Earlier this month I had a major #fangirl moment. It was a full #fangirl evening, in fact, when I teamed up with New York Times bestselling author and Girlboss founder Sophia Amoroso to share in a very special money event.
In partnership with Mint, Sophia and I hosted a panel of four trailblazing entrepreneurs to have an “impolite” conversation about money. The audience heard from Mackenzie Barth, founder of Spoon University (which recently got acquired by Scripps Networks), Lisa Price creator of Carol’s Daughter, a multi-million dollar beauty brand, fashion entrepreneur Nina Faulhaber and Wing Yau, acclaimed jewelry designer.
The only rule for the evening was to be brutally honest. So, we went deep. We talked about our financial hang-ups, our money mantras, how we spend and save, as well as our money wins and losses.
While there were many takeaways, as moderator, I picked up on a few common threads – impolite “rules” – that ran through many of the stories shared. Here are my 5 favorites.
#1 Your Emotions Count
The panelists, a row full of successful entrepreneurs who seem to have a great handle on life and work, admitted that money can sometimes make them feel scared or anxious. In some cases it’s because, as business owners, they don’t always earn a consistent paycheck. In other cases they may not know the best way to save or invest. From time to time, they have doubts, insecurities and fears.
The room was full of nodding heads.
We all can get a little (or a lot) emotional over money, right? The topic triggers all sorts of feels, depending on our upbringing and life experiences. And that’s ok. Emotions provide context for how and why we the make decisions we do. On the panel, some grew up wealthier, while others remember living paycheck to paycheck. Each experience left them with a unique set of money emotions.
Rather than keep them bottled up, these women embraced their feelings. They shared them and through that discovered they weren’t alone and received acceptance and support.
#2 Don’t Be Shy. Ask a Lot of Questions.
To help us jump over our emotional hurdles, we need to arm ourselves with facts.
The panelists talked about how they continuously seek knowledge and answers to guide their decision-making. They need to make informed choices around saving money, using credit, taking on loans and building financially sound businesses. If they don’t know something, they’ll ask experts and advisors to find out. There’s no sense in guessing.
#3 You’re More Money Savvy Than You Think.
The voices in our head may be telling us that we’re not good enough or smart enough with numbers to manage our money well. Ignore the noise and realize it’s not that difficult. You may face a learning curve when it comes to budgeting, investing and expense tracking, but sometimes the only thing getting in the way is a bad mindset.
Panelist Wing Yau, the founder of WWake, is an artist first and businesswoman second. Like fellow artists, she admitted that she wasn’t exactly hard-wired to know how to analyze a profit and loss statement or manage the financials of her business. Money was an overwhelming topic, at times. But Wing insisted on learning how to manage her company’s books through research and seeking help, as well as trial and error. The process not only left her more educated. It gave her the confidence to fully tackle her business.
#4 Find Your People.
You can’t possibly know it all. And you shouldn’t go it alone. Each panelist credited friends, advisors and partners in giving them the support and feedback they need to make smart money moves, as well as business decisions.
Having an accountability partner, someone to keep you motivated and on track, was also critical.
For example, Nina Faulhaber, co-founder of ADAY, an active wear startup, recalls meeting with Sophia Amoruso prior to launching her fashion business to ask a laundry list of questions. Nina was coming from the finance world but knew very little about the fashion industry. Sophia was more than helpful, providing feedback and connecting her with other key people in the clothing world to offer guidance and mentorship.
#5 Never Lend. Always Gift.
So now that they’ve established successful businesses, are friends and family coming out of the woodwork asking for money or help? In some cases, yes, the panelists admitted.
But if there is one money rule Lisa Price, founder of the uber successful beauty line Carol’s Daughter, lives by, it is to never lend money. “Only give what you can gift,” she said. In other words, never give money to anyone with the expectation that it will be returned. Instead, offer it as a gift to avoid resentment or disappointment, since, as we know, many personal loans can go awry.