This is a transcription of my conversation with Danielle Hayden about mindset & clarity around your money & numbers.
Natalie: What is your background, what you do?
Danielle: So I am one of the very rare people who went from a creative background to accounting. So I was working as a hairdresser. When I was doing hair and working at the salon, I fell into the numbers.
I fell in love with the numbers that helped drive my business as a stylist and ended up having a huge pivot, went back to school for accounting, working as a chief financial officer for 10 years, working with investors and the board of directors, and really learned a lot from people who were making really freaking smart money decisions and, were really good at owning their decision-making.
I got to learn a lot from these individuals.
My mission in this world is to help other business owners know their numbers so that they can make those same big decisions and feel like a bad ass when they're doing it.
They had the data, they had the facts and then they made decisions. Every business owner deserves to be able to do that same thing. And so I went on a mission to help every business owner be able to have on-time accurate bookkeeping and so that they can make those business decisions.
Natalie: That's awesome. I'm so excited to hear more about it. We're going to cover a few things specifically related to obviously photographers, but I'm curious, you know, as a creative, as you said, it's not super common to flip the other way and be like “numbers!” You clearly had sort of like an “aha” about the numbers. What was that? What numbers were you looking at when you were like, “oh shit, this is helpful?”
Danielle: This is in the context of the hair salon.
I realized that in order to receive higher commissions for myself, I had to hit certain numbers. And so I literally sat down and said, how do I hit these numbers so that I can make more for my family?
I think that's what we're all trying to do as business owners. What do I need to be doing with every hour of my time here, how many haircuts, how many colors, you know? I knew exactly how many clients I needed to see and what the average ticket price needed to be and how much retail I needed to sell.
And then I found out, well, if we hit goals as a salon, that we get even more money. So I said, “all right, guys, let's all work together. I'll help you figure out how many services you need and what's your average tickets so we can all hit these goals together.” And I realized that there's this magic and power in knowing, right?
So it wasn't just me knowing what I need to hit. But I helped the other girls in the salon know what they needed to hit. And so all of a sudden we were doing this together.
I'm like, “oh wait. There's like this magic in numbers that if we take a step back, plan them out, monitor our progress as we go learn from what works and what doesn't work, we can make more money.”
Natalie: That's it. That's amazing. I'm not sure how familiar you are with this show and stuff I coach on, but my kind of my emerging biggest passion with all of it, like this touch point that everything comes back to is clarity. And I think if you can have clarity in anything you're doing, I mean, I don't care what it is.
It just feels good. And the energy follows and the momentum follows. I'm curious also, just as you were explaining that, how did you arrive kind of just a couple sentences. How did you arrive at your goal numbers? Was it just like cost of living or was it, you know, investing that you wanted to do.
Danielle: Yeah, it was part lifestyle.
At the time my daughter was young. She was, gosh, at the time I think three, four. I knew I didn't want to be working crazy long hours. And it was really important for me to be able to have my days with her and be able to have experiences with her. So it's so crazy because today we call it right, like having a lifestyle business or back then, it was just literally, I wanted some time I wanted to be able to have time to workout in the morning and do something for myself and then spend time with her and cook dinner a few nights a week.
And so it was really simple, but I knew I didn't want to have to work 40 to 60 hours a week. I knew at the time I only wanted to work 25 hours a week. And so I took a step back and said, all right, what do I need personally?
And at the time, it's my mortgage utilities. How much on average are we spending? I have to eat groceries.
What do I need personally? And then I can start to back into the goals that I had at work and my business, but then from there, I wanted to have a 401k, right? Like I wanted to be able to look into the future. I wanted to have some investments, maybe invest in the stock market and be able to have freedom, maybe go on a vacation, maybe take a weekend away.
So I started to slowly build that in.
I didn't like go for pie in the sky day one, but slowly over time I realized, oh, I can hit my lifestyle goals in 25 hours. Now, maybe how can I push it? Right. Like how can I push the boundary so that I can do more within that time?
Natalie: That's really interesting because you know, one of the metrics that we talk about all the time for beginners at least is cost of living and cost of doing business, like understanding kind of what all that is. But I think it's interesting that you combine that with how many hours you wanted to work.
Again, a lot of what I teach is centered around like self care and intuitive business and all this stuff. “I just want time to work out in the morning” and taking like the hours mixed with the cost of living is going to change your number completely because if you're willing to work 80 hours a week, that's a very different situation than someone else…
I'd love to just hear your thoughts on money mindset, because I think it's an issue that we all kind of have growing up. That's a big can of worms. So I kind of want to let you talk about it. Money mindset is something that I see a lot of photographers, hugely stuck on, especially one of the things that I tell my more experienced photographers all the time, and it's like pulling teeth. It's like, “raise your prices.”
