Taking The Plunge: The Single Most Important Thing in Running A Business

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When running a business, keep this one important thing in mind to see your income grow.

As many of you already know, my wife and I enjoy running our own business. It had been a dream of mine for years, but truthfully I never thought it would be possible. Even once we started, I secretly thought we wouldn’t be a success. Thankfully it appears that I was wrong. These days, I often wonder why I waited so long to take the leap. That’s behind us though and we are choosing to focus solely on the future.

I’ve learned in running our own business that I have become more introspective than I have been in the past. Part of this might be thanks to my OCD tendencies or the fact that everything is on us in terms of income, but I have come to one realization over the past year or so in running our business – there’s one thing no one tells you.

What They Don’t Tell You


If you’ve heard or seen a late-night infomercial that talks about working for yourself all sound eerily similar.

They say you’ll be rolling in cash

They make it sound easy

They tell you that you’ll be jet-setting every few weeks to some exotic island where drinks with little umbrellas are brought at your whim

If you didn’t know this already, it’s not true…of course! If it were that easy then there’d be far more than the estimated 10 million self-employed people here in the States and each one of them would be sleeping on beds made out of cash. But, as reality has it working for yourself requires a ton of hard work and effort. A little luck doesn’t hurt either, though a lot of it comes down to hard work in my opinion.

That begs a question though as to what you need to do if you want to take your business from something you’re simply doing on your own to something that can grow into something bigger.

You Need To Spend Money


So, the single most important thing in running a business (at least from a small business perspective), in my opinion, is spending money. Well, it’s not as basic as spending money but it’s knowing when to hire out help.

I hate losing money – my wife will tell you as much. I know it doesn’t really make me unique, but I will find ways to not lose money. Anyway, as we’ve grown our business into something that is doing things we only ever imagined we’ve come to see one very salient point – we can’t do it all. Shocker, I know, but we can’t do it all.

This goes beyond the usual work-life balance issue and hits more at the fact that we’re not all-knowing. For example, I don’t know the first thing about graphic design. Mrs. Frugal Rules can design something if she has to but suffice it to say it’s not a skill set either one of us has. This brings us to a crossroads. We could effectively lose out on clients altogether by not offering services they need or we could hire out some of those skills we don’t have to gain and retain clients.

While hiring out means we lose out on a portion of the overall income, I’d much rather have 75 or 80 percent of 100 than 100 percent of nothing. Make sense? It sort of goes against the grain in the PF community, and in many cases that’s warranted, but we’ve found that hiring individuals has helped us grow our business substantially.

The most important thing to do when running a small business to see income growth.

It Doesn’t Stop There


I’m not saying, of course, that we’re just out there willy-nilly hiring people and giving up on income as that’s not something I believe you should really do. Rather, it means to act in lockstep with your vision for your business. Ask yourself where you would like to see it go and then think through what’s required to get it there. This is not a one-time thing question by the way and is one that you have to ask yourself periodically.

That being said, once you determine your vision, you can combine it with what kind of help you need to hire out. I did this to a certain extent when I hired a virtual assistant for the blog but it goes beyond that with our business. Personally speaking, we’ve determined that we don’t want to be just writers. While there is certainly nothing wrong with writing, (believe me, we do a lot of it) we have a vision of taking our business to a level where we’re doing less of the writing and more of the planning and attracting of clients.

That all requires the ability to bring on others who share our talent for writing and have skill sets we don’t (like graphic and web design or media buying) to more effectively grow our business. All of that action though starts with a vision for what we want our business to become. Having that vision and being willing to spend the money to execute it, is what I’ve learned now that I wish someone had told me years ago when we opened the doors of our business.


What are some of the more important things to remember when running a small business, in your opinion? Are you willing to lose out on money to get ahead in the long run? What’s one skill you’d like to grow in so that you wouldn’t need to seek outside help?



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John is the founder of Frugal Rules, a dad, husband and veteran of the financial services industry whose writing has been featured in Forbes, CNBC, Yahoo Finance and more.

Passionate about helping people learn from his mistakes, John shares financial tools and tips to help you enjoy the freedom that comes from living frugally. One of his favorite tools is Personal Capital , which he used to plan for retirement and keep track of his finances in less than 15 minutes each month.

Another one of John's passions is helping people save $80 per month by axing their expensive cable subscriptions and replacing them with more affordable ones, like Hulu with Live TV.

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  • Mark@BareBudgetGuy says:

    I love these articles John. They are definitely helping me to slowly change my mindset so I can eventually make the leap.

  • Kim says:

    I think one think I’ve learned as a business owner is to concentrate on what you do best that increases revenue and hire people to do the other stuff. Otherwise you’ll end up doing a bit of everything halfway but never excelling in one area.

    • John Schmoll says:

      Completely agreed Kim. I hate handing things off, but I’ve learned is that only holds us and our business back. There are times where we can teach ourselves something, and there is value in that, but in some cases it just makes sense to hire things out.

  • Natalie @ Financegirl says:

    For me, it’s been knowing how to leverage my business to the next phase. Sometimes, I plateau and have to figure out what’s next. Podcasts, books, and other bloggers have helped with this enormously.

