Welcome back to the Entrepreneur Mindset Podcast!
Business takes money. Depending on the business you start, it can take very little money like starting a coaching business or more money like when you start a product-based business. Regardless of how much money you need to get started, money quickly becomes a prevalent concern as a business owner, but not something that gets openly discussed.
Today that changes. I want to pull back the covers on finances as an entrepreneur and get into some of the things to consider as options and expenses come up in your business.
Business Expenses Increase Exponentially
When I first started my business I didn’t really give a lot of thought to money…at least not at first. I knew exactly what my expenses were and how much I needed to break even on expenses in the first year. But what I didn’t take into account were the little things that I would need along the way. I needed to create social media posts and so I paid for Canva. Then I needed a paid Zoom account, then it was a light for my office after trying every conceivable lighting situation possible. We were pulling lamps from all over the house. I was sharing my husband’s work microphone for calls and podcast recordings, but that quickly became a hassle to move it from his office and setup to mine. So I bought a mic.
You can see where this is going. The expenses weren’t just the website and membership area that we had initially thought about. Then there were the other expenses. If you wanted to learn how to best create a membership you purchased Stu McLaren’s course, The Membership Experience. If you wanted to learn launching, you purchased Product Launch Formula from Jeff Walker. Digital courses your jam? No problem, Amy Porterfield has Digital Course Academy. The list goes on and on.
And each opportunity can feel like the next right step, but regardless of whether you have endless funds as a startup business or need to be cautious with your money, it is always wise to examine each expense with care. Otherwise you will find yourself in debt that doesn’t feel figureoutable, to borrow Marie Forleo’s phase.
The Intentional Decision-Making Process
Because I’m a learner and enthusiast of all things tech by nature, as a business owner I quickly came up with a process for evaluating expenses and today I’m going to share that process with you for a few reasons.
First, I don’t think enough entrepreneurs talk about the reality of money and how to spend it in your business. And second, if this episode helps at least one person avoid a debt that doesn’t make sense for their business then I’ll consider it a win.
1. Reflect on your Business
To begin the process I always take time to reflect on my business. What are my annual goals, my quarterly goals, and the resources, tools, and skills that I need to make those goals a reality in my business. This might seem like you can skip over it, but the consequences of skipping this are akin to skipping the chocolate chips in a chocolate chip cookie recipe.
2. Opportunity Facts
Then I get the facts about the expense I’m considering. How much does it cost, it is a recurring cost or one-time, what skills, tools, and resources does it provide, and how often is it available? This last one might seem strange, but many of the courses out there are launched just once a year and if you don’t purchase during that launch you are waiting another 12 months for the opportunity. This really makes you stop and think, right?
Once you have done a reflection of your business and gotten the facts straight about the expense, you can move through the decision-making process. This is an intentional process and one that typically leaves you feeling good about your decision no matter what it is at the end of the day.
3. Explore the Financial Risk
The very first question I like to ask is whether this will put my business at financial risk. Now if you are just starting out, this question might be bigger than whether it will put your business at financial risk because you might be using your family’s funds to get your business going. So be sure to expand this to your family’s finances if that is the case. If the opportunity puts either your family or business at risk financially add the expense to a wish list and go back to activities that will generate revenue. If your business and/or family finances can sustain the expense you can keep going through the process. I’ll be straightforward with you here, this is a difficult step. You have to be willing to be really honest with yourself and recognize when you truly need to say no even if you REALLY want to say yes to something. There have been plenty of times when I had to say no. I will tell you that sometimes you might be able to swap one expense for another. I recently did that because one expense was more important and the swap would offset the new expense. It was one of the hardest decisions I’ve made in my business to date but I know it was the right choice.
4. Align the Opportunity with Your Goals
With some peace of mind that the financial risk is manageable, you can focus on your goals. Ask whether the opportunity supports your annual goals. If it doesn’t, check in with your quarterly goals. If the answer is still no, the opportunity would likely be a distraction and can be put on your wishlist for another time. If the opportunity meets your annual goals, get specific. Identify which goal it supports. This again, requires honesty.
