Dear Preston,

I’m a floral designer, and I love what I do. I started my business seven years ago, and after about two years, my business really took off. But now, even though I’m still getting a lot of work, my business also has a lot of debt. I just can’t seem to get ahead. I read that you were once in a similar situation. What did you do? Please help me!

Busy But Poor

Dear Busy But Poor,

You came to the right person! You are absolutely right. Ten years ago I was in the exact same place you are now. How did I end up there? Here’s how:

1. I was so excited to be doing what I love and working with people who appreciated my work that I practically gave my designs away for free.

2. I always said yes to the clients who wanted more than they were willing to pay.

3. I did not pay enough attention to my finances.

I ran my business this way for years. And I was always playing catch up. Even today, I get so excited about certain jobs that I still get that old feeling and a part of me wants to do the work for almost nothing.

Eventually, I ended up in so much debt that I realized I couldn’t fix the problem by myself. I hired a wonderful Chief Financial Officer, and she taught me everything I know today about finances. Here are the top three things she taught me. I hope they can help you, too:

1. You deserve to get paid well for what you do well. (Most artists forget this!)

2. You must learn to say no to clients who can’t afford you. (I still struggle big time with this one.)

3. Making a profit is an essential part of running a successful business. You must make a clean 50% profit on every job.

Please be gentle with yourself. The first step is acknowledging the problem, which you’ve done. Follow the three steps above for the next six months, and then check back in with me. I promise you’ll have good news to report!

Dear Readers, do you have difficulty with the financial side of your business? Do you truly believe that you’re worthy? Do you struggle, like I do, with saying no to clients who can’t afford you? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments.

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