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Strategy

Money Mistakes to Avoid for Managing Online Business Finances

Entrepreneurs – even the most successful ones – can fall victim to financial mistakes. 

Take filmmaker George Lucas of Star Wars fame…

In the mid-’80s, he was having cash flow issues.

He had invested heavily in new technology that hadn’t quite taken off while his returns from Star Wars were starting to dwindle. 

So he decided to sell a small animation division of his company, Lucasfilm, to Steve Jobs for just $5 million bucks in cash.

That little division he sold for $5M? 

It was a little division called Pixar…  

AND NOW? 

Pixar is worth over 7 billion dollars!

So, even though George Lucas’ net worth today is still over 5 billion dollars… it would have been at least twice that if he hadn’t gotten into the cash flow crunch that resulted in selling Pixar for just pennies on the dollar!  

In case you’re tuning into my channel for the first time, hi there! I’m Marisa Murgatroyd. I’ve coached and supported tens of thousands of entrepreneurs — from side hustlers to 7-figure empires — on how to grow their online businesses… 

And I’ve seen pretty much every financial mistake and made some myself… which is why I wanted to share 5 of the most common money mistakes and what to do instead so you can grow and scale your business… 

Mistake #1: Ignoring Your Cash Flow

You might be shocked to discover just how many small businesses find themselves sinking into the abyss, not because they aren’t making sales but because they’re running out of cash. 

Let me give you a scenario… 

Let’s say there’s a blossoming online business called “Digital Dynamo Academy” that specializes in creating impactful online courses and group coaching programs for aspiring digital entrepreneurs. 

On the surface, Digital Dynamo Academy is a success story in the making, with enrollments climbing each and every month — and glowing testimonials flooding in.

But, beneath the surface, a storm is brewing — a cash flow crisis that threatens to capsize the entire operation.

Here’s where things went awry…

The founder, let’s call him Alex, focused on scaling the business, investing heavily in marketing campaigns, sophisticated course creation software, hiring a small team of experts and bringing in high-profile guest instructors. 

Sales were booming — or so it seemed. 

Much of the Academy’s revenue was tied up in receivables, spread out over the coming months, while the costs of running the business and the new investments were immediate — and unforgiving.

The cash flow problem hit a critical point when Alex had to dip into personal savings to keep the business afloat.

This is why it’s critical to know EXACTLY how much cash flow you have, so you can prepare and adhere to a budget. 

Without this knowledge, one mistake can quickly cascade into a disaster! 

This leads me to…

Mistake #2: Poor budgeting 

A lot of entrepreneurs think that if they’re good with money in other areas of their lives… they’ll be good with money in their business.

That is not the case! 

Starting a growing a business takes A LOT of multi-tasking so it’s easy to overlook things like money. 

That’s why setting a budget and keeping it top of mind by regularly reviewing and refining it is critical! This will help you prevent overspending and make sure you’re not spending money somewhere you don’t need to be. 

Take a look at where your money is going each month. A good rule of thumb is to start by evaluating the previous year.

Ask yourself: Is this how much I thought I’d spend each month? Are there things I don’t need to spend money on that I can cancel right now? 

Do I have the support I need? Are there blind spots that I SHOULD be spending money on? 

You may be able to make a few cuts right away — such as that monthly Hulu subscription you forgot about…

To free up cash for things that really matter…

The most critical thing when reworking your budget is to make sure your business goals are top of mind when determining your budget… 

Let’s say you’re looking to increase sales. 

If so, by how much? What expenses are necessary to accomplish that increase in sales? What possible cuts do you need to make so you can better allocate your budget? 

Or maybe your number one goal is to improve your product or service line… 

What improvements will you make? What impact will they have? How much will it cost? Do you need to hire new employees, coaches or freelancers to make it happen? 

Recently, I decided to uplevel our signature product — the Experience Product Masterclass — by incorporating something literally EVERYONE was talking about online… AI! 

Enter Ainslee.ai.

Ainslee.ai is our proprietary AI tool that helps our students overcome common stuck points and get results even FASTER.

We’ve created dozens of integrated AI Generators to make it easy for our students to define their niche, generate their profitable product ideas, come up with winning offers, design marketing campaigns and so much more.

Since this was a top priority for the year, I made sure to allocate a big chunk of our budget to this project… because I knew it would pay off — and it has! 

Much like a meteorologist, you want to forecast your sales for the year.

Take a look at what’s going on in your industry — the trends and predictions — and combine this with your own year-over-year sales to make as accurate of a forecast as you can — then from there figure out what investments you need to make to turn those goals into a reality. 

Because having a budget isn’t just about saving; it’s about spending strategically to invest in your business’s success…

Now, if you’ve been in my world for a while, you know I like to say: Before you can make money while you sleep, you first have to make money while you’re awake.

Yet, many internet marketing gurus have shouted the promise of passive income from the rooftops…

So, you go all-in, creating an offer that you think is a surefire winner… investing a ton of time, brainpower and money into it right away — only to watch it crash and burn… 

All that money going up in smoke… leaving you exhausted and discouraged… 

Mistake #3: Investing Too Much Into an Offer BEFORE You’ve Proven It

This mistake — investing too much into an offer before you’ve proven it’s going to work — has happened to the best of us!

