Now, more than ever, a lot of people are faced with financial pressure. This is what a crisis should be about, anyway. Companies are cutting jobs, people are losing houses and the global economy seems to be falling down. I’m not going to talk about the reasons for this crisis, as I will try to better focus a little about the immediate reality and how I faced similar situations.
Being an entrepreneur is something that, among other interesting stuff, is giving you a lot of financial pressure. Getting from a monthly pay check (in exchange of some time spent in an office) to a complete reverse of the situation, when you have to take your money from the clients (if you do your job well and on time), huh, that’s quite a roller-coaster. It’s a serious comfort shake and it requires a lot of extra energy spent on the financial side. And it is not only your money that’s on the plate, you’ll need money for office rent, for utilities like electricity, internet access, for advertising and promotion and so on. Not to mention your employees or partners. You will have to manage a whole new level of cashing and spending. And believe me, this is a tremendous financial pressure.
When I started my own business, 10 years ago, I faced this like a train hitting a wall. Although I managed to do pretty well, in the first three years I barely knew where my pockets were. They were most of the time empty. Money didn’t have a chance to settle there. Even if I managed to do a decent living per month, there were increasing expenses that I had to face the next month. It was really tough. That was a time when I really had to learn a lot about handling financial pressure.
I understand that some of you would say that this is different. Losing your job out of the blue is something that shouldn’t happen, you’ll object. Nobody forced you to go from the employee status to the entrepreneur status, you just had a decent job and now it’s gone. Tough. But real. On some level, I guess we’re all entrepreneurs. And the business we’re running is our life. We have clients all the time, people who chose to give us something in exchange of the value we create for them. And if the business we’re running with them is no longer profitable, well, do what an entrepreneur would do: switch to something else. But keep all the qualities of a successful entrepreneur: courage, endurance, intelligence, risk-taking willingness and skills.
So, what an entrepreneurship approach to the world financial crisis could put on your plate? What you should do in order to avoid a financial crash, if you were to consider your life your brand new business? Here are three simple actions you can do right now:
Keep your money out of your reach. Don’t spend it on your first occasion. In my early years of my business I was deeply convinced that negotiation is something you read about in books, it’s not happening in the real world. I was spending money instantly. And I mean literally. By the end of the third year of my entrepreneurship I had three different offices and around 25 employees, even if my real business needed only one office and no more than 10 employees. But I thought I was doing development. Growing the business. Well, not quite. It turned out that I was literally spending money for nothing and without thinking.
I’m not talking about not spending at all, I’m talking about much more caution on your spending habits. Keep an eye on your opportunities but don’t think everything that comes out to your attention is a winning deal. Especially during crisis situations, it’s quite the opposite.
So, whenever you think you have to spend money, think twice. If it’s still in your pocket it couldn’t be in somebody else’s, right? And if you’re the compulsive type, make sure you keep your money out of your reach. It will save some guilt feelings and maybe make for some wealth later.
That’s a thing I learned so well, that I even apply it now, when I really don’t need to. Frugality means to limit your expenses to the shortest level you can afford, without getting yourself out of the track, and still keeping you on the functional side also. After the first three years of my business I started to pay more attention to everything that was in my monthly expense sheet. And then started to look for better. Not cheaper, but better.
I managed to keep the team in only one office, I started to think about increasing productivity instead of hiring more people, I started to buy normal furniture and electronic equipment instead of state of the art. I had to fight a little with the feeling of getting cheap, but after a few months during which I managed to keep the expenses at a normal level, I started to feel better. And I mean really better.
So,it is nothing wrong in being frugal. Keep an eye on your expenses and see where you can cut a buck or two, without feeling you are depriving yourself of something. Frugality has another, very subtle advantage: it shift your focus from money (spending or making, whatever) to just being. And that’s such a precious step ahead.
During crisis situations, you have to move fast. Especially during financial crisis there are huge effects that a single hour difference can have. Yes, I know, I’ve just talked about caution and thinking twice. Right, it’s about thinking twice, not acting slow. In fact, after your thoughts are clear, you should act with the speed of light. No hesitations, no second guess, no nothing: just do it. I remember that most of my domain names were bought on tight financial surroundings.
Every time I had a clear idea about what I have to do, I never looked back. I started around 25-30 different projects and tried to manage all. Out of 30, I only remained with 2 portals, both leaders in their niche. And that was on a 10 years span. But I have no regrets for the rest of projects. The decisions to start them was good, if only for the learning I had managing those projects.
So, if you truly think – and feel – that you should invest in something, do it faster than usual. You really don’t have time for hesitations, not now.
The two faces of the coin
I couldn’t finish this post without a metaphor related to finances: the two faces of a coin. You know, applying those three simple pieces of advice: precaution, frugality and rapidity could help you face a hostile financial environment. But there are good sides and bad sides of flipping this coin.
The good side will be that you will get through it with a little more decency and maybe with greater results than others. You will develop some emotional muscles, a sense of equilibrium and a suite of habits that will make you somehow immune to the most of the financial flu. You will learn patience, a spartan living and you will learn how to detect viable opportunities.
But there’s a downside too: when the crisis will be gone, you’ll still remain on the same track. And that’s a little cumbersome, you know. As I told you, I even surprise myself, after 10 years of entrepreneurship, and on a stable financial situation, getting frugal or giving double thinking to crystal clear situations. So, don’t get used to those practices too much. Allow some secret escapes now and then. Understand what financial freedom is and start feeling how it is to have a lot of money available at any given time. And you’ll have it.