Hard Truths: The Cyclical Cash Crunch and Crushing Pain of Inconsistent Workflow

Last night, I was delaying going to sleep as I often do. Why? Because I have a gazillion ideas swimming around in my head and how much of a slack-ass do I actually have to be to contemplate SLEEP over doing something with and about those ideas? Best to stay awake and do nothing than go to sleep and recharge so I can do something the next day.

Tell me if that sounds familiar.

Anywhoo. My point being, I was checking my email on my phone at 10:30pm and I got this notification from Paypal. PAYMENT RECEIVED.

The Goddess of Cash had blessed me with a surprise payment! I immediately clicked through and visions of rent and utility bills and (gasp — dare I contemplate it?) a meal for CK and me (consumed outside of the house) all danced in my head.

I WAS RICH. By god, I was rich.

And today I woke, realizing all of that money was allocated. Rent, bills, savings. My flow immediately shifted to a feeling of not having enough and wondering when the next momentary dose of “enough” would come.

(sigh)

Which is why we’re talking about the cyclical cash crunch and crushing pain of inconsistent workflow today.

Because it’s a bitch.

And the hard truth about entrepreneurial cash flow is actually a few hard truths:

  • When you run your own business, cash flow will always be inconsistent.
  • There is no magic wand (despite internet cash flow gurus’ attestations) that is going to make this shit any less difficult.
  • It’s an emotionally-crushing cycle if don’t have tools and skills to manage the ebbs and flows.

So let’s get started and talk about this unexpected side effect of running your own business and how to manage it all so you don’t lose your goddamn mind.

The feeling of not having enough

The cyclical nature of being an entrepreneur means cash won’t always be flowing. Ebbs will begin to feel like the norm.

Ebbs are real assholes. They’re especially adept at making us feel like we don’t have enough.

Won’t EVER have enough.

So we panic. FUCK. I don’t have cash now. Obviously, something is wrong with my business. I should be working harder. Taking any and all work that comes my way. I should take it all! Get out of my way, world. I am going to take ALL THE WORK and work ALL THE HOURS in the hopes of filling up my cash so I HAVE ENOUGH.

It doesn’t work that way.

Why do we think that working MORE for LESS will help us make MORE… so we don’t feel like we have less?

The trick to surviving the cyclical nature of inconsistent entrepreneurial cash flow is to first accept that there will be times you feel like you don’t have enough money.

And that feeling is something we can do something about.

Working towards a more productive feeling

Misery loves company and it’s wonderful to know that YOU, a fabulous entrepreneur, aren’t alone in your quest for more consistent cash flow.

Hell, there are internet self-help sensations that make serious bank selling “solutions” to thirsty entrepreneurs, purporting to have the magic wand that will solve their cash flow woes.

Hard truth: the only cash flow they’re likely helping solve is their own.

And you’re not an asshole for wanting a solution or even putting your faith in someone else to help you find a solution to your cash flow woes.

So let’s find you a better feeling than the soul-crushing and joy-killing WORRY of not having enough money.

Wouldn’t it feel better to know that you’re doing something small each day to bring money in?

It’s a crazy relief to get those payment notification emails and have that hot second of YES I AM A PROFITABLE BUSINESS OVERLORD.

But the email I got last night wasn’t the surprise I made it out to be. It was from a site I freelance through for voiceover work — one of the many buckets from which I earn my artistic income. Which is why I highly recommend a trip to Home Depot to pick up some buckets.

Buckets are the business sexy you didn’t know you needed

The key to combating the feeling of not having enough money is to make sure all your income isn’t coming from one source.

One client. One freelance website. One journalism outlet.

When you have more buckets (or pots or baskets or bins from The Container Store — pick your metaphor), that feeling of not having enough subsides because you’ve created a business where you have multiple streams of income.

When one ebbs, another one is likely to flow.

This means you can spend less time freaking the fuck out about the bucket that IS paying you and more time on building the bucket that’s not paying you right now… but most certainly will somewhere down the line.

Now, here’s a fun task. Pop over to the website of one of those self-help internet sensations and check out how many buckets they have for flow.

Speaking engagements. Online courses. Books. Consulting. Fancy merch with quippy phrases.

They’ve all built businesses that embrace the ebb and flow of the entrepreneurial lifestyle.

Which means you can, too. All it takes is a little huddle-up with people you trust. People who know your business and brand who can help you see where other buckets to feed your cash flow might exist. Then, you can spend time building and cultivating those buckets to help with your flow.

