A few years into my business I took a money course. I was in that stage of my business that I think many of us go through at some point where I was so busy – my business had taken off and I could hardly keep up. I was doing wedding after wedding and, while I was grateful, I had no idea where the money was going. I wanted to learn how to get my finances in order so that I could see the fruit of my labor. I wanted to know – was I really making money or just spinning my wheels?
Part 1 – The Vision Board
So I started taking this money course and in the very first lesson I was told to create a vision board. I was confused by this. I thought I was here to look at spreadsheets and do math and learn about taxes, but here they are asking me to make a vision board. So I thought, okay sure! And I made my vision board.
I was told to really dig deep and not hold back, so I put quite a few images on there. There were travel destinations, a house, a family, having some savings in the bank, a sign that said “debt free”… I realize these weren’t crazy things to want, but they were things that I knew also don’t come easy in this day and age – especially in Southern California, and especially to a girl with student loan debt who is running her own business that was housed in the kitchen of her rented apartment just one year ago. But it did allow me to see what was possible and refocus on where I was headed, or at least where I wanted to go.
The next part of the lesson involved me putting price tags on all of these things, or essentially, values that I could contribute annually towards reaching these goals. Through a few formulas, this was going to help me determine my annual salary goal. And as I added these wish list items and assigned values to them, I watched that total number grow bigger, and bigger, and bigger.
This exercise blew my mind. All of a sudden I realized that if I wanted to have the life I wanted – which was not even that crazy of a life – I was going to have to practically become a millionnaire. But through the next few lessons, I was walked through a series of spreadsheets that basically would show me how to get from where I am now, to reaching that number. And to my surprise, by the end of it I thought, okay. I think I can actually do this.
My whole life I was taught that when it comes to money, you have to live within your means. For the first time I was shown how I could increase my means to fit the life I wanted. This was the best news I had ever heard.
Part 2 – The Numbers
I’m an optimist and a hopeless romantic, so this idea came as welcome news to me. I honestly probably could have closed my laptop on the rest of the course right then and there and had the confidence I needed to go forward and crush it. But I know that for some people who are more logical, looking at the numbers and really having a solid plan in place is crucial to be able to move forward towards a specific goal. So, to keep a long story short, the course did do exactly that. I was able to look at everything my company was bringing in, from all of my different revenue streams, I was able to see every expense that was going out and it taught my to keep track of that so that by the end of each month, each quarter, and each year I had a very clear picture of my bottom line.
But what I thought was so interesting about this course was that we started with our highest, biggest dreams and financial goals at the beginning, so that we could set a goal for ourselves to increase the revenue where we needed to in order to meet those goals. And it helped, it really did. Once I was able to really list out all of the expenses that come after cost of goods – costs like van rentals, my studio payment and my staff – I was able to see what my real take home was, rather than just a quick number I estimated off the top of my head. Sometimes when we see new cash coming in each month, we don’t realize that it’s all being spent and by the end of the year we don’t really have much to show for our hard work.
So my point is, one of the first steps in my understanding my long term plan for my business was that I needed to look at the numbers and really see what I needed to change and stretch to not only cover all of the expenses I have now, but also the things I want to achieve in the future – like retirement, kids college, do I want to travel? Pay off debt? Pay for good medical insurance – all of these things.
One of the things I found in this assessment which kind of came as a harsh reality at the time was that weddings were not going to be enough to get me to my goal. I could only handle so many weddings per year, and even at high budgets, I was eventually going to hit a ceiling. And sure, I could have grown my team and expanded my company to be able to take more weddings, but I knew from the beginning of starting my business that that wasn’t something I was interested in doing. That wasn’t the life I saw for myself. I wanted to be creative and be one on one with the clients and see the product through from start to finish and not stuck at a desk. The money wasn’t worth that for me – I wanted freedom and to not be tied down. And I believed there was another way.
So that’s when I realized I was going to need to diversify. I was going to need to come up with something else, more offerings and preferably something where I wasn’t going to have to exchange my time for money.
Part 3 – Becoming a Risk Taker
So the last piece of the puzzle was of course, okay how am I going to earn this extra money to achieve my goals? I had this idea and this dream of what if I could earn money by working from home? What if I could create a product or offering where I could still share so much value, but not give away my time in exchange for a paycheck. What if I could free up all this free time and use that time serving and growing my community and sharing more of my story so that hopefully other creative entrepreneurs like me could learn a few things without having to go through the same struggles that I did? I realized that over the years I had all of these florists who had taken an interest in my business and wanted to learn more about how I did things. Did I conside myself an expert? No way – I was just out here like the rest of them trying to figure it out. But I thought hard about it and I knew I had some gems to share. I did have some experience under my belt. And I thought maybe someone out there can learn something from me. The one thing I knew for sure was that if I was going to reach these goals I had for myself I was going to have to do more. I was going to have to take some risks.
I started putting some of my ideas into motion – silencing the negative and unassuring thoughts I had along the way, and just doing it, whether I knew what I was doing or not. I took action. It was messy, it was imperfect, but it was action and that was what mattered. And sure enough, some of those ideas took off and by the next year when I completed my spreadsheet, I was a little bit closer to my annual salary goal.
I believe sometimes the thing that makes it possible for you to step into your dream life is when you stop playing it safe. In the game of chess, the endgame is when the protection of the king is no longer the primary objective, and the king becomes an active player in the game. I was thinking about this the other day and I had this epiphany that I really identified with the king in that analogy. The king is out there and he’s exposed. He’s not protected. That’s sometimes how it feels to be an entrepreneur. But oftentimes when you stick with it, the risk is worth the reward.
The moment when I decided to stop playing it safe and trust myself and just go for it, was the same moment when I realized that I no longer had limits. I no longer had a ceiling over my head. These things on my vision board, for the first time ever, felt actually achievable. And all of a sudden I found myself on this sort of island where most of the people in my life could not really relate to this idea that I now believed so deeply: the idea that anything was possible.
So to wrap up everything that I’ve shared with you here… In order to understand where I was going with my business long term, I needed to first, write down and really visualize what I wanted to achieve. I needed to know my destination so that I could adjust my path to get there. Second, I needed to understand my numbers. And third, I needed to step into the game and take risks regardless of fear of failure.
The financial course I took was helpful and, to be honest, the spreadsheets worked for a little while but my biggest takeaway from the course was what I shared with you here. That my wildest dreams were not unattainable and I could create a path to get there. I’m still following that path, and I know it’s a long game but the important thing is I have a path and I have a destination. I hope if you’re listening to this, you’ll go grab your journal today and write down your dreams and goals and get them on paper. Maybe look into getting some help with your financials as well. But really, the important thing is that you know your destination so you can keep your eye on the prize and start taking risks, doing what it takes to reach your goals – even if it means stepping out of your comfort zone.
That’s all for today, friend. I promise there’s so much more to come! If you enjoyed this episode, please share on instagram and tag @mulberryandmoss #coffeewineflowerspodcast, or Leave me a Review!