Growth and bottlenecks often cycle together. Most entrepreneurs want their businesses to grow, and many want them to grow quickly. Conventional thinking is that fast growth means more success. Truth is, that there are spots in a growth cycle that need to be navigated carefully to make sure your new level is sustainable.


Growth changes a few things; capacity, financials, and time commitment.  Anywhere there is a constraint on the business flow, a bottleneck shows up.  A bottleneck inside a growth cycle is the place where there is rapid growth requiring one or all of these three things at once. It strains capacity, money, or time, and there is a “squeeze” on operations as the business adjusts to its new size and scale.  


Failing to recognize and navigate a bottleneck smoothly can damage your business. And damage your reputation, if you are unable to deliver your products and services to meet customer expectations.


Convoy Road Coffee Roasters is navigating such a squeeze as we continue to grow our customer list, meet the requirements for a Department of Agriculture manufacturer’s license, and get ready for fourth quarter events and holiday gift giving.  These events combining together are affecting our operations, and finances.  We recognized early the constraints that showed up and the resources required to get to our next level of growth, which is basically $100k/ year.


It’s About Time and Money


First, here are the squeeze spots. The money we are spending bringing our facility up to the requirements for our license is not available for the additional coffee beans our growing customer base is ordering.  Our rate of growth is also requiring more and more stock. We must be purchase raw coffee in 65 pound and 135 pound bags. While ordering 130 pounds served us in June, we now need over 200 pounds a month to keep up.  Those are current money constraints. Competing financial interests; license and stock, and the need for more stock every month.


Another squeeze spot is on our time. The events we have on the calendar, plus the upcoming holiday gift demands, will require many more hours of roasting and packaging than we have now. Our little roaster used to average about 35-40 pounds a week with a few longer bigger days, now we averaging  75 ish pounds a week with a few longer, bigger days. That’s a big jump. Not only on our time, but we need more bags, labels, and the time it takes to do all of those additional tasks. We may have to hire some part-time help soon. Which of course leads again back to money.


Every decision we make right now is made after considering its effect on our growth plans and how it can help us navigate the current bottleneck.  And honestly, I have been a little unsure of myself for the first time in quite a while, having to work hard at not falling back into my default mindset pattern of being afraid of making a mistake.  We also know that this won’t last forever and expect it to resolve by the end of October.


Expect Bottlenecks at Every Stage of Growth


Bottlenecks can happen in every business. One place I see it is with people who are scaling their side hustle and leaving their full-time job. Constraints on time before the switch can be challenging and constraints on money in the first few months after the switch are not uncommon. During various stages of growth, you will see them in your own business.


The best way to navigate bottlenecks in your business is to first expect them and then be able to recognize them. I always expect a bottleneck at every stage of growth. They don’t always happen, but I am never surprised if they do. For growth to be sustainable, you have to expand across operations. That requires more investment of time and money, and your new business capacity could require team, equipment, and new operational services.


As for recognizing the bottleneck- look for the constraints before you feel them. We were able to predict the financial squeeze to some degree.  We researched the licensing regulations and the expense involved in converting our facility. So, we were able to project the amount of cash we would need, and how much it would affect our operations over what period of time.


Knowing Your Numbers Will Help


It was surprising, however, by the amount of the financial squeeze.  This is because I hadn’t expected the amount of customer growth we also had during that time. But we knew our numbers, and we were able to respond quickly. We recognized we were headed for a cash squeeze before it hit.  Knowing your numbers is an important part of being able to recognize and respond to the beginnings of a bottleneck in the growth cycle.


Whether you are preparing to scale, or in the middle of a growth spurt, be mindful of the constraints. Watch your time, money, and capacity.  Remember that bottlenecks are temporary, and cash is king. These growing pains are a good sign that you are in the right market, with the right audience, and in demand for your products and services. Respond, don’t react, to growth in your business and always keep your eyes on the vision you have been given.

Ready for support with your growth? Join the Success Studio mentorship program. 

We all have a relationship with money. Money is a personal and emotional topic for many people, and there is often a bit of shame wrapped up in how we deal with it.  I want to share with you four general financial personalities I see working with entrepreneurs. Also, I have been each one of these personalities at one time or another, my relationship with money has evolved over time, and yours will too. 


photo of jar with coins


If you see yourself in any of these, if they resonate, I want you to know that you are definitely not alone. These obviously aren’t all of the potential relationships with cash, but these are definitely common ones!



Financial personality 1: Annie

(It’s all on autopay, ignore and pray)


Annies have been told to just put it all on the card, set it and forget it. Her stress comes with overdraft fees and late fees and over limit fees because she doesn’t always have the money in the account when she needs it In a way, she’s afraid to look at her money and believes she isn’t very good with it

So, she ignores it and deals with the emotional stress every month thinking, “I’m in business, it’s supposed to be this way.”




