Home - Denise Hughes Author Speaker Money Coach

Business Development and Money



Confidence. The “I can do” quality where inner calm + belief of being capable, dances with expansive ideas and a take action waltz! This quality can be both seen and felt energetically. In business and in life, it is a quality that attracts others to us. If you are an entrepreneur, it is a quality that can comfort a client’s nervous system and give them the feeling they are in capable hands. Clients that believe they are in capable hands are more willing to open their pocketbooks to the services they desire.

I was fascinated reading, The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance—What Women Should Know by authors Katty Kay and Claire Shipman. A few pointers this book made were:

  • Women, more than men, often won’t apply for a job unless they think they are totally competent in the area they are applying for. The trend this books sees is that women will often choose less competitive fields of work such as human resources or marketing, over finance or investment banking. Men on the other hand lean into greater confidence when applying for a job by thinking, “Who wouldn’t want me?”
  • Men will externally attribute while women internally attribute. For example, if a man and woman are taking a rigorous course, a man might say, “Wow, this course kicked my butt,” while a woman would say something such as, “I’m not smart enough or good enough to be taking a course like this.”

Initiating and asking for what one wants is more associated with men than women. Women have a tendency to wait to be noticed, invited or would prefer someone provide the opportunity rather than directly asking for the opportunity. Men initiate salary negotiations 4X as often as women do and when women do negotiate they ask for 30% less money than men do.

Less confidence often leads to in-action while greater confidence leads to taking action on one’s behalf. Taking action is what opens us to greater flow in our lives, money being one form of that flow.

So How Does One Go About Creating Greater Inner Confidence?

Be aware of the energy you are carrying around. Fear and Excitement live on the same continuum. When approaching a new situation, view it as an adventure or a fun puzzle to solve rather than approaching the situation with fear and overwhelm, as if the situation was bigger than the internal abilities you bring to the situation.

On a physiological level, take great care of your body by eating healthy and getting the exercise you need. These basics help give our body, mind and spirit the energy needed to feel positive about ourselves as well as influence the hormones circulating in our bodies.

Let Go of the mindset that you aren’t enough. Focus on your strengths and what you bring to the table of business and life. If there are areas in your life where you need to close learning gaps to make you feel more confident, then take steps to close them.

Become emotionally resilient and surround yourself with people who build you up.

Each day focus on what you accomplished, not what is left to do. When I started to do this one, I felt a big shift in my physiology!

Be willing to step into discomfort in order to stretch yourself. Practice this daily in the way of baby steps. Begin asking for little things and then on to bigger things. See what happens. Put legs on your ideas!

Imagine a time and situation where you were very confident. Pull this memory up to support you in times you feel less confident.

Say “YES” to a new situation and then figure out how you will approach and step into the opportunity.

Bring out your inner toddler. Have you ever noticed how 2 year olds say, “I do it?” or some mutation of those words. And if you try to “do it for them,” there is usually some resistance involved. So bring out your inner “I do it!”

Can the quality of confidence increase your earning ceiling? You bet! Inner confidence can open doors of opportunity for you, that you can then step through, take action and show up for yourself in bigger ways than you are currently doing! And, opportunity opens you to greater flow, money being one form of that flow!

Here’s to believing in yourself + opening yourself to greater flow!

Categories: Business Development and Money | 3 COMMENTS



“What should I charge?” How much will my target market pay?” “How much do I need to earn to keep my business in the black?” “How much do I need to pay myself from my business to make my personal lifestyle work?”

These are questions I ask myself every year? The answers change each year depending on what goals and dreams I have both for my business and personal life.  It is also a juggling act between discerning what I need and what I want. Many conversations go on in my head figuring out what my most important priorities are, what will get funded, what will be on the back burner so to speak, and what is needed to make the lifestyle of my choosing work.

I am a firm believer in re-figuring and knowing my target earning numbers each year, for two reasons. One is that I hold this number as an intention for what I want to earn in a given year. When I do this, synchronicities unfold, unexpected opportunities arise and I more confidently step into these invitations from the Universe to meet my target earning number.

Second, knowing my numbers helps me to feel grounded and in control. I enjoy making all the pieces of my life/money puzzle fit together and then like to step back and appreciate what the Universe and I created.  It feels satisfying to me to create a life/money plan that helps me breathe life into my short and longer term goals.

Creating through numbers is not a lot different than taking a brush to a canvas. It’s just taking a pen to a spreadsheet.

