dog says, “I got my mind on money and my money on my mind.” We set our definition of success on a monetary value and that is our focus, but what if we set our goal on what “we want” and then see the monetary value that is produced instead?
Money is often a product of a service that is sold. We frequently become fixated on the caliber of the service and what dollar value it will produce.
My suggestion is to first find the service that motivates you and creates the experience you want for your life, then let the financial equation fall in line. Pursue a service that brings a smile to your face when you tell someone what you do. Trust that doing what drives and inspires you will generate the money that you desire to create the life that you want.
A PERSONAL EXAMPLE
This mindset has saved my company. In 2015, I made several bad business decisions because I was focused on excessively working as a means to achieve my financial goals. I was not focused on where the money earned was going and how it was being spent. During this time, I believed the lack of money in my company was the result of me not working hard enough. After some consideration, I finally thought about the switch from working hard to working smart. I took time to determine what working smart looked like and understood that this switch in business ownership was a risk and it was uncomfortable, but extremely necessary for where my business was in its growth cycle.
I knew closing my company was a possibility because the amount of money lost was 75% of the money earned over the prior 6 years. When I started K-Belle, I worked as a full-time, billable employee and ran my projects on nights and weekends. I saved the money from my billable hours to feed K-Belle’s growth. In 2015, I was staring at a 75% loss and had a newborn baby in tow. Everything that I dedicated myself to and sacrificed for was on the cusp of going away. My professional purpose was about to dissolve in front of my eyes. So, as a serial list maker, I did what I do best… I made a list. With this list, I declared that failure was not actually my biggest fear but living in regret that I did not truly give it my all, was. So, I shifted gears and made a list of all the things I needed to do that would allow me to, at a minimum, say “I did my best.”
From that list came a plan, and from the plan came a support system of people to truly re-engineer my business. Every day, I looked at my list and checked off the completed items, read my plan and focused on my goal of doing my best. Each day the burden became a bit lighter, the fear began to disappear, and the determination, perseverance and satisfaction became stronger. At the end of 2015, I had experienced the largest loss of K-Belle’s history but gained the biggest contract that catapulted us into a new playing field. This massive shift in my mindset, allowed us to come out of the financial loss with a positive direction for the business.
Additionally, I know fully that the best part of my plan was picking good people to surround myself with as my sounding boards and motivators. Often still today, a memory pops into my head of my friends sitting with me, my newborn asleep on my chest, and us tirelessly discussing my business plan well into the night.
We all need money to live and create a life that we want to experience. Many of us believe that we need money for our children, which is true, but it also will fill in to represent the life of opportunity we want our children to live. So, with money being the tool needed to create the life experiences we want, I ask you to take time to truly determine what your ideal life looks like. What service fits into that, what business model makes sense, what hires are right for your business – these should be built from a foundation of personal clarity.
And most importantly, what comes to mind when you ask yourself, “How much is a dollar really worth to me?”, for that’s the key to so many of those great big business questions looming on the horizon.