I had a limited mindset on how much money I could make for many years. It was my Upper Limit Problem that Gay Hendricks defines in "The Big Leap". I earned $54,000 at the peak of engineering in 2005 and thought I was rich. Up until then, I never earned over $20,000 in a year. That's mostly because I was in school and working was part time. But earning $45,000 out of college was huge! Earning $54,000 just five years later was mind-blowing income for me. I got comfortable at this level. When I was fired that year and realized that $170,000 in debt and no income wasn't good, I needed to make money. But what did I do? I built my cleaning income to $40,000 over the next 2 years and stayed there. At $40,000, I was living the same lifestyle that $54,000 in engineering provided. Why? Welcome to the world of business tax advantages and owner perks! When our need for more income came in 2011 (4 years of $40,000 income), I did what seemed right. I asked my wife to start making money to "help the family". I really manned up!
We had already decided that Teresa would be a stay home mom and homeschool no matter what. Teresa was pregnant with our 3rd child in 2011 and struggling to keep it together at home, so when I threw out the idea of her babysitting or doing a small business idea for more income the response was not thrilling. How dumb! "Honey, you already take care of 3 kids. How about taking on 2 more?" She got anxious and overwhelmed and I got mad. I thought that she didn't want to help support the family. It was a cause of tension in 2011 because of my Upper Limit Problem.
What is an Upper Limit. It's a self-imposed limit on our capabilities. "I can never earn more than what I earned before. I can't make $100,000. I can never weigh 130 pounds again. I can never..." You fill in the rest. This is negative self-talk that we create upper limits in our minds that prevent us from breaking through. It took me some time and coaching from mentors to realize that if it's going to be, it's up to me! I realized that we needed more money because we wanted to eliminate the debt monster that was crippling our family. My dream increased and my income did not support that new dream. I had to move and take action. My response to the need as I said was to get my wife to produce more income since my upper limit challenge got in my way. I didn't believe that I could earn any more!
I overcame my discomfort, indecision, and fear and took a leap of faith. Guy Hendricks calls it the Big Leap. I realized something simple. "Is it easier to increase our income by my wife taking on a low-paying side gig that's she not an expert at or for me to increase the current business I am an expert at?" Simple answer! I increased my marketing efforts and increased my income to $60,000 in 1 year. We went to Disney as a family and paid cash as a celebration. We started paying off debt faster. Then I got comfortable as my income exceeded my dream. We stayed at $60,000 income from 2012 through the sale of our business into PA for 8 years! I was at another Upper Limit. I was earning more than I ever earned. We had extra money. But we still had debt and rented a house. Thanks to the amazing entrepreneurs of Total Life Freedom and the mindset I was developing, I started breaking my upper limit. It was comfortable, but I needed more money. Thanks to our amazing friends, Vincent and Elizabeth Pugliese, they saw the pressure on my wife about income and trying to fit everything our family needs into a $60,000 income. I didn't know about this pressure. It was always there. I was comfortable. I wasn't stressed. She was and I was too blind to see it. Vincent saw it and called me out. It made me angry that he meddled, but he wasn't. Teresa talked to them and I had to be accountable. I'm thankful that my friend was willing to challenge me. I got home from our beach trip with their family that made me angry and got to work.
Vincent didn't steer me wrong. He was the one that challenged me to raise my prices in 2015. That lead to the formation of the ISO Model and me optimizing my solo cleaning business. It lead to me selling my business and moving back to our hometown. Each time I was very uncomfortable because it got to my upper limit. It's like what Bruce Wilkinson says in "The Dream Giver" - "Ordinary had to make a choice between his dream or comfort." There isn't comfort in achieving your dreams. You must be uncomfortable to grow. I had to make another 2011 income shift in late 2019 from that beach trip. I got home, started my podcast, joined local network groups, joined the chamber, started meeting new business friends for breakfasts. The requests for cleaning and estimates started soon after. Our income grew by $40,000 in 1 year to $80,000 and that's after losing $20,000 from the sale of our business that was now paid in full. We broke through the $100,000 upper limit too. I had never produced that much in revenue in my business. I did this in mid 2020. We got out of debt for the first time ever and we got comfortable. I needed a bigger dream again. It came when my Pop-Pop passed away. My heart was stirred as I set 2021 goals. These goals were aggressive but not in my cleaning business. They were unrealistic and not using the 80/20 Rule. 2021 was a year where I was starting to settle at this income, optimize my cleaning business to solo at $70,000 on 2 days and then work hard to create $100,000 in Smart Cleaning School revenue. That's when Total Life Freedom stepped in again (Stay, Scale or Sell ). It was that same simple question. "Could I earn $120,000 of income faster through the unproven side business or the proven main business?" My Upper Limits have always gotten in my way. They cloud my judgment and steal my belief. Like you, I need others that know and love me to tell me about my blind spots and upper limits. I took the plunge and now I'm on this adventure! The discomfort is there and so is the Upper Limit. But I will fight against it and bust through my upper limits. How about you?
Would you like to discuss any Upper Limits you may have. Make sure to check out the many free & paid resources available at the Smart Cleaning School website. Also, do you have questions for me? Book a free coaching call on my website!
The Smart Cleaning School Podcast helps cleaning business owners from start-up to the struggling solo to the striving seven-figure get SMARTER in their businesses, reshape their mindset, increase productivity, clear the overwhelm, and get clarity through SMART goal-setting & personal accountability. Ken Carfagno is a lifetime learner and teacher. His mission is to help visionaries make the impact they were meant to make.