Getting older is scary. But one (kinda) cool thing about it is that you have the benefit of perspective and experience. You’re not fresh and green anymore, which means at the beginning of every new adventure you get to sit back and ask, “what lessons do I want to take with me and which ones do I want to leave behind?”
I’m a total nerd, but I loved being able to take a number of hard-won lessons with me into my new business that I started at age 33 – in the middle of a pandemic!. I’m furiously knocking on wood as I type this, but I do think having the benefit of learning from mistakes has made both running and growing this business much easier than it was last time, even though it is an entirely new business in a completely separate industry.
I hope you enjoy my look back and that you can
Business Money Mistake #1 – Being Overly Critical
How this affects your $$: Second-guessing yourself at every time can often paralyze you from acting at all.
A few years ago, I remember being in the shower and running over a list of all the things I’d done wrong in my entire life. That time I accidentally stepped on a baby bird when I was a kid. That holiday season I forgot to send a thank-you note. That joke I made at a networking event in 2015 that totally didn’t land. All of it one by one. There I was giving myself the what for when I was simply trying to grab a quick shower.
“You have to stop doing this. It’s so unproductive.” I said to myself. “Quit that!”
That was a big realization moment for me.
How many of us go about our daily lives, functioning at a high level, with a constant hum of anxiety and self-criticism on low in the background of our thoughts? For me sometimes, it felt like a TV I can never turn off and it’s been on the same channel for over 30 years.
I’m much more aware of this behavior now. It’s taken years and a half-dozen therapists, but over time I’ve learned to interrupt these critical thoughts with questions. Why does this matter? Weren’t you just a child? Is this really that big of a deal?
And that has made a world of difference. Now, as I’m running my new real estate flipping business, every time I make a mistake I tell myself, “I’m learning. I’m learning. I’m learning.”
Business Money Mistake #2 – Inability to “Let Go”
How this impacts your $$$: Holding on for “too long” can cost you more than just money, but time and bandwidth too.
“Letting Go” applies to everything: your job, your relationships, your money baggage.
In my first digital business, I was terrified of rebranding to something other than “L Bee and the Money Tree” and I let a lot of other people’s opinions on this sway my decision.
Letting go of that identity (both online and off) coupled with fear over whether or not the re-brand would fly kept me in a locked-up holding pattern for a really long time. But actually, changing the name was one of the things that enabled me to eventually hand off ownership of the site and pursue something I was truly passionate about.
The rebrand taught me an important lesson: I learned that in letting go you always make room for more good. When you let go, there’s so much beautiful, empty, blank space to fill.
Business Money Mistake #3 – Not Outsourcing
How this impacts your $$$: When you spend your time on small picture stuff, it actually COSTS you the money you could be earning.
One of my biggest regrets in running an online business is that I barely outsourced and when I finally began doing it. It was too late.
I get it. It can be hard to justify spending money, especially when a business is new and you’re hardly making anything. But I spent so much dang time in the weeds on little things that really didn’t move the needle in my business.
It is no coincidence that my highest-earning blog years are the ones when I had a steady, part-time assistant named Tori who I still miss to this day.
So, in my new business, I’m outsourcing pretty much everything. And it does cost a pretty penny, but it is helping me to learn, grow, scale, and with the added responsibilities of motherhood, it helps me keep my stress level down too.
Business Money Mistake #4 – Not Giving Enough Financial Runway
How this impacts your $$$: Living paycheck to paycheck as a business owner is still no way to live.
I can’t tell you exactly how much you should save before leaving your full-time job (and even this Quora thread doesn’t have a definitive answer), but I recommend saving as much as you can before taking the leap. But seriously, the more the better.
Basically, I had to start paying myself out of the business right away. Instead of investing in growth, I had to give myself a salary to make ends meet. It worked out alright, but there was always some level of money stress because I didn’t have a business emergency fund. There was so much stress involved, I was glad to go back to work at a full-time job, even when I knew it wasn’t for me in the long term.
This time around, I’m vowing to do it differently. I’m still freelancing, even though many people ask me why I’m still doing it and my answer is always this: I’m doing it so I don’t have to take cash out of the business to pay my salary. This way, I can keep all the money in the business to help it grow faster. It’s a short-term sacrifice for the long-term benefit.
Business Money Mistake #5 – Not Asking Enough Questions
How this impacts your $$$: Not asking can actually cost you dollars and cents, and who wants to live with that?
Put me in a room and I’ll ask all kinds of probing questions: the ones about your life, your interests, your problems. After all, questions and answers are how we learn about the world and what’s around us.
So, it’s always surprising, especially to me, that when it comes to business arrangements, contracts, and working with others that I rarely open my mouth. I’ve been working for myself off and on for OVER FIVE YEARS now and I still do this. I’m working on it.
Nowadays, with any type of transactional interaction, I push myself to ask a question. Even if it delays my response time, I ask a question. I’m no longer accepting things (or people) at face value.
This is what challenging myself to ask a question does – it makes me sit up, lean in, and pay attention.
Asking Questions like:
- “What exactly is included?”
- “What if I am unhappy with your work?”
- “What if I need to make changes?”
My new policy: No matter what it is, or who I’m working with – if there’s some type of financial transaction going on – I ask a question. Even if it’s a “dumb” question or one I already know the answer to.
Here’s why: Asking a question (any question) shows that you’re paying attention… that you’re the type of person who is going to ask questions should an issue occur.
This lets people know the type of person they’re going to be dealing with throughout the transaction is attentive and alert.
Business Money Mistake #6 – Making Purchases without Thinking Long-Term ROI
How this impacts your $$$:
In the real estate business, and with house flipping, in particular, it feels like I’m always toeing the line between maximizing profit while minimizing spend. It is one of my favorite things about this type of business because I get to think strategically – what can we do to most effectively meet our goals? Where can we spend that will maximize the value we can get for this property?
The same goes for a business whether it is online, or IRL. I’m learning that while it’s okay to invest, it should be done strategically, and with the end result in mind. Most of my “business mistakes” from running an online blog for several years center around not spending enough on the right help, but I also blew money on things that didn’t really “move the needle.”
Moving forward, instead of asking “what will this do for my business?” I always aim to be extra specific and ask, “Am I going to get (x amount) of value out of this expenditure?”