Money Map

The Story of My Deepest, Darkest Money Mistakes and Learning the Hard-way So You Can Get Business Money Smart

I knew nothing about business when I first went into practice for myself.

Reluctant entrepreneur, anyone? Yep, that was me.

But after three years at a law firm, seeing my life get sucked away in billable hours, I had to make the leap.

And it was terrifying.

Especially the money part.

Because I barely had any idea how to manage my personal finances, let alone the finances of a business.

I was financially illiterate. And experienced a ton of shame and fear along with that.

[If you want to skip the rest of this post and just register for the live training I am hosting in partnership with my financial management team to teach you the hard and expensive lessons I learned from not knowing how to manage the money parts of my business so you can manage your business money easily, use this link to RSVP here now.]

So I just kept focusing on making more.

And the more I made, the more went out the door.

And the more expensive, and ugly mistakes I made.

I knew there were reports I should be looking at, but I didn’t know what they were or how to read them.

When I asked my accountant what I should be looking at, she said, well it depends on what you want to know.

But, I didn’t know what I wanted to know!

So I just ignored it.

Then, I got divorced, and the forensic accountant we hired looked at me and said, “your books are seriously messed up.”

My face flushed with shame, but I still didn’t do anything about it. Because I didn’t know what to do!

Then, I got the unexpected $113,000 tax bill. Had to take out a loan to pay it, and fortunately, back then credit was flowing freely. Today, that’s not the case.

And then, I hit a cash crunch and didn’t have enough to make payroll.

You might think these things couldn’t happen to a 7-figure entrepreneur.

But, when you don’t know how to look at the numbers of your business and cancel every financial meeting because “something comes up” that keeps you from making it (because you secretly don’t understand what you are supposed to do or ask on the meetings) and instead think to yourself, “I’ll just figure out how to make more” it’s bound to happen no matter how much you are making.

And, if you aren’t making much, it’s even worse, right?

You would think the final straw would have come when my taxes got audited, but no that didn’t force my hand either.

It wasn’t until I ended up $500,000 in debt with $70,000 of overhead choking my creativity each month and facing down the reality of bankruptcy that I finally woke up and decided to do something about it.

So, I bit the bullet and learned everything I could about how to understand the numbers of my business.

The Story of My Deepest, Darkest Money Mistakes

Today, I LOVE looking at my financials. Not because they are always great.

Sometimes, I still hit cash crunches.

Sometimes, I still have to come up with the money to pay my taxes.

Sometimes, I still have to hustle.

But, it’s never scary anymore. I always have plenty of notice so I can put my creative mind to work and get busy when I need to and relax my mind and let it focus on other creative endeavors when I don’t.

I never have to take on a client I don’t want to serve, just for the money, because I know exactly how much money I have, how much I need and where it’s coming from.

I get a succinct weekly report I can read easily. I have a monthly financial call I look forward to, and when I review my financials quarterly, I understand what I am seeing and what they tell me about where I need to take my business next.

Ah, sweet relief.

Over the past ten years of all these crazy mistakes and lessons, I trained my financial team on everything I learned and created easy systems that would have me feeling smart.

I have been begging them to put together a training on these systems, so you no longer have to operate blind like I was for so long.

And, finally, they are doing it!

The Story of My Deepest, Darkest Money Mistakes and Learning the Hard-way So You Can Get Business Money Smart

We’ve teamed up together to offer a live workshop this coming Tuesday, and if you are ready to fall in love with the numbers of your business, and stop being scared, or not knowing what you are doing, I hope you’ll join us.

You can use this link to register now, and we’ll send you the call-in details.

Tax refund, big payment or ignoring it altogether? My best strategies…

Tax time here in the US is just around the corner and you are either excited to be expecting (or have already received) a refund, stressed about paying or perhaps you are ignoring it altogether.

You can e-mail into [email protected] to let me know which category you are in and I’ll hit you back with some guidance specific to your situation.

My personal tax story is instructive for you, no matter which category you fall into.

I’ll be sharing some details over right here, so keep an eye out for my tax time insights.  Most importantly, I’ll be sharing the story of how I ended up with an unexpected $100,000 tax bill and how I handled it. Plus, what I did after I was audited that built me a $1,000,000+ business. Seriously, this is huge and applies in many areas of your life.

