“…It was really easy to watch them and all, so it was easy money. $8 for 4 hours of almost no work. I’m going to see how long I can save my money. I’ve got $24 now. If I get paid for this church thing, add some to that, and if I babysit, that’ll really help. I’m not really saving up for anything. If I save about $50, then I’ll have too much to spend, so I’ll save it. It will probably come in very handy…”
~Me, age 15, summer of 1987, after a particularly lucrative 😉 babysitting-during-a-yard-sale gig
This journal entry tells me a lot about how I grew up thinking about money. I earned it by working (in addition to babysitting, I gave clarinet lessons to my classmates). I was conscious of every dollar that came to me. It didn’t take much to make me feel like I had a lot. And I knew that saving was important.
That said, I grew up absorbing some less-than-positive messages around money (who hasn’t!?), and few things bring up the money gremlins like being an entrepreneur.
I’ve been in business for almost seven years. The first two years were extremely lean; I remain eternally grateful for my business’s biggest champion and investor, my husband. In the third year, things started to turn around. Now, in year seven, I can stand on my own two feet, and the future looks even brighter.
The danger comes when I fall into behaviors that repeat patterns of old. Never feeling like there was enough, even when there was. Letting things get down to the wire, panicking, then finding the solution in a rush of adrenaline.
I’ve more or less put the kibosh on those patterns by shifting my relationship with money and allowing it to be a means, not an end. My most recent revelation has been one of the most powerful.
My Big Fat Money Epiphany
My business success isn’t driven only by people hiring or buying from me. It’s also about me hiring and buying from others.
When I was involved in not-for-profit fundraising, we drilled a message into our solicitors: Before you can ask others to donate to your cause, you had to donate yourself, preferably a little more than you think you can give. It’s the only way you can have integrity with your request. After all, if you don’t donate, why should they?
The same is true with your business. You have more integrity with your prospects and colleagues if you are investing in others the way you’re asking them to invest in you
The Swiss Army Knife Introvert
My husband has always called me the “Swiss Army knife,” because I like to be self-sufficient and find (and learn) the right tool for any situation. Before, that tool was often a piece of software, or a new gadget or process.
Now, it’s people. And that’s where I’ve been the most surprised. My introversion has always been a major factor in that Swiss Army knife mentality. I’m convinced it was an introvert who said, “If you want it done right, do it yourself.” It takes a lot of energy to determine what you need, find the right person, come to an agreement, share relevant information so work can begin, then monitor the process from start to finish. It makes the type of person you engage with that much more important.
So I started small. I’ve had my own coach since 2010. Earlier this year, I contracted with a podcast producer and a publicist. The next big leap was a virtual assistant, and I can easily say it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made for my business. It’s not just because now another person is committed to the success of The Introvert Entrepreneur; it’s because it’s taught me to trust the flow of money in and out of my life.
To Spend or To Save, That is the Question
After years of getting by on $8 for four hours (adjust for inflation, please!), I could fall into the trap of my youth, saving until I have $50, saving for the sake of saving. Instead, choosing to spend the money – and in the process, supporting my fellow (often introvert) entrepreneurs – has resulted in surprise side effect: an unexpected and profound satisfaction at contributing in a small way to someone else’s entrepreneurial dreams.
Instead of hoarding my money and being fearful the bottom is going to drop out, I’m participating in the give-and-take that’s necessary to make a business successful. When I go through the process of hiring others, it reminds me of the process someone goes through to hire me: vetting, trusting, risking. Checking not only my balance sheet, but also my gut.
And a bonus surprise? Having more people on my team has helped me to stay focused and move forward. My feelings of responsibility and accountability have multiplied. Instead of draining my energy, they help keep me energized with new ideas and feedback. Sure, I get overwhelmed at times, but it’s the overwhelm that comes from an abundance of possibility, and I know I’m not in it alone.
My Invitation to You…
1. Consider areas of your business that could benefit from a new perspective and outside support. What would be the benefit of hiring someone for those tasks? What’s your time and energy worth? Start with just a few hours, or a very small project. The point is to practice collaborating with someone and paying them for their expertise. Learn what works and what doesn’t. Notice how you feel about paying their invoice.
2. Challenge any assumptions you have about what it means to bring someone into your business as a contractor or collaborator. Yes, it’s going to require a new expenditure of energy. But where will it also save you energy? And where would that saved energy be better spent?
3. Lastly, reflect on what Deepak Chopra has written about the flow of money in his book, “The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success.” He reminds us that “currency” derives from the Latin curren, meaning “condition of flowing.” If you stop the flow of money, you’re impeding the circulation of it in your life. And money is intrinsically linked (for better or for worse) to the exchange of ideas, talent, and time. Trusting money to move in and out of your life with ease allows for the circulation of wealth of all kinds: financial, emotional, energetic, spiritual, relational, and overall well-being.
What’s been your experience? How do you decide where to invest in your business? What has been the best investment you’ve made so far? Have you experienced any surprise side effects? Please share in the comments!
Very sage advice Beth. When you open your hand to give you also receive. Good for you for unfurling your fist and trusting. Now I need to do it. You inspire me.