What a year! Right? 

Who feels like they’ve gone twelve rounds with Mike Tyson this year? 

Well, I’ve got good news for you: If you’re reading this, there’s a strong possibility that you’re going to make it through this in good fashion. 

Why? 

Because you’re searching for answers to your problems. 

That tells me a lot about you, right from the get-go. It tells me you’re hungry and resourceful. It tells me you’re not a quitter. It tells me you’re a serious student. 

And you can take this home and ponder it: Life always rewards the serious student. 

Hi, I’m Jonathan Cox. Here’s a few things you should know about me before we get down to business. 

  • I come from a poor background. Food stamps, single parent home, government housing project, the works.  
  • Over the last 24 years, I’ve started 5 businesses. 
  • My businesses are debt-free and operate on a cash basis. 
  • I’ve weathered 3 major economic disasters.
  • The first disaster – the dot com bubble burst – kicked my butt. 
  • In the second and third disasters – the Great Recession and COVID-19 – I’ve not only managed to survive, I’ve actually GROWN my businesses. 

Want to know how I did it? Read on. 

Times of adversity are also times of opportunity. 

If you find yourself struggling in life or business, you’re not alone. According to the US Department of Labor, as of July 2020, 10.2% of Americans are unemployed. 

That’s up from under 4% in February; a massive leap due to the COVID-19 situation. At the peak of this particular crisis, we hit a peak of nearly 15% unemployment, so it would appear that we are gradually beginning to make a recovery, but the competition for good jobs and new customers will likely continue to be fierce in the coming months. 

How can you get ahead? 

Get lean. 

I remember when I first started hearing about COVID-19. I was visiting family in Fountain Hills, Arizona, watching the newscaster make the announcement that the United States officially had a couple of cases of this scary new virus. 

I turned to my mother in law and said: “The first thing I’m doing when we get back home is re-doing our budget through the end of the year.” 

I’m a big believer in small, continuous course corrections. 

Remember the KonMari craze in 2019? In her method, you go through your household one category at a time (clothes, books, papers, etc.) and throw away anything that doesn’t spark joy. In doing so, you get rid of a lot of baggage that may be holding you back. 

Now is a great time to course correct. 

In times of great prosperity, we tend to get a little off-course. We sign up for services and subscriptions willy-nillie and then forget about them. After the excitement fades and momentum slows, we see that charge hit our bank accounts and think: “I should really cancel that one of these days.” 

The great killer. 

“One of these days” is the great killer of prosperity. A $50 a month subscription doesn’t feel like a lot. If you make over $100 an hour, as I do, it’s less than an hour of your time. No big deal, right? It’s just a little nibble. Not even worth the time to cancel, really. 

Let’s look at that little nibble over time. $50 x 12 months = $600.

In times of crisis, wouldn’t it be nice to have an extra $600 stashed away? 

Or what about investing in yourself? If you’re cooped up in your house with little to do, how about using that cash to pay for a couple of classes for yourself? 

You might as well take this time of isolation to update your education. It might give you that much-needed edge as the market revs back up. 

And let’s be honest…there’s probably more $50 of waste going on personally or professionally. How do I know? Because I’ve been there. 

My weakness is beverages. I like kombucha. I like Perrier. (Don’t judge me; we all have our thing.) 

But here’s the deal. The kombucha I like runs $3.50 per bottle. A 4-pack of Perrier runs about $5 per pack. And when I buy them, they’re usually gone within 24 hours. In a brutal week, I may repeat that purchase three times. 

So let’s do the math: $3.5 for Kombucha + $5 for Perrier = $8.5. Do that three times a week, and we’re at $25.50. Do that for a month, and we’re at $102. 

Do that for a YEAR, and we’re at $1,224.

Get the picture? We’ve already saved almost $2,000 per year by cutting one subscription service and toning the beverage addiction down a notch. 

Here are a few of my secrets for getting lean: 

  1. Check your bank statements. Go through at least three months, and look for non-essential, recurring expenses. Vices tend to create patterns if left unchecked. You’ll likely know them when you see them. 
  2. Common budget “nibblers”: Eating out, overlarge cell phone plans, Amazon impulse buys, memberships to big box stores (Costco or Sams) that you rarely use, Starbucks trips, grocery store impulse buys, annual subscriptions or services that hit once every year and are forgotten after, etc.
  3. Start meal planning. You’ll be amazed what a couple of hours of planning and prepping on Sunday will do for your waistline and your pocket book. 
  4. Replace vices with positive habits. Replace that cable subscription with an equivalent purchase in personal growth books. Replace that glass of wine at the end of the day with a cup of tea. Love wine? No problem. Just reduce the amount you consume by half. Love watching TV? No problem. Watch a good movie once or twice a week. Spend the rest of that recovered time studying. Trust me! It’ll pay off in spades over time.

We’ve taken some steps to get lean. We’ve got some inertia now. What’s next? 

In my next article, we’ll go over a half dozen things I put into practice that have made a huge difference in my business, my life, my health, and my relationships. 

Questions? 

One of my mentors likes to say: “Good leaders ask great questions.” 

Questions on life? Business? I’d love to hear from you. 

You can email me at j.cox@aquavitacreative.com.