Why is talking about money frowned upon? Why are people ashamed to say they want to be wealthy? Why do women, especially, feel guilty for seeking a salary increase, often when there is a multitude of evidence to support that it is merited and fair?
I help people with their personal finances, others with their business finances and for many, it’s both. At the start of a new venture, business and personal money can be very intertwined.
I love to hear about people's business, why they do what they do and always hear about how they feel they are helping others or improving their customers’ lives in some way. Very rarely do people say: “... and I plan to make a lot of money doing it”.
When I ask about their financial goals, almost always, the confidence and passion I just witnessed when they talk about their business vanishes and is replaced with embarrassment or awkwardness.
Can you guess what the number one question I get from a female business owner is? It is “How or what can I pay myself?”
Some have been running successful businesses for many years and only ever pay themselves the bare minimum, if even that, so they can financially survive.
Often, the business bank account is overflowing while their personal bank account is running with the red light on. And it’s common for their staff to be paid more than they pay themselves.
It’s a mindset I’ve thought about a lot. They work so hard and usually for long hours. Their business is their passion and they can talk ardently and openly about why they believe in it. They are not running charities. Many need the income from their business to support themselves and their families.
They admit to themselves, privately, that they want to make money from their business, so why not say it out loud? It’s a business and its purpose is to generate profits.
Why do they feel they will be judged if they admit they run their business to make money? My experience is this seems to be more of an issue for women than men.
Everyone’s reason is personal to them. Most commonly, I hear they don’t want to be seen as greedy. Somehow doing it for money alongside their other goals makes them feel inauthentic or at least they fear they will be judged to be inauthentic.
With service businesses which involves helping individuals, it seems especially uncouth to say you are also doing it for money. Clients expect to pay you for your time, so why be ashamed of it?
It’s a complex perspective and one I will continue to learn about and ponder for years. It’s not just business owners who feel this way.
I speak to inspiring, successful employed women with very senior positions who earn great salaries. And they talk to me as they feel ashamed. They are afraid to talk to family or friends as they feel they are “privileged” to be financially abundant but don’t want to admit it for fear they will be judged. They also do not feel safe to admit they don’t know how to manage it so they can be more wealthy.
They are told they need to be wise with their money, invest it so it grows, yet to admit they want to be wealthy is unacceptable. It’s quite a conundrum.
People should be paid for their time, expertise and hard work, and not feel guilty about doing so.
Please know you deserve to be paid for your hard work. There is nothing wrong with aspiring to be or being wealthy.
Money is energy, the more you have, the more you can use it to do good for yourself, live the life you want and also help people and causes that are important.
Maybe that’s a good way to get started with a more positive mindset when it comes to seeking and having financial abundance.
But remember, it’s also okay to provide for yourself first, you don’t have to give it all away to be a good person. Put your own oxygen mask first.
Carol Glynn is the founder of Conscious Finance Coaching