    • John Schmoll says:

      I know exactly what you’re talking about there Natalie. It can be easy sometimes to plateau but getting an outside perspective can help get out of those times.

  • Holly@ClubThrifty says:

    We are getting better at outsourcing as well. It’s easy to think you can do it all to save money, but you can lose money spreading yourself too thin. It’s hard for me to pay someone to do something I can do myself, but I force myself sometimes!

    • John Schmoll says:

      You’re exactly right Holly – spreading yourself too thin can have the reverse effect and cost you. It can be difficult to find the balance, but well worth it.

  • Laurie @thefrugalfarmer says:

    One of the things I’ve learned about running a biz from home is that continued education and growth is vital. There’s no cruise control when you’re running your own biz. 🙂

    • John Schmoll says:

      Excellent point Laurie! I touched on it above with Kim, but I think that’s a big part of the reason why there can be value in teaching yourself a skill you didn’t previously know. It helps personally and professionally.

  • Tonya@Budget and the Beach says:

    It took my FOREVER to take the plunge and buy a camera for my business, but once I did I got SO man jobs and it opened up so many doors that I can’t believe I waited so long, so yes, I agree that there are areas you need to invest some money so you can make more money. It’s just a scary thing to part ways with the cash being slightly unsure about it! 🙂

    • John Schmoll says:

      That’s awesome Tonya and know exactly what you’re talking about. I see it as money that can put food on the table and if the expense blows up in my face it can impact us.

  • Shannon @ Financially Blonde says:

    I am with you on this John! This summer, my business really started to take off and I knew I had to start hiring people to take care of things for me. I am a Type A control freak, but I also realize my limitations and I have started to rethink many of the things that I do in terms of someone else doing them. I hired a VA and I am SO thankful for her! Every month when her bill comes in, I gladly pay it knowing that having her makes me more productive in income producing areas which is what it’s all about at the end of the day.

    • John Schmoll says:

      That is a hard balance Shannon. Like you, I like to control things but we started to see how that was holding us back. We gladly pay those who help us out because we know it’s only furthering the growth of our business.

  • Michelle says:

    For my business, I have quickly learned that it’s a family affair. My husband has to take care of the baby when I’m working or on a call with a client. He’s got to be okay with me doing work on the weekend or saying no to a party because my work piles up. He also has to be okay with supporting us if it’s a slow month. Without him, I wouldn’t be able to do as well as I do.

  • Kristi says:

    Congratulations on hiring your new virtual assistant! I’m sure that will free up quite a bit of time for you to spend working on other projects for your business.

    I hate spending money, but I agree that it is sometimes necessary to pursue your bigger goals for your business. I would love to get to the point with my own blog where I can hire a staff writer for a few posts a month.

    • John Schmoll says:

      Thanks Kristi, we’ve had a few over the past year or so and it has been a great help.

      I hate spending it as well, but at times it really does help to spend it to make it.

  • DC @ Young Adult Money says:

    Great perspective, John. While I started YAM with the plan of doing virtually everything myself and using the money for our student loans, I have been lucky enough the past couple years to hire out some of the writing and still have enough to pay off our loans. Over the past year I’ve written very few posts on our site and have outsourced nearly 100% of the writing (ironically I personally wrote the post going up on Wednesday). I am writing a book right now, so I still do writing, but I do more management of the website than anything now and I think outsourcing is something people need to get used to if they hope to have a more passive business or a business that creates a large income stream.

    Then again…this is all side income for me so it isn’t an apples-to-apples comparison to someone who runs their business as their full-time job.

    • John Schmoll says:

      Thanks DC. I had similar plans when I started FR, but soon learned that simply wasn’t a practical approach to take. With our business, it was a bit longer for us to take that next step as that is what truly provides for us but began to see that really was holding us back from earning more and growing the business to where we envision it. I think making that transition can be vital to taking a business/side hustle to the next level.

  • Reelika @Financially Wise On Heels says:

    Great points, John. Time management issue can be bigger than predicted. I have always been a planner and organizer, however, honestly, I still struggle with time management once in awhile. This is where we need to learn to delegate things. It can be hard at the beginning, however, it does pay off as we can focus on things that matter the most.

    • John Schmoll says:

      Great point Reelika. I like to consider myself a planner as well and I’ve found having the ability to hire things out helps balance that. I was afraid it would be the other way at first, but thankfully that’s not the case.

  • Shannon @ The Heavy Purse says:

    I’ve worked a lot of small business owners over the years and that fear of losing out on money they earned has prevented so many of them from hiring much needed help. They refused to see the big picture of paying someone to tasks that needed to be completed but necessarily by themselves, freed them up to the tasks only they can do and typically are the ones that drive growth and income. I’m glad you and Nicole didn’t fall into this trap and are seeing such great growth because of it.

    • John Schmoll says:

      Having that big picture mentality is vital Shannon. It doesn’t surprise me that you’ve seen many not take that viewpoint and struggle as a result. We see it ourselves in other small businesses and it drives us not to be the same way.

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