Why I Changed My CEO Salary to $1 a Year
During the last 20 years I've had the absolute honor to grow several very successful small businesses. I'm not a corporate CEO of a stuffy office culture, or someone who lives in the C-Suite realm of leadership. My companies were in ecommerce, where I built a $4 million company selling kitchenware, alternative-health products, fitness items, books and other home items, Then there were vitamin stores, some in the ecommerce realm, others in the direct-sales industry, where I sold millions of dollars of health and wellness products. Then I went into consulting, coaching and, ultimately, my calling and where I got the most satisfaction, direct-response marketing and copywriting.
When I realized I had a gift, talent and instictive ability to write "words that sell," it was a level of satisfaction that really gave meaning to my day. Helping clients to bring profits into an otherwise struggling stream gave purpose to my campaigns. But it was lonely. Many months I worked with 20 clients. Boring and lonely. I craved relationship, connecting with people and helping other small business owners to do what I had been doing, all of these years online in my Internet-marketing businesses.
That's when I created A Real Change International, where our purpose was to bring strategies, training and consulting to small business owners, teach copywriting, direct-response marketing, and social-media marketing techniques. We've had the absolute honor of being able to help more than 150,000 paying clients. We influence more than 2 million people through our social media and email lists on a daily basis.
As I've built this company, my vision has never been to be super-rich, but rather to make a difference. We've had anywhere from 37 virtual staff members, built up of freelancers, to currently 10 paid full-time employees in house on payroll. My average salary during the past six years has been between $100,000 to $300,000 per year. With a multi-million-dollar company, I've had the honor of creating jobs, sowing over $1 million into projects we believe in, and the biggest thing we're proud of: creating results for and with our customers. My life has been comfortable, and filled to the brim with purpose.
Now... I'm changing things.
My salary will be $1. I want to share how I'm able to do that and still have a profitable sustainable company, and why I would do such a thing. My goal is to inspire others, to motivate the largest group of businesses that create more than 70 percent of all the jobs in our nation so they too can produce profit, live with passion and have a purpose, in their work as CEOs. They can also live a comfortable life, apart from losing their relationships, things that matter and other things that many company owners sacrifice on the altar of success.
First the "how." Well, recently I've been asked to write books, speak and other things that can bring in sustainable income. This is where the income will come from that my husband and I will live off of. We started my businesses in a pool of debt. We've been without debt now for almost 10 years. Life changes when you don't owe a lot of debt. It was a hard thing, peeling our way out of that. From giving up so much of what we thought we needed to live a great life, to downsizing, getting rid of all extras, and being willing to change the way we spend. Today, I'm able to buy nice things, but we always pay cash and stick to our budget and our giving goals.
People need to realize that $150,000 to $200,000 a year is a great income to live on if you don't have debt. Thankfully, I can make a lot more than that with the things I'm doing (still teaching a few classes per year, leading masterminds, and writing and speaking). But I no longer want to take any more than $1 from the company I've built. Now, I want to shift that money into giving to more causes, lowering the price we charge for our courses, and affecting 20 million people in the next 10 years. I also am opening my Angel Investor company, where I'm going to pour money into startups, businesses that are worth investing in.
Why am I doing this? And why did I have a 10-year goal of changing my salary to only $1 per year at the company I own? Because it would significantly mark a time in my business history (much like when we decided to give away more than the average 10 percent tithe) where I can build a company without a motive of providing for myself. I can also do more of what I love: mentor startups, invest into other small businesses, create jobs and give to others. This will no longer be done through "sharing" my profits or with "what is left," as the secondary focus. It will now be my primary focus.
Many small business owners, myself included, start their companies to change their lifestyle, income and to bring significant value to the marketplace. That's amazing! But, it's a faulty motive to build it strictly to make a ton of money or to get rich. Rarely does that happen. When our goal is to add value to the marketplace and our fellow man, our lifestyle will change and wealth tends to follow our efforts. I love sharing the money I've been able to create, by creating jobs and giving to others. I also love growing companies, and investing in small businesses. That's exciting to me. "Exhilirating" is a better word!
Just like our lives were transformed and changed when we didn't need to work to pay our bills, and our debts, I believe my husband's and my life will change signficantly again when we don't need to work at this company to pay our paycheck. Writing and speaking are a different flow and won’t require 40 hours of work per week. Creativity will most likely flourish at my company, ARC, motivation will be on a new level and inspiration will be fresher than ever. My ability to influence others will also change, dramatically.
What are your goals, as a small business owner? My faith at work is very important to me. I've never cared if people agreed with my beliefs, choices or ways of running my companies. I've always done things the way I wanted to do them. However, I wanted everyone, regardless if agreed with me or not, to have a wonderful experience when they did business with us. My biggest "hidden" goal was to always create a company that I was no longer paid by. To step into that realm of leadership and to experience growing things I own that others manage, that's exciting!
Think beyond your own goals, your own needs, desires and wants. Where can you go in your dreaming, to impact the world, live out your purpose with passion and do things in a very unconvential way that inspires others to do the same? I'd love to hear from you, and I'm eager to see how we can change business, together, doing things in a way that goes beyond "bottom line" focus. Relationships are the key, and the social-media world has driven that to a whole new level. Do the work. Bring your faith to work! Our beliefs create our actions, and our actions have consequences. Create consequences worth writing about that inspires others.