Broke Marketers with Big Dreams: 5 Home Based Business Money Lessons

Home Based Business Money Lesson for Broke Marketers with Big DreamsMost of my readers are building a presence online to market their home based business so they can make money, have more free time, and more choices in their lives.  They are brilliant, caring, creative people who are possibility thinkers with great big dreams.  They are working hard, balancing jobs or businesses, and most of them are also raising amazing kids….

…and more than half of them are broke, living paycheck to paycheck, hanging onto their business dreams, hoping and praying  that this year, they will figure it out and crack the code on the lock of success for their home based business.

Most of them set goals every January (most of them even write them down), planning to double their income in 6 months, wanting to be able to quit the jobs they hate and be able to finally stay home with their kids, or to simply not worry about having to choose between taking the kids to the dentist or fixing the breaks on the car that gets them to work.

And sadly, most of them didn’t reach their home based business goals this year.  They are right where they were at the end of 2009.  Some of them blame the economy, and some of them blame other issues, like family needs and such, for the reasons they didn’t achieve their goals.

And while they are gearing up for New Year Celebrations with family and friends, they are once again, believing that…this year will be the year!


Because, as you know, there is always that tiny seed of doubt that lays deep in their souls like a vaccination for self preservation, so they can protect their positive spirits and heal their broken hearts, if by chance, this year turns out to not be the year they are uber successful in their home based business.

How do I know?  Because this has been me year, after year, after year…until this year.

While I end the new year with some unreached goals in certain areas of my life, like my weight for instance, there are other areas of my life, like my home based business, where I’m so excited.  And I can’t help but to end 2010 with a grin on my face and a feeling of excitement for the year to come.

I’ve written in my previous 3 posts about the things I’ve learned in 2010 that are related to mindset, marketing, motherhood and today I write about money.  While this is not a typical topic on my blog, it is interwoven in many ways to my journey in building my home business, that I feel it’s important information to share.

If you want to read the previous three posts, here are the links:

4 Home Based Business Mindset Lessons: Reach Your 2011 Goals

5 Home Based Business Marketing Secrets I Learned in 2010

3 WAHM Lessons to Help you Grow a Home Based Business and a Family

Right Brained Money Lessons for a Home Based Business Owner:

They say that when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.  Well, this year, taxes were my teacher.

We make pretty decent money between my husband, my home based business, and my side work as a VA, but we have frequently struggled when surprises come up, and this year was a biggie!  We started out the beginning of 2010 feeling like we had things under control; until we had our taxes done.

We’ve never worried about our property taxes before because our income tax refund always covered the majority of them.  But I made significantly more money in 2009 than I did in 2008 because of my growing business, and we were caught off guard when we realized that our income tax refund wouldn’t even make a dent in our property taxes.  This experience taught me many lessons about money and my home based business:

Home Based Business Money Lesson #1:  If money can fix it, it’s not a real problem.

I panicked, I cried, I was angry, and then I took action.  I started to think about all the good things in my life and I focused on being grateful for what I had instead of beating myself up. Of course I started with the basics, I’m healthy and I have a wonderful family.  I’m a great mom, I’m a faithful and loving wife, I am supportive and encouraging of others, and even if I hadn’t done a fantastic job of forecasting our money issues up until that point, I still had tremendous value.  I have learned to do so many other things, and I could learn how to be a better steward of money as well.

This helped me to look at my finances as a number and not a personal judgment on me.  I learned that there was no sense in punishing myself for past mistakes, it will only make me feel negative and hinder my future decisions.

Home Based Business Money Lesson #2: Stop Dreaming and Get Real!

Once I overcame the shock I had to get honest with myself and took a look at our finances. I added everything up.  (I can’t even begin to tell you how scary that was for me to do.)  That taught me that burying my head in the sand was so much more stressful than really knowing.  The numbers are just facts and seeing them on paper helped me to see our finances from a whole new perspective.

Home Based Business Money Lesson #3: Stop Embezzling!

As I was taking a close look at our finances, I realized that one of the big drains that caused our frequent financial droughts, was that I was I was embezzling money from our family to buy training courses and things for my business, and to compensate for that,  I was embezzling money from my business to buy groceries and diapers when our checkbook was empty.

