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5 Things I Do as a Business Owner When Money is Tight

This entrepreneur sold his company to NASDAQ for $700M dollars and shared there were days when the bank account was “down to the last $1,000 dollars”. That to say, though it feels alarming and should put us on high alert, money being tight from time to time should not surprise us. Slow seasons in business […]

Photo of girl in white button down drinking cold brew and working on computer.


This entrepreneur sold his company to NASDAQ for $700M dollars and shared there were days when the bank account was “down to the last $1,000 dollars”. That to say, though it feels alarming and should put us on high alert, money being tight from time to time should not surprise us. Slow seasons in business are a par for the course. Whether it’s the economy to blame, an election year, a global pandemic, a pricing issue, Meta going down without our control, new competition in the market, or a website glitch we are unaware is happening (all of which I’ve experienced in my tenure as a business owner), slow seasons come and slow seasons go.

Longevity is the name of the small business owner game and sometimes that comes down to our survival skills!

When money is tight and we’re surviving on a Costco wine budget (who are we kidding, we are always on the Costco wine train), here’s how we weather the storm.


Photo of girl working on computer with caption: 5 Things I Do as a Business Owner When Money is Tight by Shanna Skidmore


5 Things I Do as a Business Owner when Money is Tight

1. Identify the “business is down + money is tight” Culprit

I’m going to be honest, this quote by Henry Ford isn’t the easiest pill for me to swallow. “Whether you think you can or think you can’t—you’re right.” The reason being? I tend to have a doomsday reaction when business is slow. There have been many seasons of business when Kyle has heard me say, “I don’t know how we’re going to pay our bills this month” or question “does anyone need/want the work I do?”. I spiral under pressure, there I said it.

But the truth is, people do need (or want) what I do, and I have no doubt that is true for you as well. Even if you sell a “luxury” product (for example: art or high end products or services), people buy what they want even when money is tight.

Our first step is to get out of our own heads and determine why business is slow.

  1. Are you in a season of life when you aren’t able to spend as much time on the business? This has been true for me, especially right now with littles at home. Business may be slower simply because I don’t have as much time to give or ability to show up as loud as I have in the past.
  2. Have you made a recent change to pricing that may be affecting bookings? If you’ve recently increased your prices, it is natural to see a lull (for up to 6 months!). Don’t jump ship, raising your prices may have been the best thing you could have done for you and your business. Stay the course, but figure out a way to meet cash flow needs while you wait. Get creative! (ie. run a fun promotion, give purchase incentives, mini sessions, etc.)
  3. Did you change up your packages? Or introduce a new offer that just didn’t land? It’s a hard pill to swallow but sometimes we just get it wrong. We introduce a new package and it just doesn’t land. We work hard on a new offer and no one buys it. We test the waters and it doesn’t go as we thought it would. Be ok offering “this or that” options. Script:  “Hi potential client, I just introduced a new offer. It’s [Describe new offer]. Another option would be [past offer] which we are still offering for a limited time. Which do you feel best fits your needs?
  4. Is it not you at all, but external circumstances? Is the economy truly making people think twice before they spend? Do you have a new competitor undercutting your prices? To give you some hope, people still buy in economic downturns. And second, when external circumstances hit our bottom line, see it as a challenge to get scrappy and make improvements where you can: improve your booking process, dial in your marketing efforts, etc.


2. Manage Spending— ahem, you need a budget. 🙊

As a business owner, we have a beautiful opportunity that W2 employees don’t have. We can generate more income!!! And though “make more money” is our first response to being low on funds (and a great goal!), sometimes the quickest way to solve a cash flow problem (ie. not having enough money in the bank) both personally and in business is to cut spending.

📌 Take Action:

When you’re tight on funds (either personally or in business), it’s time to get cozy with your spending and cut out the fat. Here’s how!

  • Print off your bank statements for the last 3 months
  • Line by line (I know, tedious but worth it) and see where all your money is going.
  • Then ask yourself one simple question, “is this where I want my money to go?”

Oftentimes when we get up close and personal on where our funds are being spent, we “find” a lot of money we didn’t think we had! Subscriptions we aren’t using, software plans that can be downgraded.

  • Start by cutting any unnecessary expenses
  • Then cut the expense you love but don’t have to have (remember, this is just a season!)
  • From there, have the hard conversations (there will be some). Team members who’s pay needs to adjust, vendors you need to renegotiate rates with, discounts to ask for, etc.

