By Diana Venditto, as told by Sara Shelton
Part of our “My Blueprint Story” Series
Let me ask you ladies a question: What was your “Aha!” moment?
We’ve all had one, right? If you haven’t, trust me, yours is coming! It’s that moment when everything clicks. That moment when you as a business owner understand where your money is actually going and why that information is such a big deal. It’s the moment that motivates you to make a change.
Mine wasn’t so much an “Aha!” moment as it was a Chipotle moment.
Let me explain.
I’ve been the owner and operator of Eventi Florals & Events for nearly a decade now. We started as a wedding planning company, but made the decision five years in to add florals to our repertoire as well.
About seven years into it, I just hit a wall. I was completely overworked and totally burned out. Working every single weekend was taking its toll on not just me, but my family as well. Something had to give. I had to figure out a way to work smarter, not harder.
So I did it. I figured out a way to do fewer weddings and see more profit from the ones I chose to do. And it worked.
Well, sort of.
While the shift in approach to my business did give me more time and margin, it didn’t give me more money. Not even close actually. I was nearly 9 years into business and still hadn’t taken home a steady paycheck. I was hustling so hard, but where was the reward? No matter what changes I made or how hard I worked, I was still in the red.
$30k in the red to be exact.
Yes, I had a solid $30,000 business loan still lingering over my head. And suddenly, I felt the weight of it. It was holding me back from seeing any of the reward of all the hardwork and hustle I’d put into this business. So I told my husband that I had one goal: to pay that debt off in one year.
Right away, I hunkered down. I decided to actually do the Blueprint Model program that I’d invested my money into. (Side note: Ladies, how many resources, and workshops, and programs have we put our business money into and never actually used? Guilty as charged over here!)
Actually doing the Blueprint Model helped me understand how important it is to know where my money is going. And that’s when it happened.
My Chipotle moment.
In learning to look at my money—and I mean really look at it—I discovered that without even realizing it, I’d been spending almost $500 every month at Chipotle. Yes, you read that right. Somehow my biggest business expense was my monthly taco bowl consumption.
Talk about a wake up call! Silly as it sounds, that eye-opening moment helped kick me into overdrive when it came to getting myself, my family, and my business out of debt… and quick!
Just nine months later (less than the planned twelve), I made the last and final payment on that $30,000 debt. And boy, did it feel amazing!
Looking to do the same thing for yourself and your business this year? Well, here are three things I did that helped me stay focused, motivated, and dedicated to getting debt free.
It wasn’t enough just to set the goal to pay off my debt; I had to actually develop a plan to make it happen. I sat down with my assistant and told her the ways in which I wanted us to cut our expenses (goodbye side of queso!). It was important for me to get everyone on my team on the same page so that we could all start paying attention to where we were spending our money on this business. If you don’t have a team, lay out the plan for yourself. Write it down, set the standard, and make it clear to yourself and anyone else who touches your business funds so you’re all working toward the same goal.
I took a look at everything I was spending on my clients in detail and realized pretty quickly that something had to change. I was gifting my clients a lot of free work that they didn’t even know about! Why? Well, because I wanted them to be happy, of course! I mean, what’s the big deal about spending a little more or adding some extra hours in if it meant they’d be pleased with the end result? Well, the big deal is they aren’t paying for that stuff! Of course you want to do what you can to make your clients’ experiences with your business exceptional, but you can do that without gifting your time and services to them. Understand the budget you have for your clients and stick to it. It’s not worth going overboard and into the red just to give them the extras.
I kept my goal in front of me all the time. Literally, it was taped to my mirror! It was a constant reminder of where I was trying to go. So when I had the urge to spend a little extra or felt the hunger for my beloved Chipotle, that goal was in sight. It kept it at the forefront of my mind and made making the sacrifices to reach it much easier to do.
So after all that, what’s the big takeaway? Well, besides the joy of operating a debt-free business, it’s that money is liberating. Knowing where it’s coming from and where it’s going doesn’t have to hinder you. In fact, it sets you free to make the money and the margin of your business work for you!
Featured Image Courtesy : Rachel May Photography