And you can jettison buckets that give you no flow.

It’s not an instant fix (because there aren’t any). But it is most certainly a fix. Because when the cash starts flowing from your new buckets, the “fuck yeah” starts to flow with it.

But what do you do when your buckets are brilliant but they all seem to hit an ebb at the same time?

You’ve gotta bridge the gap. Let’s talk about real-world tools.

Bridging the cash flow gap like the boss you are

There are two tools that have saved my cash-flowing ass time and time again. But before I talk about them, let’s talk about the feeling like THIS IS MY BUSINESS and I DO IT MAHSELF!

Ugh. Anyone else who’s fiercely independent out there?

It’s rough business to ask for help when you’re an entrepreneur (even though it’s our networks that will ultimately build our businesses but another post, another time). But when it comes to cash flow, every entrepreneur needs help sometimes.

We can plan, make buckets, and have MONTHS of flow where everything goes smoother than a frog’s fine ass hair and then WHAM. We’re staring at miles of dry AF shoreline, stuck in a massive ebb, wondering where the hell the money went.

You’ve gotta ask for help.

The two tools I’ve used to help bridge the entrepreneurial cash flow gap are PayPal Working Capital and Fundbox.

Both solutions are access-on-demand lines of credit designed to help you get the cash you need NOW to make the ebbs in your flow bearable. They’re not going to be for everyone, but if they’re for you, I think you’ll love how they work. (Note: neither of the two links above is an affiliate link and I get nothing from telling you I use/have used these two tools.)

PayPal Working Capital uses your payments received history as the basis to offer a short-term loan for working capital. This means if they see your average payments received over the past few months have been X, they’ll offer you a working capital loan of Y. The loans are fixed-fee and are repaid by automatically deducting a portion of your future payments received.

For example, you can choose a 70/30 or 80/20 repayment option, where 70 and 80 are the percent of the payment you keep and the 30 and 20 are the percent of that payment applied toward your loan balance. It’s pretty simple. Your loan fee will always be lower with a more aggressive repayment option (70/30 = lower fee than 80/20).

Working Capital loans are great if you consistently get paid through PayPal and are issued same-day if approved.

If you don’t use PayPal (which is perfectly fine), you can explore Fundbox as an alternative to help you in cash flow crunches.

Fundbox advances payment on open invoices in your accounting system. You simply link your accounting software with Fundbox, which gives them visibility to your open invoices. You can choose an invoice to advance payment on and then Fundbox will send you the cash (and the sigh of relief that comes along with the cash flow boost).

You can read up on how Fundbox works here and whether you meet the criteria to qualify to use the system. Yes, you will have to grant access to your accounting software or business bank account. It’s a fair trade-off when you’re asking for financial help to eases your cash flow ebbs. Keep in mind there are fees and your credit limit will grow over time. What I loved about Fundbox was how my credit line was replenished with every payment I made and my fees were lower the faster I paid the advance back.

Whether you choose to use these two tools or not, the bottom line is that there are a plethora of tools out there to help you bridge your cash flow gaps like a boss. And yes, they all have fees. But be real — you need money now and the fees are a cost of doing business.

ALSO: These aren’t tools to be tapped into willy-nilly and they are debt like any other type of loan. But they do come with frictionless ways to repay (automatic repayments) to make the repayment process simple and take away the fear of missing a payment and fucking up your financial mojo.

So, are you ready to stop crushing your soul and rethink your cash flow?

Here’s an NSFW mantra to help you rethink your entrepreneurial cash flow like the boss bitch you are. Bastards or swank motherfuckers may also use this mantra freely. I also recommend the gender-neutral “sparklehorse.”

I am enough and I won’t let money dictate my self-worth. If I don’t feel like I have enough today, I’m willing to do the work to find ways to bring more money into my life tomorrow. But through it all, I will remember my worth. I will not discount my worth to make a quick buck and will consistently pursue ways to offer the best value for the awesome products and services I offer. And I will embrace the ebbs as times to invest in my business (and myself) because I am a boss bitch who’s worth that kind of investment.

Now — stop crushing your soul about money and accept the fact that the money won’t always be there.

Instead, be the boss bitch you are and surround yourself with systems and tools that help make your cash flow trends more bearable. You’re worth it. And being worthy of that simple goal looks hella great on you and your business.

or for the NSFW crowd…

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