Playing The Cash Flow Game
In real Life!
“Leveraging OPT, OPM, & OPK for max benefit.”
How often do you think about cash flow, your business, and how to achieve freedom that will deliver the real success that you want? As I’ve talked with many business owners over the past 12 months there are two things that seem consistent in every conversation. Uncertainty prevails pretty much every day and everyone is hurting in one way or another. Each time I see a business closing temporarily or sometimes permanently I think about the business owner and how they’re doing. I wonder if they had been personally preparing well in advance of a possibility of a loss of business income or business closure. I wonder even if they had, would it have been enough.
I’ve talked to some who closed their business and are now in the process of leveraging what they have to head in a new direction for their career and their lives. They shared how difficult the decision was, how many tears were shed in letting go, and the fear and continued uncertainty of what is ahead. At the same time they hold a positive mindset with a clear vision of their path ahead.
Some I’ve talked to have used their time recently to reflect on all that is changing in the world right now. They have begun to reframe what is most important to them and are also in the midst of a transition towards something new in business. It’s inspiring to hear them share what brings meaning, joy, and happiness to their life and how they want to contribute through their business in a way that is important to them. This powerful framing will motivate them to take those initial steps forward.
There are others I talked to who aggressively pivoted their business in a whole new direction. Out of necessity they found a new path and are beginning to thrive as a result.
Rising From The Ashes
These many stories of resilience, determination, and positive attitude will lead to financial success in time. I hope they also lead to the real success each truly wants both in business and in their life. That real success that includes money but goes much, much deeper into their why.
In many of those instances that I just described it appeared that each business owner was very personally dependent on the income that their business delivers. They did not have a back up plan or maybe they had a limited one at best. Hearing the stories and the challenges that each business owner faced reminded me of something I learned long ago and reaffirmed to me how many decisions I made along the way have continued to position me to experience the freedom I want and to be able to withstand outside forces that I have no control over.
Years ago Robert Kiyosaki taught the concept of the cash flow quadrant. Where you are in the 4 quadrants can have a significant impact on your personal income, cash flow, and net worth. It can also impact how trapped or how free you feel to create and live your best life at work and at home, no matter what is going on around you.
I learned the concepts of the cash flow quadrants early on including the benefits and traps of each. It made sense intellectually but I didn’t really “get it” at the time.
“Where you are in the quadrants can impact how trapped or how free you feel.”
The 4 Cash Flow Quadrants
It made sense how being an employee could provide the security some people need of a consistent paycheque and how that was important for them. I could also see the limitations too, especially if one has an entrepreneurial mindset. It was one of several determining factors for me to step out of that world.
As I shared before, my next step was the same as it is for so many others. To leave working for someone else and to step right into being self employed and owning a job. I discussed the limitations of owning your job in my post “The Trap Of Trading Time For Money”. The big difference here is that you end up working a lot more.
So the next step towards greater freedom is to own an actual business. For many this comes with the shift towards building a team of employees or contract staff that work for you.
Leveraging OPT… other people’s time! For me and many others it comes another way. Through creating a system that you own that might be supported by a team or could operate automatically to deliver what you offer. In either instance financial success is not 100% dependent on you being there and doing the direct hands on work with your clients. Being a business owner can deliver a greater sense of freedom and perhaps a significantly increased revenue stream too.
One trap that comes in owning a business, like being self employed, can be when all of your income comes from that business or from one specific income stream or from one key client. You can find yourself at the mercy of the economy, political decisions, or things like a pandemic. Many of the people I talked to over the past year and whose stories I shared earlier felt the jaws of this trap.
OPT & OPM Can Deliver Freedom!
So that brings us to the investor. While this category of the 4 quadrants is far too big to discuss here, suffice it to say this is where OPM… other people’s money can play a huge part in spreading your income eggs across many baskets, even if you are employed, self-employed, or a business owner.
Everyone, as they leave childhood and their youth, enters into the cash flow quadrant. Whether you consciously realize it or not you operate daily in one or more of them and how you do so likely impacts your level of happiness, contentment, stress, uncertainty, or fear when it comes to money.
I was somewhat unconsciously existing within the quadrants until two things happened. The first was playing a board game called The Cash Flow Game. The second was the discussions and actions steps that came from playing the game.
That’s right… a game. It was really a bit of a wake up call.
The Cash Flow Game is a bit like Monopoly meets The Game of Life but on steroids. To begin you draw a card that says what your occupation is, what your monthly salary is, and what expenses you have to begin with. The aim of the game is to make decisions as you move around the board based on those initial factors to increase income, lower expenses, invest, own businesses, and manage your life so you can get out of the rat race. It is very financially focused but the cool thing was that it really allowed me to see the impact of day to day life decisions from various perspectives each time I played and each time I took on a different career. It was all about creating a mindset and making decisions based on it.
Revelations From Playing The Cash Flow Game!
I recall having many powerful conversations after playing the game with those I played it with. Those discussions shifted from post game discussions to regular real life discussions and when my wife, Gail, and I first began dating and started planning a life together the discussions continued. But now we looked at things differently. She and I are very different when it comes to security versus risk taking. We are also very aligned when it comes to vision and direction. We both knew we needed to continue to learn and to connect with those who we could gain from their knowledge… OPK…
…other people’s knowledge.
Funny thing was we had both been playing the Cash Flow Game in real life for a long time now, without fully realizing the full scope of what we were creating.
Through our adult lives we have…
Once we began to realize the path that we were already on, our discussions shifted to how to continue to leverage other people’s time, money, and/or knowledge to experience the goals, freedom, and life we wanted for our family.
We realized that being in any one quadrant was neither good nor bad, right nor wrong. It just was. How you operated in that quadrant and how you felt about it made all the difference in the world. I would love to encourage you to stop for a moment and reflect on where you are at in these quadrants. Check in with how you feel about that. Does it align with your entrepreneurial compass and where you and your family want to go with your business and your lives? Are you doing enough right now to mitigate any future limitations to your current source(s) of income? This may not help immediately with the current challenges you face but could be an important start.
This is not to tell you how to take your steps with your business or how to invest or take other steps. Rather, it’s to inspire you to begin to shift your mindset and open up to possibilities. Explore the thought of “how can I add more eggs to my basket, solidify my streams of cash flow, and allow that freedom to help support my overall experience of real success while living my best life.”
Recessions and even depressions will come and go again and again. Even pandemics or similar world wide challenges will come again and throw a wrench into some aspect of your life.
The steps you start now, or continue to evolve, will help you weather each storm and set you up for greater stability and for living a life of joy, fulfillment, and contribution.
Creating the change you want can be hard if you go it alone.