Money mastery is one of the most important areas for long term business success and longevity. I have seen those who don’t have a handle on their money management literally loose everything. This includes top brokers who once held the converted spots in the top ten companies in the country. There are six pillars to money mastery which every business owner can learn from are:
1) Cash Flow
Great businesses fail regularly to poor cash flow management. I’ve seen this be a problem regardless of the GCI a business is running. Those running $250,000 have the same problems in the same area as those who are doing $250,000,000. The only difference is how many zero’s there are in the equation.
It is always best to make decisions from a place of strength. Bad decisions are the norm when they are made in desperation. The first step in money mastery is to get your cash flow under control.
Here are a few practical tips while you build your significant war chest in reserves.
- Pay your bills on their due date, not before.
- Disable all of your auto-payments and manually schedule when you want to pay each bill monthly.
- Cut spending to what is necessary. If something doesn’t have a positive return on investment, then it’s on the chopping block.
- Plan for the seasonality of income.
- When things get ugly, prioritize the things that reflect on your credit report and work with your other vendors to avoid service disruption.
2) Debt Management
I know there is a school of thought that all debt is bad debt. Those tend to lead safer, yet smaller, lives. Risk is a necessary component of reward. Those who build large businesses that tap into the legacy category carry a healthy level of good debt. Balancing risk is the key.
Debt on depreciating assets is generally a bad idea unless there is a 10x return on investment on the item. Your business computers, cars, and wardrobe to an extent can fall into this category. If it doesn’t have a 10x return and it is depreciating in nature, don’t do it on debt.
Debt on appreciating assets is a business decision. Buying real estate with a mortgage fall into this category. For your primary residence, it almost always makes sense. For investment properties, as long as they create cash flow, they also almost always make sense. Investments into your personal growth are also usually a good decision that have a positive return.
3) Emergency Funds
The economy is cyclical. The short term debt cycle, or times between recessions, is typically 7-8 years. There are also long term debt cycles and unexpected world events that will exasperate harder times. Just remember, in the wise words of Og Mandino, “This too shall pass.” It applies to good times and bad times. The world continues to spin.
You need to be prepared for the unexpected. If you have nothing saved, start with getting a credit line opened. Then work on having three months of expenses saved, then six, then a year. These funds can and should be invested. But keep the funds in something liquid where you can access them in less than two weeks.
4) Proper Protection
There is no need to over-insure everything in the beginning. Get the insurance you need, but work on your getting your cash flow and bad debt handled first. Then get your emergency funds up to the six months mark. Once you get there, you can re-evaluate your insurance needs and bump up your limits. When you have the cash reserves, you can raise the value of your policies, while keeping premiums in check by raising your deductibles.
5) Build Wealth
As your business continues to generate profit, you are now in a position to expand your empire. Investment in your business or real estate, both directly or via stock should be your primary wealth builders. Be smart, risk well and keep speculative investing to a minimum. Consistent base hits are much better than the elusive home run when building wealth. As your wealth builds, so will your access to better and better investments compounding your returns.
6) Preserve Wealth
When you have seven figures coming in it’s time to leave your neighborhood CPA and get a good tax strategist. There is a world of difference between a CPA who records what happened and one who helps you strategize the best way to make things happen. This is also the time where international diversification becomes an important play.
Legacy level wealth opens doors not available to others. Money mastery starts with managing your cash flow. Getting a handle on debt and building your emergency funds comes next. Most people never get past the first three pillars. Protecting, building and preserving wealth follow. Money mastery is a skill set that all business owners can, and need, to learn in order to achieve long term business success and longevity.
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