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how much money do you want to make this year?

I work with a lot of serious entrepreneurs. By “serious” I mean devoted, aware, hungry, keen. At conferences and party do’s, I come in to contact with plenty of hobby-preneurs, freshling-preneurs, just-getting-on-the-path-preneurs. I adore them one and I adore them all.

But this takes the wind right out of my strategic cheerleader sails:
I ask: “So how much money do you want to make this year?”
Reply: “Um…I…well…” Knife in my heart. Hole in my sails.

You’re in business to make money, right? (BTW, I operate on the premise that you’re doing work in the world that you love, and by virtue of that you’re likely making the world a better place. I don’t flippantly assume vocational integrity, but if people want to jam with me, I assume they’re in the neighbourhood of meaningful work. And once that’s established, it’s time to focus on the money, honey.)

Question 2.5 in The Burning Questions of The Fire Starter Sessions and with my 1:1 clients is this:

How much money would you LIKE to be making?

As Naomi Dunford put this question to me, “The best way to think about this question is this…we want the number that would make you happy. Not resigned. Not elated. Just happy. Somewhere between eating Ramen noodles and buying a yacht. For many people, this number is about the salary they would be making if they worked outside the home.”

Aim for that.

DECLARING HOW MUCH MONEY YOU WANT TO MAKE IN A YEAR:

1. Gives you a goal, for Chrissakes.

Goals are to manifesting what a microphone is to Lady Gaga: essential and effectual.

This may sound over-simplified, but when you know what you want to make in a year, you can do what it takes to…go make it. You can break it down. You can aim. You want to make $150K? Great. How many units do you need to ship? How many clients do you need to service? What does your profit margin need to be? What kind of a raise would you require?

Considerations:
What if you have a set income, like a salary? Don’t let that hem in your earning desires. There are raises, and surprise opportunities, and frequent flier miles, and Aunties who will you their Cadillac and investments that soar. Make.the.declaration.

“I wanna rake in a million bucks this year! (says dude who just launched his first blog or has $50K in credit card debt.) If your declaration has a flavour of rebellion or feverishness to it, you might want to reign it in a bit. The desire has to come from a peaceful place. I’m not saying don’t aim high – quantum leaps and breakthroughs happen all of the time. But aim to where you’d feel proud and fulfilled. This is about creating wellness, not gluttony or exhaustion.

2. Puts it into perspective – and fast.

You may add up your financial goals with the number of hours you work in a month and realize that you’re really making $15 bucks an hour after you pay your overhead. In order to hit your target you may have to raise your rates, work from a coffee shop, or invest in the kind of expert help that gets bottom-line results. And remember, it’s not completely about what you bring in, it’s also about what you keep in your pocket. Where can you simplify? (“Simplify” is a much more attractive term than “cutback”, don’t you think?)

3. Makes you feel capable, and when you feel capable, you act capable.

With your desire declared, you’ll magically start to see ways of making things happen — in ways that work for you. If you’re more productive in the summer, you’ll crank for 3 months and wind down in the fall (to count your money.) You’ll see potential collaborators more clearly. Your dormant ideas will rise to the surface again and they’ll have strategies to back them up this time.

4. Sets you free for non-earning pursuits — for living.

As you near your fulfilled aspirations, you can let enough be enough and take the day off.

5. Sends a message to your subconscious, and your subconscious takes things way too literally (this is one of those times when you want your subconscious to take you way too literally.)

6. Summons the Idea Fairy.

The Idea Fairy is on the edge of her seat, waiting to hear your dreams so she can get to work on your behalf.

7. Signals to your tribe that you’re in it to win it.

The people who love and respect you – friends, coaches, mentors, partners — will not only hold you accountable, they’ll likely do whatever they can to help you get where they want to go. Throw a party for all of them when you get there.

One idea at the right time could change everything.