How Much Money Do You Really Need?

I’ve personally invested over $100k in my own business education (not including my MBA) and I’ve leveraged that investment into well over a half-million dollars in the last few years.

I’ve said before that I will make my million – in my time and on my terms. And because I’m sensing this strong undercurrent of desperation in many business owners about making 6 or 7 figures, I wanted to invite you to take a different tact:

Ask yourself, what’s the least income you can make right now and still live a happy life?

Not ‘I want to make a million dollars by the time I’m 40’ and you’re 39 now and the most you’ve ever made is $50k. Not ‘I want to make 6 figures by the end of 2013’ and your current monthly revenue is $2k.

So, what’s the least you can make that will take you to that very next step in your vision – not the BIG vision – but just the next bump up?

What’s the least amount of money you can bring in that will give your current lifestyle the boost that will make you smile, that will make you feel and know you’re moving forward, and that will continue to motivate you onward?

You see, I’ve been asking myself the same question lately. And the reason is because I’ve been starting to feel really stressed in my business and frankly I’m not having as much fun as I used to in it either.

And because of a few other things that are attributing to this feeling of heaviness that are outside my business, I’ve been feeling a need to shift things. Just small shifts for now, while allowing the bigger shifts to more fully form without pushing them into fruition until next year.

So here’s my answer to this question and how you can figure it out for your own business too:

Step 1: Get cash clear

Get crystal clear on how much money you really need to live the lifestyle that you’re happy with, not the one you’re striving for (I guarantee when you give up this grip, money will flow more abundantly to you).

This may mean having a conversation with a spouse or partner. Do it. Especially if you are in a financial partnership with someone else, you’re likely not the only one feeling the push and the pressure for more. Do yourselves both a favor and figure out what’s the minimum level for you. You may be able to give up or put aside one or more of your current income streams so you can have more of the time freedom you crave, knowing you still have enough to enjoy your life.

Step 2: Be sure all your eggs aren’t in one basket

If you’re relying on high-end pricing and programs to carry your business, you may be setting yourself up for a financial fall. Your clients and customers are being more and more discriminating about where they’re spending their money – and that’s not going to change anytime in the near future, not while our economic outlook is still bleak.

Be sure to have different ways in which you can serve your market, not just one-on-one. Offer lower priced programs and products to help more people as well as to diversify your cash flow.

Step 3: Build your business around your life

This is a mindset shift for many people. But if you’re in business for yourself, isn’t it so you can design the life you want to live? Not so you can work more, but so you can work less, and still enjoy a great life with the income to support it?

In order to do that, you have to schedule your life first, then your business-building activities around that. This is how I’ve been able to take off almost 3 months every summer for the last 7 years. My business doesn’t suffer; in fact, it grows because of my commitment to this principle.

Figure out how to make the money you want for the next level of your business (again, not the BIG vision, just the next bump up) in the time that is left after you’ve planned the life you want to live first. Then ask for the support or hire the team you need to help you make this happen.

When you put your life first, the time towards what makes you happy, the focus on just the next bump while you tend to LIVING, all the ‘more’ you want (which we all want, by the way – we are all here to grow and to be, do, and have more) will come. This I know for sure.

I’d love to know your thoughts on this – please leave your comments below.


  1. I think most of us can live on a lot less if necessary. My life and career took a serious turn when I moved it all aside to be a caregiver to my Dad after my Mom died.

    I eventually stopped working full time and my reserves were used up while I took care of my Dad and was raising two kids on my own. Believe me – while this was one of the most difficult jobs I ever encountered – I would do it all again. You realize what is really important in life!!!

    A crazy relative suing the estate and some ongoing child support issues pushed me back even further. What has this taught me??? No matter what the circumstances – you can survive. Things that once were important no longer are. Living on less means cutting back on things that aren’t really necessary.

    While living on less is not my goal…it has taught me to appreciate people more, to give unconditionally to those in need, and the fiber that I’m made of is incredibly strong.