I set aside an amount that I would pay myself with, like an “actual paycheck” once a month, and the rest of my business income would be reinvested into things to help my business grow and into training products.  I canceled every membership I was paying for that was not essential to my businesses’ success.  I stopped the automatic renewal of domains that were not  being used or didn’t have a plan in action to use them.   I pretty much pared down to my auto-responder, hosting, and cell phone.

I made a promise to myself that I would stay within my “allowance” for training courses, no matter how amazing they looked or how much I felt like I needed them at the time.   I had so much awesome training on my hard-drive anyway, and there is so much free information online as well, that I learned I could build my business on a shoestring and still make it grow.

Home Based Business Money Lesson #4: Get Creative.

Internet network marketers have a business building method they call GPT, Get Paid Today, where they will sell an affiliate product or training that helps them to generate leads and an income at the same time.

This concept inspired me to make a list 100 ways I could come up with the money that didn’t involve drugs, child labor, or prostitution, and would help my home based business grow.  (BTW: This process has proven to be a very effective way for me to solve problems that come up many areas of my life as well!)

I picked a few of them that could help me the most, interested me the most, and were things I could do right now, without having to spend money on training.  I set realistic goals and planned how I was going to achieve them.  I picked blogging as my way to expand my business online because it offered me several ways of monetizing my marketing while I was generating leads and I’d recently purchased a course on it.

Money Lesson #5: Remember it’s not about perfection, it’s about improvement.

Probably the biggest lesson I learned this year relating to money and my business is that I don’t have to be perfect make progress.

Sure, we’ve slipped up and overspent, I’ve made countless mistakes online, and I’ve made mistakes in my home business too.  But, when I look back at the progress this past year I’m amazed at where we are.

Yes, our taxes were paid.  We’ve also paid down close to $20,000 in debt this year.  My blog is established and generating leads on a daily basis.  I’ve sponsored people into my network marketing business.  I’ve generated some affiliate income, and while it’s not replacing my husband’s income by any means, I’ll still take it.

And overall, we were still able to feed the dog and have a life.

So why did I create all four of these post?

Because I want to show you that building a home based business online isn’t hard.  I taught myself this year that it simply takes focus and consistency.

There is so much truth in the quote by Woody Allen, “Eighty percent of success is just showing up.”  If we show up, stop being spectators, and start taking action toward our goals several things happen: our mindsets shift,  we learn how to market, and we learn how to prioritize our lives to include our businesses.  And when we get honest with ourselves and figure out where we’re starting from and what resources we have available to us, we can create a plan to get us to where we want to go.  I’m sorry to say, that dreaming won’t get us there, only “doing” will.

Building a home based business is as hard as you want to make it.  You can sit on the sidelines with big dreams or you can get into action and make them happen. The choice is yours.  I know which one I’m choosing. 🙂

Please share this post with others on facebook and twitter and please comment sharing what you took away from this series and/or a home based business money lesson you’ve learned!


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  1. Hi Heather!

    Great to learn about your progress over time… and I’m happy to know that there are other embezzlers out there. At least you were embezzling back again when the diapers were needed. Must confess I’ve done exactly the same thing!

    Money Management is such an important skill to learn, and even more so as our businesses and income grow.

    There’s a story of a kid in an ice cream shop with her Mom, and has just been bought an ice cream. As she steps out the door, she drops the ice cream! Tears! Mamaaaaa!

    OK says Mom, I’ll buy you another one… but be careful this time… At that moment, the little girl spots the triple scoop delux and she wants it! DO you think Mom should buy her that one?

    A silly story – but I guess the takeaway is that unless we can manage what we have, why should we be able to handle any more??

    Thanks Heather, for another useful insight and enjoyable read!

    All the best for a truly special 2011,


    • Heather Stephens says:

      Thanks for the awesome comment, Jym! I really like the story about the little girl with the ice cream cone. It puts things into perspective in an easy to understand way.

      I’ve, by no means, mastered the money management, but I’m proud of the progress this year and excited about the mental shift this year and my journey online has brought about.

      Happy New Year to you too!

  2. Hi Heather,

    wow, now that’s a powerful New Year post, thank you for sharing. A flaw in most marketer’s finances is really that they think they need to buy all kinds of stuff in order to become successful. They fall prey to salespersons who exactly push that button. It seems to me that the entire internet marketing world is built upon the human weakness of being unable to say NO to people.