Years ago, I flew to Hawaii to speak at my friend Peri Enkin’s event. 

At the time, monthly recurring income was considered the holy grail of online business, so I thought I’d give it a try.

I had what I thought was a brilliant idea: a 30-day Challenge Series designed to catapult people into action, focusing on one crucial area of their business each month. The first month was all about crafting and polishing your personal story into a compelling message. 

Sounds perfect, right?

Wrong! In my rush to launch this Challenge Series, I overlooked a critical step — proving the concept first. 

I poured time, energy and money into this project. My partner Murray even built a homemade teleprompter from cardboard and spare parts, dedicating a whole day to this labor of love.

And the grand total result? Drumroll, please… 

A staggering three sales… all that effort for a whopping $291 a month! 

The lesson is simple: Don’t invest too much time and money into an offer before you prove it. 

That’s why I recommend testing what I call the paper-plane version of your product…

This is a great way to test the simplest version of your product while STILL getting paid. 

You’re able to quickly gather feedback and make sure there’s a clear, visible value that your audience can see and understand. 

Then, once you’ve proven it sells… you can invest more time and money into optimizing your product and marketing… 

Bringing more money and customers into your business… so you can grow your business — without the risk!

Okay, ready for some real talk?

You’re focusing on the WRONG thing when pricing your offers…

Mistake #4: Focusing on the Wrong Thing When Pricing Your Offers

Understanding the true cost of your offers and mastering the art of pricing for transformation is critical to your success. This isn’t about slapping on the same price tag everyone else is using; it’s about understanding — and charging for the real, life-changing value you deliver.

Let’s start with the basics: Knowing how much your offers cost to deliver is crucial. But here’s where many entrepreneurs miss the mark — you shouldn’t just cover your costs — you want to charge AT LEAST 20% more for your offers than what it costs you to deliver. 

Why? Because your business isn’t a hobby. It’s a vehicle for creating impact and income. And having this margin is essential for sustainable growth…

Imagine “Jenny,” who creates an online course teaching photographers how to book more clients. 

She could charge for the hours of video content, the downloadable PDFs and a few live Q&A calls — the features. But what her students are really paying for is the transformation: going from struggling to book a single client to having a waitlist of clients eager to work with them. 

Jenny’s course offers a clear path to a thriving photography business. So, when she prices her course, it’s important that she’s not just covering the cost of hosting her videos or her time spent on live calls — but pricing for the value of turning someone’s passion into a profitable business. And that’s something that will pay off for years to come! 

Now, consider “Mark,” a health coach specializing in helping clients achieve their weight loss goals. Mark’s program includes personalized meal plans, workout routines and weekly coaching calls. 

If Mark were to charge just for these features, he might make a modest income. However, the real value of his program lies in the transformation his clients’ experience: gaining confidence, improving health and changing their lifestyle for the better. 

By focusing on the outcome and pricing for the life-changing transformation his clients achieve, Mark can command a premium for his services. 

Jenny and Mark AREN’T selling mere commodities — they’re offering transformative experiences. 

This is the essence of value versus commodity pricing. When you understand and can clearly and specifically communicate the exact transformation your students, clients or customers will experience, you no longer need to compete on price alone — because you’re offering something WAY more valuable than money…

So, as you design your next offer, ask yourself: What’s the transformation my clients seek, and how can I clearly communicate and deliver this in my offer?

Remember, your clients aren’t just buying a product or a service; they’re investing in a better version of themselves…

Make sense? 

If you’re like me, your passion lies in helping people. So, it can be tempting to put every single cent back into your business…

Mistake #5: Neglecting Your Personal Finances

Because — to have the impact and income you desire — you can’t neglect your personal finances.

You never know when the unexpected will happen — such as a medical or family emergency…

And if you don’t have the funds, you run the risk of putting yourself under unnecessary stress which could affect your ability to run your business. 

So, make sure you pay yourself!

Go back to the budget we talked about earlier and bake YOUR own pay into your business finances… so you aren’t caught off guard when the unexpected inevitably comes up. 

PLUS, you deserve to take a real vacation or two or three — EVERY SINGLE YEAR! 

So, there you have it — 5 common money mistakes and the smart moves to make instead!

  1. Don’t let cash flow problems derail you… 
  2. Set a budget that fits with your top business goals… and revisit and refine it often…
  3. Don’t invest too much into your offer BEFORE you’ve proven it…
  4. Charge for the transformation you provide NOT just the features you offer…
  5. And, finally, pay yourself FIRST!

Do you have a money mistake and a smart money move to add? Drop me a comment!

And if you want to keep going on your business journey…

I’ve got 2 more videos for you 🙂

First, dive into the proven way to get sales consistently (after all sales are kind of important to grow and scale, right!?!)… 

And then, check out my video on finding the sweet spot when pricing your online courses, programs or services

Now, go out there and Live Your Message! 

Love it? Hate it? Let me know...

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