3 Steps To Stop Over-Investing

Has your spouse ever freaked out about how much money you make (or don't make), how you're not saving enough for retirement, or how you'd pay for a $50k tax surprise (this happens more than you think!)?

I thought so.  (It's happened to me too!)

Odds are, it's because you over-invest in your business.  You spend money (and often time) on things that won't move the needle on your short term or long term goals.  

Over-investing kills profits and cash flow, keeps you from paying yourself, and honestly wastes your time and money!  (When I worked at GE, we made sure any business investments were sound before cutting the check).

How does this happen?  The coaching and personal development industry promote that success and wealth can be yours when you invest in yourself.  

But I think they happen faster when you invest strategically.  

Most entrepreneurs miss the boat.  They over-invest rather than strategically invest.  

Over-investing shows up as:

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Do You Want Diamonds... or Costume Jewelry?

Do You Want Diamonds... or Costume Jewelry?

You've seen it all the time.  You've done it too. 

You want the diamonds.  Solitaire, princess cut, platinum setting.  Could be a ring, earrings or necklace.  Whatever the design, diamonds have staying power, lasting appeal, and go with everything.  You wear it every day,  You'll pass it down for generations.  

But we get distracted by the costume jewelry.  The quick fix to complete an outfit for an upcoming event.  It will work for the event, and maybe the jewelry will work with other items in your closet.  But then again, maybe not.  So it collects dust on your dresser.

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I'm a Spender/Saver.

I am recovering from my first live "away" event - Monica Shah's Money 2.0 event.  Part of the program had us identifying ourselves as Money Avoider/Dreamer, Spender, Saver, or Martyr/Nurturer.  Then we had to advertise it with a sticker on the name badge.  Come to find out that most of our money habits have to do with our parents' relationship with money.  Yikes.

How's that for an icebreaker?  "Hello, I'm Wendy, I'm a spender from my dad and a saver from my mom.  Would you like to know more about my childhood over lunch?"  Let's just say that we got pretty personal pretty quickly!

As I connected with dozens of other attendees, one thing struck me.  Almost all the women said they were X, or Y, or Z.  There were a few avoiders in the house.  But for all the spenders, savers, and martyrs, most of them were also avoiding money in their business. When I mentioned I did QuickBooks consulting, there was an embarrassed grimace... "I know I should be using QuickBooks to keep track of my biz..."  Great for my business, not so great for theirs.  I've got something that could help.

Aside from that revelation, I thought I'd share a few highlights of the 3-day event.

  • Money Mondays - Use Monday as your marketing day.  Schedule out your social media posts, write your newsletter articles, schedule sales calls.  No project work, no client work on this day.  Focus on marketing only!  Start the week on the right note!
  • Schedule Sales Calls often - If you haven't asked for money (in the form of a sales conversation) during the week, your business was actually closed...  Pick up that phone!
  • Money Loves TLC - Give it the attention it deserves.  Keeping a list of money coming in each day keeps you accountable to yourself.  It's tough writing down that you earned zero dollars in a day.  There's your motivation to pick up the phone for another sales conversation.
  • Just decide already - Your business grows at the speed you make a decision - What an eye opener this was.  Indecision kills your motivation!  How much time have you wasted dithering over small decisions?  I know I've suffered from this.  It's so freeing to make a decision, then move forward with action.
  • Marketing efforts take months to pay off - Maybe even 3-6 months!  Persistence is the name of the game here...  
  • Money stories were formed years ago - No pressure for those of us with young children, but attitudes and impressions about money are formed before 7 years of age!  We can change our relationship with money by acknowledging the old story and writing a new one.  It's an intense process, but really worthwhile.

This was my first live "away" event, and I've got to admit I'm hooked.  The energy and sharing in room with 200 women was just amazing.  Planning for my business, and other women's businesses, for 3 straight days, was also amazing.  I was cooking up so many great ideas for my business, it felt like fireworks were going off in my brain.  Not to mention connecting with so many women entrepreneurs.  And being in a hotel and eating meals without a kiddo on my lap.  I missed her like crazy, but really, it was nice to eat in peace!

