Rewriting your money story.

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This one word carries so much meaning throughout my life (and no doubt yours). I do remember always never having enough. And that being an embarrassing, scary, paralyzing thought. 

I remember how I transitioned from not enough into "just not yet" but well-practiced habits don't go away easily. Especially when you're in a constant state of growth within a startup. 

When I ended 2017, I wanted to close down Cleveland Flea. It had become a terrible place for me. It had become a place where I was forced to stay small to keep others happy and in turn was dying inside. Startups take so much energy that if you don't love what you do, it's very hard to do what it take to keep them afloat. Much like families. Or marriage. Or fitness. Or anything that takes a lot of work. 

I had gotten to a point where I hated what I did. We lost $40,000 of projected income during Holiday Market and I felt that the business was just taking more than I could give. It no longer served me, financially or creatively.

This year I wanted to change my life, however. And money is a huge part of that plan. Here's what I did to engineer a change that within 6 months would get me:

  • My dream team at work
  • A new coaching business
  • A new dream apartment
  • Trips across the world researching markets
  • An air bnb / little hotel inspired by my favorite designer

So, what changed?

My mentality. My thoughts. My entire staff. 

They say that the team that takes you to $100,000 is not the same team that takes you to $1,000,000 and that includes the boss. You've got to evolve or die. 

So, what thought did I choose? And how did I dig myself out of this giant hole? 

I decided to live my dream life in 2018. I decided that I would make decisions that were connected to my heart. Not fear. Not responsibility. I believed with all my heart that my dream team was out there and that I had to become the boss that would attract them. 


I can't believe this gets to be my life. 

At first, this thought made me cry. It didn't feel real. It felt like it could never happen. But I practiced it every single day. As I made decision after decision to prioritize building the type of business that would serve ME. It still sometimes makes me cry. When I think about the kind and talented people that work super hard in this business for us all, and me. It doesn't feel real. But it is.

Practicing this thought lead me to a lot of action steps that I had never taken in previous years.

We shut down the design side of Indie Foundry, and that was terrifying. But I no longer wanted to do work that was worth $10,000-$20,000 for less than $5000. We needed to change something around there. And it was a process of mourning that now lead to lots of other great things– Creative Clubhouse, Staycation Club, The Wes Anders Inn and Boss Box.

I raised rates significantly at Cleveland Flea. We went from $225/market to $300.

We established Market Membership instead of vendors paying for space. We created a VIP package and lots of fun add-ons. I remember being so happy and feeling creativity that I had never felt before while making all of this happen. 

But we had NO money in our first quarter. So, how was I going to hire 3-4 people with no money? The first step was to create a reason for people pay us in our first quarter. 

We created an Original Vendor VIP Program that would lock in rates for vendors who had been with us for a while and who could pay us for an entire season up front. I was nervous. We had just come off of a tough Holiday Market. Who would pay us for this???? Turns out, a good deal of people decided it was a great business decision to pay us up front and save $500 on their season fee (that's 30% of their booth fee in savings). We ended up with enough money to bridge our financial gap and hire our people.

I drew up Dream Job Descriptions. I made them pretty. I created a guide that would tell people exactly who we were (a startup) and what would be expected of them (they give their all, they are open and kind and do not take things personally, they're committed to us) and what's expected of us (the business helps them grow, it respects their personal time, it supports them joyfully, it allows them to shape their own positions). I decided to up my game and pay for 50% of their insurance. I did all this without any assurance that we would have enough money. I knew that with the right people, we could do anything. 

The first 4 months was tough. I trained everyone myself. I was losing money on Indie Foundry as we transitioned out of paid client work and finalized projects that had been paid for in December but weren't set to start until March. I stopped taking a salary at Indie Foundry all together. My team was excited but they didn't understand the flea brand or operations. 

And pretty soon we added 3 more people to help with the workload that came along with our new fees. 

I decided to open a Creative Clubhouse. This was a $40,000 project that has yet to bring in more than $5000. And it borrowed this money from #teamflea so we've got to work hard to pay it back NOW. But this team is 100% behind me. And with their support, we're making headway and launched a coaching and event program that will make our money back and bring a lot of community to our creatives in this city. 

I decided to open my own personal coaching business. I made my instagram public (it had been private due to a paranoid schizophrenic stalker I'd been dealing with since 2013) and began building a personal brand. I decided that it was time people paid me for the value I bring, which is me and my mind– not just the photos and brands and copywriting that it directs. I just drew up my coaching products after a bunch of time thinking it through and I'm excited to being booking clients.

I'm still fighting my money story in my personal life, but I'm nearly evolved. I used to believe that I could only make what I needed. And not even what I needed comfortably but just in the nick of time. I lived paycheck to paycheck for so long that it just seemed like the only thing I could do. 

And then I realized that it's all a thought I've been practicing. The thought was, "I've never done it before so how could I do it now?" That thought has caused me a lot of money, time and energy. And I replaced it again with, "I can't believe this gets to be my life." 

At each stage, I really didn't have the money.

I had to find a way to make it. And to do that I had to think like a person who already had the money. I booked trips. I hired employees. I raised rates. I overdelivered. I lived on the energy that I was doing what my heart had been asking me to do for years. I allowed myself to mourn the loss of people I'd loved, places I'd loved, the person who I was. In order to become who I am today.

And now? 

Now we're on our way to making $1 Million this season as a business. And I could have never dreamed this, or make this a reality until I changed my thoughts and my actions. 

So, this is how I changed my money story. 

  • I mourned the loss of my former self.
  • I questioned all my thoughts that had gotten me into the place I was. 
  • I asked myself if it was worth holding onto them.
  • I created a vision around my dreamiest life.
  • I created a thought that felt impossible yet spoke to me. 
  • I got ready for the haters (my brain as well as others) 
  • I practiced every single day.
  • I lived my days / work with joy instead of fear. That brought me right into creativity.
  • I had lots of difficult conversations. 
  • I kept going even though it was hard. 
  • I stopped focusing on my bank account equalling my worth. 
  • I made money decisions from a place of abundance instead of lack. 
  • I decided to not worry about money. 
  • I adopted a philosophy that money is just math and money is my friend and money is energy.
  • I followed my heart more than I let my brain derail me.
  • I decided to love myself.
  • I realized that I was actually someone who has kept a business alive (more than alive) for 6 years. A vibrant, successful, powerful business. And I decided that meant that I knew something about money and business.

I am sending you all my Magic Money vibes today, friends! And if you're looking for help in changing your own money story, please do give me a call! 





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Stephanie Sheldon