Today though, I want to share some tax time tips that could help you immediately:

 

  1. Tax time can be a wake up call to approach your finances with eyes wide open: see it that way and grow your income in alignment with your life.

Looking at the numbers of my life and business was terrifying for years. Rather than paying attention (which felt either obsessive or overwhelming), I decided I would just make more money so I didn’t have to really pay attention.  

That’s one strategy I see a lot of entrepreneurs who are scared of their numbers using and while it can work for a while, it will ultimately backfire on you and result in extremely costly mistakes, as it did for me.

The other option I see people using is to just ignore tax time altogether by making so little that filing taxes isn’t necessary.

Either of these options is not in alignment with the truth of who you are. Making so little that filing taxes isn’t necessary or making so much that you think you can just pay in advance for your mistakes are both avoidance strategies that take you away from the truth.

Face your taxes with eyes wide open, with regular monthly meetings with your bookkeeper (or yourself if you don’t have a bookkeeper yet), reconcile your books, categorize your expenses properly each month, and review your profit and loss — those are recipes for success.

If you don’t know how to do these things, hit reply and let us know. If there’s enough interest we’ll create a training.

There was a time I didn’t know how to do these things, so I just avoided it.  

Today, I have clean and clear systems to manage my financials that allow me to look clearly, use my numbers to tell the story of my business so I can make wise decisions and I can relax knowing I’m earning what I need, when I need it, on demand and there’s no tax time scrambling anymore.

 

  1. Use your refund wisely to invest in resources that create more in the world.

The other day, I supported one of my on-site team members to get his taxes done. He was going to go to H&R Block and they told him it would cost him $100 to do his taxes plus he would owe $300+ (because he is a 1099 independent contractor with us and that means he has to pay all of the taxes himself on his income).

I used Turbo Tax and deducted some of his expenses for him. We ended up getting him a $300+ refund from the taxes he paid via his W-2 job.

So I asked him, how are you going to use this money?

He told me he was going to buy parts for his car so he could make it even more tricked out.

A part of me cried inside. That’s consumerism at it’s finest.

Investing in tricking out his car isn’t going to create more of anything in his life or the world.

Instead, he could be using the money to invest in gaining a new skill that he will be able to use in service to creating more in the world.

I invite you right now to consider where you might be using your resources to consume more rather than to create more and what you can do to shift that with your very next investment, especially your tax time refund, if you are getting one.

 

  1. Don’t beat yourself up, rather commit to make changes and learn, grow and evolve.

Remember, we learn by making mistakes. Every challenge (including the challenge of managing the financials of your life with your eyes wide open) is your greatest opportunity to be more of who you really are. And you get to choose that in each moment.

Don’t beat yourself up. Trust that you are being shown exactly what you need to learn next. Our purpose here at Eyes Wide Open is to lovingly support you to see what you may have been missing up until now.

I hope these tax time tips have showed you how you can use even the most practical of life experiences to expand your consciousness and live your life awake, aware and on your terms.

With eyes and heart wide open,

Ali

 

PS — We started our Enough Course yesterday, April 6th. Everyone who attended had huge ah-ha’s and breakthroughs on their own awareness of what they have and what they actually need to have the life they really want. It’s not too late to join us for the rest of the sessions. If you would like to consider whether it’s right for you, send us a note ([email protected]) and let us know so we can send you a recording of the first session and you can check it out and see if it’s your right next step.

The Bad Advice About Credit That’s Kept You Stuck

I’m a little riled up as I write this.

I’m part of a private Facebook group and someone posted a request for guidance about taking out a business loan to support the next evolution of her business.

The immediate response she got back from 4 people was don’t take out loans for your business, don’t go into debt, and no debt = freedom.

This is the exact thinking that keeps so many people, maybe you, stuck in work they don’t love, chasing false financial freedom and wondering why they don’t have the lives they want.

Debt is not the source of your slavery.

Credit is a gift.

Used wisely, it can and will finance your learning, growth and evolution. And it can support you to create far more in the world than you can without resources.

In fact, part of the reason most of our country’s wealth is captured and held by the 1% while the rest get poorer and poorer is because we’ve been conditioned into focusing on saving instead of on leveraging debt and other resources to invest in ourselves and creating more wisely.

If you would love support with accessing credit and using it wisely, hit reply and let us know. We’re currently planning our next training on accessing and using credit with joy and we would love to know your biggest questions about this topic.

