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So far Angela Keller has created 58 blog entries.

Staying Motivated as a Solopreneur

Staying Motivated as A Solopreneur: At Peace With Money

Of  all the barriers to being a successful solopreneur, one of the most challenging might just be this: yourself. Not you specifically, but your ability to find the time and motivation to take your solopreneur business seriously and do what needs to be done. Lots of people find that when it comes to managing themselves, they are not the best bosses. Without somebody looking over your shoulder to make sure you’re doing what you should be, it can be challenging to actually get things done! Here are a couple ideas and resources that can help you take the leap – and take your creative work seriously.

My Story

Working alone has been challenging for me throughout my solopreneurial journey. While running my jewelry business, I often dealt with feelings of pointlessness and like I was working without direction. However, I knew that I really benefited from accountability partners, so when I took on another employee to help me with jewelry making, the company and the fact that I needed to have work for her to do both kept me on track.

In general, I have always worked best with either deadlines or an accountability partner. My most successful exercise programs have involved meeting others for hiking or for a class. One year Etsy offered a boot camp program where we got paired up with a couple of other people and we met weekly via FaceTime from October through December to prepare for the Christmas holiday. We discussed strategies and set goals and then reported back during the following week. 

Another strategy I’ve been working on recently is time blocking, which reduces decision making. Just like with your money, when you make a plan ahead of time and reduce the need to decide in the moment, you usually make better decisions. So on Sunday evening or first thing Monday I plan out my general schedule for the week. Then I schedule the tasks I need to get done each day, and I schedule break time so I don’t burn out. I’m still working on this, but I find when I do it I end up having a day that I feel good about.

Experiment

I’ve found the things that work best for me and figured out how to structure them into my work and my business. Doing this for yourself can ultimately really aid your motivation! Try brainstorming practices that have either helped you get things done in the past, or that you’d like to try. Maybe bullet journaling used to work well for you, or maybe you’d like to find an accountability partner who also runs a small business. Perhaps you’re actually exhausted from all the other things you’re doing, and you’d get more done if you scheduled in some breaks! Play around with your ideas and find out what works. Once you’ve found your sweet spots, use them and get stuff done!

Resources

Staying Motivated as A Solopreneur: At Peace With MoneyIn my monthly newsletter (subscribe here!), I recommended some of Thomas Frank’s resources on motivation. I also want to recommend a couple resources centered around motivation and productivity. Earlier this month, I happened to listen to a great episode of the Copyblogger podcast, which featured author and cartoonist Jessica Abel talking specifically about productivity for people who make creative work. I highly recommend the episode and definitely want to check out her book, Growing Gills. She also has lots of free exercises on her website. Muchelle B’s videos on goal setting and weekly scheduling are also very helpful. She talks more in depth about using an accountability partner and time blocking.

I hope these ideas are helpful for you, and that you find the motivation you need. Speaking of an accountability partner, my coaching is designed to provide exactly that. If you’re intrigued, check out my Services page and schedule a call!

Angela

Getting Health Insurance If You’re A Solopreneur

Health insurance is often one of the biggest reasons people cite when they talk about why they don’t leave their job to start something of their own. Having your basic health needs covered contributes to the peace of mind and focus you need to really run a business. Figuring out health insurance on your own might seem scary, but it’s not impossible. In fact, about 18 million people buy health insurance on their own. So how can a solopreneur find health insurance that works for them?

Well, I did a little digging and came up with a couple ideas, plus a lot of resources. Here are my findings:

Don’t Freak Out About Numbers

If the sheer cost of health insurance is what scares you, this might calm your nerves. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, in 2016, the average American holding a federal Marketplace plan paid $106 per month, after subsidies. Of course your individual costs will differ depending on your situation, but I like to throw out a statistic just to help us all relax.

Assess Your Situation

Now it’s time to get into the nitty-gritty. What is your situation, and what are your needs? Are you able to qualify for subsidies through the ACA? Do you qualify for COBRA coverage? Do you qualify for Medicaid and CHIP programs in your state? (Note: These are all links to Healthcare.gov which you can click on for more info on each type of coverage)

How many people are you trying to insure? If you have a spouse, can you get on their plan at low or no cost? Determine what your needs are, what you qualify for, and any special concerns you have. Once you’ve got that information, you can begin the next step.

Shop Around

Once you’ve established your needs and what you qualify for, it’s time to shop around. There are an incredible amount of options when it comes to solopreneur healthcare. If you’ve explored the marketplace options above and found none of them work, it’s worth looking into the various group options available to you. These include the Freelancers Union, which offers a range of plans. There are also some religious groups who have ventured into buying group insurance through a money pooling system. If you’re interested in this option, check out the Alliance of Health Care Sharing Ministries, Health Share, and Samaritan Ministries. There are also often local professional groups or organizations that offer group health plans. It’s worth looking into any local options that might exist in your area. Finally, you can get healthcare as a business, if you are a legally registered business.