And they're like, “no.” I'd love to hear your thoughts on money mindset.
Danielle: So just because you're a photographer doesn't mean you only have money mindset issues, right.
We all have our own money mindset issues. Every single one of us have some type of money mindset story that we're bringing to the table. Maybe you had childhood trauma or your parents did and you're carrying their story. You're carrying your grandparent's story along with you.
Right? So whatever that narrative was around money growing up, what the conversation was at the dinner table or holiday meals. You heard all of that and that resonated with you good or bad, right? So like maybe your parents did really well and they, and you saw them spend a lot of money. Maybe you had an aunt or an uncle or a family member or family friend who was greedy or got in trouble with money, or maybe they spent all their money and they went broke and you saw them really struggle.
No matter what the story is, you are carrying that story with you. And as we started to unpack money mindset with our clients, what we realized is that it impacts all of us differently.
Natalie: The other big story that I hear a lot and I hear it a lot just in my everyday life still is just this mentality towards wealthy folks and like, “must be nice” or “what'd you do for that? Oh, that must be nice.” And so then there's, then there becomes a layer of like the money mindset block becomes almost like guilt.
Danielle: Whether it be, we saw somebody get in trouble either on the news or a family friend. The saying around my house growing up was, you know, the rich stay rich because they don't spend their money. You know, that was the narrative around my house.
And I have to unpack that sometimes. You know, like they're very generous people and they might have money.
The first step to this is noticing that it's happening. We went to a holiday party recently and it was in this nicer neighborhood that they got an Airbnb at. We were driving around, looking at all the houses and I was taking my phone, looking at how much they were all worth.
And then I kind of caught myself. Like whatever this money mindset is, I use that as an example because we all do it in some way. It's learning to catch yourself and identifying those patterns so that when you go to meet with your bookkeeper or look at your numbers or make changes in your business, paying yourself or raising your prices or anything like that, that you've been paying attention to your tone around money, and you can create the budget and you can see, you can create the narrative around your money story today.
That's different because you are aware of how you are seeing that money story throughout your life.
Natalie: I'm curious for folks that maybe aren't used to tuning into that voice, do you have any like kind of quick and easy tips, maybe one or two for folks that where they can get started being familiar with that voice and hopefully learn to either not listen to it or develop different habits?
Danielle: Just pay attention. Once you hear this show, you're going to hear it right. Like it's like, “I want a new car.” And then all of a sudden you're seeing the car everywhere. It's a similar strategy. Just starting to be aware, right. When you tell your kid, “No, we can't afford that.” Hold on. Like literally I'll retract the statement. I'm like, “guys, I'm retracting my statement. It's not that we can't afford it. I just am choosing not to spend my money here.” Just noticing.
The other strategy I would say is start to tune into other money strategies. I'm going to do a shameless plug here, but we have a podcast.
We have a podcast called entrepreneur money stories where you can start to learn about your money mindset or other podcasts, other journals, other blogs that talk about money mindset.
If you can tune into that and learn how other business owners are getting through that, you can just start to learn how to use those same strategies in your book.
Natalie: We talked a little bit about budgeting and how you create a budget and how you understand your numbers.
You can set goals and you were talking about your salon and your sort of aha moments with like, “oh, the numbers. This is awesome.” One of the things that's really common in this industry is that people don't have consistent income from month, month to month. They could, I suppose, if they understood like what it meant to be fully booked and tried to hit those goals, but how do you set accessible goals as a photographer when that's the case.
Danielle: So one of our favorite things that we like to do at our firm is create budgets with our current clients. It does require you to have a little bit of historical data.
So I encourage every business owner, like the day you create your LLC and take money from a client to have an accounting system in place.
If you're not sure how to use it, get some help, but you want to be able to have those systems in place to be able to track your income and your expenses. This is gonna to allow you to be able to create budgets moving forward. So once you have that system in place, you can pull a few reports.
You can also do just get this information from your bank statements or do an export into Excel from your bank. The idea is that you want to know how much you're spending historically in order to make goals moving forward.
So I want you to have an average of monthly spend for anything business related. So this might include your point of sale system. Equipment, maybe you have an assistant operations manager, training courses, goals, coaches, masterminds, all of your monthly payments that you have within your business. You need to know on average, how much are you spending every month?
And then I needed you to do the same thing personally. So this is kind of a heavy exercise. Start small. You could do business today, personal tomorrow. The reason I ask people not to just stop at the business is because I also want you to determine how much do you need to pay yourself as a business owner?
We're not a nonprofit, we're not a charity. You are providing a service for other people and you deserve to be paid and paid enough so that you can support your family.
