Episode 073

Debt-Free Entitlement

I’ve noticed a lot of people who are resistant to the idea of borrowing money to get their online business started and growing. Starting an online business is of course cheaper than starting a brick-and-mortar business. However, I believe that being debt-free in your online business shouldn’t be your highest priority, especially if you’re just getting started.

If you think that all you need to do to get started in your online business is get on a video call or flip a switch on social media, this is a lie that will hold you back in your business. Debt-free entitlement is a problem, so I’m giving you the solutions on today’s show.

Tune in this week to discover how to save yourself time and money on your entrepreneurial journey. I’m discussing what stops people from borrowing money to help grow their business, and why, if you want to grow your business quickly, you need to get out of debt-free entitlement and instead start embracing the benefits that borrowing money has to offer.

There are a few spots left in Wired for Wealth! This is my signature 9-month money mindset program with business strategy and mentorship that directly works to release money blocks, transform your relationship with money, and create the lasting wealth you fully deserve. If you want to work with a small group of entrepreneurs in building your business over the next 9 months, fill out your application!

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • How to see where you aren’t taking 100% responsibility for the results you’re getting in your business.
  • Why pouring your own money into your business is the most expensive way to grow.
  • How working with a coach helps save you time on your entrepreneurial journey.
  • The problem with setting your prices by looking outside of yourself, and my philosophy for pricing your services.
  • Some of the reasons why people are afraid of borrowing money to grow their businesses.
  • How to stop debt-free entitlement from holding you back and slowing down the growth of your business.
  • What you can do to prepare for unexpected events if you’ve borrowed money in your business.


Read the full transcript now

You’re listening to the Mastering Money in Midlife podcast with Debbie Sassen, Episode 73.

Welcome to Mastering Money in Midlife, a podcast for midlife women in business to overcome financial anxiety and make more money without burning out or sacrificing their families. Join Certified Life and Money Coach Debbie Sassen, as she shares practical business strategies and mindset shifts that help you dissolve the money blocks that keep you stuck in a cycle of underearning and undersaving, sabotage the growth of your business, and prevent you from building the wealth that you desire.

Hello, my friends, and welcome back to the podcast. I hope you enjoyed the podcast last week, “CEO Mindset vs. CEO Entitlement”. Because today I have another ranty podcast for you called “Debt-Free Entitlement”.

I was on my morning walk this morning; some mornings I walk, some mornings I do weightlifting; today was a walking way. And as I was on my walk, I was thinking about my grandfather, my father’s father. My grandfather passed away on the last day of Passover, 30 years ago. So, I guess that’s on my mind. And my mother also passed away one week before Passover, nine years ago.

I don’t know why I was thinking about my grandfather, and not my mom. But I guess it had to do something with the topic of entitlement. Because as we have spoken about before on the podcast, all four of my grandparents, and my father, escaped from Nazi Germany.

What I may not have told you is that my dad’s dad was the CEO, the owner and manager, co-owner and manager, I think, of the largest department store in his town, in Paderborn, Germany. It was called Steinberg & Grünebaum.

My family is the Grünebaum family. When we moved to the United States, my grandfather’s younger brother, who got there first, changed the family name to Gray. My grandfather also adopted that name, but his older sister Clara kept the name Grünebaum until she passed away. She passed away just two weeks before my grandfather passed away.

The joke in the family was always that he was going to get to heaven, and he was going to ask her how she got there first. So, that’s a little bit of, I don’t know if it’s tragic comedy or comic tragedy, but that was always the family joke.

Anyway, my grandfather was forced to sell his big department store. And by the way, that department store was well-known in the community. It’s not like we had online shopping, like we do in 2023. Back in the 1920s and 1930s everybody shopped in that department store, or they worked in the department store.

When I went to Paderborn, in 1989, it was the 50th commemoration of Kristallnacht. I was taking a picture of the building, and somebody actually, stopped me on the street as I was taking the picture and said, “Hey, if you’re looking at taking picture of beautiful architecture, why don’t you take a picture of this Jesuit college right over here?” And I’m like, “No, no, I’m not really interested in taking pictures of Jesuit colleges. This was my grandfather’s department store, and I want to take a picture of it.” And he said, “Oh, Steinberg & Grünebaum.”

It was well known, even 50 years after my family had been ousted from Germany. So, that just shows you what that was to my grandfather, in terms of what his identity was as a business owner. He was well-known in the community.

Then, when he arrived in the United States, my grandfather, again who had been the CEO of this big department store that was well known to everybody in the community, became a janitor. He worked as a cleaning man in a synagogue in Los Angeles. And then after he graduated from being a janitor, he up-leveled himself in his business acumen and skills, he was a door-to-door salesman selling Fuller Brushes.

