Everyone experiences money struggles, at one time or another. 

Including rich and wealthy people. 

I didn’t always know this to be true, though. 

I grew up in a single-parent household, with my mother, who worked for the Social Security Administration. At her pay-grade level, we were fine. We were not poor or even what is considered working poor, but we also certainly were not rich or wealthy. A distinction I knew mostly because of the lifestyles of some of my classmates relative to ours.

So, for a time, I did operate with the belief that rich and wealthy people didn’t have money struggles. 

That their money, somehow, shielded them from making financial mistakes, experiencing financial losses, being burdened with debt, or having problems with cash-flow.

Aka: the usual culprits when it comes to what causes financial stress. 

This is not a belief I hold today. 

Thanks, in part, to working in the private bank during my formative professional years, and my continued work with rich and wealthy people, today.

And, thanks, in part, to my awareness that each new level of success brings with it a need to navigate and negotiate new financial, emotional, and, sometimes, spiritual roles and responsibilities

A recent conversation reinforced this awareness for me. 

Stability Isn’t Static

According to the Internal Revenue Service, an income of $500,000 or more makes you rich and puts you in the top 1% of earners. This differs from the Economic Policy Institute; according to them, an income of $819,324 puts you in the top 1% and an income of $335,891 puts you in the top 5%.

According to Schwab’s 2022 Modern Wealth Survey, “it takes a networth of $2.2 million to be considered wealthy.” Though I haven’t worked in the private bank in many years, this is inline with the investable assets minimum we had.  (A personal thought: The networth number is fluid and is also dependent on where in the world you live.)

But, in the eyes of some people, if your income or wealth reaches anything close to these numbers, you can’t possibly be in survival mode.  

Yet from what I know, nothing is further from the truth. 

Because survival mode has little to do with how much you make

And before I go further, let me be clear: I’m not talking about the type of survival where you are unable to meet your basic needs and feel (or are literally) housing or food insecure. That’s a survival mode all of its own, and addressing that is out of the scope of this piece. 

But back to that conversation…

Like many entrepreneurs and small business owners, my colleague bootstrapped the start of her latest business. Several years in and she is doing quite well and on track to hit seven-figures. 

She is also realizing that some of the choices she’s made regarding how she is pricing her services and paying her staff, which served her well at the beginning, may now be hindering the growth of her business. 

And can you guess what brought this to light for her? 

Navigating a cash-flow crunch!

Few business challenges grab your attention in the way slow sales and a cash-flow crisis does. #IYKYK

Thankfully, she got her business to the other side of this experience. And in the process of doing so, she learned a few valuable lessons. Like: 

She was under-charging

This is frequently a by-product of operating in survival mode. 

The way you price your offers and pay your team, when you are anxious about when and from where your next client is coming and your resources are tight, is very different then when you have those same curiosities yet make choices from a position of financial security and strength.

(By the way, you can under-charge if your price is $100, $1,000, $10,000, $100,000, or more.)

She was still bootstrapping – even after almost five years.

What she was learning is that you can’t bootstrap your way out of survival mode. 

Here’s what I mean: The efficiency, frugality, and creative problem-solving that helped you get out of the gate and create a foundation, often has to be elevated when you’re seeking to grow.

Because, with each new level of success, you’ll likely need to be resourceful in different ways. Plus, you’ll probably need to redefine what is and isn’t considered a risky decision.

A Jolt Can Inspire a Jump

Sometimes, it takes a challenge to jolt you into the awareness that you are operating in survival mode. 

And slow sales and a cash-flow crisis will definitely shock you. Especially since these particular money struggles reveal how what shows up in your business also shows up in your personal finances, too.

This was true for my colleague; I know it’s been true for me; I bet it has been true for you, too, on occasion. 

Would she have eventually discovered that she was under-charging? Sure. 

Would she have eventually realized just how much under-paying herself was costing her business and her family? Yep!

Would she have connected the dots and noticed that under-charging and under-paying were symptoms of operating in survival mode? At some point. 

But probably not without having something like that period of slow sales, which led to a cash-flow crisis. This is what caused her to ask questions, reflect on her choices and what was driving them, and consider what she might start to do differently.

And probably not without having a shift in perspective. She needed to see beyond the oft held belief that you have to be destitute in order to be in survival mode. 

If this is your particular view of what survival looks like and your circumstances don’t fit that, you can easily miss important clues. 

You know what else you can miss? 

The idea that today’s thrive mode can become tomorrow’s survival mode. 

This is why I say it has little to do with how much you make.

ICYMI:  You know those Half-Day VIP Business & Financial Coaching Sessions I’ve been mentioning? Well, I have two spots available for the rest of this month and two for September. We’ll spend an immersive 3-hours together doing four (4) analyses that will give you insight into what’s working and what needs to be adjusted, so that you can get the results you want. The details are here!

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