Then you can explore whether it will help you achieve your quarterly goals. Now if you are paying attention you’ll know that even if your annual goals aren’t being met I asked you to think about quarterly goals. If your quarterly goals are being met this might be a good fit right now. But what happens when it meets your annual but not quarterly goals?
The next step gets a little more complicated. If the opportunity is offered at a different time in the year then it might be best to put it off until then so that you don’t get distracted. But what if it is available just once a year and you’ll need it for your annual goals? Then it comes down to whether you can stay focused while going ahead with the offer.
5. Aligned to Resources, Skills, and Tools
If you ultimately decide that this opportunity is a good fit with your goals, next it is time to take a closer look at the resources, skills, and tools you’ll need to acquire for your annual and quarterly goals to become a reality. Does this opportunity meet those needs?
If not or it clashes with other resources that you are using, the opportunity might be best passed by for now. If your business needs a bit of a shake-up, however, you might still go ahead and say yes.
If the opportunity aligns with what you need, that is fantastic! I would still encourage you to explore whether there are less expensive options that would be equally well suited and what you gain by choosing one over the other and what you lose.
If there aren’t any other suitable choices available, it sounds like this might be a good choice.
6. Explore the Support Offered
If you are still on the pathway to vetting this opportunity, next up is to explore the support that is offered and whether or not you can be successful in implementing the resources, skills, and tools provided.
This is where you need to get crystal clear on the outcomes you expect as a result of your investment. If you will need additional support go ahead and explore what is available. Some programs, services, or products have an upgrade for additional support that you can consider. Just keep in mind the price difference and go back to the beginning to think about whether it is doable with your current financial situation.
7. The Decision Reflection
If you can’t get or afford the needed support this might be a wishlist expense for now. If, on the other hand, you feel confident that you can implement the resources, tools, and skills effectively it sounds like the decision is pointing toward a yes!
Explore how this feels. If you have a weird feeling about it, note this and explore it further. Sometimes those gut feelings are telling you something that all of your intentional decision making can’t.
Although this is the process I just described is the one I follow to make a decision, I also step back at the end and look at the big picture. You might find that your decision doesn’t feel right. Please recognize that feeling and explore where it is coming from. Then, ask yourself how you will feel in 30, 60, and even 90 days if you choose the opposite path. If you go with the decision as it was presented in the decision tree, how will you feel in 30, 60, and even 90 days?
Your business is yours with which to make decisions. The key is to be intentional with your decision-making. That is what this episode is really about. It is about creating an awareness that we often fail to cultivate as business owners because money is a taboo topic. I want you to be intentional and keep your eyes open about your business.
So what kind of action can you take this week?
If you are currently considering an expense – maybe a course, new piece of software, membership, or purchase – run the decision through this process. Now, if you are more of a flow chart kind of person, I’ve got you covered.
Head over to Instagram or Facebook and DM me the word, “Decision” at entrepreneurs in flow and I’ll send you the link to grab the PDF that walks you through this decision process.
How are you feeling about money and spending inside your business right now?
Does it feel a little more doable to make financial decisions that are intentional and not just impulse buys? That is definitely my goal! I want every entrepreneur to feel comfortable with the money side of their business and know how to evaluate different opportunities along the way.
Because, believe me, there are so many different opportunities that you have to learn how to say yes and no.
As you work through your intentional decision-making, remember to DM me at entrepreneurs in flow on Instagram or Facebook for the FREE PDF that walks you through the steps we discussed today, complete with a decision tree flow chart.
And I will see you back here next week for another episode of the Entrepreneur Mindset Podcast, where a focus on mentoring, community, and implementation removes the overwhelm of building your successful and profitable business and adds in a dose of momentum.
Until next time, have a healthy, safe, and happy week.
DM me the word “Decision” on