Ultimately, my grandfather did go to school, he became a bookkeeper. I know that from his business he had good money management skills and bookkeeping skills. And then he became a bookkeeper working in somebody else’s business. But he was willing to do hard work, hard physical work, physical labor, to get himself started, and to get some money into the bank so that he could take care of his family.

I’m going to contrast that to what I see is prevalent today in the online business world. I know that people are doing work and working hard and whatever it is, but today, I think we have some entitlement around what it means to work hard, and what it means to work hard in our business.

Nobody can work as hard as my family who started with nothing, with children, back in the day. We were willing to clean floors and toilets in order to make money. And maybe that’s how I ended up cleaning houses when I was 13. I wanted to send myself to music camp.

But I really think that you need to check in with yourself and ask yourself, where are you being entitled, or feeling entitlement in your business? Not to do hard things and believing that making money can be easy. I’m not saying that making money cannot be easy. That there is never a case for making money being easy.

And I certainly believe that sitting in my house, in my slippers, as I’m doing right now, speaking into a microphone, is way easier than knocking door-to-door, winter, summer, rain, shine, and trying to sell Fuller Brushes. But sometimes we just get ahead of ourselves and think, “Oh, it doesn’t have to be hard. It really should be easy to make money. I can just send a podcast into the world or post on social media, and money should be flying my way.”

That is just a lie that people are telling themselves. The people who are having million dollar and multimillion dollar businesses, first of all, you have no idea what is going on in the money under the scenes.

I remember a few years ago, having a real heart-to-heart talk with someone, who had a real heart-to-heart talk with someone else, and telling me about someone who had an eight-figure business with Instagram fame. And she was living on nothing and selling all of her possessions because she was in debt. She had invested so much money to speedily create an eight-figure business that she was basically broke.

Which I may have just shot myself in the foot because I’m going to talk about debt-free entitlement on this podcast. But I really want you to be introspective and ask yourself, where are you being entitled in your business? This is a question that I asked myself, as well. And I don’t do it with that harsh tone that I’m being entitled, as a child might receive rebuke from a parent.

But just to ask myself: Where am I not taking 100% responsibility for the results that I create in my business? Where am I not thinking on purpose about my clients? And how can I serve my clients even better? That’s the introspection that I’m asking you to do for you and your business.

Now, let’s specifically speak about debt. Because I know that so many people are resistant to borrowing money to get their online business started and even growing their online business. I believe that being debt-free in your online business, especially in the early stages; early can be up to even five years or seven years or 10 years. It is not a problem.

I don’t think that being debt-free in your online business should be a goal in the early stages. If you think about brick-and-mortar businesses, they all have to borrow money, they need a cash injection. Now, they might borrow it from their savings account, from their retirement account, from their parents. But a brick-and-mortar business or even if you have a product business and you’re selling your products online, you need resources. You need money to get started.

A business that has a shop needs to rent a place, needs to get the place, usually, renovated. It doesn’t come, usually, with all of the shelves and all of the lighting and all of the things that new businesses want exactly laid out their way, doesn’t come ready made and ready to go. They have to invest in the inside, and then turn on the lights, the water, hire people, stock the shelves, before they have even made $1.

But somehow, we think that if we’re running online businesses, we can just flip a switch on Zoom. Or we can flip a switch on social media, and we’re in business and we can make money and we don’t need to invest money to grow our virtual office space.

That is a lie that will totally hold you back in your business. If you can inject cash into your business, you can grow so much more quickly. I spoke about this in part, in Episode 64, about borrowing money to grow your business and how bootstrapping is the most expensive way to grow your business because you lose time.

And today I’m going to get more specific, because if you have a cash injection and you can save time, if you’re trying a bunch of things and you’re not working with a mentor who can guide you, you will try so many things to get yourself going. I just want to collapse time for you and shorten the path.

So, one way that investing in a mentorship or investing in a coach can save you time is it will help you create your signature offer. I believe that entrepreneurs are incredibly creative, we have so many ideas. And rather than creating a signature offer and going out there and trying it again and again and again and honing your skills of selling it, what an entrepreneur is likely to do is create one offer.

“That doesn’t work, let’s create another one. That doesn’t work, let’s go create another one.” We lose so much time by doing things over and over and over again. A guide, a coach, will keep you focused on one thing that is the most likely to sell. You might have two or three or even five things that you would love to sell, but somebody that has business experience can help guide you in the right way.

Number two, a guide, mentor, coach, can help you to price your services. So many people price their products and services with limited money beliefs. They’re looking into the wallets of the other person wondering how much that person can pay.

