On today’s podcast, I’m chatting with a friend of the pod and returning guest, Jacquette Timmons. She is a financial behaviorist who helps people navigate complex financial decisions by looking at their behavior, choices, and motivations. I love chatting with her about the economy and finances.
None of us make financial decisions in a vacuum. Understanding our biases is important so we can make more rational and logical decisions. In our conversation, we talk about the current economy, how to navigate uncertainty, and share some of the wisdom we’ve learned in our careers by making mistakes. Let’s dive in.
The Market is Not the Economy
One of the most important things Jacquette reminded us about is that the market is not the economy. Think of it as rich people’s feelings, which is why it dominates the headlines. The hedge fund managers and investment banks have a huge stake in that sector. In reality, it’s just one of the many factors that make up the economy, and so many other things have at least an equal impact on us. Consider unemployment and the fact that it’s at just 3% right now, but if you skim the news quickly, it’s easy to be terrified.
Jacquette has been in the financial industry for 37 years, so she’s experienced many ups and downs. Uncertainty is amplified right now, but it’s also important to realize that there is always uncertainty. Business owners never know exactly how things will play out, so building in some protections is important.
Take Steps Back Even When It Feels Illogical
As a business owner, it’s hard to do the things that you probably need to do or that you’d benefit most from but the timing seems illogical. Taking space for yourself is often going to feel illogical, but it’s so good to take time to evaluate and brainstorm. Trying to fit in time to be creative and look at the bigger picture while doing your normal work routine can be very difficult, so you need to remove yourself in some way and take space.
I recently took a weeklong retreat. I used that time to game plan, be creative, assess my needs, and give myself time. If you read that and think it’s impossible, you also want to ensure you have the space of money, which is one way the Profit First ideas can help. My journey for the last two years has taught me a lot about creating space. When I was diagnosed with Lyme disease, the doctor recommended a six-month leave of absence, but no small business owner can step away that long.
Each time I took a step back, I would realize how great the space was and immediately fill it with other things. Nature abhors a vacuum. Eventually, I was able to set up systems and automations that made work easier for me. Now, I work four hours a day, four to five days per week on tasks that require time at my desk (a business owner is always working), and it’s helped balance life.
Often in survival mode, you’ll have the propensity towards massive action, but instead, use the time to slow down. Take the contrarian perspective. I use my retreats for a different kind of work and energy, and it has helped me immensely.
How to Navigate Continued Financial Uncertainty as a Small Business Owner
Jacquette loves the uncertainty amplified. She’s been through it many times throughout her career. She worked in finance during the 1987 stock market crash and has experience navigating uncertainty. It’s like being a duck where you are calm on top, but your feet are constantly moving beneath the surface. In the past, she wouldn’t recognize that she was treading water until later, now she’s better at discerning what is happening and understands that depth and severity of it. Her advice in these situations is always helpful in these moments.
For small business owners, there’s one exercise you should do in these uncertain times. Look at your clients and the industries they operate in. How are they dealing with what’s happening? Are you able to provide a solution for how they may need to respond? By working on solutions that are relevant, you will set yourself up for continued success.
Jacquette has been able to persevere through uncertain times in the past. There have been times when she’s gotten a part-time job and dipped into reserves. Looking back, she wishes she would have done some things differently. She wishes she had used someone else’s money and taken out a loan or line of credit. So many people think they should avoid debt, but running a business costs money. It’s best to ask for a loan or line of credit when you don’t need it, because you’ll end up with a better interest rate and be prepared when times turn.
Another piece of advice from Jacquette is to set more than one target. She has an “oh-hell-yeah” number for the year, but it’s also OK to just hit the same numbers as last year. Maybe you can hit the previous year’s numbers with fewer sales or less work, that’s a win. Pick a good, better, best situation and celebrate each win along the way.
Remember that running a business is an endurance sport, not a sprint. Take the space you need, slow down and conserve your energy. Perseverance will get you through to the other side.
Final Advice for Business Owners
When dealing with amplified uncertainty, you need to embrace that it’s an inside-out job. There is likely something you need to change in how you respond. Train yourself to be more curious. Start with asking how and if you’re stuck, take a step back and ask yourself what or why. Identify your reasons. Jacquette has been running her business for 28 years and still approaches things with a beginner’s mindset. We can all learn so much from her and we appreciate her coming to chat with us.