This information stopped me dead in my tracks: “More than half of small business owners are going months without pay (if they take any at all).”
In fact, according to a survey from the cash-flow optimization platform Kabbage, 25% of owners forgo pay for two to six months. Even worse, an additional 25% have gone more than six months without paying themselves.
There are so many things that are troubling about this that’s it’s hard to know where to start.
So, let’s start at the beginning – with the mindset of valuing your contribution to your business, and compensating yourself accordingly.
IT’S A BUSINESS – SO RUN IT LIKE ONE
Think back to when you started your business. Perhaps you left the corporate world for more freedom, more opportunity, more money? Few of us leave the security of a steady paycheck in order to forgo financial security and work for free.
If you are operating anything other than a hobby, you need to pay yourself. Period.
It’s not a business if you’re not paying yourself – or on a clear path to do so soon. If you aren’t planning to pay yourself, what you have is an expensive hobby.
Think about it – if you weren’t doing the work you would have to hire someone to do it, right? Would that person work for free? The answer is no – and neither should you.
Even if you don’t NEED the money for one reason or another, by not paying yourself, you aren’t representing the true cost of running the business by foregoing a salary. You need to know what the cost would be if you plugged someone else in to take your place.
THERE’S NO SHAME IN MAKING MONEY (LOTS OF IT, IF THAT’S WHAT YOU WANT)
At Clara CFO Group we encourage our clients to have a “CEO mindset”. And part of being a CEO is planning for BIG results! Successful CEOs don’t “play small” and they don’t allow limiting beliefs to create limiting results.
Whether you’re the CEO of a small, medium, or large business, make sure part of your CEO mindset is focused on making money (lots of it, if that’s what you want). We encourage our clients to go after their big goals both in impact and in financial gain. As small business owners, your personal goals can be directly impacted by the performance of your business, so we work personal finance goals into our work with clients.
How would it feel to be making your dream salary and paying off your mortgage with your highly profitable business?
DETERMINING YOUR SALARY
So, you’re ready to start paying yourself a salary. Congratulations! How do you figure out how much compensation is appropriate, fills your needs, and is sustainable when it comes to the bottom line of both your household and your business?
Because all businesses are so very different, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. And this topic is one we often help our clients with at Clara CFO Group. If we could share one tip with you, it would be:
Don’t underestimate what you need.
If you don’t regularly pay yourself enough, you will likely find yourself regularly taking withdrawals from the business and random times and in desperation. This has a way of creeping up on you – a little here, a little there. All of a sudden, it’s the end of the quarter and you’re scratching your head, wondering where the money went!
The other danger in underestimating is the impact that has on pricing your products and services. Our recent post talked about this problem. We encourage you to take a peek for more information. Understanding this is crucial to your success.
Think about what you need versus what you want and what your business needs. There’s a balance here that’s critical.
The key is to pay yourself regularly, whether that amount is large or small, based on both your needs and that of your business. You may not be able to pay yourself your dream salary just yet, but set up a goal and intention to get there. If you factor in your plan to increase your salary, you can make strategic steps to get your business to that level. Without the intention, you won’t reach it by chance!
A WORD ABOUT GENDER INEQUITIES
When we work with women who own small businesses, we notice they are especially likely to hold off paying themselves. They also seem reluctant (or even embarrassed) to articulate big dollar goals for their take home pay.
As a society, we still seem to be in a place where women value themselves and their contributions less than their male counterparts. That doesn’t serve anyone well – and particularly not if you are a business owner.
When you plan for big results you can have big results. And if your goal is a six-figure paycheck we think that’s a great goal (and we’re here to support you in achieving that goal!).
Let us know how we can help.
The bottom line: Paying yourself a regular and appropriate salary reinforces your commitment to your business and allows you to live the life you deserve.