In fact, just this morning, I had a conversation with an extremely creative, extremely profitable entrepreneur who was telling me about the product that she offers. “And if I offer it to one set of buyers, I can offer at one price. But if I offer it to this other set of buyers, that might have less money. Is it unethical for me to charge them the same price?”

That kind of thinking will totally slow you down. Because the value of what you offer does not change because one person has access to money, one person does not have access to money. Some people are just not your people.

Now, if you choose to offer some discounts, or some scholarships, or if you want to have a separate agreement, it must be in your mind very, very clearly that my product and service, whatever you’re offering, is valuable as a standalone entity, regardless of how much people can pay.

There are people who can pay your prices and will pay your prices. There are people who can pay your prices and will choose not to pay your prices. There are people who cannot afford your prices, and they’ll figure out how to do it anyway. And there are people who cannot afford your prices and will not work with you.

There are too many variables that are going on in the minds of 7 billion people on the planet. If you are trying to set your prices looking outside of yourself, that is going to slow you down and keep you wishy-washy on your pricing.

My pricing philosophy is that there is no right price for your offer, there is only the price that you make, right? And that is something that we work on in the Wired for Wealth Mastermind, is understanding the value of your product or service, your offer, and pricing it properly in service of your best clients. Mot your worst clients, not your so-so clients, but your ideal clients who love working with you.

Another way not borrowing money, in order to not invest your business, i.e., not investing in your business and just bootstrapping it, is going to slow you down is managing your money. And this is specific to debt. People are afraid of borrowing money. And people have told me it feels really uncomfortable in their bodies. They just don’t want to do it. It’s just like they get all constricted and tight, and debt just feels horrible. That is especially true of people who have had personal debt in the past.

There are a lot of financial gurus out there that will tell you that debt is a bad thing, or they will differentiate between good debt and bad debt. But debt is something that allows you to grow your business quickly. The companies that you and I know and love, like Amazon, like Apple, they borrow money to grow.

I have spoken about this before, how Steve Jobs sent a memo to the employees of Apple in February of 2004. That is 28 years after Apple launched. And he announced to everybody at Apple that they were finally debt-free, 28 years after opening their doors. I just gave you a minute to think about that, and to let that drop. Amazon has also been in debt.

And recently, one of my online friends mentioned someone by the name of Victoria Beckham; I didn’t really know who she was, which I guess is dating me or ageing me to some degree. Apparently, she was a Spice Girl, but the Spice Girls were after my time.

She has a clothing business fashion label, and 16 years after her business launched, she is still in debt. She has yet to break even. And she says that she’s confident that during her lifetime her business is going to break even. But again, 16 years of being a successful fashion label, Victoria Beckham’s company is still in debt.

There are so many examples like this that you can find if you choose to go and google them and search them out. Being in debt as a business, and I’m separating that from personal finances, is not a problem. And it is never a problem. But your fear of debt as a person, not as a business entity, will hold you back as a business and will slow down your growth.

That time that you let slip through your fingers will never be recouped. Time is irreplaceable, money can always be created.

The fourth reason why debt is going to slow you down is that if you have debt, let’s say you do borrow money to invest in something in your business, there will be this kind of frenetic energy and hustle to pay it back quickly. What that’s going to do is that is going to choke your business. It’s going to suffocate it because money is fuel for your business.

Money can pay your salary, in your business. We all have a personal life, and we need money for our housing, for our electricity, for water, for our food, for clothing, for vacations, for transportation. We need money in our day-to-day lives. And if your business does not have money in the business bank account, you cannot create a cash flow that sends a salary over to your personal life on a regular monthly basis.

So, having a cash injection in your business, money that just sits in a cash account, or maybe you invest it for monthly or yearly or something like that, so that you can pay a salary, but not having a juicy, luscious pile of cash in your business, will always create this frenetic energy. And it’s going to leave you in deprivation and starvation, both on your personal side and your business front.

Having cash in your business that may have been created by debt, you just borrowed money and parked it in your business bank account so that it is there for your regular expenses, gives you breathing room. And if you allow the debt money to sit there and or to reinvest it intelligently and discerningly, then what you can also do is save money.

You can save money in an emergency account in your personal life. And you can save money in an emergency account in your business life. Because there are always going to be unexpected events that happen on both our personal and our business lives.

And if you have borrowed money in your business, and you pay it back “too quickly”, then you’re not going to have cash in the event of an emergency. In the event that your computer crashes, and all of a sudden, you need to go and get a repairman or replace your computer. Or if you do have a down month in your business. Right?

Most businesses have irregular cash flows. It’s seasonal or sometimes you just have ups and downs in your business. Sometimes you have a lot of clients that are coming, and they all pay it more or less the same times. And sometimes we have a dry spell for whatever it’s worth.

