Who is responsible for your keep? We all incur a cost for living. (And here I am not even addressing our cost to the planet.)We have to eat, wear clothes and have some form of shelter. Then there are all the things that relate to getting and keeping these things — transport, insurance, security. Not forgetting life is more than survival. We need good coffee, a glass of wine, the odd night out and holidays definitely!
But who pays for all this? Do you have inheritance that you can draw from? Nothing wrong with being a Trust Fund kid. In fact, my goal in life is to create generational wealth so that my grandchildren have the option of being Trust Fund kids. You can fight me on this but legacy wealth does not seem a bad idea to me. But of course, even family wealth cannot be relied on forever, and managing it has its own demands.
Maybe you married into money. Not a bad strategy. However, I’ve learnt a couple of things from observing marriages over the years. Firstly, even if it looks like you are getting ‘looked after’, there is usually a cost somewhere along the line — expectations that raise their head more often than not and in different ways than you realized. Secondly, ‘love you through thick and thin’ does not always mean forever.
But most people get their income from being employed. There is an assumed fair trade that in exchange for specified outputs you will get paid an agreed amount. Simple right? Not so much. A friend of mine runs a company with two employees. As with many businesses in these trying times, he has had a run of months where clients have not paid. The work has been done, the invoices sent, but clients are crying that they don’t have the funds or they are simply forgetting or ignoring the reminders and calls. So now my friend is battling to pay his staff. He has managed so far but sometimes it is late or in parts, and on occasion he has even paid out of his own pocket, and is not paying himself.
But the employees don’t see effort on their behalf. They are frustrated and angry. They ‘should’ be paid as and when they need. It is what they deserve. It is their right.
Am I in charge of my own income?
This comes back to my question about who is responsible for your income. If I show up and do my job am I entitled to get paid without any understanding of the source of that income and what it takes to get it? For large corporates the chain from revenue to paying staff salaries is complex and convoluted so employees can feel far removed from what it takes for them to get paid. That is until they get retrenched.
Business owners and founder entrepreneurs are seemingly at the coal face. They work directly with customers. They have to ensure that they are providing the right solution for customers willing to pay for that value, and make sure the customers actually pay.
Having been to many networking events for business people my experience is that even people running their own businesses believe that if they simply share what they do customers will automatically be attracted to them like a magnet. We can strategize and plan and ‘collaborate’ all we like but our businesses are not going to bring in any revenue if we don’t put the work in of approaching potential customers, positioning our concept, testing new ideas, adjusting actions and trying again.
This is about taking initiative. It starts with checking our thinking about where the money is coming from to pay for our lives. It may be even subconsciously that we are depending on others to make things happen for us.
Whether you run your own business or not, employed in a small business or in a large corporate, born or married rich, the minute you give over responsibility to someone else for your income you run the risk of their priorities taking precedence over yours.
I am not saying everyone has to be an entrepreneur or become a sales person. It’s more an attitude. It’s more a choice. It’s a perspective that says that at any point in time I am my own enterprise.
Even if you are working for someone it is with the idea that you are hiring your time, talents and experience to a client, therefore providing the best service for a great return. If you are a business owner it is with the understanding that a ‘network’ is not going to bring you customers, you do. We are in charge of our own lives, including paying for these lives.