Determining your fee structure is both a physical act (taking pen to paper) and an emotional act (feeling good about the fee you charge for the value your clients receive). Sometimes, there is a gap between what you need to earn and the rate you are willing to charge. An inner tension and struggle can develop.

Following are guidelines to support you in creating a fee structure to give your business a solid foundation which in the long run will allow it to thrive and keep you in business! These guidelines address the physical and emotional aspects of setting a fee structure that supports your business.


Calculate the amount of money your business needs to generate annually to cover your business and personal expenses. Calculate the amount of money it takes to live on every month, savings required for short and long term goals as well as those periodic expenses. Periodic expenses equate to non-reoccurring monthly expenses. Examples of periodic expenses are: car registration and maintenance, insurance premiums, health care deductibles, vacations, holiday spending, home projects, sports camps, seasonal clothing, property taxes and a new computer.

Let’s say you determine you need $100,000 annually. Then ask yourself how much you need to charge per billable hour to generate $100,000 annually. Consider there are 2,080 work hours in a year, based on a 40-hour workweek. Consider how much vacation time you want to give yourself. Let’s say you give yourself 4 weeks of vacation time equating to 320 hours. Deduct another 40 hours for personal or sick time. Deduct about 30 percent of time for marketing and administrative time. This leaves you around 1,000 billable hours in a year. This information tells you to reach your income goal you need to charge $100 per hour.


One research study showed that entrepreneurs who initially set their fees on the high side were more successful than those who set lower fees. By setting fees on the high side to begin with, you set the intention of being serious about your business and give it a firmer foundation. It’s also much easier to discount your fees on a case-by-case basis should you desire to do so rather than raise your fees.

Focus on what qualities and value  you bring to your clients and business rather than focusing on what you lack. If what you lack keeps needling at you, take action and resolve the lack.

Begin where you are. You are enough!

Each year, you evolve and when you evolve, your business evolves. Your evolution increases the value of your services. Each year you become more of an expert and your fees need to reflect your “added value” to your client base.

Don’t allow perfectionism to interfere with your fee structure. When I first started my business over 7 years ago I remember saying to my business coach, “I need to get my Ph.D. before I can charge those rates.” She said back to me, “Denise, the issue here is that you don’t feel you are enough already.” She was correct. I took her wisdom to heart and set a fee structure that supported me.

Remember, if you don’t believe in yourself, why should your clients believe in you?


Let go of assumptions about what your clients will or will not pay. Don’t use the economy or your clients as reasons for not taking action to raise your rates. Many of my entrepreneur clients tell me,  “My clients can’t afford that fee.” The truth is you don’t know what your clients can or cannot afford. You have no idea what your clients spend their money on. This thinking is merely your projection onto your client. It’s really you saying, “I don’t feel my product/services are worth that amount.” “I don’t think clients will pay for what I have to offer.” Sometimes we are afraid to ASK for what we want and need.

The truth is, if you value your fee structure, your clients will to. When you are comfortable deep inside with the fee structure you are charging, you radiate that outwardly in the energy you carry with your clients. They will pick up on your non-verbals. If you receive push on your rate from clients, do an internal check-in with yourself and see if you are carrying the energy of doubt about your rate.


When setting your fee if you are selling a product, take into consideration the cost of materials, your time spent, and labor, mailing and shipping costs. Most sources suggest to charge enough to create a minimum of a 50% profit margin.


Ask the question…”What fee structure would support my highest good?” See what answer you receive and compare it with the number you calculate telling you how much you need to make a living. Listen to your intuition, there is lots of wisdom that can come from this way of knowing.

Categories: Business Development and Money | 3 COMMENTS



The faded childhood scars on my knees hold memories of me learning how to ride a bike minus the training wheels. If I look hard enough I can still see imbedded gravel under the skin. When I used to fall, it never occurred to me to wash off my cuts. I would just hop back on my bike, let the blood run down my leg until the cuts stopped bleeding and keep on going. It wasn’t until after the ride, I actually felt the stinging pain of the cut, when my mom would apply a concoction of hydrogen peroxide, alcohol and the antiseptic mercurochrome.

Whether it was riding my bike, roller skating or skiing, I always felt a comfort in falling down sooner rather than later. The men in my family (my dad and his seven brothers) taught me the art of how to fall down with minimal impact to the body. They taught me that falling down was just a part of the process in learning anything new and it was how one landed that was important. The intensity and quality of the landing could make it easier or more difficult to get back up.

Little did I realize I would apply this sage wisdom to my financial consulting business.  Some of my business “fallings” have been my greatest lessons in how to get back up, dust myself off, and move forward in a more expansive way. I dedicate this article to my dad and Uncles, thanking them for teaching me resilency skills. In a nutshell, here are the lessons.


