Women and Money

Women Business Owners: Play. Score. Repeat. Just Like The Women's Soccer Team During The World Cup

Photo Credit: Katie Hellmuth Martin

Photo Credit: Katie Hellmuth Martin

When I walked into my sunroom where the TV was on the day after the U.S. Women’s soccer team defeated Thailand 13-0 during the World Cup, I heard a group of talk show hosts on FOX discussing the appropriateness of the 13-0 score. FOX is broadcasting the Women’s World Cup this year.

What wasn’t mentioned in the seconds of the segment that I heard, was the previous year’s win of 9-0 the U.S. Women’s team had over Thailand. Or that it was the biggest blowout in history for men or women. Or that it broke the previous record of 11-0 win of Germany over Argentina in 2007. Or that “star striker Alex Morgan scored an astounding 5 goals to tie a long-standing record set by Michelle Akers against Taiwan in 1991,” as pointed out in this New York Daily News article. Or that in soccer, goals matter for a match tie breaker among teams and games played.

An article in The Washington Post by Steven Goff included many of these facts in his overview of the situation, and presented this concept: “The score also raised questions about whether the three-time champions needed to continue hunting for goals.”

Is There Room For Appropriateness In Hunting For Goals?

Hunting for goals is the name of the game. This isn’t a scrimmage. This isn’t a passing exercise. This is the World Cup. The whole point of the game is to score goals, not to apologize or hold back out of politeness.

In the article, defender Kelley O’Hara was quoted: “You don’t want to take your foot off the pedal because you want to respect the game and play them as you would play anyone else. It is a tournament. Goal differential matters. You can’t feel bad for scoring as many goals as possible.”

Turn Passion Into Profit - Is Appropriateness Factored Into Profit?

This reminded me of women in business, who are conditioned and encouraged to follow their passion. “Turn your passion into a paycheck,” is often how it goes. But winning, being a breadwinner, paying the bills, saving for retirement, aren’t usually part of the cliches in pretty Instagram quote posters. Instead, supporters on the home-front may show support, while at the same time, say things that condition a woman to hold back. Like any of these statements:

“If you have a storefront, will it suck you away from the family?”

“I don’t want to financially support a product you think you have, but don’t.”

“Why do you need an LLC (aka any business entity)?”

“The kids miss you.”

“Lower your fundraising projection because the other kids may not fund raise as much, and then you’ll stick out and it might make them feel bad.” (I actually said this one - fortunately my 9-yo daughter called me on it.)

Falling passively behind in our competence can happen easily, thus slowing down the business creation and growth.

Conditioning Women To Back Down Via Everyday Examples - Watch For It

The criticism that was being marketed on TV the morning after the game played right into the hands of casually conditioning women on how they should be in this world: Passive. Polite. To step aside. To step around. To not make someone feel uncomfortable. To not be bossy. Respectful to the point of deadness.

Couch Critics had typed into Comment boxes: “They should have let the clocks run out. I hope they slink home. I hope they don’t get paid what they are fighting for right now.”

Polite vs Getting The Job Done

When you’re on the field, as when you are engaged in the business you have created, you are running your heart out. All of your endorphins and adrenaline and smarts are pumping at their highest levels. When you have physically trained for this moment for years of your life, you are not going to step aside and say:

“You know what, I won’t score on you.”

”You know what? I don’t want to make you feel bad.”

”You know what? I’m sorry that your defense could be better. I’m sorry that you’re not as good as you could be in the goal. I’m sorry that your country hasn’t invested enough systematically into women to give you better coaching, encouragement, belief and motivation.”

”I’ll just bring this ball right to your goal, freak you out, and then kick it aside to my teammate. My teammates and I will just play pass-the-ball to each other on your end of the field until the clock runs out, which could be many minutes from now, which in sports, should normally stretch out into an hour, but because the those wanting women to be polite will be offended for you, we will make this game as unexciting as possible, doing nothing, except passing and dancing around you. And then we might get critizised for teasing you or showing off with our fancy footwork. And we might even get in trouble for not ‘showing up’ and competitively respecting the other team with honest goals.”