Financial personality 2: sALLY

(Spendthrift and fearful)


Sally operates from a place of financial fear. Constantly calculating and worrying, She is so terrified to make a money mistake, so, she  refuses to make financial decisions that involve risk. In effect, Sally is strangling her business’s ability to grow and thrive. She has an almost a hostile relationship with money, believing that there isn’t going to be enough to meet her needs.



Financial personality 3: OLIVIA

(Out earning mistakes, no planning)


The Olivia personality believes that she’s got it all figured out.  But in reality, she is just managing what’s right in front of her without planning or having the bigger picture. Olivia’s are treading water financially and making short term decisions without a plan. She puts any shortfalls on the credit card and may not know that her debt is creeping up. She may be growing too quickly, without a financial foundation. And she just ends up bootstrapping month to month.  Which causes stress, but she thinks if she just makes more sales, she will be fine. Olivia doesn’t see the financial danger she is getting into. She relates to her money only with what needs her attention right now.



Financial personality 4: Jessica

(Just trying everything and frustrated)


Jessica is following all of the guidance. Use this spreadsheet or this program. And she is trying to do everything right. The thing is, Jessicas don’t understand profit and loss, and that’s okay, but she isn’t taking the time to really learn the basics. So, she’s losing money and is very frustrated. Jessica works so darn hard, but she never keeps any money after the bills and only pays herself sporadically. Jessica feels like the money stuff is just too complicated and is allowing the finances to rob her of her joy of being an entrepreneur.



See more about aligning your business decisions and strategies with your financial personality in my book, The Profit Accelerator for Small Business. Available on Amazon today!




Want to make next year’s annual expenses easier on the monthly budget? You can protect your monthly income by starting what I call a “Cyclical Fund” (C-Fund). When you start your Cyclical fund, you will deposit a smaller amount each month towards these costs and save enough over 12 months to have all of them covered when they come due! The alternative is what most of us do now, having to pay the large bill is all at once out of one month’s income. That can be very stressful and hard on your monthly spending plan!



    • Business and professional license renewals
    • Subscription renewals for things like software
    • Membership fees
    • Annual domain and website renewals



Do not open a savings type account if you will make frequent withdrawals to pay these bills as they come due. In the US, “Regulation D” limits the amount to free transfers or withdrawals to six each month. Then the bank can charge a fee for every subsequent withdrawal.




These 3 steps are a surefire way of starting and growing your cyclical funds!

It’s so easy to get frustrated when we forget when the annual bills come due, and of course, they still come due.  Start your Cyclical Fund to put a little away each month to cover what you will need. The stress is really reduced when the amount you need for an expected expense isn’t squeezed 100% from the same monthly budget.  Take time this week to sort this out and you will have a jump start on next year’s renewals.

There’s still time to join the  Q1 2021 Income and Profit Planning Intensive Session to have an actionable plan for your business offers, income, and profit through March 2021.

Visit this  link to register,  the next workshop is on December 12th.


Q1 2021 Income and Profit Planning Intensive Session


My short answer: separately. I get this question a lot. Because your personal and business finances are different. But you should have a management system for each. And the systems do not have to be complicated. They need to be separate, but not complicated. Here are a few simple steps for managing the personal finances when you have a business.


Step 1:   How much do you need? Know your numbers.


Personal: First tally up your “four walls” because these expenses get paid first, always. Food, utilities, housing, and transportation. This is the minimum number you need to eat, cook, sleep in a real bed, and get to work so you continue to make money.  Know this number. Next, add together your minimum debt payments.  You will have two numbers, the “four walls” number and the “total I need to pay everything” number.


Repeat for your business.  


Business: Four walls of business, your Breakthrough Number. The Four Walls are rent/utilities and internet/ phone (access to buyers), Critical Operating Expenses, Minimum inventory and product spend, and payroll (and payroll expenses).  These four walls will secure your business and allow you to keep the doors open and making money. Next,  figure in any debt payments and other business areas (marketing, projects, team). You will have your Breakthrough Number (minimum amount) and total “All In” number.


Step 2: When do I need it? Know when things are due.


Personal: To make things smoother in your personal finances, schedule your paydays. Say NO to co-mingling! Do not pay your car insurance form your business account (unless you are a delivery service). Take the time to pay yourself on regular days and then you can begin to count on that regular income. I advise my clients to pay themselves every other week. This way, they can arrange their personal expenses the way they likely would if they were employed somewhere.


Business: On the business front you can do two things; Pay business bills as they come due, not early and know which bills can be halved. In business cash is king and protecting the cashflow is critical. Since you are now only paying yourself on regular paydays, the next thing is to preserve cash by paying expenses when they are due. Some of my clients pay bills weekly. Some twice a month. They key is to get into a rhythm and know when you need and how much you need available for expenses.


Step 3: Begin to plan your spending.


Personal: Once you have regular paychecks scheduled, you can create a personal spending plan (or budget) for what need to be paid and when. You can plan your personal spending for everything. My only rule for my clients is write it down. Your plan. It may change, but you will have the baseline to refer to.

