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Money is not important

23 Apr 2012

I thought I would follow-on from my last article 'Hire me, learn from me, buy from me, or get out of my way'  as it seemed to resonate with readers. Thanks to those of you who left comments.

On day two of the Infusioncon 2012 conference in Phoenix, I found myself tapping furiously on my trusty iPad as Pam Slim (author of  "Escape from cubicle nation”) gave her address. Something she said went straight into the left side of my brain and stuck there.

"Money is not important in itself, but it touches everything in your life that is.”

In that instant, everything for me fell into place. It’s not the cash itself that’s important, it’s all the great things you can do with that cash that are important.


I suggest to you our goals as business owners and entrepreneurs should not be mapped or tagged to EBITDA, Net Profit or any of that particular blah, blah, blah, but rather to the real stuff that money impacts.

Let me explain.

Instead of looking at the boring business metrics as a measure of your business success, consider:

  • how many extra days holiday you will have this year,
  • how many more days over last year that you have to go skiing with your kids,
  • how many treats you can spoil your significant other with,
  •  or even, which charities and how many more people you can help this year with your increased earnings.

Now, that's the important stuff.  Who gives a toss about the KPI?

In reading Pam’s book on the way back from Phoenix to New Zealand, it dawned on me this is the reason why corporate life is so boring and meaningless to many. C- level execs (and I was one of them) talk about quarterly profit KPIs, EBITDA metrics, balanced scorecards, Corporate health KPIs, blah, blah and they wonder why everyone is staring back at them with glazed eyes. No-one is engaged because no-one actually cares about those things. This is why small businesses the world over have such an advantage.

What we do is real and meaningful. Or at least should be.

So what purpose is life or business without money?

The answer you should have to this should be in two parts:

  1. Life and money need not be connected at all. I know some of the happiest people in the world who have little; conversely, I know some very wealthy people who are miserable.
  2. In business, there should only be one answer. Surely money is why we start companies, work 100 hour weeks (at least to start with), make sacrifices and sometimes risk it all. If this is not the answer then what is?  As Pam aptly put it, "Money in itself is not important, but it touches everything that is”.

If you are reading this as a small or mid-sized company owner/entrepreneur then consider the following - I have applied what I am about to tell you to my business and it has transformed everything.

  • If your business plan is more than three pages long, throw it away and start again. One page with the key numbers and bullet points is just fine and dandy. (My wife still hates this approach but that’s OK)
  • Have key objectives every month that you keep an eye on. Write them down where you can see them. Make them specific, make them fun and ideally make them something that you need to spend money on.
  • Commit to this: when I earn this, I will do that, and then do it. Don’t bank it. Reward yourself or your family. Plan it, book it and do it. You might be dead tomorrow and you can’t take it with you.
  • Share your commitment with your partner and/or family. Make it a solemn commitment. If we achieve this, then we will do that, and then do it.
  • If you start saying things like KPIs then wash your mouth out with soap and start again.
  • With all the fun stuff going on, keep an eye on the cash. Remember, the money is not in itself important but it touches everything that is. Make sure you clients pay you on time. Get those orders in, send those invoices out. Even better, ask your clients to pay 50% in advance and 50% on delivery. Ask them to pay by credit card.
  • Get walking. If you have started a small business or you find yourself becoming buried in one, get out of bed early (preferably before 6.30), go for a walk, get a trainer, do something to get the juice flowing. Parking your butt in the home office 24 x 7 will not achieve anything other than your early demise and who wants that?

About Sean McDonald

Sean is the founder and managing director of Sales Systems Ltd. His company and team of consultants help organisations improve the overall effectiveness of their sales and marketing operations through the introduction of new processes, tools and technology to ensure they are operating at peak performance in today’s highly competitive environment.

Sean is a regular contributor to Techday.