Small business counselors see many clients with diverse hopes, dreams, challenges and possibilities. Each client has an individual story that is unique and heartening. However, there are some common themes in what we hear from folks wishing to start or grow their businesses. Many of them can be condensed into an all-too-common theme: lack of respect for money.
In Suze Orman’s bestseller The Courage to be Rich she writes, “It takes courage to live with financial hardship, and unbelievable as it may seem, it takes courage to be rich.” Why?
Orman says that choosing wealth as a goal requires “facing everything about your money bravely, honestly, with courage — which is a very, very, hard thing for most of us to do.”
Do you have credit card debt? Do you buy lottery tickets? When was the last time you read a book or went to a seminar to educate yourself on money matters? If you answered yes, yes, and never to the previous questions, you may lack respect for money and its power. Money can’t buy happiness. Acquiring money probably should not be your overarching life goal. However, Orman notes that “getting our financial house in order means valuing people over money and valuing money over things.”
Here are ways to give money the respect it deserves:
- Research your options. Put pen to paper and see if that new piece of equipment your employees would love to buy will actually pay for itself in a reasonable timeframe. Why buy a premier vending machine when you can get one at half the price at another store? Unless you shop around and check out other suppliers and other options, such as leasing, you may be paying too much. Set a company policy that purchasing any items valued over a certain amount will require three bids. You don’t necessarily have to go with the cheapest bid, but you now have gained more information to make an educated decision.
- Educate yourself on monetary issues. So many people don’t understand their insurance or taxes or the telephone service contract or the legal document that they signed because it is so confusing. Admitting you don’t understand something is the first step, but be sure to take the next step to learn about what you don’t know. It is easier and less painful in the short-term to avoid reading the fine print or picking up the phone to ask questions, but it could cost you thousands of dollars in the long run. This is not the time to stick your head in the sand. Be brave and remember that no question is a dumb question. If you are not satisfied with the response or customer service you receive, find another supplier with more respect for its clients.
- Save money for slow times, for tax times, for retirement and for unexpected events. As we’ve learned in the past, the business climate can change quickly. It is not a bad idea to tuck some money for a rainy day.
- Plan, plan and re-plan. When something changes in your business or your personal life, rework your budget and do projections for the next year. This way you’ll know ahead of time if you are going to have a shortfall. The sooner you realize a problem, the more time you will have to fix it.
- Energize your sales. Money won’t just come to you; you need to get assertive and lead it to you. Be proactive. Set a marketing and advertising plan and stick to it.
- Control spending. Ask yourself if you want a new piece or equipment or if you really need it. Be honest with yourself, and only buy things you really need.
- Train your employees and children to respect money so you won’t have problems in the future. They won’t respect money unless you show them how by your example.
One more thought: In addition to a lack of respect for money, another issue we often see is lack of balance in management. Business owners don’t always have the foresight to surround themselves with people that are strong in areas where they themselves may be weak. If you are a creative person who is wonderful at sales and marketing but you don’t have a clue when it comes to numbers, partner or pair yourself with an analytical bean counter to run the finances. Or, if you are a one-person enterprise, outsource some of the accounting, human resource or legal duties to others. At the very least, build a team of people with whom you can converse to generate ideas to help your business have a more diversified perspective.
Running a successful business is as much art as skill. It requires diligence, hard work, vision and a willingness to ask for help when it’s needed.
For personalized help exploring business ideas, marketing, finance, management, technology, international trade, growth or other business issues, contact a business specialist at a center near you. Or visit the full list of training courses to find an upcoming training seminar.
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