And if you have savings in your business, that enables you to continue to pay your expenses and your salary without worrying. Without hustling, without getting frenetic, you can just keep doing your day-to-day activities, planning monthly, planning quarterly, planning yearly, for the growth and scale of your business. Without getting scared, without getting hustley, without worrying that the money is not going to be there.

I like to quote my mentor, Karen McCall, who founded the Financial Recovery Institute. Karen gave me my first coaching certification as a money coach. She has a concept called Saving Your Way Out of Debt. If you have savings in your personal life, and if you have savings in your business life, if there’s something unexpected, then you can take money out of savings to cover the expense.

If you don’t have a juicy financial cushion, then it’s going to send you back into debt and you’re going to repeat this cycle of always going into debt and getting out of debt, going into debt and getting out of debt, right? You’re just going to stay on that hamster wheel going around and around and around, and you’re never going to get out of the debt cycle.

Having debt, borrowing money for five years, or 10 years, or even 20 years in your business is never a problem. It is a line item in your expenses, the debt repayment or loan repayment, whatever it is, it’s just a line item you commit, as a business owner, to paying it back.

I’m going to go back to the very beginning, so many entrepreneurs, in particular, online entrepreneurs, who believe that we can just show up on the interwebs and put our virtual shingle out, and we don’t need to invest in our business; that entitlement is going to slow you down in your business growth.

It’s going to keep you in hustling energy. It’s going to keep you in scarcity and deprivation, because you’re never going to feel like that calm, luxurious feeling of ‘I have enough. I don’t have to worry. I don’t have to do silly things or discount my prices in order to create money, in order to attract clients. I get to stand firmly in my value and offer my prices at the price, at the fee, that reflects the full value of what I give.’

So, if you are stuck, not growing your business as quickly as you know that you can do, then I really encourage you to think about the possibility of borrowing money. You can borrow it from your savings account. You can borrow from your retirement account. You can borrow it from the bank, from your parents, from your friends, from your kids, from your neighbors. There are so many ways that you can borrow money.

One of my clients with whom I worked a few years ago, she was saving money to buy a horse; I might have even told you the story before. She took money out of the account that she was using to save up for a horse in order to work with me to help her with her money mindset and to grow her business, she had a job. She was growing her side hustle that she wanted to turn into a full-time business, and that’s what we worked on together.

Debt is really only a powerful financial tool that is available in the financial world. And if you use it properly, if you use it discerningly, it can actually help you to compound your business growth and collapse time, so that you can get to where you want to go more quickly.

Here are three questions I’m going to leave you with, so that you can explore your mind and figure it out and figure out what it is really, that is stopping you from borrowing money. Just ask yourself, number one: Why don’t I want to borrow money in my business? Number two: What am I afraid of? Number three: What is the worst thing that can happen?

Most of us don’t even think about these questions or explore them. We just put a hard no on borrowing money, as if it is not even an option, we just take it off the table. And we’re just going to keep doing the same thing over and over and over again.

But you know, the famous saying, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and over again and expecting different results.” If you want different results in your business, I highly recommend that you explore the option and the opportunity and the possibility of creating debt, of borrowing money, so that you have money today to get you where you want to go faster.

And of course, it involves a commitment to paying it back. But if you are in a normal industry, where normal people make normal money, right? Then debt is a very powerful tool that you can use in your benefit and in service of your clients who are waiting to work with you.

All right, my friends, that is what I have to offer you today. Really consider if you have this entitlement to being debt-free in your business. Consider where it’s coming from. Why you’re thinking that way? What are you afraid of? And what is the worst that can happen?

Three powerful questions that if you take the time to answer them will expose a lot of limited thinking on your part, and if you are willing to challenge the thoughts that you’re subconsciously thinking. I really believe that if your business needs that cash injection, that is a great way for you to go forward and grow your business.

All right, my friends. I wish you a beautiful week. For all of my listeners who are going into the Passover holidays, I wish you happy holidays. Chag sameach. I look forward to seeing you next week on the podcast. Bye, for now.

Thanks for listening to Mastering Money in Midlife. If you want more information on Debbie Sassen or the resources from the podcast, visit MasteringMoneyInMidlife.com.

Enjoy the show?


Don’t miss an episode, follow the podcast on  Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts or RSS.

Share this podcast

You may also like…

Mastering the Money Game (Part 1)

Mastering the Money Game (Part 1)

Learn the foundations of personal finance: how to start tracking your expenses, and how to negotiate with your brain when it gives you resistance around looking at your numbers.

Want to explore working together?

Pin It on Pinterest