To your eyes wide open life,

Ali

PS — Tell me your story of using credit and being in debt by hitting reply so I can help you take your next steps beyond fear and conditioning. Better yet, give this one some thought and then tell me what came through: if you had access to $50,000 of credit at 0% for a year, how would you use it? What would you invest in? What would you create?

Package Your Services: You are priceless

Hey y’all,

I just got off a training with my members on Pricing and Packaging your services.

We’re creating ease of enrollment and wanted to offer you some of the juicy parts. Why? Because it is the #1 thing I repeatedly see most people in service-based businesses are missing the boat on and was the 1st step toward building my professional practice into a million dollar business.

#1. Be really clear about who you serve. Most business owners start off in business trying to serve way too big of an audience.

My law practice took off big time when I narrowed my focus to serving families with young children and was able to become the go to lawyer in my community by educating families with young children in a way no other lawyers were doing at that time. I later expanded to serving business owners with young children at home, when I began offering legal services for business.

Up until I narrowed my focus, I struggled to get clients in the door and when I did, they often had to think about whether to hire me or were shopping around. Once I narrowed my focus and designed my service to meet their needs, I became unshoppable.

 

#2. Drop the free initial consultation and instead create a first meeting that provides tremendous value, has a name, and a specific purpose or outcome.

No one really values a free initial consultation and it’s most often seen as a sales meeting in which people really just want to know how much you charge so they can shop you.

When you shift away from the free initial consult and instead create a meeting that has a name, a purpose, and a value, your ideal clients want it, value it and whether they hire you or not, will tell all their friends and family about you.

Plus, you’re delivering value right from the start and when this meeting is done well and you prepare your prospects for it well, they aren’t focused on price, they are focused on the outcome of the meeting.

Make this meeting so awesome that you could charge for it and people would be happy to pay, but see below for how to use it in your marketing by offering it for free or discounted.

 

#3. Use your marketing to educate, educate, educate and give people an easy way to get your now named and highly valuable initial meeting for free or at a significant discount.

For example, if I served folks one-to-one, I would offer a pricing and packaging strategy session or Money Map Life and Income Planning Session at the end of this message, either at a discount or free, depending on how many new clients I wanted and where I was in my practice.

#4. Make a list of all the services you can possibly provide to your ideal clients by focusing on the problems they solve using outcome based language.

I see too many people trying to offer their services in terms of time or number of sessions (3-hours or 4 sessions) rather than in terms of the outcome provided.

Your pricing should be based on the value of the outcome you provide to the people you serve, not at all based on the number of hours or sessions it takes to get there.

#5. Base your fees (at least in the beginning) on the LEAST you can charge, rather than buying into some idea of charging what you are worth.

You are priceless.

You couldn’t possibly charge what you are worth, even if you tried. What you can do though is charge what you need so you aren’t sacrificing your life in service to your work AND once you’ve got confidence with your enrollment structure (which will happen quickly if you follow my guidance here) and your practice is full or close to full, you can increase your package fees based on the true value you are providing to the people you serve.

In order to ensure that you are not under-charging for your services while at the same time knowing the least you can charge, make sure you understand your Money Map Numbers at five levels — min to be happy, min to be of service, preferred, no limits, and now — so you know what you are working towards.

These numbers are calculated based on the life you want to have, what it will cost to have that life at your next number, the amount of time you have to earn in exchange for your services — which is less than you probably think given all the other things you need to do in your business.

If you found this helpful, check out our Money Map Life Planning Series. You can get it here.

The Spinning, Worrying Mind + Why This May Help You

One of the things I love about Facebook is that it reminds us about memories from prior years. I tend to live so much in the moment these days that I can forget how far I’ve come, how much things have shifted.

This time last year I was in the midst one of the most challenging times of my life, by far.

I was cleaning up a huge business mess after my former partners turned out not to be the women I thought they were. My daughter was deep in the midst of the hardest part of her teenage years, by far. And, I was beginning to recognize that the man I had hired as CEO of my lawyer training company wasn’t a strong long-term fit and I’d likely have to step back in as CEO, which I have since done.

Facebook sent me this memory, which reminded me of all of it and how much things can shift in one year.

This year, I’m back in Costa Rica, CEO of both companies, and my relationship with Kaia has completely transformed.

