At the end of every year, it seems like money and finances come into sharper focus. Whether it’s because we’re about to spend for the holidays, or because we’re about to review our year, or, perhaps, because our business taxes are coming due- money and the issues of money seem to rise to the top.
We look back on the year and ask, did I make as much as I wanted? Did I save as much as I wanted? Were my business expenses too high? Am I paying too much in taxes? And, of course, the question of How much money am I owed? and by whom?
It’s important that we ask ourselves these questions, as cash flow is crucial to business. If you routinely delay asking for money in your business, this is likely to take a toll on you. You may overextend your own credit cards. You may be charged bank fees for overdrafting your account. You may feel constantly pinched and squeezed, and trapped in the cycle of “not enough.”
Keeping clean boundaries around money, and following up on monies owed is one of the “grown up” tasks of being an entrepreneur. The funny thing I see is that most of us like getting money- but fewer of us like asking for money.
I believe this is, partly, because asking for money raises some bigger inner questions. It raises questions around greed- are we asking for more than our share, especially when we know our client is having difficulty making ends meet? It raises questions of self-worth- will my client feel I am worth paying? And it raises questions of politeness and courtesy- many of us were taught that it is impolite or incorrect to ask for money.
Yet, at the same time, money is the symbol of energetic flow between you and your clients. Given that I’m a psychologist by training, you probably can guess that I, educationally, “grew up” in the home of service and generosity. Therapists, generally, struggle with asking for money, because it sits so deeply in the intersection between helping and business. For most of us, we’re more comfortable helping than we are being in business.
Soon after “growing up” in the home of service and generosity, I began spending time around the internet marketing world, where the focus was quite different. To put it simply, the focus in this new “home” was one of making deals, making sales, and collecting money before the client changed their mind about purchasing. Although this didn’t quite fit me well, I did see that there was something intriguing about getting money right away and not having to wait for it, or ask for it again and again, or chase down after it or feel badly when you didn’t get it.
But then, as you can imagine, that “home” didn’t quite fit me either. I was constantly experiencing this disconnect between helping/service and getting the money right now especially when it came at the expense of helping/service. I felt there must be a way for these exist together.
I won’t say that I’ve found the magic solution, but what I will say is that I have found a better balance. As I’ve eased off on trying to close every sale all the time, I do try to step forward a bit more when it comes to asking for money. Not just in how I state my fees, but, also, how I follow up when payments are delayed and in how I try to keep cleaner energy and boundaries about money.
Even though I do business with people I really like, some of whom I’d considered friends, I still try to keep clear communication about monies earned and monies owed. While my tendency is often to delay and wait, trusting that people will pay me as promised, I know that my cash flow suffers when I don’t ask. It also creates an energetic ‘question- mark’ in our relationship which I do not like.
As you review this year, if you find that many people owe you money, or you feel that you could be better at asking sooner for money, resolve to improve this next year.
If you, too, experience unease or ‘dis-ease’ around asking for money, know that you’re not alone. And, also, know that this is one area that, when cleaned up, can give you a lot of business confidence and a new place of business power.
So if anyone owes you money, why not follow up on it today?