    I learned a lot in the last year, but definitely one thing: In the world of the internet and the information age, even the best stuff how to do something is available for free, the challenge is to find it. The price of an information product is entirely unrelated to the quality. That’s why I would never build my business in an industry that deals with information and/or technology because sooner or later people will realize that they can get it for free without loss of quality (or even at better quality)

    Your recipe how to solve problems rather than running away from them should serve as a positive example for anybody having similar problems. And this recipe starts with being grateful for what we have and who we are today, with all strengths and weaknesses.

    With that said, thanks for your friendship and Happy New Year

    Take care


    • Heather Stephens says:

      Hi Oliver,

      Thanks for the fantastic comment and your friendship as well. I’m grateful that my tax crisis inadvertently introduced me to you and our tribe!

      I think it would serve every new online marketer well to read the book Influence by Cialdini in order to protect themselves from the artillery of heavy psychology that talented marketers use when promoting their products.

      I do believe that products have value if they are #1 something you can afford, #2 will help you save time, or money, or #3 will help you make more money. The challenge is that we can always justify that something will help us make money. It goes back to my message that investing in ourselves does not make us money. Implementing what we’ve learned can if we’re consistent and stay focused on it.

      Happy New Year, Oliver!


  3. Hey Heather,

    What a fantastic post to finish off the year. Thanks so much for sharing these lessons. I thoroughly enjoyed your powerful series and learned a ton!

    I did the same thing, I took stock of my monthly business costs and realised that I was also paying for things that I didn’t really need and had to get rid of them.

    Congratulations of your ability to solve problems on the table. It’s such a beautiful feeling! 🙂 Your blog is awesome and I’m not surprised that it’s making you money. Well done!

    I have learned so much from you this past few months, Heather. You are a true inspiration!

    I look forward to staying connected with you in the new year.

    I wish you and your family a very happy and prosperous 2011!


    • Heather Stephens says:

      Hi Mavis,

      I’m getting caught up on all the wonderful comments that were left for me over the holidays. I want to say “back at you” my friend about the learning from you and being inspired by you. I’m grateful we were brought together in 2010 and yes, I can’t wait to see what 2011 will do in our lives!

      Have a wonderful weekend!

  4. Hi Heather,

    I like your detailed breakdown, powerful and accurate advice here that any online entrepreneur should take to heart.

    #3 and #4 resonate with me. I’ve always kept it bare bones; cell phone, aweber and hosting. That’s it. I feel that until you can generate a substantial income using virtually all free advertising methods you are simply coming up woefully short in the #4 department.

    Using free marketing methods has forced me to become creative and I am thankful for this urgent prod. If I hadn’t been creative I wouldn’t be where I’m at today. Thinkers are ahead of the crowd. Why? Because they think, and most people would rather not put in the mental effort of sustained, consecutive thought.

    Thanks for sharing your insight Heather. Have a Happy New Year 🙂


    • Heather Stephens says:

      Hi Ryan,

      Lean and mean in the budget area…that’s my new philosophy! 🙂 You’re right that we can truly be successful with an autoresponder, hosting and a cell phone. There are so many great free ways to market ourselves and although there are some membership which I totally enjoy and benefit from, I needed to prioritize them and make sure I wasn’t spending more than I should on trainings and things.

      The truth I discovered was that by getting creative, as you say, I can find almost anything out for free online. 🙂 There are shortcuts that I’ve learned through the courses, which is a time saver and has value, but not at the expense of my family’s financial security.

      Thanks for your comment! Happy new year back!


  5. Heather this is an amazing post. Thank you for taking the time to put it together and SHARING! It’s wonderful and painful (at the same time) to know that I am not alone in my home business financial struggles.

    It’s the one thing that has people throwing in the towel before their dreams have been realized.

    While #3 really hit home for me as I do exactly as you described – both ways. I have also cut back on expenses and focusing on making the basics work.

    Here’s to 2011!

    • Hi Shanna,

      Thank you so much for your sweet comment. I’m glad you enjoyed the post on the money lessons I learned in 2010. I think one of the biggest aha’s I had this past year was that we can start anytime and change the course of our lives by making little changes that are just outside our comfort zones.

      We can’t throw in the towel because of some struggles! This business works…there are way too many incredibly successful leaders for it not to work. I’ve been lucky for the progress I’ve made in the last few years, but especially the past 6 months, and all I changed was my consistency and focus.

      Keep it up! I’m so grateful for your comment!