“You’ll hurt yourself if you resist the fall. Just lean into it and roll with it. You’ll land on your feet faster that way,” they would say. There is great wisdom in this lesson.

Before I started my financial coaching business, I had a small practice in stress management and guided imagery. It went nowhere. I made money but not enough to live on. Instead of continuing to pour time, energy and marketing money into this practice, I let it die. It felt like the right thing to do.

I did a good examination of what went wrong. Then I took some time off to allow my creative juices to flow. The outcome of some time off to think and be creative, mentally seeded my current practice, which is thriving! The learning from one business that failed helped me to develop a whole new business model as well as new business mindsets.


Each time I focused on my feet, I would fall off my bike or skis. My dad would say, “Stop looking at your feet, they are still the same size.” Keep your head up and your eyes focused about 20 feet in front of you, that way you won’t fall.”  Even today, I need to remind myself to look ahead and keep my eye on my bigger vision. I have a tendency to sulk and react when things aren’t going exactly as planned. I am in constant learning mode to go with the bumps in the road and enjoy the ride along the way. After all, bumps are only bumps, right?

This lesson has helped me to do the footwork and often gruntwork of running a business, moving through daily obstacles, all the while keeping my eye and heart on my goal! This strategy keeps my spirits up and helps me to keep all the daily happenings in perspective. Having a focused vision supports growing a business to it’s fullest potential.


My dad taught me how to drive a stick shift by giving me the keys to the car and taking me out in a hay field to practice shifting. I couldn’t hurt anyone there!

One of my greatest strengths in life and business is trying new things while having done my research on the subject…balancing risk and adventure.

When I opened my business I was a terrible public speaker! After joining networking groups and taking classes on public speaking, I created as many speaking opportunities as I could for myself. I started out with smaller events and now have grown to events of 500 plus people. I do my best to be as polished as possible while giving myself room to not be perfect. This is a good balance for me.

The same principles are helping me to grow my business to the size I desire. This past year, I’ve been part of a wonderful business mastermind group that stretches my mindset and helps me break through fear.

I’d love to hear from you about how you fall down and get back up!

Categories: Business Development and Money | 0 COMMENTS



A few years back, I was honored to be chosen as the National Business Finance Coach for the organization, Make Mine a Million. This organization has a goal of supporting women to their fullest earning potential, so each woman’s business can expand exponentially.

I interviewed about 90 women who were earning between two-hundred fifty thousand to five-hundred thousand dollars a year in their business, whose stretch goal was to reach revenues of a million dollars.

My job was to take each woman to the next level of her financial goal. So, I got my super power flash light out and together we went hand in hand, digging deep into the psyche about what was holding them back…and in that journey, we uncovered “ah-hah” beliefs, re-framed money stories, and re-wired ways of thinking.

We had conversations about numbers into the wee hours of the evening and talked about how the numbers were a mere reflection of the behaviors that created them. We brainstormed and strategized about how to grow those numbers…that had to do with creating a clear vision, identifying…owning…and expressing each woman’s unique gifts into the world and the desire to play bigger.

In working with this powerful group of women, I started to notice common patterns of thinking and ways of “being” they shared, in how they ran their businesses. They excelled at being both grounded to the earth while stretching for the stars all in the same breath.

You might be wondering…did many make their one million mark? You bet! This article is about the qualities they shared in growing their businesses to the next level. See how many of the qualities you share with them.


Each woman had a “higher purpose dream.” Some call this the BIG WHY, a calling or a BIG VISION. These women were crystal clear about the vision guiding their business.

Their vision linked to passion, heart based energy, and offered each of them the inspiration that provides the “get up and go” each day to move business forward. Each unique vision embraced the desire for contribution, service and making a difference in the world.

You see, their business was the vehicle to the higher purpose dream. Their business was not the dream. Make sense? Let me give you some examples.

One woman who owned a construction company told me, “I want to grow my business and sell it for millions, so I can go to Africa and build shelters for women and their families. That is my higher purpose dream.” Another wanted to grow her business (an animal school) to sell it so she could then build animal shelters all over the world.

Not one of these women wanted to make loads of money for money’s sake. They view money as a tool linking them to their highest passion and purpose for being on the planet which has to do with service and giving back. Are you inspired yet? I was! Hold on to your seat, more to come!


Most creative ideas come to me one of two places, in the shower or when I’m hiking in nature. These ideas are usually “solutions” to my perceived problems or they are what I call “brain sparks” from the divine guiding me to a next step in my business or life.