Another option to compare is taking a high deductible plan that includes a health savings account, or HSA. HSAs allow you to put money away in a tax-sheltered account, meaning you can save up for medical emergencies without being penalized come tax time.

Sometimes it can be helpful to talk to an insurance broker who represents various companies and go through all the different options with you. As you can see, there are quite a few. The more you look and compare, the more likely you are to find an affordable plan that works best for you.

How To Get Health Insurance As A Solopreneur: At Peace With MoneyFurther Reading

For further reading on the topic of health insurance, I recommend a couple articles. “Health Insurance For Freelancers: 12 Viable Options,”“How To Save On Health Insurance as a Freelancer in the Trump Era”, “Health Insurance for the Self-Employed”, “Health Insurance for Creatives”, “5 Places to Find Health Insurance for Freelancers and the Self-Employed” and HealthCare.gov are all current, helpful resources. They contain even more information about unions, group plans, short term plans, and the particulars of the ACA. If you feel like you need a broad explanation, check out the videos “Health Insurance Terms You Need to Know (In The U.S.)” and “The Structure and Cost of U.S. Health Care”.

Phew! Well, I hope that’s enough information to get you started. There’s certainly a lot to know about the ins and outs of health insurance, but that shouldn’t stop you from pursuing the solopreneur life you dream about. If you’re interested in talking to me about the financial particulars of your business, check out my Services page and schedule a call! I hope these resources empower you to shape your life the way you want to.

Angela

Image:  Rodion Kutsaev

It’s Okay to Make Money

It's Okay To Make Money: At Peace With Money

If you get my newsletter, you’ll know that this month I’m focusing on breaking down some barriers that often prevent people from striking out on their solopreneurial adventures. I decided to tackle one of the most common stumbling blocks first; the belief that you don’t deserve to make money. There are many iterations of this belief. Maybe it’s not that you don’t deserve to make money doing what you want to do, but that it will be very challenging. Or maybe it’s that you need to do something more serious instead of following your creative pursuit. If any of these statements resonate with you, you probably have some limiting beliefs around how you can make money.

Not without reason, of course! Our society puts enormous emphasis on the corporate world, tech business, and STEM education. It’s no wonder that more creative pursuits and anything else that falls outside that realm is relegated to a list of jobs that won’t make you money. These messages get transmitted to us over and over starting in childhood – so of course our beliefs around how we can make money are biased.

Let’s go out on a limb and start imagining some ways you could make money from your passion. Get creative about the possibilities. What are some ideas you have? Once you open your mind, the ideas may start to flow freely. Making a list of all these ideas can get you going.

It's Okay to Make Money: At Peace With MoneyActioning and monetizing any of these ideas will take follow through, learning, and plenty of time and resources. My real point here is that there are many ways you can make money doing your creative pursuit. So it’s time for us to throw away the idea that you can’t/won’t/shouldn’t make money that way. I want to encourage you and give you permission to make money the way you want – whether it’s through your creative pursuits, or another idea that makes you want to strike out on your own.

Removing this barrier of belief is probably one of the most important things we can tackle, before we get into the nitty-gritty. For more on this subject, I recommend my articles “Artists Define Their Own Business Success” and “Artistry and Solopreneurship Can Coexist.”

And if you’re interested in getting into the details and figuring out how you can make the most out of the money you make, check out my Services page and schedule a call!

Angela

Image Source: Paweł Czerwiński

Integrate Your Creativity and Business Sense

Integrate Your Creative and Business Sides: At Peace With Money

I enjoy busting the myth that artists can’t be business people, and vice versa! I truly don’t think the two ways of being are mutually exclusive. However, I do agree that integrating the two takes some effort. That’s why, in this month of habits, I want to talk about how we can establish habits that address both our business and creative needs.

The most important thing solopreneurs can do to serve their business on a financial level is to look at your numbers once a week. Using these numbers to assess business success, needs, and changes to be made is just good business practice. This should be a regular habit, but it doesn’t need to be devoid of creative energy.

Instead of separating your business-owner side from your creative side, let the two aspects inform each other.  Think of ways to engage your creative side while looking at numbers. Try putting on music, or get the wiggles out beforehand by dancing. If you’re a visual person, record or track your finances using a bullet journal full of doodles, color-coding, and stickers.  Create a fun visual chart to map your progress that you can color in as you save, pay off debt, or work towards a business goal. 

Looking at your numbers regularly doesn’t have to be bland or austere. It’s your business, you decide how you do things! Keep your creative and business sides equally engaged. I believe that’s key to the life of a creative solopreneur. I hope this gives you a little inspiration to start a weekly numbers habit, and infuse your business finances with creative spark! If you need some guidance around this or are interested in chatting with me, look at my Services page and book a call!

