Money... it's a topic I never, ever write about. It's something I rarely bring up in conversation, and shy away from when people ask me questions about it. Because the truth is, I get questions from you all asking about money related issues ALL the time. I see them, I read them, and I shy away.
Because the truth is that I still find money just as tricky as all of you!
I have something called "dyscalculia." I was "diagnosed" (not sure thats the right term for it!) when I was 16. It's essentially dyslexia with numbers. Here's a link to a bit more information about it. I was super lucky to have a maths teacher at school who knew about the symptoms, and screened me for it. I'd never heard of it before, and I was actually the first person in my school to be screened for it at all. So you can imagine that when the results came back "off the charts" I had mixed feelings of relief, and anxiety. Here I was, being told that after all of these years of feeling really, really, really stupid when it came to numbers, there was a reason! I wasn't stupid, I was trying very hard, but something in my brain didn't quite line up properly. I was also worried, because would this mean that I'd be doomed to struggle with numbers for the rest of my life?
I kept that worry in me for a very long time. In fact, almost 10 years.
I actually managed to pass my IB maths exam, amazingly, thanks to the help of a wonderful maths tutor, who tragically passed away just before my exam. I was shattered that he never saw me pass it, but felt immensely proud of myself, and so grateful to him. I went on to uni, and when I realised that I wanted to run my own business, the fear that money and numbers would have to be a part of my life became hugely present in my head.
I finished uni, and started to work like crazy on Atlas Magazine, the magazine that I co-founded with my best friend, Megan. The magazine did well, but I didn't cope well with the numbers. I was on my own, trying to understand how to sell a product, and not a cheap product at that. I had HUGE bills coming in, bank charges flying at me, accountants to pay, let alone try to figure out how to make a profit or pay for myself.
I'm proud of what I achieve whilst running Atlas, but it wasn't for me. I learnt a lot, but just couldn't handle the pressure at the time. It lost it's spark a bit, and I do think that has a lot to do with the huge amounts of pressure the financial side of the business brought with it.
So I stopped, and I focused on my photography... which thankfully, I was feeling very inspired by, and ready to pursue.
There I was, 23, and already on business number two. But this time, I had learnt some lessons, and I was determined to make the financial side of my photography business work better for me. I hired my accountants from day one (best decision I ever made), and they helped set me up. I'm happy to say that whenever tax season rolls around, I never feel stressed out, because my accountants are so incredibly kind and helpful, that they take all the stress out of it. I read a few books, took a few courses, and made sure that I knew what I needed to do.
What helped massively was the fact that my photography business is much smaller than Atlas ever was. There are smaller bills to pay, far fewer bills to pay, just me to think about (ie. no other team members), and I'm not working through distributors or contractors. Money comes in, and it goes out. Easy.
Only, it still really isn't easy. It's still really hard.
About 4 or 5 months ago, I was once again looking over the financial side of my business. Money was not bad at all, but I knew that I wanted more of it. I'm a firm believer that money is a good thing, and that with money, we can do so much good in the world, not just for ourselves but for others, too. However I still felt a massive block around it. HUGE amounts of fear.
This fear is rooted in many things, some things that I don't feel comfortable to talk about in public, but I began to unpick them. I finally plucked up the courage to read the book "You Are A Badass At Making Money*," a book that I'd had on my nightstand for a WHOLE YEAR before I actually read it. Talk about money blocks...
In reading that book, I began to shift so much negative thought, so much fear, and uncover so many blocks around money. And something shifted. Something big. I felt this huge surge of interest in money, in how it's made, what you can do with it, where it goes, how to manage it. The best way I can describe it is I became CURIOUS about money. That sounds crazy, but up until this point I've been quite uninterested in money. Sure, I like having it, and I like the things it can buy me, but I'd just never really given it any thought.
So what am I actually doing that's different?
I'm going with my curiosity! I'm reading books (currently, Profit First by Mike Michalowitz*), I'm listening to podcasts, I'm talking about it, I'm paying attention to it, I'm studying it. I'm doing courses online about money management. I'm going where the curiosity is, and it's making me very excited.
It's not easy. I often find myself getting very confused, and if any real maths comes into play, I usually have to ask for help from my boyfriend (who always looks at me like I'm crazy when I say for the 5th time "I just don't get it!"), but I'm keeping my mind open, and I'm slowly but surely learning more and more.
The fears and blocks I have around money are still there, but I'd say they're slowly starting to fade. They're weighing down on me less and less, and I truly believe that has a lot to do with the fact that I'm letting myself learn at my own pace. I'm investigating and giving myself the tools that I need to better manage my money in future.
What are your feelings around money? Do you find it hard to openly talk about it, too? I'd love to keep the conversation about money, freelance life and creativity going, so comment here, send me an email, or message me on Instagram! The more we talk about it, the more people will feel that they can openly talk about it too. We're all in this together, and we all need to help each other out along the way.
I'm here for you if you want to talk about it.
The images in this post were content I shot for Crew Clothing.
*Marks an affiliate link