Two Sides of Money

There are two ways to look at money. If you're in business for yourself, and especially if you supply the product or service yourself, looking at both sides can be hard. Some people (I'm looking at you, Christy, circa 2001) never look because they are too afraid. Not a good strategy for long or even short-term success.

The first way to look--the way people always think about when they pay attention to money--is logically. What are my prices? How do they compare to the competition? How much time does it take to make/deliver the product, and how much am I getting paid to provide the product based on how I'm pricing it? I'll go into the logic of pricing in subsequent posts.

However, if you are making things (paintings, furniture, quilts or whatever), the place to start your pricing is by figuring out what you want to make per hour and multiply it by the hours it takes to make the thing you're selling. I walked through this arithmetic with someone tonight. She makes fabric art that takes her five hours per piece, and she sells each piece for $50.00. Not even accounting for the materials, she's making less than minimum wage. NOOOOOOOO!

The other way to look at money is emotionally. 

What are your emotions about money? You can get your pricing, marketing, quality, customer service, website, and everything else right, and still goof up, if you think having money is somehow problematic.

I went to a party on Saturday night. One friend brought a list of questions for each person to answer, which included "What would you do with a million dollars?" 

To my surprise, two out of the ten people said they'd refuse it.

"It would make me greedy," one person said.

"It would mess with my head. I wouldn't want it," said the other.

It didn't occur to either of them, evidently, that they could take the money and give it all to their favorite charity if they didn't want to keep it.

I've coached people who think money is dirty; who think that if they get paid for their art, whatever it is, that their creativity will be corrupted. On the other hand, some people feel like the more money=self-worth, or money=safety, or money=intelligence.

I had huge money problems 15 years ago, which are long settled. I paid off the massive debts I incurred and I only pay cash for things these days. I don't have or use credit cards. 

But I can still forget: money is just a tool. Neither good nor bad. It's the meaning I place on it that causes me trouble.

What about you?