    Living on less also helps you appreciate things often taken for granted. Even so – I hold on to the belief that for all the years of less will eventually be balanced by years of more!!!!

  2. I had to ask myself this question when I launched my business, so that I knew what I needed to make at the least, to enjoy the journey and also have the time freedom I wanted.

    It was large shift downwards but the lifestyle I could enjoy as a result made it worth it and I actually enjoyed figuring out ways to make the amount work for us.

    And now I consider everything on top of that minimum a bonus, not a necessity.

  3. Amen. Amen. Amen.

    I am oh-so tired of the ‘six figure’ myth. It’s not the ONLY key to success.

    Success should be in terms of how YOU, the individual business owner, defines it. Not how so ‘guru’ says it should be. (You know the type: weekly spa treatments, elaborate vacations, fast cars, faster plastic surgery, etc, etc.)

    And it’s something that I write every so often about on my blog. Here’s the latest:

    You and I have similar success ideas, Alicia: we want to be there with our family, first. Money comes second.

    Sure, I could work more and make more money (probably topping 7 figures easily) but at what cost?

    When you look back at the end of your life, will you say: I regret not making more money or I regret not spending more time with family? That answer is what we should build our businesses around.

    Thank you for bringing this into the limelight!

  4. Alicia, like Shannon, you’ve touched on something that is so important to address. I’m so tired of people promoting the make-six-figures idea. Right now, I just want to pay some bills and have some left over to play with hubby and family. At this point, I’d be happy with low five figures…then I could spend time writing my novel or designing my oracle deck…or just daydreaming.

    Time to start a lifestyle revolution…

  5. I’m nowhere close to making six figures yet and I’m not even particularly interested in striving for that, but that doesn’t mean I don’t feel the pressure from the “gurus” who want me to “explode my business” (worst marketing expression ever, by the way) and I start doubting myself when growth is slow.

    Thanks for reminding me — again — that only my own definition of success is what matters. I’d like to see more articles addressing the “six figure myth,” as Shannon calls it, and fewer articles telling me I’m doing it wrong.

  6. Thank you for this wonderful article and food for thought. In the past year, I have learned more and more what it means to build my business around my life, and the more I do this, the more abundant I become.

    I’m glad you mentioned setting a reasonable goal for new abundance; I had set a new monthly goal and your comments confirmed I was on track.

    Here’s to an abundant, prosperous 2013!

  7. I’ve been reviewing that over the past couple of weeks. For starters I have a monthly figure that I need to earn just to pay for some specifics such as boosting our retirement accounts, saving money for the kids schooling, extras such as my riding costs, as well as business expenses & taxes. That’s my monthly minimum for now.

    I have a larger number is mind that I want to reach within the next 2-3 years that will allow us even greater freedom where my husband could leave his job and could do something that he loves. 🙂

    Still in the low 6 figure mark, but I’m focused on building a business that works around our lifestyle and not one that runs me.

  8. Great article Alicia and an area that more and more entrepreneurs need to embrace.

    More than 25 years ago now when my partner and I first met we decided to move out of the ‘rat race’ and create a life we both loved. We got this down to such a fine art that to be honest we can live on so little money that we need to work very little.

    We choose to work because we are both passionate about what we do and this makes a huge difference. We only work with people we want to, when and where we want to and always make it fit in with our lifestyle. He is an artisan and I am a coach.

    An example: We are both mad keen cyclists so therefore only work in cycle friendly areas and in fact have 2 of our “bases’ right in the centre of a rail-trail network. Because we have that intention and focus the work appears.

    I believe designing environments is the key to living a life you will love,that will be sustainable and align with your values – and by default will create abundance in all life areas.

    When we are ruled by the mighty dollar our energy becomes too constricted and is unable to create what we are seeking and we end up becoming frustrated, stressed and create even more lack and constriction which can often lead to illness or total burnout.

    Have a brilliant New Year and always, do what you love…


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