Angela

The Creative Exchange

Book Review: Joyful by Ingrid Fetell Lee

Book Review: Joyful By Ingrid Fetell Lee: At Peace With Money

For this month’s focus on habits, I thought I’d review Ingrid Fetell Lee’s wonderful book, Joyful. This book is a great resources for getting into the habit of seeing the joy in our everyday lives. Who doesn’t want to make that a regular practice?  Isn’t the point of working for yourself to allow yourself flexibility and greater opportunities to enjoy life? I know many solopreneurs are driven by these desires, which is why I think tapping into joy is something we can all do with more consistency.

Ingrid Fetell Lee is a designer, blogger at aestheticsofjoy.com and expert on joy. I found her book to be an excellent resource for finding joy in my daily routine. Joy may be hard to separate from happiness – but in her Ted Talk, Ingrid defines joy as “feeling good right now, in the moment.” Even the table of contents Joyful by Ingrid Fetell Lee Book Review: At Peace With Moneybrings me joy. Expect chapter titles like Abundance, Harmony, and Magic! Each chapter includes an overview and the science behind these aesthetics of joy. Then, she articulates easily attainable ideas and examples to bring in more of each element.

One of my favorite chapters is Freedom, in which Ingrid points out that “Joy thrives on the alleviation of constraints.”  She goes on to explain how we experience the restorative benefits of freedom through viewing or spending time in nature. According to her findings, this can be as simple as adding a plant to your home space. Color also plays a major role throughout the book. She explains how color can easily be added to or just enjoyed in our daily lives.

She wraps the book up with a Joyful Toolkit including project worksheets to add more joy as you plan your space, event, or perhaps even a new offering in your business!  Learning about joy can not only improve your work life as a solopreneur, but also help you learn to invoke joy for your customers. In general, I think this book is an excellent resource for appreciating and enjoying life. I try to operate my business with an eye towards the emotional side of money. Joy is an emotion I would love to help my clients experience when it comes to their finances! If you’re interested in what I do, check out my Services, and book a call!

Angela

Why DIY Business Owners Can Still Use a Bookkeeping Partner

Why DIY Businesses Can Still Use a Bookkeeper: At Peace With Money

Recently, several people have reached out to me who prefer to do their bookkeeping on their own, but want to have a second set of eyes on their numbers. I can’t tell you how pleased I’ve been to receive these requests. I think consulting someone else about your books is a great idea, even if you typically keep your records yourself. There are two main reasons why I think occasionally working with a professional bookkeeper, even if you’re a whiz on your own, can greatly benefit your business.

Accountability

Having someone who regularly looks at your books, even if it’s only once every month or so, motivates you to stay on top of them. Regularly scheduled reviews can help you maintain consistency and accuracy in your record keeping, which can streamline your business even further. It’s easy to fall behind on your books if no one’s watching. Having someone else look at them every now and then encourages you to keep up.

Accuracy Check

Your financial records are something you don’t want to mess up. Mistakes can be terribly inconvenient at best, and very costly at worst. Plus, if you are working to learn the skill of bookkeeping, it’s great to have an expert on hand to review your work. That extra pair of eyes can help keep your records orderly.

My Story

When I was running Dolce Beada, I knew how to do my bookkeeping, but I still had someone come in once a month to make sure I stayed on top of all the entries. Having someone look at my records regularly kept me in the habit of recording my numbers and keeping my books from getting messy. I also really benefited from a monthly numbers-check, just to make sure I was doing it right. 

Some business owners may feel that they are not ready to hire a bookkeeper, so they prefer to keep their own records. If this is you, you can still benefit from having a bookkeeper review what you’ve done. Or perhaps you need some training on how to set up and maintain your bookkeeping – an expert can offer this too.  Many solopreneurs also benefit from Profit First Financial Coaching in order to set a revenue goal for their business, fully understand how much they are spending both personally and in their business, and prepare to pay themselves and all taxes as they come due. All of these business concerns require some financial work, and an expert who can coach you through that work can be an invaluable resource. 

If you’re interested and want to learn more about the Profit First and financial services I offer, check out my services page, and book a call with me!

Angela

Image Source: Ashkan Forouzani

Pick One of These 5 Ideas To Automate Your Wealth

Pick Pick One of These 5 Ideas To Automate Your Wealth: At Peace with Money

Last week we talked about loving our future selves, and dove into the world of IRAs. Today, I’d like to share a way you can love yourself and share the wealth with both future and present you – automation! I’ve written about automation before, and why it is so beneficial to our financial lives. The idea is simple: by automating your finances, you reduce your decision making, thereby reducing your chances to change your mind  or forget about saving money or paying a bill in full. Automating your finances make saving money easier and less of a mental effort. This principle is what Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg employ in their wardrobe choices. They’d wear the same thing every day so that they could conserve their brainpower for other more important decisions!