Wake Up, Women

You know what? This mentality is real, and is what keeps women down. It is spoken to women by other women and men, and by the most important person: one’s own self. It is what keeps women not growing their business into the successfully streamlined businesses they can be. Small or large businesses. Doesn’t matter. Women are conditioned to step aside and be polite.

When a woman shows aggression, when she shows success over and over again, the haters get jealous. Admit it. You’ve seen business creators in your Instagram, and you may have thought: “When will they stop? When will they give up? When will they stop showing this win with their latest new idea or feature in the media?”

Women’s Self-Sabatoge Mislabeled “Sportsmanship”

Women easily self-sabatoge, opting to pass the ball around the goal, and not score. Even if the scoring is easy. Even if with teammates and conditioned teamwork, the scoring, the executing of good ideas, the satisfaction of completing what is practiced after so many years of long weekends or long nights and Monday holiday work sessions, is successfully completed time and again.

Letting the clock run out and not scoring in a World Cup championship is not what athletes and professional teams do during championships. Letting the clock run out is not how you grow your business. Not scoring is not why you created this business.

Surround yourself with teammates who will condition what you need to get sh*t done. That could be increasing your profits. That could be planning your retirement. This could be growing enough that you actually step away and actually go on vacation. Because honestly, who wants to keep working from the beach? You want to lay out in the sun and play volleyball on the beach, and swim with the dolphins.

Let your business do this for you. Be a winner. Keep scoring. That is why you’re playing.

DailyWorth Online Magazine Change of Ownership - Acquired By Jean Chatzky

daily worth home page.jpeg

Happy Money Monday!

In honor of today's Money Monday, we're updating you about the exciting news over at the online magazine, DailyWorth. Founded 10 years ago by Amanda Steinberg, it has long been the go-to source of information for women's financial needs and questions, delivered in an honest way that Normal People can understand.

We've watched the online magazine itself go through many changes, including major newsletter design changes (we watch them closely for what is working or not working, as newsletter-based websites are very effective), and changes in editors and contributing writers. They even had a paid membership of experts at one point.

The New Owner of DailyWorth, Jean Chatzky

Jean Chatzky is the new owner, and she was an early investor in DailyWorth. Jean is the Financial Editor of NBC's TODAY Show, as well as the host of her own podcast, HerMoney, and the creator of the community HerMoney private Facebook Group.

How You Can Pitch DailyWorth

Our Super Sleuther Ashley Cox 🕵 is on the case to update Tin Shingle's Super Easy Media Contacts Database (available to All Access Pass Members at Level 4), verifying new or current Media Contacts at DailyWorth who would make a great fit for your feature idea.

You'll want DailyWorth if you want to gain exposure from a wide audience of women who are looking to improve their financial lives and make smart life and business decisions.

Ideas for Why You'd Pitch DailyWorth

This is a great source for service-industry experts who are looking to gain exposure for their brands, and want to be quoted as an expert - even if you're not a financial expert. If you know how to guide someone in the right direction of making a financially smart decision, this is an outlet to pitch.

Service Industry Ideas:

  • How you have mastered writing and/or designing proposals that get accepted.
  • How to get paid - and not ignored on an invoice.
  • How you've mastered being awarded grant money.
  • How to feed your family as a self-employed person.
  • How to work from home with kids (either big kids, or little kids...pick a focus).
  • How to employ your kids and pay them through your business (usually an accountant's trick).

Ideas for People Who Sell Products

Pitch perhaps less for the actual product, and more for the financially smart side of you and decisions you've made and learned from.

  • Did you finance your business using a creative solution?
  • What was your experience working with a bank?
  • Products that have to do with managing or saving money are of course great candidates to pitch!
  • Do you advise people on how to work with non-profits, or best ones to donate to?

So many ideas. These suggestions will get you started.

How to Hook In with DailyWorth and HerMoney

You want Jean on your side! She wants to know about the great money things you are doing. And you want her advice, and that of her community of experts. Start listening and reading. This will make your pitching easier, so that we can watch or read what you have to say!

How To Be A Known Entrepreneur and Expert In Your Industry

So you want to be a go-to expert in your industry? Are you hoping to reach more people and get your message out there, building buzz for your business and your brand, but perhaps you're not sure where to begin? This Training TuneUps webinar will give you a jumpstart in the right direction.

