Busting The Money Illusion

Proud Man Pointing at Himself

In the success industry there’s a lot of talk about money.

In recent years, I find that more and more coaches, experts, and gurus talk openly about how much money they make and how much money they can help others make. I suppose it’s all in an effort to inspire. To show people what’s possible. But are they sharing the whole story and is it a responsible way to market?

Consider this…

A friend of mine was at a business-building conference when a prominent business coach stood up and shared with the entire crowd, “Sometimes it costs a million to make a million.”

Hmmm… I don’t think that’s the kind of business I want.

Seems like a lot of hard work just to break even.

A few years ago another business coach in the Internet marketing arena shared very publicly that she had hit the million-dollar mark in her business. Then she added, perhaps as justification, that she’d been working seventy to eighty hours a week for the past year to make it happen.

Hmmm… I don’t think that’s the kind of business I want, either!

Of course, she was quick to point out that she loved her work and, therefore, it didn’t feel like work. But I couldn’t help thinking that doing anything for seventy to eighty hours a week is not healthy nor sustainable.

And yet another highly visible coach whose mentor publicized helping her hit the million-dollar mark in her business was asked why she was still working so hard. She shared in her newsletter that, while she had technically made a million dollars the previous year, much of that money was not in her bank account. She also implied that the costs involved to reach one million in revenue were such that she needed to keep working to support herself. (Maybe it actually did cost a million to make a million.)

Here’s a news flash: a million-dollar gross income does not mean you have a million dollars in the bank.

It doesn’t even mean your business was profitable. In other words, it doesn’t mean you made money. But far too often I find the numbers being shared are revenue numbers ONLY. That’s only part of the story. And it may not be an accurate picture of the real situation.

I can’t help but recall my business in 2009… the year I went on my success-seeking-binge. I made a lot of money that year. I looked very successful to everyone on the outside. But what no one but me, my husband, and my accountant knew was that I spent more than I made that year, trying to make my business even more successful. As a result, my business suffered a net loss.

So even though I made a lot of money, I wouldn’t call 2009 a successful year by any measure.

Quite the opposite. And, that is the danger in only telling half the story, or in making judgments based on what something looks like on the outside.

Yes, there’s a lot of talk about money in the success industry these days.

I’m not saying making money isn’t important, it is. Money is a necessity in the world we live in. I’m also not saying striving to build a successful business that makes a lot of money is a bad thing either. But it just feels to me that lately, there is too much focus on revenue, and that’s only one aspect of a successful business. You also have to look at profitability, enjoyability, and whether what it takes to generate all that revenue is really worth it.

Adapted from “Breaking the Spell: The Truth about Money, Success, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” 

About Debbie

Debbie is an author, blogger, online teacher, business owner, and mid-lifer. She's writes on a wide range of topics, from marketing, money and success, to finding meaning at midlife. If it's on her mind, you'll find her writing about it!

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