What to do When You Run Out of Money

I was helping Quinton with his homework when the eviction notice came

I don’t recognize the woman standing at my door. She doesn’t look me in the eyes and apologizes as she passes me an envelope. I close the door. My heart drops as I read the letter.

I am three months past due. I have five days to pay or we are out on the streets.

My eyes well up with tears as I mouth the word “eviction” to Adrienne. She hugs me. She tells me to take a deep breath. The kids are home and we can’t scare them with the fact that we might soon be homeless.

I start making dinner and we finish homework as if nothing happened. I wake up the next morning with a weight on my chest. I feel like the world is ending. I check my email over coffee and start making a list of to-do’s for the day.

This is what it looks like to run out of money.

I spent five years working in corporate america and dreaming of starting my own business. My biggest fear was running out of money.

I imagined that running out of money would be one big moment when everything came crashing down in one big heap of failure. But it’s not that easy. Because life keeps going when you run out of money. You wake up the next morning with a pile of bills still waiting for you. The only way to get out of the mess you created is to keep going. The pressure grows each day until it starts to slowly suffocate you.

I started this company because I wanted to help people figure out how to build a career that worked for their life. Most people don’t believe this is possible, so I have become a bit of a cheerleader for creatives who want to figure things out on their own. It’s hard to be a great cheerleader when you feel like a total failure at life.

Here is what you do when you run out of money:

Spend a Day Crying.

I want to tell you that I hit the ground running as soon as I got the eviction notice. I want to tell you how brave I was to face uncertainty head on. But I didn’t. I felt defeated. I had not idea how I would get myself out of this. I wanted to quit. I spent the first day crying and sleeping and hating myself. I was hating myself because I knew I should be working but I couldn’t get any work done because I would start crying every time I opened my computer. I finally came to terms with the fact that I would not be getting any work done that day and went back to shamelessly crying myself to sleep.

Make a New Plan.

It was clear that nothing I was doing was working quite in the way I had imagined. I knew I couldn’t keep running full force ahead as if nothing was wrong, so I hit the breaks. I cancelled all of our upcoming workshops and put everything I had spent the past three months planning on hold. I spend an entire day brainstorming new ways to make money. I write and publish two ebooks over one weekend, launch a big sale, create our first online accelerator and develop a series of paid opportunities for artists. Some things are more successful than I imagined them being and others are a total flop.

Find Guaranteed Income.

You cannot come up with a long-term plan for your business if you are trying to figure out how you will feed your family. My first step is finding a way to pay our bills. Freelance work is the easiest way to get cash in the door quickly, because I am amazing at landing freelance clients. I spend a day trying to drum up new freelance business. I secured two clients in twenty-four hours. They end up offering me monthly retainers that will cover my monthly expenses, and a deposit that will cover the cost of my past-due rent. We are not getting evicted.

Create a Long-Term Solution

We still have a long way to go. I have a pile of overdue invoices that are larger than my bank balance. I still feel the pressure weighing over me but I can see a light at the end of the tunnel. I spent half of my day doing freelance work and the other half running this company. I am working twelve hour days to get us caught up. Every dollar that comes in goes out. I am exhausted but we are getting back on track.

It is really hard to talk about money. I don’t know what the future looks like for certain. I can’t say that I have all of the answers. But I do know that I have what it takes to find the answers I need. I know that we will be OK. And I hope sharing my story will help some of you face your fears.

I believe each and every one of you has the ability to build a full-time income doing work that you love. It won’t always be easy. It won’t always be fun. But it will always be worth it.

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