The Spinning, Worrying Mind + Why This May Help You

While in Costa Rica for Envision last year (with my then boyfriend Michael, my videographer Robert and Kaia) I made a last minute decision to send Kaia back without us and to stay on for an additional week and go to the Roots Gathering in Punta Mona.

If I had really known what was going on with her at the time, I would not have sent her back. But I didn’t. I thought we were on an upswing in our relationship, and we were. What I didn’t know is that it would have to get worse, much worse, before it got even better.

That’s often the case, and if you are in the midst of a tough time, I encourage you to know and understand that. Just keep showing up, moving forward, and taking care of yourself.

I often remind myself of this quote by John Lennon:

“Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.”

I just read the book The Surrender Experiment and it once again reminded me of this truth. If you haven’t read it, it’s a game-changer. Check it out.

So, what does all this have to do with Water + Earth, Integrity and Authenticity?

Well, here I am back in Costa Rica again. This time, as I mentioned in the Love Letter I sent last week, I sent back the guys who traveled with us this year (my new guy friend, Kaia’s boyfriend, and my son) and Kaia and I stayed on for retreat.

Yesterday, in the retreat, we explored the elements of Water and Earth.

Here’s what I noticed that may be relevant to you and your life and your business.

First of all, so often my mind doesn’t want to do the things, but once I do them, my other parts (body, heart and soul) are so happy I did it!

For example, we started the day at the ocean with bodypaints. My mind was judgmental. Didn’t want to get painted. Didn’t want to go in the water and get my hair wet.

Didn’t want to, didn’t want to, didn’t want to.

But I did it anyway (a huge teaching of the surrender experiment, by the way) and my body, heart and soul were thrilled!

A reminder to not listen so much to my mind, as she is often running old programming that doesn’t truly serve. She’s great at solving problems, not so great at running my life.

What that means is it’s my job to give her the right problems to solve and not listen to the stories she spins thinking she’s solving problems that often don’t even exist.

It’s easier said than done, for sure. But the more I practice, the better I get.

Can you relate?

It’s the reason I created the Money Map program. My mind needs me to give her the right questions to ask. For so long, the only question I asked and the main problem my mind focused on was “do I have enough money?” and “how can I get more?”

The wrong questions to ask. My mind would spin for hours upon hours seeking the answers.

I created the Money Map so money would no longer be the compass of my life, and instead become the fuel for my creative dreams. It worked.

Today, my mind no longer spins on money. Not because I have millions in the bank, but because I know where my money is coming from, how I’m using what I have, and because I’ve given my mind the right questions to ask. That’s the power of the Money Map.

Today, I’m able to be in integrity around money and my work in the world, the use of my time, energy and attention, in ways I simply couldn’t before.

I couldn’t be in integrity around any of that before the Money Map because I didn’t actually know what I needed, so I was always focused on getting more. And sacrificing time, energy, attention and even relationships for it.

I thought I needed millions in the bank to be free.

I thought I had to put money first to be responsible.

I thought the ability to earn money was the most important skill to learn.

I did a lot of thinking back then.  My mind constantly spinning, worrying, questioning.

Now, I get to put play at the top of my list and spin poi, instead of my mind.  This picture from Envision captures my very first time spinning lighted poi and I hope to do a lot more of it. It’s way more fun than the mind spin.

This was not imaginable 6 years ago. I was chained to work. Play was not at the top of my list. Self care was barely on the map. And relationships definitely took the back seat.So, I’m curious about you …

What does your mind spin on? Where does worry about money fit into the equation? Are you ready to shift from the question of whether you have enough to clarity around how to use the resources you do have to create the life you really want?

I’m curious about you and where you are on this journey. Send me a note at [email protected], I read all the responses I get. Knowing you better fuels what I share here; it is the best way to support you in building your life and income awake, aware and on your terms.

Love beyond,

Ali

PS — I have a cool gift for you. My friend Joanna Lindenbaum asked 25 women to contribute their personal rituals for life and business to this guidebook and she’s giving it to you free. My ritual is something you can use each time you send an important email and I know it will help you have more of the outcomes you desire. You can get the whole guidebook here.

In the fire + pictures from Costa Rica (including my boyfriend!)

A quick love letter from Costa Rica to share with you some of my experience here in this beautiful place.

First and foremost, for those of you who are most focused on the Eyes Wide Open business teachings, and not so much in the Raw and Real parts of what I share, I’ll warn you now that this love letter is a mix of both.