Diana, a wedding planner and student in my course The Blueprint Model, went through this very same practice and by looking at where her money was really going she was able to pay off a $30k business loan in 9 months!! Read Diana’s story.

For most people “budget” sounds more like a six-letter curse word than a tool for freedom (that’s why according to this article 68% of people would rather talk about their weight than money 🙊). So instead of thinking about a traditional budget like a restrictive diet, I want you to make a “spending plan” instead. As Dave Ramsey says, “tell your dollars where to go instead of wondering where they went”.

Sit down and tell your dollars where to go. Give yourself spending amounts for each category. Personally: how much to pay your bills, buy groceries, and keep gas in your car?

Business: how much to pay the bills, your team, yourself?

Putting dollar amounts to your spending, a simple budget!, you’ve now created targets for yourself. And that leads me to #3 ⤵

📔 Related: Do You *Really* Need a Budget? A former Financial Advisor Weighs In.


3. Get clear on what you have to have.

The most important document every business owner needs (and every household for that matter) is what I call a money plan! Aka a budget. A budget outlines exactly how much you need to make to pay your personal bills and keep the lights on in the business. It’s not sexy, but it is freeing!

🎯 You can’t hit a target if you don’t have one!

I see so many business owners saying “yes” to everything out of fear of not having enough. Once you walk through step #2 and outline how much you need, set some goals for yourself! How many clients do you need? How many products to sell per month?

This becomes your sales goal — your “enough” number as I call it!

Get creative with how to reach your financial goals:

  • Don’t be afraid to run promotions (not discounts!!)
  • Introduce a temporary offer (like mini sessions for photographers or a floral workshop for floral designers) – a one time, never do it again offer can be a cash flow option.
  • Take on “non portfolio work”. You aren’t going to blog about it or add it to your portfolio page, but it can pay some bills 🙂

You have a target, now let’s get strategic with our marketing in order to hit that goal. That leads us to #4.


4. Double Down on what is working! + Cast a Wider Net (the one about Marketing).

While I never thought of myself as a marketing gal, and still don’t, I do love data and numbers. And though I tend to have an eye roll 🙄 reaction when I hear “marketing is just a numbers game” because that takes the humanity out of who we serve… in a lot of ways it is true. I love numbers and data for a lot of reasons but mostly for the ability to get out of my feelings and get back to facts. When we aren’t selling enough, it feels personal. But truth be told, it’s rarely ever personal.

We need more eyeballs on our work. Marketing.

Especially in times when the economy is hard and people are getting tighter with their spending, we have to cast a wider net.

Once I set a goal for myself, I know exactly how much we need to sell to not feel so broke, I make a marketing plan.

  • Start with what is already working! Who is your number word of mouth referral? Take them to lunch! Do you have an affiliate sending potential customers your way? Thank them! Do you have a blog post that is trending for SEO or Pinterest? Re-circulate it!
  • Where can you spend the least amount of time and maximize the efforts?
  • Name your approach for this season: are you going for quick wins or long term strategy? Sometimes when cash is tight, it makes sense to focus on the quick wins (ie. social media), but focusing on SEO and building organic traffic will win in the end (make time for it when you can!)


5. Talk yourself out of the spiral

Slow seasons come and slow seasons GO! Remind yourself of all the hurdles you’ve overcome in business, all the “down the last $1” moments that you’ve lived through— put on your grit hat and get back to work!


Being low on cash is scary. As Kanye says, “money isn’t everything but not having it is.” IYKYK. But instead of panic, I hope this 5 part “money is tight” survival guide gives you a game plan to get back to cash flow positive.


“Focus on that which you can improve, correct, or change. Ignore what you can’t control.”

– Coach John Wooden




Keep Reading:

Do You *Really* Need a Budget? A former Financial Advisor Weighs In.

How to Win at Summer as a Work From Home Mom

Summer Reading List for Entrepreneurs


Need help getting your small business finances in shape?

💸 The Blueprint Model : My Signature 12-week Business + Finance Program to Simplify The Math of Business

🌟 My Blueprint Year : Annual Planning Course + 350-page Planner/Business Tracker

🏠 Blueprint at Home : My Personal Budgeting Course




May 31, 2024

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