So how does the spender/saver play out in my life?  The short & sweet version is that  saving dominates many decisions - retirement, when to buy new clothes, etc.  Practicality rules the day - I get this from Mom.  But I tend to be very generous in a few categories, such as giving, dining, etc, which comes from Dad.  

My daughter is a highly impressionable almost 3-year-old, so I have to think carefully about how my relationship with money plays out in front of her eyes.  At least I've got another 4 years to get it right!

Playground Smarts for Entrepreneurs

Wow, this year has been a whirlwind so far!  I’m pumped about using bookkeeping to help entrepreneurs grow their business.  Since launching in December, I’ve met so many great people online and at local networking events.  Aside from parenting, this is the hardest job I’ve had yet!  So many new experiences, so much to learn.  With 15 years of business experience, I thought I knew it all!  Well, I’m learning more every day, just like you.

Like many of you, flexibility for family is one reason that I started my business.  It’s powerful to hear my 2 ½ year old daughter say words like client, networking, referral partner, and so on.  I started my business for my career, but also for hers, in a few decades...  A recent trip to the playground inspired this article… 

My family at the park, both child and parent gaining confidence with each step.

My family at the park, both child and parent gaining confidence with each step.

There’s a fantastic play area at a local park.  The play structure has three ways up to the slide, all of which look awesome to a toddler, and terrifying to parents. Last year, at 1½, my daughter needed a lot of help climbing up the easiest way.  She'd crawl up, our hands hovering over her.  Her look of triumph at the top, and excitement as she went down the slide, was priceless. 

For your business, consider the thrill of the slide is your business growing right in front of your eyes.  The energy and excitement - you can’t get enough!  Unlike the playground, there are more than three skills needed to grow your business.  Things like marketing, public speaking, website stuff, social media, creating systems that support your business, and so on. 

Like my daughter choosing the fastest way to the slide, we must make choices for business growth.  Kids and entrepreneurs have many moments of success and struggle.  Decisions and actions are part tentative, courageous, graceful, painful, confident, or doubtful, depending on the moment.  You may ask yourself:

  • How do I tackle this marketing/networking/administrative thing which I don’t know how to do?  
  • Should I get help with this time-consuming activity which isn’t making me money?  
  • Can I afford help from an expert who can probably do it faster and better and free up my time to make more money?  
  • What if (insert awesome but untried idea here) doesn't work?  Or, what if it does? 

Of course, most things becomes easier over time.  My daughter just mastered the ladder (gulp! is that safe?).  She is constantly finding her footing as she grows, and it’s my job to guide her and support through the stumbles, while protecting her from major falls.

In business, you probably start out doing many things yourself – from the money-making to the mundane.  And you learn the hard way – spending 4 hours on an administrative project that would take an expert only 1 hour.  I know that I have!  

Of course, there are many different people who can guide and support you and your business.  People who know the short-cuts to the top of the slide, helping you grow your business faster. 

  • A business mentor, to help with all the nuances of marketing.  I use one, she’s prompting me to do the newsletter!  Trust me, this wouldn’t have happened without her!  The accountability is tremendous – it’s easier to keep on top of things when you have to report your results on a periodic basis.
  • A virtual assistant to help with your website and the administrative details of your business.  Do you really want to be an expert at your website service, or have more billable hours? 
  • A bookkeeper to set up your monthly bookkeeping, so that can make savvy business decisions based upon current numbers.  It’s hard to grow your business if you don’t know where you stand today.  

Consider the value of having experts in your corner, who can help you (a) master the skills you need to grow your business or (b) give you more time to grow your business.  You can leverage their expertise in their field, as well as their knowledge of other businesses similar to yours.  The view from the top of the slide is pretty sweet, and the ride down is even better.  Wouldn’t you like to experience it sooner rather than later?

What kind of support do you have for your business?  Does it enhance your skills, or give you more time to focus on your core money-making activities, or both?