Business: For your business if you don’t know what you are going to spend in a given month or know how much you need to plan for projects and growth, you will stunt your business. Again, my only rule is that your plan must be written. If you are new to this, it may take a moment to set up. How much did you pay for ads last month? How much are you going to pay this month? That’s really all you need to do to have a general spending plan that you can refer to when you work your business the next month.


Following these few steps will get you on a good path to managing both the personal and business finances every month. If you’d like more tips and strategies for taking and keeping control of your money stuff, join my Facebook Group, “Stacking the DECK for financial success.”

I’m on a mission to change the conversation around business money stuff, and that starts with removing the shame we have about money. I talk to business owners every day and there is a single issue that seems universal. They are filled with shame when there is a money mistake or money misstep. Business owners are okay if a marketing promo doesn’t have the expected return, or if there is a product that didn’t sell. But the moment you ask about or learn about a money thing the willingness to learn from a business decision turns into an attitude of self-blame and shame. We tend to marinate in the emotion of shame about money stuff, and it is blocking us as entrepreneurs.


Research professor and shame expert, Brene Brown, talks about how shame works,“The less you talk about it, the more you got it. Shame needs three things to grow exponentially in our lives: secrecy, silence, and judgment.” And boy are we ever secretive and silent about the money stuff. We don’t want to talk about it or admit that perhaps we don’t know how to manage some things around money. There is almost a universally accepted attitude that money stuff should never see the light of day, and that it is not okay to talk about.


Before I go further, I want to tell you that I get it. Mike and I had severe money management issues in our first business, and I didn’t want to tell anyone or admit I needed help. We just needed to make more money, and we’d be fine. Sound familiar?


Well, you can only, “out earn your mistakes” for a short time. It will catch up with you eventually, and in the current Covid-19 situation around the globe, many business owners are being caught up to. I’m no longer quiet about my money mistakes.


They are on my website, and I talk about them freely. Because I don’t want to have shame anymore about money and how my mistakes affect running my business. In reality, it’s a chance to grow and learn and become better. But shame proliferates. Here are three effects of shame on entrepreneurs that contribute to stress, relationship issues and ultimately business failure.


1. Many business owners have shame around things they did not even know to do.

Entrepreneurs, like people in general sometimes “should” all over themselves. Like, “I should have” had an emergency fund, or “I shouldn’t have ordered that additional thing.” Both of those things may be true, but once these types of things are done, they are done. Feeling shameful around our decisions blocks us from growing and learning.

I want to say for the record right now that business money management is not intuitive.
Managing cashflow when people pay you late isn’t a skill that you magically gain when you open a business. We don’t call and ask for an extension on a bill because as business owners we should be successful and able to pay everything on time, right? It doesn’t always work that way. Shame is preventing us from getting the help we need, from putting processes in place, from not taking it personally when money stuff hits us in business. It needs to stop. It is hurting entrepreneurs. For my e-book, Three Steps to Protect Your Business Income, with advice and tips for your business money visit here.

2. Shame stops people from getting the help they need.


“I should already know what to do, I’m just not doing it,” is a refrain I’ve heard enough to make me scream. People think because they may “know” something that they don’t deserve help or support to integrate what they need to do into their systems. And it’s the feeling of shame surrounding what we expect from ourselves. We own a business; we need to do it all- perfectly. Bunk. So many business owners are in their passion project, without a passion for the business side or the money stuff. They excel at their core business, but not the “other stuff.” This doesn’t make them poor business owners, or failures, or whatever other negative description you can give. It means that they know and flourish in their zone of genius.

Those business owners can and should get support in the rest of the business stuff. It’s smart and protects their livelihood. But many don’t, until they get into trouble. Because they don’t want to admit they don’t know. Maybe they can’t read a profit and loss report from their accountant, so what, but they think they should. Maybe they don’t really understand the roles of the financial experts of accountants, bookkeepers, and payroll specialists, and their role in protecting the bottom line. But they don’t ask about these things because, “I ought to know, I’m in business.” Not so. The help you need is available, you can reach out and get support on things that aren’t your passion. And you should.


3. Shame makes business issues personal, and traps entrepreneurs.


I think one of the most devastating things about shame and money is that we turn business cycles and events into our own personal money failures. We don’t know how to ride the cycles of business and to even plan for how businesses work. They are dynamic. Many small businesses have irregular or inconsistent income months. Many have cycles of feast and famine in their earnings, particularly in the beginning. But this can happen really at any time. The current Covid-19 situation is causing income insecurity that is preventing many people from spending money at the rate they did even a month ago. This will impact some businesses. At the core, there must be a buyer of your goods and services.


But one of the first places we look when there are business money things is at ourselves. Maybe we did make a mistake. But we refuse to think that there is a learning curve in business. There may be some shame around some decisions, and those feelings of shame continue to hold us in a cycle of personal feelings of failure. In those feelings we cannot solve problems creatively, seek help and support, and put systems in place to protect the business and prevent future issues.


So, how do we fix it? We talk about it. All of it. We take the advice of Brene Brown, “Here’s the bottom line: “Shame cannot survive being spoken,” Brown says. “It cannot survive empathy.” 

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