The Case of the $5 Etsy Earring and the Joy of the Sale

Photo Credit:  Tekniska Museet

Photo Credit: Tekniska Museet

There's an epidemic in pricing in women's work that I became aware of when I first started selling accessories under my design label 15 years ago: designers of beautifully made hand-crafted jewelry were selling it for $5, thus not paying themselves to make the jewelry, and maybe not even covering the cost of the materials. My accessories were sewn, and I lacked the patience to sit at a sewing machine to make them over and over again, so I always paid someone to make them, which I then sold on the website that I built myself. Designers selling on Etsy, at that time, had such low pricing, that my products wouldn't stand a chance.

Correction: I designed the website myself, and I paid a programmer to build it because I wanted it to look just so, and I couldn't code for websites at that level. That programmer has since become my long-time programming partner when I quit my day job to design and produce websites, so paying him was always part of the equation in any client work I won or accepted. Which is how I lost jobs on price, and even had friends get offended when I quoted them a price to build their websites if they struck out in their own business. This was in the days before DIY website platforms like Squarespace or Wix. Some friends expected me to give them my work, aka not charge my usual rate, and I couldn't because I had to pay someone to build it. It was guilt that I worked through over time.

Freebies and Indentured Designers

Designers around me could build all of their own stuff. Jewelry. Jackets. Websites. So they paid no one, and didn't factor this cost into their pricing. My accessories were priced higher than everyone else's. My checkbook cover retailed at $25. My jewelry pouch with 5 pockets, 3 earring straps and 2 ring loops was $65. A woman who I sought SEO advice from when I first launched my website suggested that SEO wasn't my problem, that it was my pricing. She herself, she told me, could make that jewelry pouch herself, and saw it usually retailing for $10 on the Internet.

Lots of the website SEO (aka Google) traffic I got, actually, was for patterns to make the products I designed. I can't follow a pattern, nor can I make one, so these searchers on Google could have fun looking for the pattern that I paid a woman stitcher to develop, as I wasn't about to just post it as a PDF on my website for anyone to copy. Even though posting a free pattern PDF is a great SEO trick because so many people search for it. Instead, to attract the people looking for freebies via SEO, I designed free desktop wallpaper, which did result in a commissioned piece once by a woman who wanted an illustration of high heels and bicycles. It was a flattering assignment, and I think I charged $75 for it.

Later on, after buying advertising with a reputable blog I followed, and getting subsequent PR for the exposure, my designs began to sell.The checkbook covers, and subsequent products like my "sexy sleepmask for travel" did sell on the Internet. Turns out, SEO and pricing wasn't my problem. Getting enough of the right people to my website was the problem. People who Googled "sexy sleepmasks for travel" bought the sleepmasks, and even a celebrity found it that way and bought one for his then girlfriend who he's now married to.

"You Don't Have To Work - I Can Support Us"

During my Morning Pages for my Artist's Way journey, a phrase bubbled to the surface that my very supportive husband spoke to me when we were engaged. I remember clearly where I was standing in our apartment, next to which living room piece of furniture. He said: "You realize that you don't need to work, and that I can support us. I want you to know that."

To many people, that statement is a gift. To a person feeling trapped in their job who really wants to paint and eventually sell their art, or to write and sell their book, this statement is a major support system to help make that happen. To me, it had the opposite effect. It was spoken in love and support, but tripped a money-earning blockage wire.

At that point, I paid for my own apartment on the 9th floor of a building in New York City. I proudly paid for it by my self - $1,750/month - and all of my bills. I had an ING savings account back then, and actively logged into my IRA account to fiddle with the investment settings - and even contributed to it! I was saving, I was working, and I had a plan.

When we got married, our joint returns unexpectedly bumped us into a higher tax bracket and we owed bunches of money in taxes because the quarterly estimates that I sent in each quarter were too low. The big tax return disappeared that year. They didn't factor in our joint filing which showed a lot of income.

I'm now on a payroll for myself, so that I don't have to send in quarterly taxes, but that "salary" is a pretty silly number, and is technically "poverty level" - I was told later by a banker who was considering me for a mortgage in 2008. Turns out $12,000/year is not impressive to a bank, even when you can write off most of your small NYC apartment because you work from it. He didn't care about the gross, which was $46,000, a number I was proud of and was the same number as the salary from the job I'd quit that year.

