Does the subject of money bring up your fears about self-worth? Do you see money purely as a form of energy to create your dreams? Or is earning a fortune your prime motivation for starting a business?
So many of us become uncomfortable, even creatively blocked, when talking about money. Financial independence is one of the main reasons given by many entrepreneurs for starting a business. Being in control of how you earn your living and how you manage your own finances is one of the most empowering experiences that one can have, and any human being is capable of it in today’s world.
Yet there are still many countries where social and cultural conditions don’t allow many people – women in particular – this freedom. Where, in fact, women are considered the possessions of their husbands or fathers. Even within these societies, however, we hear inspiring stories of women entrepreneurs who, using the facilities of micro-lending from community banks and nongovernmental organisations (NGOs), together with the support of grass-roots networks, start small businesses that can finance their children’s education and put roofs over their families heads.
There has been much research done on the results of micro-finance, now used in many Third-World countries as a more effective alternative to straightforward aid, and in both Eastern and Western societies, the borrowers, mainly women, have a pay-back rate of well over 90 percent.
These women don’t have the choice whether or not to start their own businesses. They have to make money work for them if they and their families are to survive. Those of us who are born into more fortunate circumstances really have little excuse. Regardless of the sexist or stereotypical conditioning you may have been brought up with, now is the moment to seize your power and bring your finances under your control.
It’s important to remember that financing a business doesn’t have to be a mystery. The basic rules are: Whatever money’s coming in has to cover whatever money is going out, and you’ve got to have access to enough money to initially fund your enterprise without becoming financially strapped. Plus a healthy enterprise can grow without just using conventional money. For example the increasingly popular systems of barter, LETS and local money, where goods and services are exchanged in kind.
The Value of Money
Let’s take a look at your personal attitudes toward money. Have you always been considered very extravagant or do you find it easy to stretch your money a long way? Do you have a history of literally losing cash or cheques? Do you enjoy gambling?
Do you find it difficult in your current situation to ask for more money, either from your boss or from your partner? Do you like giving gifts but not receiving them? Do you think it’s possible that on some level you don’t think you deserve abundance in your life?
I’d like to use myself as an example for a moment, and share with you how some of my attitudes about money have reverberated in my business life. After my marriage of many years to my business partner broke up, I learned a number of financial lessons by trial and error. I’d relied on my ex-husband to arrange all our financial affairs – something too many of us women find easy to do. Once I was on my own, I had to start being responsible for my own finances again, and I made some stupid mistakes.
I trusted other people when I should have been more cautious. They convinced me to either invest against my better judgement or give them power to sign cheques on my behalf. I let other people read the small print in documents for me or I just didn’t bother. I was sloppy and lazy about financial details and in the same way that I didn’t bother to learn how to use a computer, I let other people handle financial matters for me. I deserved what I got. But I’ve wised up. Having started again in a new country with two small start-up businesses and going through the process of putting in a new, trustworthy team of advisers around me, I realised that this time around I intend to value myself, my work and my money. I always read the small print in my contracts, keep a close eye on the money that comes and goes in my businesses, and I don’t make unwise investments.
Having said that, I’m still not the greatest when it comes to negotiating money. I say ‘yes’ too easily and then regret it afterward. Looking at this aspect of my personality, I see this trait as a part of my ‘people-pleaser’ pattern. Now I’m training myself to think things over before recklessly agreeing.
That’s not to say that I now believe in being mean or greedy in business, either with my time or money. I do believe that the people working for or with me should be fairly paid as much as the situation can stand. I just don’t intend to be irresponsible about money anymore.
The reason that I’m sharing my money hang ups with you is that I’m sure that I’m not alone in my patterns. How many of you have made mistakes over money because you wanted to please others or because of laziness, fear or trusting the wrong people?
Think of a time when you’ve had to ask for money that you deserve. Perhaps when you wanted a raise at work or when you were owed money or when a prospective employer or client asked you how much you’d like to be paid.
Did you find it easy to come up with what you considered a fair amount or did you find it difficult even asking? Are you aware that you may have a problem receiving what you are entitled to?
Write down some particularly memorable or even painful experiences you’ve had when asking for money. Does a pattern emerge? Is the very common problem of self-worth present in your life? Because if it is, it’s time for a major shift. Recognising your value is an essential part of being in business.
Marleen McDaniel, the CEO and chair of the highly successful internet destination women.com, based just outside San Francisco, launched five start-up companies. She told me that she has had to raise much of the finances for her companies herself. She said that for every dollar that she’s raised, she’s been turned down five. “I’ve had to find millions over the years and if I get turned down, I just move on to the next situation. You have to remember in business that it’s nothing personal.”
Marleen has never doubted her worth, or her companies’, and has earned a considerable amount of money for herself and her businesses over the years. She believes her confidence comes from her parents, both positive people, who convinced her she could do anything she wanted from an early age.
So many of our patterns regarding self-worth and money do come from our relationship with our parents and their own attitude toward money. For example there was an attitude prevalent forty or fifty years ago amongst the parents of the baby boomers that ‘you get what you’re given’ and should be ‘satisfied with your lot.’ Such thinking would obviously discourage you from breaking the mould and striving to create something new.
Also, some of us may have grown up in families where parents didn’t want their children to surpass them financially, or didn’t teach daughters to be confident about making money. Regardless of your particular cultural or family background, it’s time to recognise who you are and value yourself for it.
It is time to affirm your self-worth on a daily basis. There are many ways of doing this, but the most powerful is to repeat this simple affirmation to yourself several times during your quiet time: “I add value to all areas of my life and honour my true worth. I am ready to receive all the bouquets that I deserve.”
Many of you of course may be more like Marleen McDaniel and not have this kind of self-worth blockage. You may be fully confident about your value to the universe, both in financial terms and in terms of service toward your fellow beings. In fact, money may not be very important to you other than as a useful way to turn the wheels.
But whatever your personal attitudes toward money, it is essential to be aware of them before you start your business. If you need to strengthen your feelings of self-worth or shift away from discouraging messages you may have received during your childhood, spend some extra time with the previous affirmation. If you already have a healthy perspective about your ability to earn and manage your own money, appreciate that about yourself and recognise how it’s going to help you plant your new business.
This is an excerpt from Lynne’s best-selling book – The Seed Handbook: The Feminine Way to Create Business