Creative Entrepreneurship and Money Healing

written by Bari Tessler February 19, 2014


Welcome to Part One of a 3-part series on Money + Creative Entrepreneurship. I’ve alluded to the “money work” of being an entrepreneur many times. But now, for the first time, I’m sharing a full picture view of money work just for you entrepreneurs — including insights, practical wisdom, and the very best of my own behind-the-scenes business money story.

Want a sure-fire way to stir up ALL of your “money stuff”? Start your own business.

Being an entrepreneur is guaranteed to bring you face-to-face with everything that needs to be healed in your money relationship.

Deep-rooted questions of value and self-worth. Shame. Boundaries. Spending and saving patterns, money ceilings, financial skills, and so much more. We can sometimes gloss over these issues in our personal lives, but being an entrepreneur cranks the volume up on our money relationship.

It can be so painful. It can isolate us and make us feel bonkers. When we try to ignore it, it bites us in the tushy. But, when we work with the process and have the right tools, it can be absolutely liberating + illuminating.

So let’s get real, here. (Gulp.)

Even talking about money as an entrepreneur is a loaded, potentially divisive issue:

  • Some people speak boldly about “creating a 6 or 7 figure business!!” without getting real about the costs involved (the expenses and profit margins — and the long hours). There’s sometimes an overly simplistic equation of: income = success.
  • Other ‘preneurs swear they just don’t care about money — so long as they can take care of themselves and do great work. Some of them even focus on the heart and generosity of their work to their own financial detriment.

My own path has been an attempt to integrate both of these sides. So that I can do my best work, share my gifts with the world, make a difference — all in a way that has me feeling supported, relaxed and aligned.

For me, business is a crucible. Truly: it’s a psycho-spiritual path that works me harder than any other area of my life. It’s asked me to confront my shadows, learn new skills that I never thought I could, and create intimacy with money in whole new ways.

So let’s dip our toes into some deep, healing waters, shall we? For the sake of your business, your money relationship, and yourself.

And, I know, I know: dealing with money stuff can be hard. You might read these questions + lessons and already feel maxed out. That’s OK! Simply reading this takes courage. Take baby steps. One at a time. Ready?

Grab some chocolate or a glass of wine. Get comfy. Let’s go …

Questions + Lessons for Entrepreneurial Money Healing

1. Uncover your money story.
Time for some loving excavation, here. What beliefs/attitudes/stories do you have around money? What money mindset did you inherit, from your family, lineage, and community? Are there any beliefs around money + entrepreneurship that are holding you back? Get curious about how these patterns affect your business.

2. What are your strengths + challenges?
It’s so important, as entrepreneurs, to get clear on our gifts, our “genius,” our “superpowers,” in general. But I’m talking specifically about your money strengths + challenges, here. Are you fabulous at earning, but don’t know how to save? Do you love the big visioning, but cringe at the day-to-day bookkeeping? Get really honest so you can delegate things before they fall through the cracks.

3. Own your value.
This is the heart of the inner work of entrepreneurship: cultivating your sense of value and self-worth. Without it, you will price things out of integrity. Or you will try to avoid pricing and sales conversations, altogether — which never works. The question of value demands that we go inside, get quiet, and create courage. Over the years, I’ve raised some fees and lowered others, and I can attest: this is truly tender work.

4. Create healthy boundaries. Claim the power of your “yes” and your “no.” Learn to declare these with strength and grace. Because that whole self-sacrificing, over-pleasing thing so many of us big-heart people do? It must get smarter when you run your own business.

5. Address your “Money Ceilings.” Is there a monthly or yearly income level you just can’t crack (and really want to)? Whether it’s $24K, six figures, or multiple six figures, we all have one! Funny story: when I identified my first money ceiling in my 20’s (I’d never broken $2K/month), I took on 3 part-time jobs, just so I could feel this breakthrough. Years later, as an entrepreneur, I broke through other money ceilings by refining my biz model, making it more savvy and sustainable (so I could work less). This takes inner and outer work, my friends!

This is an ongoing journey: to the core of your being, out into the wide world, and back again. Layer after layer of the money onion gets peeled back as you and your business and your money relationship grow, together.

A Peek into My Money Healing

As a business owner, I have broken through money ceiling after money ceiling. I have done the tough and tender work of truth-telling and owning my own value. More than any other area of my life, business and its crossover with money has worked me, from the inside, out, and from the outside, in.

But before I could heal my relationship with money, I had to admit I had a relationship with it, at all. Back in my 20’s, I was a full-on creative, African dancer, authentic movement, psychotherapist-in-training gal. In my graduate program for somatic psychology, we talked about everything above AND below the sun: bodies, sex, spirituality, food, relationships … everything except money.

We simply didn’t talk about money or business. The message was: “Do good work in the world, and the rest will take care of itself. And please don’t mention money, because it’s icky.” (No input on what to charge our clients or how to run a business. No guidance on how to treat clients dealing with their own money stress — especially for couples!)

Money was left in the shadows — and that was just where I liked it. Back then, bills would arrive and I’d toss them without even looking. My head was thoroughly in the sand.

When my student loan came due, it shocked me awake. I decided it was time to deal with my money relationship, head on. Then, as I created and evolved (and evolved and evolved!) my business, my koan became:

“How do I do good work in the world and share my gifts … in a way that financially supports me and creates the lifestyle I want?”

The numbers part of business is not my specialty, but I learned the skills I needed, and infused them with sacredness, creativity, un-shaming, deep meaning, love, and playfulness — all of the qualities where I do feel at home. Money became the key that unlocked so many inner doors for me … and I know it can for you, too!

My Favorite Tools for Money Healing:

Being an entrepreneur takes inner and outer work, folks. These questions + lessons address some of the emotional issues you’ll face, but it’s also imperative to hone your business skills and work with the externals of your business: marketing, strategy, etc.


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