Each woman I interviewed had divine brain sparks. I actually think we all do. The BIG thing is what we DO with these brain sparks that counts.

Women with million dollar mindsets ACT on brain sparks. They believe these “ideas, light bulb moment thoughts,” are gifts from the Universe or from a higher consciousness opening them to opportunity, creativity and new energy. They see these “ideas” as steps on the path to get them to their goal! Kind of an intuitive guidance system.

Let me share a story with you that illustrates what I am saying here.

(Kristin has given me permission to tell her story)

Kristin worked for years as an assistant manager in a clothing store and really enjoyed her work. One year, right before Thanksgiving, she began having the same dream night after night that kept waking her up (divine persistence).

The message she received in her dream was to begin making candy nut tarts. Kristin didn’t understand why she was having these dreams, but listened to the message and she started making “ordinary candy nut tarts.” She kept her dreams private for fear of being judged by others as a bit “abnormal.”

It took Kristin over a year to refine her pecan pie tarts until at one point, she realized she was making the candy tart in her night time dreams. She told me, “I would make 60 at a time and my family would devour them in one sitting and ask for more. I am not a cook, not even an average cook, but these pecan pie tarts are deliciously different.”

Two years later, Kristin suffered a back injury in a car accident which ended her career as assistant manager in a clothing store. She didn’t know what to do for a next career with physical limitations. Her kids and boyfriend told her she should sell her pecan pie tarts.

She listened to their encouragement, started letting friends taste them and they devoured them. She then placed them in candy boxes and started selling them 3 for $3.00

Today, Kristin is making thousands of pecan pie tarts and selling them from her website. Her bigger purpose dream is to support women victims of domestic violence. Listening to her night time dreams and intuitive guidance system has created for her a life of abundance and making a difference in the world.


Most of the women I worked with employed book-keepers. Even though they delegated data entry, they were good at evaluating “inflow” and “outflow.” They embraced the concept of “clarity” and made decisions based on the numbers. They regulated contract labor, enhancements to their business, and strategy implementation based on cash flow.

They understood the importance of both accounting and forward planning aspects of monthly and annual cash flow. No ostrich behavior here.

One of my biggest contributions to their bottom line was supporting them in creating monthly and annual cash flow projections for their businesses, and measuring PLAN to ACTUAL results.

Planning BOTH on the big picture (annual) and more detailed monthly (macro) level set their intention with the Universe in what they wanted to create for their businesses.

This financial intention led us to brainstorming and strategizing new revenue streams, which were in alignment with their vision and BIG WHY.


Each woman had a belief she would get from point A (where the business was now) to point B (where she wanted to take her business). This belief was un-wavable.

What is interesting is “how to” get from point A to point B was not so apparent. There was a level of uncertainty. None of these women were “afraid” of the uncertainty. They didn’t see it as an obstacle or fear it. Each had an “inner knowing” the answers and opportunities would unfold in diving timing, while they were busy doing their own footwork to move things forward.

They had a “belief,” that the Universe was supporting them, their efforts and their businesses all along the way. Each of these women saw their job as staying conscious to the openings and unfoldings in life that brought them closer to Point B. They were good at connecting the dots of synchronicity. Advanced spiritual development, wouldn’t you say?


ROI (return on investment) was top of mind when it came to evaluating how they each spent their time, energy and money. Working with these women, changed my life. I started to see everything from an ROI mindset, especially with my time and energy.

These women would quickly evaluate the effectiveness of a business strategy. They were masters at “letting go” of what no longer worked. If a business partnership had gone sour, then it was dissovled. If an employee wasn’t properly matched with the work at hand, then they were given new work or let go.

These women didn’t sulk in the energy of mistakes. Perceived failures and risks that didn’t work out were just part of doing business. They were great atre-calculating and navigating through obstacles (just like my GPS when I take a wrong turn).

These women had air tight boundaries, linked to their highest values. Setting priorities, making wise decisions, and spending time and effort, as wisely as spending money…was second nature to them.

These women worked in their sweet spot of expertise (doing only what they loved and are expert at) while hiring others for tasks they weren’t expert at nor passionate about.

If you want to play with these qualities and embrace more of them in your life and business, I have a couple of resources that might spark you on your way. You can check out “The E-Myth Revisited” by Michael Gerber and the website, http://www.makemineamillion.org.

If you are playing with any of these qualities or opening your mind to new possibilities I would love to hear your stories.

Wishing you the very best in your life and business!

Categories: Business Development and Money | 6 COMMENTS