There’s a little business and a little raw/real happening in this love letter. If you are all business, all the time, you may want to close this one down now and get on to the next. But if you like the raw/real, read on and you’ll get some business goodness as a bonus.

I came down to Costa Rica a week and a day ago with my family, so I could speak at Envision Festival. I haven’t gotten all the pictures uploaded yet, but you can see a few on my private Facebook profile.

And here’s a quickie of the whole family as we were sending Melina, Lotus and the boys back home after Envision. The boys (men really at this point), are my son, Noah, Kaia’s boyfriend, Max, and my boyfriend (yes, I did just say that), Rainbow. Yes, his name is Rainbow.

Kaia and I stayed on for a women’s retreat with Jess Magic and Elena Meta, and in it we are exploring the elements, dance, voice and writing.

Today, the element was Fire. Breath of fire, dance of fire, sweat lodge, fiery food, and a fire ceremony to burn up whatever is ready to be released.

For me, it was the control paradigm and the last vestiges of my need to prove myself.

So, what does all this have to do with building your life and income awake, aware and on your terms?A few things …

#1: Integration of the learnings

In the past, I’ve moved so quickly from one thing to the next that I have not had time to integrate the learnings. Just last month, I went immediately from a private event at Esalen (called Return) to lead my Money Map Masters in a retreat and then immediately after that into a month of intense focus to prepare for me to be out of the office for two weeks.

This time, I decided to stay on here in Costa Rica for an extra week to attend this retreat with Kaia and to integrate the teachings and learnings from my time at Envision.

Taking my whole family to Envision was a big deal. It’s really a working event for me, not just a vacation. I’m there to speak and network, not just to hang out and have fun. And having the kids (particularly my 12-year old who still really needs a lot of me) with me was an added challenge.

But having them with me was also really fun and I had a lot of support from friends, as you can see in the pictures. Plus, I always feel really great when the kids get to hear me speak because I’m teaching some radical money concepts that they aren’t going to get in school or from the media, so I’m glad they are getting it from me and not just by osmosis, but consciously and intentionally.

#2: How to free yourself in your business

I’ll be gone a total of two weeks. Most of it off my computer, other than time to write a couple of emails, do Facebook and chat about a few things with my team via Skype.

A month ago, I was working like crazy. I wasn’t sure how I was going to manage getting out of town, let alone being mostly offline for two weeks.

So I decided to make the investment in hiring someone who could really stand in for me in both businesses and bit the bullet. I brought in Brenda Mathisen (most recently Chief of Staff for one of the PayPal investor/founders), spent a month connecting deeply with her and providing training and then left town so she could take over with minimal interference from me.

This is the counter-intuitive way to free yourself in business. Get the right person or people on board and then leave town. In the past, I thought I needed to hold on and oversee things for way too long. What I realize now is that was disempowering and indicative of my lack of trust.

By leaving town, I showed my team (and Brenda) I trust them and while I know some mistakes will likely be made, I trust them to learn, grow and evolve from those mistakes, which includes figuring out how to fix them when they happen.

Repeatedly, I have seen this with women lawyers in my New Law Business Model coaching program — they get pregnant, and if they coach with me ahead of their maternity leave to hire the right person then hand off systems with trust at the foundation, they leave to have a baby and come back two months later with a practice that is thriving far more than it would have if they had been in the office micro-managing every day.

Try this one yourself, even if you aren’t having a baby. Just plan a vacation and then actually take it. But do remember to hire a great person first.

#3: Death

The last thing I want to mention in this week’s love letter is Death.

Confronting the reality of your mortality will result in you having a better life. It is coming up in my reality frequently and I want you to start to consider how that might be true in your life.

Have you confronted your mortality? If so, have you planned to make life better for your loved ones after you are gone or are you starting doing that now? How is your own life getting better by looking at the reality of your own death?

I know this may not be an easy conversation or consideration for you, but it is an important one so you can make the very best decisions regarding the use of your resources that you possibly can.

If you want any support with that, please send me a message at [email protected] and let me know. It’s something I’m being asked to do more and more lately and I’m feeling called.

Love beyond,

Ali

PS — we have twenty new Eyes Wide Open members who are also B-Schoolers and I want to send a great big welcome to you all! If you have not already received your invite to our private member’s forum and requested to join, please check your email including the spam folder. Welcome! I’m excited to see you there.