314 – November 10
“A pessimist is one who builds dungeons in the air.”—Walter Winchell
A group of friends who were all women business owners and I gathered together at a fine restaurant. We laughed and told stories while we ordered luscious meals from the menu. Charlene, a successful young chiropractor, quietly ordered a small dinner salad and hot water. My face expressed a look of shock as she pulled a tea bag from her purse. She looked at me sorrowfully and said that she wasn’t, she just couldn’t afford to buy dinner.
She had taken my workshop a couple of years before, and I knew her business had been doing well. After her responses to a few pertinent questions, like “Are you still doing your affirmations?” (to which the answer was “No”), I told her it might be a good idea for her to come back for a refresher course. She agreed.
One homework assignment was for everyone to fill out a personal balance sheet, listing all of their assets and liabilities. Charlene called: “I just can’t do this homework, Chellie! Can I come to class early and have you help me with it?” I said, “Of course,” and when she arrived, we got to work. First, we started listing all her assets. No problem there. She had business and personal checking accounts with healthy cash balances, and a money market account as well. She had savings, a retirement account and owned a condominium. “Hmm,” I wondered to myself, “Perhaps her problem is her debt load.”
Sure enough, as we started to work on the liabilities, Charlene got nervous. I asked if she had any credit card debt. “Yes,” she said weakly. I thought this was is the problem. “Okay,” I said calmly, “How much is it?” With a lump in her throat, she whispered, “Five thousand dollars.”
“Is that all!?” I exclaimed. “You’re this upset over only five thousand dollars?” She looked at me wide-eyed. “You don’t think that’s a lot?” she asked. “No!” I blurted out. “That’s nothing! I often see people who owe fifty thousand, sixty thousand dollars. You could pay off this five thousand dollar debt tomorrow with the money you’ve got in your money market account.”
Charlene changed in front of my eyes. She started to smile and then to laugh. She told me that she hadn’t done the balance sheet exercise the first time she took the class because she was too embarrassed about her debt to write it down. She had continued to feel bad about herself because she didn’t have a healthy perspective about her financial affairs. She spent two years with the Low Budget Blues unnecessarily. She asked me to tell her story to all my subsequent classes with the warning “What you don’t do in this class will cost you!”
“I count my money and watch the count go up every day!”
Here’s another way that what you don’t do will cost you: not marketing, not selling, not going to networking events, not being active on social media sites, not having a newsletter, not making gold calls. As my friend Nancy Sardella, founder and CEO of Worthwhile Referral Sources, said, “You can’t quantify how much business you’re not getting through your non-efforts.” Brilliant.
The real money you lose in life is the money you fail to earn. How much is that? What if you were able to raise your prices 15% but didn’t – how much money is that in a year? Five years? What other product or service could you have provided that could have created an additional income stream for your business? What if you had negotiated your starting salary for an additional $5,000 per year twenty years ago? Considering most raises, bonuses, and perks are based on that starting salary, how much have you failed to earn in the last twenty years?
It’s adding up to a lot of money quickly, isn’t it? But don’t despair or spend too much time moaning about the lost income. Rather look ahead at all the possibilities for creating more income now! Invent that new product, raise your prices, ask for a raise. Figure out your value and start earning that now. You can do it!