But the net, or my "Owner's Draws," led that banker to stop returning my emails. This is why I don't barter. The bank doesn't care how many massages you got in exchange for work.

Work as Choice - "You Don't Need To Work"

So what's with that phrase? Here is the discovery. When he said that, I was pretty jolted. I loved working. When you work for yourself, you usually love what you do. Being financially independent was a top priority for me. When presented with this statement, working became a choice. I don't have to work, but I wanted to work.

When I had my first child, all of my work income plummeted. Client work became very different. I wasn't emotionally ready for childcare, and everything changed. One afternoon I sunk to the floor of my kitchen, giving up, wanting to cry (ok, I probably was crying), and was encouraged by someone trying to help to "let it go...admit what you can and cannot do." But I didn't want to give up. I had visions and wanted to make them happen. I had ideas! A silly phrase a boyfriend once thought I was cute for saying.

Fast forward to now, and I have admitted to what I cannot do, and that means hiring people to work with me. I'm not giving up, and I'm making enough to pay them. But I'm not making enough to pay myself - no matter what the gross is. It's like a sliding scale of nothing. It's weird! The problem is in the profit margin, and not in the simple act of working and earning money.

Working in Secret - A Shadow Worker

After after my second child was born, I was digging out of that stuff, and was on the road to recovery when I learned I was pregnant with my third child.  The reason I plummeted was because working became a choice. A choice I felt that I was making over my children. So I didn't want to choose it over my children, so I only did it in secret. At night. When they were sleeping during naps. In the car at Target if they fell into a car nap. I have inverters in the car so that I can plug in my computer. I don't work from the car on road trips anymore because truth be told, my husband wants to talk to me, and now that the kids are in my life, they'd like to talk to me too - and be given snacks. But I do still plan for car naps in parking lots.

Sophie's Choice - Work or Children?

In my Morning Pages, I explored the phrase "You don't need to work - I can provide for us." What happened? When I was "working," which for me was both being creative and earning money, I was choosing to not be with my family - a Sophie's Choice syndrome (for those not familiar with the heartbreaking movie/concept, see here). This explained why I did a lot of work in the bathroom while on family trips. Secret. When visiting my husband's family, prior to kids, I actually did carve out time to sit at Panera, but that was when I had a retainer with a client, and had deadlines to produce for them. It felt justified. It wasn't my work, it was client work.
PS: This is beginnings of the cobbler dilemma for service providers who don't nurture their own businesses, only those of their clients, but that's a different article.

The Need to Work

So if we had all of the money in the world, and I didn't need the money and I didn't need to "work", would I still want to leave the house and "create?" I would! I would still want to leave and buy fabric. Or leave the house and draw something. Or leave the house to - let's be honest - go to a fitness class (this is a very hard thing to do! will the children be alright? will my husband feed them or will they waste away into TV and chips on the floor? truth: they will be fine - even with chips on the floor and ants in pursuit). Or close my door and cut fabric and sew something. But, I'd still be choosing my need to create or leave the house over my family, and that felt wrong.

Sure I could sew with my daughter, but she actually wants to work the machine. My son also. So I'm not pressing the pedal of the sewing machine, I'm enabling their experience of the sewing machine, which is awesome, but I'm not actually getting to make what I want to make. I want to help them and enlighten them, but you get the picture. Sophie's Choice.

The Joy of the Sale

Leaving something to create for yourself is not wrong. What I'm discovering through my Artist's Way, is that tapping into your creativity is inherent and necessary to live a sane life. However, one may feel the need to justify it with a sale. So a necklace gets priced at $5. A logo design gets priced at $50 or $350. Just so that it can sell, and the designer (or whatever industry) can say that they sold something. And then when I give my price of $3,500 (which includes paying my designer who specializes in logos and paying my producer fee for me - but still - logos are valuable even if I were to design it and involve no one), eyeballs fall out of their heads. Unless you're getting that number from an agency who has an office and people on staff, and then it becomes $10,500 and it's called "branding."