Here are my five ideas you can use to dip your toes into the world of financial automation. Start off slow – just pick one and try it out. If you like your results, you can come back for more!

Automate a Savings Goal

Set up an amount to automatically be sent to a particular savings account for a goal you’re pursuing. Don’t worry about the amount, any amount is great! Simply trying this is the most important step. 

Automate a Bill Payment

Automating a bill payment insures you will not pay late fees. In the long run, this could save you a lot of money. 

Set an Alert

Many banks offer to send alerts when your account hits a minimum balance. Set this up so you don’t overdraw your account. This way, you can avoid those pesky overdraft fees. 

Connect Your Accounts

Connect your accounts to a money management system or app so you can  really see where your money is actually going. I use Mint and I love it! Personal Capital is another I’ve heard of, and many people also swear by YNAB, or You Need a Budget

Set Up Direct Deposit

Have your paycheck automatically deposited into your checking account! This is so much more simple than Pick One of These 5 Ideas to Automate Your Wealth: At Peace With Moneyhaving to take all that time and effort to take your paycheck to the bank. Even if you have your own business and have varying income, you can create a solopreneur paycheck using the Profit First system. If you’re interested in reading more about this, I recommend my posts Create Your Own Paycheck  and How to Pay Yourself First.

If you enjoy these tips and want more resources on automation, I’ll happily recommend The Automatic Millionaire by David Bach. This book emphasizes how savings habits and automation can help you build up savings for retirement. He also has a variety of free resources available for download on his website, so go ahead and take a look at those too! And of course, if any of this has piqued your interest, I’m happy to talk to you about setting up money systems for your business. Take a look at my service packages and schedule a curiosity call!

Angela

Image Source: Rodion Kutsaev

Love Your Future Self

Love Your Future Self: At Peace With Money

One of the best forms of self love is this: put some money away for 65 year old you! Starting an IRA is the perfect way to do this. Beginning to put money away now so that you can take care of yourself in retirement will vastly improve your life as a whole. It’s important to remember your future self, and make sure you aren’t only treating yourself today. What better way to care for yourself?

Give Yourself a Gift

Make contributing to your IRA a fun and regular occasion. Consider it a gift to both your present and future self! Perhaps you could give yourself the gift of a deposit to your IRA for Valentine’s Day. My sister does this for herself on her birthday every year, to celebrate her present and future self! 

Invest!

It’s very important that when you do contribute to your IRA, that you remember to invest it. Don’t simply let it sit in the account in cash.  If you let it sit, it’s not actually accruing any more value, and therefore will not expand beyond the amount you put in. The longer you let it sit, the more time that could be used to expand your investment goes by. 

LOVE YOUR FUTURE SELF: At Peace With MoneyPlay the Long Game

Remember, this is long term money. You won’t touch it for years, so don’t worry about how much your investment increases or decreases in value today.  You are in it for the long haul!

For more  specific info on types of IRAs, here’s the IRS’s info page, plus a helpful article from NerdWallet. I love to talk to people about IRA’s and how setting up Profit First can make saving for retirement more possible, so if you’d like to chat, check out my services page and schedule a curiosity call!

Angela

Image Source:  Ivan Jevtic

Money and Marriage

Money and Marriage: At Peace With Money

Ah February, the month of love. What better time to dig into your finances with your partner, right? Marriage and money can be a complex subject. I’ve written a little bit about the money moves my husband and I have made over the years to stay on top of our money game. But my best suggestion? Make time to go over your finances together.

The Impact of Regular “Money Time”

Regularly coming together to look at your finances is extremely important in marriage! Why? Because your futures are intertwined, and finances are a major factor in any potential future you share. If you’re not both on the same page about where your money is going and how close you are to reaching any goals, planning other parts of your future plans will be difficult.

Having regular “money dates” can make space for the time you need to get on the same financial page. Together, you can check in on accounts and investments, review your personal incomes, and set and monitor financial goals. Doing this regularly can build your motivation and help you stay on top of financial projects, like paying off debt or building an emergency fund.

Make It Fun

Money and Marriage: At Peace With MoneyIn my last post, I put up a book review of Bari Tessler’s The Art of Money.  Check it out if you haven’t already! One of my favorite pieces of wisdom from her is that it’s important to try to make looking at your finances more pleasant for you! If it feels difficult to look at your accounts and really be honest with yourself, think about what you can do to make it more fun. This could be relaxing music, lighting some candles, a warm fire – anything to make the task feel more comfortable. This same advice holds for money dates with your partner. If it’s hard for the two of you to sit down and talk about money, brainstorm together about how you can make it more fun and bearable!

I hope this info has inspired you to check in with your life partner and gauge the path of your financial futures! I wish you smooth sailing. Check out my article on money buddies for more ideas!

Angela