Can’t pay your bills? Then why are you off chasing butterflies?

- November 10, 2015 2 MIN READ

There’s nothing wrong with having new ideas for your business and chasing after them. But please be smart about it!

In the past week I’ve had the same conversation with five different business owners, all of whom are struggling financially. They’re busy working on things that are new, speculative and might work somewhere down the line. But they can’t pay their rent today.

They’re ignoring their existing customers and the opportunities to make money that are right under their noses whilst on the elusive butterfly hunt, chasing new and exciting opportunities.

Sure, I understand the entrepreneur struggle; the need to follow your passion. I’ve been doing it all my life. Chasing butterflies is what we do – and rest assured I’ve been chasing butterflies for decades and I certainly intend to keep doing so for decades more. But I do it strategically, in a disciplined way and to my own set of rules.

And I certainly don’t chase them when I need to focus on paying the bills.

Before I go anywhere near a butterfly hunt my main priority is to ensure that I have my finger on the pulse with my existing work. This means making absolutely certain that I’m looking after my current clients, ensuring they are happy with the work I am delivering and the advice I am offering. I always ensure that I have enough work to cover all of my costs, including my salary for the next few months. I am actively developing business continually, even if it isn’t really the work I want to be doing in the future.

If there is a cash flow blip on the radar (like those ones that happen when I have to lodge my BAS) I do something about it long before it’s due. I chase extra work, liaise with my clients to see if they have some new projects ready to start and I do whatever it takes to make sure that blip is well and truly under control ahead of time.

In other words I make absolutely certain my current business, the one that pays my rent, is totally rock solid before I start to chase butterflies. Once I am clear on this, and I know where I am at financially, I can allocate time to chasing butterflies. (Perhaps a nicer way to describe this is ‘allocating time to working on speculative and new projects’.)

It’s definitely not sexy is it?

I realise we’re all a bit seduced by the start-up dream of inventing a new app and being a billionaire by Friday. But trust me when I tell you that my approach, as boring as it is, gives you both the best chance of surviving in business AND for reaping the rewards that come when a highly speculative ‘butterfly’ hits pay dirt for you.

And it sure as hell beats the stress of looking at an empty back account and freaking out on a daily basis.

Can’t pay your bills but finding it hard to stop chasing off after butterflies?