Be ruthless with your finances, work, and expectations
The silence afterward was thick.
When she finally spoke, she said, “When you say it like that, it feels very mean.”
“Honey, mama wasn’t trying to be mean. Every time you called me, I asked you to wait. I’m in the middle of work. I have to make sure we have enough money to do what we need to do this month. And you know I need to be able to concentrate.”
“But it sounded mean.”
“I wasn’t trying to be mean.”
“I just wanted to show you something so you could smile.”
“That’s sweet, baby. Let me see what you have.”
She handed me a drawing. I could clearly see a big stick figure working at a desk on a computer. And to the right of that big stick figure, a smaller stick figure working at a desk on a computer.
“That’s you working on the money, mama. And that’s me helping you work. So, you won’t be grumpy when you do the money.”
All at once, tears of frustration, guilt, anxiety, and fatigue streamed down my face. She walked out of the room. I wondered if I made her uncomfortable. I got my answer when she returned with a wad of toilet tissue.
“Here you go, mama.”
“Thank you, baby.”
I wiped my nose even though the tears did not stop.
She was not uncomfortable. But, she sensed that I was.
So, she wanted to help alleviate her mama’s bookkeeping frustrations. And she drew a picture to make it clear. Because I apparently wasn’t getting it any other way.
I was busy checking off tasks I thought could promote the business, but not doing what was necessary for steady, long-term growth.
You see, before I got the revelation of the weekly, monthly and quarterly productivity reviews, I was just winging it.
Her dad had purchased a recycled glass fusing business (that was supposedly turnkey). He wanted to be able to earn some income abroad, doing something he enjoyed and not twiddle his thumbs all day, every day. And while he went back and forth to the States, I oversaw…well…everything.
The plan was for me to assist with the administrative tasks. But, it quickly became obvious that I was juggling Marketing and Advertising, Sales, Packaging, Procurement, Client Relations, and Bookkeeping. I was in over my head. And I had no clue whether I was coming or going.
So, I hired my neighbor to help with the bookkeeping and client relations. I was scanning all the receipts and then passing them on for entry. When that was done, I doublechecked for accuracy, then uploaded and attached the scans into the bookkeeping software.
Way too many steps for someone trying to delegate, right?
After reviewing some of the emailed client correspondences, changing the bookkeeping software twice, and correcting most of the entries, I realized my neighbor was better suited in other areas.
I wasn’t doing any better in my areas either. I had no knowledge of my bottom line because I hadn’t developed a budget for anything. All I knew was there was $2,500 in the business account that I was NOT TO TOUCH.
Well, thanks to (our?) new business, the power bill climbed, payments for car maintenance doubled, and payroll needed to be met.
I dipped into the NO TOUCH account to cover expenses because the turnkey business wasn’t as turnkey as advertised.
The physical product had to be made, packaged, and distributed, clients had to be called, emails returned, and meetings attended. Of course, none of that included time needed for follow-up.
I was homeschooling preschool, supplementing elementary and dutifully volunteering my time to clean the school and cook for fundraisers.
It was way too much work. I was not earning enough. And I was not keeping track of the little bit that I was earning.
On the weekends, I was driving all over the country for peanuts. If someone wanted to purchase, I was there. And it didn’t matter how few units they ordered. In my mind, the business had some activity.
But the stress was negatively affecting every part of my life. The stick figure drawing made it clear that life at home was shaky. Even my relationship with my neighbor was uneasy. At one point, they accused me of letting my 3 growing kittens run wild and slaughter all 9 of their chickens!
(An accusation that was reversed when the chicken coup was found unlocked and opened.)
And when I was informed that my neighbor’s family was moving two hours away, we decided we would keep business activities as they were.
Did I need to do a business review! Because that was not. the. way. at. all.
Meanwhile, I continued dipping into the business account to cover what I considered business expenses. Expenses that kept the business drowning in red digits. What came in did not even closely equal what went out.
And I learned the hard way that my highest expense was paying an employee whose work I consistently had to clean up.
Once the NO TOUCH account had nothing left in it to touch, I started using my personal accounts and credit cards. I convinced myself that successful entrepreneurs had gone into debt, slept in their cars, ate Ramen noodles…
…for the businesses they believed in.
But there was one glitch in my logic.
I did not believe in this business. I couldn’t get excited about it like I thought ‘dear old dad’ could.
So, after several months of meeting payroll and business expenses with my personal account and credit cards, I had had enough. I sat down to write two letters. (Yes, letters!) One to my former neighbor and one to my daughter’s father. I was dissolving the business HE had purchased. It was not earning enough and I was not able to continue without a constant pair of qualified hands.
Then I went through what can only be described as a grieving process. And I believe I passed through all five common stages.
I walked around in a state of numbness.
- I didn’t resolve anything business related.
- Product and packaging could be seen displayed all over the house and I continued updating the business Facebook page.
- I did not want to say I had failed or admit my part in the loss.
Instead of admitting my part, I got angry with her dad.
- Why did he purchase a business to keep himself busy only to leave it months at a time?!
- How could he possibly expect me to turn a profit with “all that I’m doing”?
- He is never here! I have no passion for this business. It’s ALL HIS FAULT!
Once I calmed down, I began to think about how I could have done things better.
- What if I had not hired my neighbor? Would I still have that money in the NO TOUCH account? Would I have dealt more softly with the clients?
- And if I had insisted that dear old dad take responsibility for his business purchase, would it have freed me up to handle marketing and promotion?
- If I had listened to the seller’s wife when she said it would be too much for me alone, would I have prepared differently?
It hit me that $10,000 was used to buy this business. And it had not made the easy return that was promised.
- The weight of the world was on my shoulders. He expected me to grow the business and I failed.
- I was up at night crying and praying for a solution. What was I to do to keep going?
- I felt overwhelmed and lonely.
I did not arrive at this stage quickly. In fact, I think it took about a year to accept the loss and the part I played in it.
- I understood what was done…was done.
- I began to look at new avenues of income that I could enjoy.
- I thought about what I could learn from all this mess.
When I searched within, I realized loss and grief left me with these five lessons.
- It’s important to keep good financial records. While delegating bookkeeping and accounting duties to someone is fine, reviewing your budget is crucial. It can help keep the peace within your home.
- Simplify your life by understanding and having the ability to articulate your worth. You don’t have to run around for peanuts if you don’t want to. The work that you do to provide for your family has value. Own it.
- You don’t have to accept everything offered to you. Remember you have control over the work you accept. Ask yourself what or who you are working for? Calmly make decisions based on your answer. Not from desperation or panic. All else will fall in line.
- Volunteering to be superwoman can put you flat on your back. Everyone has the same 24 hours in a day. Budget your time wisely. It is great to volunteer our time for worthwhile events. Be sure not to do so at the expense of your physical or emotional health.
- You can have it all, but you can’t do it all. Delegate and delegate well. Don’t expect the knowledge to be there just because you hand over the work. Make sure your extra hands are qualified. Otherwise, you put even more on your shoulders.
Most importantly, I understood a universal lesson.
You are an amazing human being. Gifted to accomplish special things.
And you can make positive changes by being ruthless with your:
Positive changes that include your homeschool, your work…
…and your life.
Remember you have worth. You have value. You can win.
If you’ve incorporated any of these 9 “ruthless” changes into your life, let me know. I’d love to know how things are going for you so far. Leave me a comment below the post.