Many times, I’ll receive emails from people saying how they wish they could be in the financial position we’re in but it’s just not possible because they only make $20,000 per year. Not too long ago, making $20,000 per year would have been a significant pay increase for us as we were barely eeking by making $600 to $1,000 per month.
We knew that we needed to increase our income if we were ever going to get financial traction, but we decided to go about it in non-traditional way: instead of focusing all of our time and energies on getting a better job with better pay, we looked for ways to build additional income streams outside the 8 to 5 traditional job. This has been the key to our financial success. The 8 to 5 jobs have helped to pay the bills, but the nontraditional income streams have allowed us to save aggressively and give generously.
In this series, I’m going to share some things we’ve learned over our eight and half year journey of entreprenuerial endeavors and failures. My hope is to help you see that you’re not stuck, no matter how bad of a financial situation you may feel like you’re in right now. There is always hope–especially if you’re willing to think outside the box.
So, let’s dive in with what I feel is a foundational principle for increasing your income and achieving financial success:
1. Set Big Goals and Break Them Down Into Bite-Sized Pieces
By now you probably know that this is one of the core facets of most advice I give. And there’s good reason for that: I believe that strategic and specific written goal-setting may well change your life–and your finances.
If you don’t know where you want to go, how will you know when you’ve gotten there? If you don’t live with purposeful intention, aimlessness will be the default.
One thing that has been amazingly effective for us is to set specific goals for our businesses: from the income we hope to generate in a week, month, or year to detailed projects we hope to accomplish in a specific time frame. We don’t just set big goals, we also break these down into bite-sized chunks.
For instance, I remember many years ago when I had an online book business, I set a goal to make $200 each week. This meant that I had to make $40 each week day. Once I had this goal on paper, then I started to brainstorm every free advertising option I could contrive. Some of them worked, some of them flopped, but had I not had that very specific goal, I doubt I would have been as driven to be creative.
Our business goals propel us to constantly be tweaking our processes so that we’re more efficient in running our businesses, they motivate us to look for out-of-the-box marketing ideas, and they challenge us to not be content with the status quo.
Where do you hope to be financially in a year from now? How about three years from now? What about five years from now?
Choose three to five specific financial goals for the next few years and start thinking of practical ways you can get there. What can you do outside of your 8 to 5 job to build additional income streams? What can you cut from your current expenses to allow you to save and invest more? How can you increase the return on your investment of what you’re already doing right now?
(By the way, if you have consumer debt, I recommend paying it off as quickly as you can. It’s a heavy chain around your neck that will bog you down and keep you from making much traction. In addition, if you are not on a written budget, make that your highest priority–far above and beyond increasing your income. You’ll probably find you give yourself an instant raise when you do so. Plus, if you can learn to live on what you make now, as your income increases, you can continue to keep your expenses low and increase your savings and giving instead.)
Once you have your big goals written down on paper, break them down into bite-sized monthly and weekly chunks. Don’t be afraid to be very specific. Even if you don’t come close to hitting them every week and month, you’ll be much farther along than if you didn’t try at all.
…to be continued next Wednesday