Natalie: That side of the equation, the personal side, do you consider your personal salary to then cover your bills and stuff. It's everything personal?
You want your personal salary to then cover mortgage rent utilities, groceries, cell phone, car payment, you know, like anything that you have to support your family or your contribution to that. You want to have that number because your monthly average operating expenses plus your personal needs, that's your baseline, right?
That's what I call break even. So this is before you're like, okay, “I want to go on that giant vacation. Or I just want to take the weekend away. I want to invest, to buy Bitcoin, to have a retirement.” Right. So then once we have our baseline, we can determine how many clients do we need to see.
How many sessions do we need to hold? That also goes into the pricing discussion that we briefly. You know, maybe you can't see enough clients to hit that break even number. Are you going to hire on help or are we going to raise our prices? Cause there's only so many hours in a day.
I'll just leave that there. Then we can add in our goals. Right? So then we can add in, I want to create some investments this year, or I want to take a vacation this year. How much do I need to make in order to be able to hit those other personal goals? Or they could be business goals.
“I want to reinvest in my business. I want to buy something, maybe a piece of equipment.” And so then you could start to add on to that monthly average and then say, “all right, how many clients do I need to see?” This is really important, especially for anybody who is having the ebb and flow in their revenue.
If you aren't hitting that on a monthly basis, you know how much to save.
I would love for every business owner, every person to have at least two to three months worth of their operating expenses in their savings account.
I know some people who have a year, I have some people, some clients who have one month and feel totally comfortable, it's your risk tolerance level, but then you can start to save so that you are at a comfort level.
Having that number speaks to that clarity piece that I'm so passionate about, because once you know that it's like, okay, now I have to look at my time and now I have to look at my prices. And now I actually, I'm not just like running this hamster wheel every month.
Yeah. I love that. So we wanted to touch on to this idea of why numbers and which numbers. Why does this matter? What happens when people don't care about this?
Danielle: So a few things why it matters is because. I truly believe that the day we start a business and we start to take money from clients and we start to hire on vendors and we start to start relationships in the business community that we actually have a responsibility to serve those customers, to be able to continue to show up and come back for them. We have a responsibility to the vendors who are relying on our money. We have a responsibility to our families and to entrepreneurship as a whole, in order to succeed, and the numbers are going to help you succeed.
That doesn't mean hit your multi-million dollar goals.
Success means staying in business, hitting your lifestyle goals, success can mean anything. So knowing your numbers is going to tell you if you are overspending, if you are underspending.
I heard it so many times that you, my husband or my wife is getting resentful my business, because it feels like it's just a hobby. Well, it feels like just a hobby because I'm not taking home any money. Well, why are you not taking home any money? Because I have no idea what to take. Well, you have to know your numbers, right?
So if you know your numbers you can take home a steady paycheck from your business and be able to have that lifestyle that you want.
Natalie: It's such a good conversation to have. And it's something that like, I just don't know why people aren't having it more.
Danielle: They're scared. They're scared. I had no idea. So when I started this business, I was a CFO. Right. So to me, I was like, “Hey guys, it's money is black and white. Make a decision.” And then I came into the entrepreneurship world and I'm like, “whoa, it's all gray here.”
Everyone has money mindset issues.
They have gray area. Everything is not clean and clear. We're bringing in our past traumas and our past experiences into our business. A lot of people are just afraid of money and that's just your money mindset that you have to work through.
Natalie: I'm fascinated by the resistance we have innately to expand and grow and learn. I think it's likely tethered to knowing that there's going to be a change, and we're subconsciously and sort of genetically wired to be like like “no, this is working.”
I think it's important to drive home the point that money and how it shows up in our life is so much more deeply attached to our traumas and our other patterns than we think it is.
Danielle: It's the same thing, like about going for a run right? I could find a million excuses of why I don't want to do that today. And it's the same thing with money. These are the things that are going to create health, right? And it's going to create this wellness in your business, and that's how you're going to have the lifestyle business that you want. And so without that, we're leaving ourselves vulnerable.
Instead of “I don't want to do it, I don't want to change,” we can think of it as “this isn't a failure.” If my numbers tell me something bad, I didn't fail. It means I just got to learn something today. I get to pivot, I get to change, and I embrace that as something exciting.
Natalie: Before we wrap up I just wanted to ask you if you have any sort of money mantras or quotes or any kind of like, sort of idea, that's helped you, that you kind of turn to.
Danielle: My word of the year is “consistent” and that's been my word of the year for the last like five years.
So, momentum action, breeds momentum. So if we can consistently show up the action we're taking is going to bring on more momentum and more momentum. And so all we have to do is just get started, create the habit, start the action we're going to feel good from that.