Do you need cash? How are you going to get it?
I need cash. In my role as Artist I don’t generate cash— not much. And as an Entrepreneur I have yet to build most of the cash machines I’ve designed. I’ve dedicated a lot of time to both roles, energized by my dream to make my living doing something I really care about.
Today, the dream is still mostly a dream. And I need cash. I need the Breadwinner.
The Shifting Leadership of Artist, Entrepreneur, and Breadwinner.
I have yet to merge my roles of Artist, Entrepreneur, and Breadwinner into one beautifully synergistic powerhouse of meaning and money. Instead, I appoint one leader for a period of time.
After making lots of money working for fancy companies, I bought the Artist time to make art. When cash flow ran dry, the Breadwinner put energy back into hawking my design services.
Last year when my whole life changed, I took a big risk. I passed control over to the Entrepreneur to make Pilot Fire a viable business built around my deepest values. It’s going okay, but cash is low again.
It’s time to put the Breadwinner back in charge for now.
The Breadwinner Knows How to Win Bread, Now.
I’ve learned some things over the years as a Breadwinner. Maybe you’ll find these little insights useful.
Know your nut. If you don’t know accurately how much money you need every month including your annual bills, you will flail in the role of Breadwinner. Having the task to make more money and never knowing if it’s enough is a formula for anxiety and resentment. On the other hand, when you know your nut, the challenge can be motivating, as long as it’s within your grasp.
It’s all about cash flow, the role of the Breadwinner. Don’t sweat the meaningful career decision if you need cash right away. Save sweating the savings planning for your Money Manager role. How much can you bring in this month? How few hours will it take? That’s your focus as the Breadwinner.
Free the Breadwinner from evil. Work only with people with integrity. They won’t stiff you, and they won’t ask you to do evil.
Liberate the Breadwinner from nobility. Let the role of the Mother or Father who agrees to bring home the bacon for the sake of the family’s health hold the righteous titles. The Breadwinner is about numbers, not nobility. Don’t make it personal.
The Breadwinner is skilled. If you know how to generate cash, you’re a Breadwinner. If you don’t know how to bring in enough money to pay your bills, then it’s time to get some training. Rare, valuable skills will up your opportunities to make more money in less time.
Skills come in sets. I trained hard to become a skilled Breadwinner. I’m a good enough Designer, but that’s a small part of being a Breadwinner. I also learned how to describe what I do in a way that gives people confidence enough to hire me. I set clear expectations. I know how to ease anxiety when circumstances change. I almost always deliver, and when I can’t, I own up and renegotiate. I don’t forget to write invoices and follow up three days after they’re due, and I leave my clients happy enough they’ll hire me again some day.
(Sure, being a white guy really helps, too. Getting older doesn’t.)
What are the skills you need?
My Dark Story
Several years ago, during our first meeting with the brilliant Financial Counselor, Susan Bross, I was delighted that my wife at the time was having deep and delightful revelations unraveling the stories she told herself about money. Susan gracefully steered her through the narratives she adopted early in her life, the ones that kept her from having a healthy relationship with money.
I was proud I had already worked through all that myself, or so I thought.
When Susan turned to me, she acknowledged I had a good grip on the numbers of our cash flow and a really good plan for long term savings.
Maybe it’s the disarming tone of her voice that dashed my illusion, but when she asked me, “So what’s your story?” my smile immediately stiffened. I could barely push the words past the lump in my throat.
“I’ll never make money doing something meaningful.”
I’m not sure if that statement is my soul’s suicide note or just the Artist’s hissy fit, but it’s a story I’ve carried with me forever. I seem destined to rail against it.
Balance is not Bliss: It’s Responsiveness.
I woke up a few weeks ago with a serious case of anxiety. I was freaking out because my year to kick ass wasn’t feeling very ass kicky. I was failing at building a meaningful business, and I was running out of money.
I had forgotten, balance is something we never achieve. Balance is responsiveness.
Balance is what allows us to flow from one role
into the next.
A few hours later I was laughing at myself. Sure, the Entrepreneur is all charged up, but he’s going to hand over the wheel. I tell him, “Sorry. You didn’t make the steam this engine needs. That’s just the facts. We’ve been here before. Step back, sir.” I let the Breadwinner take the wheel and put out my shingle again. The Artist is smirking in cahoots. He knows I’ll never forget him. We’re all okay.
I don’t know if I’ll ever make enough money just doing what I love. I do know how to try hard, and I’m going to keep trying hard, because frankly, I don’t know anything better.
How do you generate cash when you need it right away?