The epidemic is in the thrill of the sale - for any number - and it brings the pricing down for entire industries because people expect to pay $5 that took hours to make, and years of experience to make it special. It's the same as China pricing. Etsy pricing is China pricing. And Etsy isn't bad! It's a great platform to find wonderful things. It's the people who are pricing their things who need to up their game.

Women (might) feel that they don't "need to work" financially so won't charge, even though they do "need to work" to stay sane, and then charge nothing for their time. Women who work for themselves, but pay themselves half or nothing, and indenturing themselves.

My revelation was that money didn't factor into my guilt for leaving the house to "work" or to go create something. I was going to feel guilty anyway. The Sophie's Choice - kids/family or work? Since money didn't matter to my level of guilt, it suddenly disappeared. Of course I'm going to work! It keeps me sane, and I want the income! I want to contribute to my IRA again! Why wouldn't we want to deposit money into savings? Why wouldn't I want to pay into the mortgage? I get so excited when I do, because it's something that is very important to my own core values.

"I Didn't Go Back to Work Because It Cost the Same as Childcare."

Right - and when you do the numbers for all of the mothers work that you do - the primary care-giving - you're making about $5,000 a month. If you die, someone's going to need to come in every morning and wake the kids up, get them dressed, take them to school (or play with them if not in school yet), run to the grocery store, pay and manage all of the bills (which isn't as simple as just paying them - you may need to chase those bills and figure them out), then get the kids again, make dinner, and put them to bed. That's if you have a commuter husband like me who leaves at dawn and comes back after bedtime.

So yeah, you need that life insurance policy! Don't let your husband tell you that all is fine if you die - he'll make it work. He'll be facing a wall of expenses that he or anyone wasn't paying you before. Just searching for the child care replacement of you will take his time. This is why I have no issue with paying myself in pedicures. Or clothing purchases. Or having a life insurance policy.

"What Do You Need an LLC for?"

This phrase was another Blurt from a Time Traveler that emerged during my Morning Pages for my Artist's Way journey ("blurts" and "time travelers" are Artist's Way phrases). When I hung my shingle, I wanted to higher a lawyer to form my LLC because I'm just not that good at following directions on how to do that. This decision was questioned by someone who loves me and didn't mean anything bad by it, but couldn't see why I would need an LLC (the reasons why are a whole 'nother article...trust me...you need one if you're going to sell anything).

One reason why you need an LLC or SCorp is because you need a salary. You're not write-off. While it may be appealing to accountants or spouses to write off the expenses from your work ("we can write off your car!"), and keep your income low so as not to add to the joint filing, that must not feel very good to you as a person. It trains you not to want to earn more income, and trains you that your working amounts to expenses - negative.

Prior to 2010, the federal government sent out Social Security statements in the mail. It showed how much social security you were going to get based on your income. If you had a full time or W2 job, this is pretty clear. You're getting money back in social security. If you worked for yourself and never paid taxes, only hid them as expenses in your family tax returns, you're not getting any social security from your own earnings. You might not believe in Social Security anyway, but the concept is there - the monetary value not put into your work, is also monetary value not put into your future savings.

Pay thy self. You are not a write-off.

Women Are Paying Themselves Half Their Worth


Tonight I discovered that women in business for themselves are paying themselves half of their worth. Gender pay gap be damned, we're doing it to ourselves and not even realizing it. This isn't a beat-ourselves-up-post, it's a hit-ourselves-over-the-head-and-wake-up post.

The Discovery of the Self-Imposed Pay Gap

During an event hosted at our office here at Tin Shingle in Beacon, NY for a group called Hudson Valley Women in Business, I was talking to a friend who designs high-end jewelry. And her jewelry isn't cheap. It took me three years to finally pull the trigger on a pair of her earrings. While we were talking at this event, I told to her that I'm making discoveries in an Artist's Way group I'm in that she was considering joining, and I confessed to her what I discovered in my Artist's Way journey.

I have recently made a discovery that despite what I sell not being cheap, I still don't make enough to make a salary. There I said it. Business bills get paid, but that's it. And I don't know why. No matter what the business expenses are, I make them, but not much more. Why? I'm in need of a money mindset shift.