      Have a great weekend,

  6. Heather, OMG… You hit it right on the nail for so many of us out there. Holly crap, the money I have wasted (thousands… don’t tell my hubby) just makes me want to cringe, but the LESSON learned from it are worth the loose of the $$$! I’m learning to do it right now and those lessons have taught me so much… listen to your heart, follow the path of others that can give without asking for anything in return… and right here girl, you are a living proof of that gift of giving!

    This post is truly one of the best I’ve read in a long time… it will be so powerful in helping others… so THANKS from the bottom of my heart for sharing your story as it will resinate with so many others to take a look at their $$$… Man, I sure am taking a look at my trainings I have paid for and I am going to start utilizing them… their FREE training now!

    My New Year is looking so good with your advice and my goals and vision set in order! Again, Thanks Heather… keep rocking out the value… I LOVE IT!


    • Christina, I have to laugh at your (thousands… don’t tell my hubby) comment. THAT sounds so familiar. haha

    • Christina,

      So many of us are in the same boat as far as spending more than we should…and my husband suspected my black hole of personal development! 🙂

      I love how much you’ve done with your blog this week…it’s obvious you’re putting those courses to good use! Congratulations on your fabulous blog launch and thanks for all your wonderful comments.

      You really melted me.

      Good luck!

  7. Robert says:

    Great ideas for 2011 🙂

    Very true that only looking at sales cheques can be misleading. You have to keep a close eye on your costs as well. Problably that’s one of the things I will do more this year. Fortunately online businesses have generally very little costs compared to brick and mortar stores 🙂

    Happy New Year!

    • Hi Robert!

      I totally agree with you about the benefits of an online business, vs a brick and mortar business as far as overhead.

      We need to continue to invest in ourselves, but promise ourselves that we’ll implement what we’re investing in before we purchase something else. And our choices need to fit within our budget, so we’re not ‘justifying’ spending money we shouldn’t be spending.

      Thanks for your comment! Happy New Year to you too!


  8. Hey Heather

    Fantastic post!

    I am an accountant so in 2011 I plan on discussing tax issues for the home business owner in my blog.

    The greatest feeling is when you start to have positive cash flow from your business, the kind of cash flow that pays for trips, kid’s education and luxury items.

    The most draining feeling is when you realize that you forgot to put aside some for taxes 🙂


    • Hi Peter,

      This was a difficult post to share. It really is draining to realize that we’ve not prepared for expenses like we should have. I have to say I was so caught off guard because I’ve never had to “save” for our property taxes before because our income tax was enough to cover it…but I wasn’t saving enough of my earnings to cover my taxes.

      My accountant kind-a scolded me for not coming in and checking in with him earlier in the year. I’ve been on a more frequent “check-up” this past year because of my neglect last year.

      I’m looking forward to reading some of your tax topic posts! 🙂 I sure do have a lot to learn in that department.

      Have a great weekend and thanks so much for your comment!

  9. Hi Heather,

    This is a great post that resonates with me, and from the sounds of it, so many others as well.

    I was guilty of #3 until we moved. You’re right, once you crack down on yourself it makes a real difference. It’s really hard not to buy some of those courses, but staying within the set budget actually SAVES your business in the long run.

    Wonderful post, thank you for sharing with us.


    • Hi Susanna,

      We’ve talked about this before, but it was one of those posts where I was nervous to press “publish!”

      I’ve since learned that I’m obviously not alone in this subject. 🙂

      Thanks for your comment!

      Have a great weekend,

  10. I freaking love that quote by Woody Allen because it’s so true. 80% is being there and being present. Deciding that you’re gonna DO IT. Taking that first step is everything.

    Thanks for sharing you thoughts on money Heather. Wish you a great year

    talk soon

    • I freaking love the quote by Woody Allen too! 🙂 Deciding is obviously the other 20% of success!

      Great comment…thank you so much!

  11. Hey Heather, great insight about money. I like that ‘stop embezzling’ 🙂 You don’t realize just how frugal you can be ’til you’re in business 😉

    I too have learned a lot about money through my business and a lot about myself as well. I will definitely keep in mind that it’s not about perfection, it’s about improvement.

    • I love your comment, Liz. Thanks for sharing it. One of the best things about a home based business is that we grow personally in so many different areas, not just in business. 🙂

      Thanks for your comment!

  12. This was an article that I can really relate too. I especially how you said that if money can fix it it’s not a real problem. So, many times we think that money can fix our problems when in reality it can’t. Thanks for writing a very real article. 🙂


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