In 4. Doing Your CEO Job

Welcome back to part 3 of the most common mystery I’m asked to sleuth, “Why am I not making any money?” It’s absolutely 100% possible for a small business owner to be BOTH experiencing (wild) success in selling their product or service, to be racking up happy testimonials from satisfied customers AND to feel completely exhausted and puzzled by how the bank balance is just not keeping up.

As a reminder, so far in response to Why is My Hustle on 11, but my Bank Balance on 2, I’ve shared the first two most common reasons:

Why is Your Hustle on 11, your Bank Balance on 2?

& now for Reason #3 why you might find yourself painted in this corner:

3. Your plan is… — oh wait, you don’t have a plan. 

Almost a trick question! But again, you & what army? Most small business owners don’t have a plan for their money, also known as a budget or a cash flow. Most people, for that matter! But here’s why a money plan of some kind, any kind, is so wonderful.

The best way to deal with uncomfortable situations (imho) is to make a plan ahead of time. This is especially true when it comes to the money in your business.

 

Creating and living by a plan is antidote #1, the most powerful tool in your arsenal to combat the natural human tendency to avoid things that make us feel uncomfortable, money being a big one of those things. Having a plan gives you a framework to consider your financials, a way for you to have the upper hand, call the shots.

If you’ve gotten into a good habit of reviewing your business financials, adding in the cash flow piece is next-level ceo-boss shit. Instead of just looking back at what happened, it’s the crystal ball that helps plot the future.

Oh, the power that puts in your hands!

Does it mean you control everything? Sadly, no. There are still forces (pandemic: talking to you!) which of course we can’t control. However, in the realm of all the things we can truly anticipate (that rent you’re likely gonna need to pay in 6 months, for example), laying that out so that you can see it is super-duper helpful. If you’re wrestling with whether to hire, for example, having a clear picture of the funds that may make that possible is so helpful.

Your plan doesn’t have to be anything super-fancy, loaded with bells and whistles. You don’t need to pay for an app necessarily, sign up for a program. You can totally do this on paper if you wish. 

If you’ve been hanging back on increasing your prices or making spending decisions with your eyes closed, promise: building a cash flow, a picture of the year month by month to December 31st, may just give you the kick in the pants you need. 

So, some questions to help you on your way:

  1. Can you start building something that shows you the current $$$ situation in your biz? Can you lay out everything you know about money coming in, money going out, including EVERYTHING — that means paying you, that means payment on debt, everything. Reminder: It doesn’t have to be fancy, just as complete as you can make.
  2. What are the gaps? Most of us know exactly what the gaps are — not setting aside for taxes, not paying our selves enough/consistently, letting debt ride. Another way to ask this question is, what’s bothering you?

BEFORE I SAY ANOTHER WORD, in case you’re starting to feel bad, take a breath. This first major step IS going to take you through some possible uncomfy territory, but remember: keep your eyes open. It will get better.

Next, what are some small consistent incremental steps you could take toward making this better? Here are some examples of what your plan can tackle:

  1. If you can see your prices are too low, how can you begin to adjust one client at a time, one contract at a time? Changes to your pricing don’t necessarily have to be dramatic, broad-stroke. Just start.
  2. If you increase your prices & more money starts coming in, yay, what will you do with it? What’s the priority?
  3. If you can see that spending is (also) an issue, where can you trim or delay?
  4. If you’re not setting aside for taxes, what if you started shunting a small % every month out of your operating account into a savings account, making that $$ unavailable for spending?
  5. If you’re not paying yourself enough or consistently, where do you want your compensation to be and what’s a step to getting there? Again, small sustainable change FTW.
  6. If debt is bothering you, how much is it in TOTAL, how could you knock it down? [I did this recently with two credit cards that were bothering me (yes, of course, I have my own financial issues!) Once I faced how much this debt was, I made a plan to tackle 1st 1 card, then the other. As of this writing, 1 of those cards = $0, and I’m getting after the next one starting April. Was it dramatic? No. Was it effective? YES.] 
  7. If it’s ALL of these, and believe me, as a small business owner I’ve been there, too, pick one and start. 

If your Hustle is on 11, and your poor bank balance on 2, making a plan for your money is the ultimate power move. I know doing this kind of work with a buddy is so much easier. If I can be that financial buddy to you, I’m here for it. Let me know. 

If you missed part 1 and part 2 of this series, check them out!

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