I confessed this to my friend, and in response, she admitted that while she was coming up with pricing for a workshop series she was leading for a non-profit organization, she really struggled with the pricing. Them being a non-profit and all, and her being a super do-gooder person, she grappled with a real price. She broke down the hours it took her to prepare for the class, and then to deliver the class, and realized that her hourly rate for the workshop was actually double what she thought she should be charging. She took a deep breath, submitted the rate to the prospective client, and they didn't bat an eye. "Oh sure, that price is right in line with what we pay our other people."

My friend was shocked at their acceptance of her rate, and that she almost undercharged for her time and talent by half.

Another time years ago, I moderated a small panel at Barnard College for women in business. One of the panelists was a woman who co-founded a frozen dessert company. They made this chocolate dessert and sold it in many stores, including Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, and others. They had fleets of trucks shipping their product all over the country. They boasted that they never took a salary. None once. Why? To keep investing in their business. But why? I was stupefied.

Discovery of the Pay Discrepancy Made During The Artist's Way Journey

Last month during a Valentine making workshop, I bought (finally) a copy of The Artist's Way for $5, and committed to doing it because a friend asked for a book club around it and I accepted. I can host a book club in our office, so bring it on. It's met twice so far, and has been a really gentle, and intense experience. Love it.

The book is all about creativity as a spiritual practice, and that you can dive in and unclog. You can silence the "Censors" who tell you you can't do something. Why what you want to do is wrong or won't work. During this experience so far, I discovered (I think) that what needs unclogging for me right now is money and pricing. I've unleashed some crafting creativity in the form of furniture painting and website design, so I'm all good there. But something made me buy this book and agree to show up each week to this group of others who are showing up each week, and what has emerged for me is the money aspect. There is something wrong with how I'm earning it.

I'm Not The Cheapest Chip In Town

Never have been. Even when I sold accessories I designed and produced, I paid someone to sew them, so I built that into my pricing, and advocated that others do as well. Consulting isn't cheap either - at $175/hr, so what's the problem? Or maybe that is cheap! LOL

I'm making exactly enough to pay the business bills. That is the problem. Whatever that number is, is what I make. It's need based. There is no cushion. There is no profit margin. If the business  bills go up, the gross number goes up, but the net stays the same. That's no problem. The amount made is for the amount needed for bills at that moment. I may have issues with profit margin. It may make me uncomfortable. And that is what I need to unclog.

The Salary - Undervalued

I was approached to head up the communications effort for a large client. I don't know their budget, but let's just say that they are pretty big with a lot going on. They wanted me to put something together to create and promote their communications. To report on their business, essentially. I told them I'd need 2 writers and a designer at least, and that I'd come back with a proposal. And where do I factor into that budget, because I would not be the main writer. I would be the producer and guide of the content strategy and execution.

So I thought, Ok, if we were on staff, in their Communications Department (which they don't have), what would my own salary be? It would be $46K. How do I know? Because that's what I made at my last full time job 15 years ago. So that must be right. They'd be saving lots of money because they wouldn't pay my health insurence or any other benefits. So it's right, right?

Wrong. It's been 15 years and the work I've done to build three businesses with three websites that reach hundreds of thousands of people and has changed the lives of some, is worth something. When I was quitting my day job 15 years ago to strike out on my own as a website designer and now also a digital marketer, an editor of The Village Voice interviewed for my job. When she learned the salary, she admitted that she couldn't possibly work for a salary that low. I underestimated what I did then, at $46K, so what am I doing now? Fifteen years and a lot of experience later?

Where Do We Go From Here?

I don't know. I'm working through the money issues through The Artist's Way because I have a feeling I'm going to have to face some Censors. And then I'm going to call Galia Gichon to whip my plans into shape and take her current Accelerator program with HerCorner.

I'm embracing March Madness as getting mad about my money issues and facing them. There is no reason for this! Enough. And the change is in my hands! Our hands. We are the boss. So let's make it happen! And realize that our needs, what we "need" to earn is actually much greater, and includes Summer Camp, IRAs, cash saved for when you can't work because you go on your own family leave, and a new couch, dammit!

Photo Credit: Like this photo? It's awesome and was made available on CreativeMarket.com from Ira Cvetnaya.