Don’t feel pressured to continue to do business the same way the majority of people in your line of work are doing business. As an entrepreneur or employee, it is your job to make constructive improvements upon your chosen field or fields. You may be an outcast when you are the first one to do something drastically different, but if you’re making changes that cut costs in half or dramatically increase profits while helping more people, your ideas will quickly catch on. You could even change the world with your ideas and improvements.
“It doesn’t matter where you live. It doesn’t matter how you live. It doesn’t matter what kind of car you drive. It doesn’t matter what kind of clothes you wear. It doesn’t matter. Your biggest enemies are your bills. The more you owe, the more you stress. The more you stress over bills, the more difficult it is to focus on your goals.”
“The cheaper you can live, the greater your options.”
The financial aspects of overextension can be very sad. Taking out a loan for a product or service that has not been tested is unnecessary and it can easily lead to bankruptcy. Read 7 famous people who survived bankruptcy.
The key is to make sure your business has steady customers before you expand. Even Facebook had plenty of users before they took out large loans. You can also expand slowly instead of taking out a loan for $1 million. A business adviser encouraged me to take out a loan for $50,000 for my business since it is challenging to get a smaller loan. I obviously didn’t take on that debt, because I believe it is smarter to start extremely small and experience first hand what the demand is for my idea. I have been busy and plan to expand slowly over the next five years. If the demand for my idea dramatically increases, I may take on some debt. I would take on a small amount of debt at this point because my idea will be tested and I will know the demand for my business.
This also holds true for marketing your product or service. If you have to turn many people down because of your great marketing, scale back on your advertisements. It will harm you more in the long run if you can’t keep up with the demands of your customers. Increase your advertising as you increase the number of products and employees you have. Unsatisfied customers can be the worst form of marketing. “If someone has a lousy experience at your hands, they will warn people.” (-Richard Branson) Keep your customers satisfied and they will say good things about you, which will allow you to grow slowly, but surely.
Read Seth Godin’s blog post about overextending yourself, titled ‘Underextended.’ I agree with his point about pushing yourself to the limit during your work day and to avoid doing too little in response to the fear of overextending yourself, but I still believe that it’s unnecessary to get involved with four completely different projects aside from your business if you are unable to delegate. Not pushing yourself to improve your business because of the fear of overextending yourself definitely can be more damaging than doing too much. You will miss out on opportunities that could have led to an amazing future and terrific financial gains. But if you do miss out on these opportunities, you still will not have debt because you didn’t take them on. You will simply have a missed opportunity. If you overextend yourself, you may have debt in the hope of customers. When you really analyze it, overextending yourself is still more lethal than underextending yourself. Just be careful not to underextend yourself so much that you never take on ANY opportunities!
Give 100% at your job or with 1-2 of your projects each day. For example, focusing your energy on school and work during the day can be balanced while maintaining great performances. When you’re focusing on school, a job, sports, music, a part time business idea, and another part time job, you will be overwhelmed and you obviously won’t be able to give each endeavor the attention is deserves.
Until I was 23 years old, I wanted to be excellent at everything – sports, music, school, work, relationships, learning, etc. You can guess that attending college, playing in a professional band, having a 20-hour a week part time job, and maintaining a social life was a challenge. In fact, overextending myself like this made my performance in all of these areas mediocre. The only time my performance was not mediocre was when I would spend much less time on two or three other endeavors in order to prioritize my most important endeavor at the time. For example, I was a state finalist three different times in track and cross country in high school. On the other hand, my opportunities as a musician were less prevalent.
Somehow I pulled it all off and learned many lessons from all of my experiences. I no longer believe ‘pulling it off’ is good enough. I used to believe that doing as much as humanly possible and doing a passable job with everything was great. Today I ruthlessly prioritize my time and strongly discourage myself from getting involved with more than two projects if delegating isn’t an option.
If you have struggled with this dilemma, you can relax. Changing your environment and deciding who to spend your time with outside of your job is a great and simple start. Well, it’s a great start if you decide to spend your time with people who support, uplift, and inspire you! Rather than going to the bars three nights a week, maybe spending relaxing nights with your kids or other family members and friends who inspire you will be the better option.
Thinking of your life as a business is also helpful. If you like money, it makes perfect sense. Life isn’t all about money, but it happens to be what currently gives us freedom in this world. Figure out how much time you are approximately going to spend on a project and do the math. I learned that I was spending at least 25-30 hours a week playing drums and studying music. After I did the math, I realized I was making an average of $3 an hour. This isn’t true for many musicians, but it is often enough. On top of that, the lifestyle of being a musician definitely wasn’t for me. I still love playing music and wish the best for all of you musicians out there, but I would still much rather own a label or start the music festivals where bands are playing and make 30% from them in the process. That sounds much better than overextending myself and playing in a band. But that’s just me. You have to prioritize what’s right for you.
We always hear about the importance of giving time and money to charities or organizations we support. I have read that many people give just to feel better about themselves and that there are no people who are truly altruistic. I disagree with that standpoint. I have experienced gifts from people who gave to truly make a positive impact on my life. I have also shared time and money with friends and organizations to simply help. No, I didn’t do it to strictly feel good about myself and tell everyone about my contribution afterwards. The trick is to give simply to help, not expect anything in return, and forget about it. If you are giving just to create good karma for yourself, you are missing the point. You should be giving to create a positive experience for the people and organizations around you–end of story.
After you save at least 10% of your own money, I believe you should give away another 5 – 10% of the money you have earned. If you are earning zero dollars or can’t afford to give any money away, you still probably have a few hours of time on your hands each week. Go help clean up your town or volunteer your time for the many organizations that would love your help.