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So far Angela Keller has created 84 blog entries.

The In-Depth Guide to Mapping Your Money, and How It Can Fortify Your Business, Part III

In the last two parts of this in-depth guide to money mapping, we’ve talked about why it’s helpful and how to get started. We’ve also touched on creating a system of accounts to set up a regular paycheck for yourself and an assurance of profit. Creating your own money map based on these ideas takes a lot of evaluation of your finances. You need to assess your operating and tax expenses and analyze your living expenses and savings goals. Once you’ve assessed these amounts, they translate into the percentages you put into each account.

What’s Your Percentage?

I help clients figure out what their percentages could be. We assess the needs of their business, and we figure out how much they actually need to live on. We discuss their life goals, and how those relate to money. There are good benchmarks for each percentage, which are suggested by Profit First. For your reference, the suggested percentages are: 5% profit, 50% owner’s pay, 15% taxes, 30% for operating expenses. This breakdown applies to most solopreneurs (anyone under $250,000 in annual revenue).If this doesn’t feel doable for you right now, don’t sweat it. It takes a lot of work, evaluation, and good financial habits to create a sustainable money system.

Applying the Model

Let’s look at an example of all of this mapped out. In this example business, the owner is using the ideal benchmarks and keeping a cushion in their Owner’s Pay account. What they do take out is then subdivided, with 20% of their pay taken off the top for three savings goals (I like to call this “paying yourself first.”). The remainder of this money goes to living expenses. While this model might be unrealistic from where you stand, keep in mind that this is something my clients work towards. I’ve included it here so you can start to picture what your own money system looks like.

If you enjoyed this guide, I recommend also checking out Part I, and Part II. And, try going to the Tools page, where you can play with an allocations calculator. Plug in your revenue and your preferred percentages to see what your amounts are! Then you can start filling in your money map.

Money mapping is an important tool, and one that I enjoy walking clients through. If you’re interested in working with me, check out my services page to check out my packages, and schedule a call.

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Angela

 

Image by:

Estée Janssens

The In-Depth Guide to Mapping Your Money, and How It Can Fortify Your Business, Part II

Last week, I talked about money-mapping, why it’s helpful, and how you can get started. Today, we’re going to dive into more money-mapping using the Profit First methodology. Profit First posits its own money system, pictured in the above map. Its goal is to ensure that you as the business owner get paid.

Solopreneur Paycheck

In order to ensure that you actually get paid by your business, you need to portion off a certain percentage of your income, and then designate that for your personal finances. This portioning off is exactly what the Owner’s Pay account is for in the Profit First system. The Profit First system advocates for creating separate accounts for all your different pots of money associated with your business. If you can’t do that or don’t want to, I advise using a spreadsheet. You can use this to keep track of how much money is designated for Profit, Owner’s Pay, Taxes, and Operating Expenses.

So, back to that Owner’s Pay Account. Once you put a percentage of income in it, you then transfer some portion of that to your personal account, which serves as your solopreneur paycheck. When I work with clients, we work to figure out what portion should go into this account. That amount depends on how much the business makes in revenue, and what portion of their personal expenses they want to cover using income from their business. If income in their business varies month to month, we decide on an amount that they transfer to their personal account, leaving the leftovers to act as their cushion during slow months. This way, the business owner receives a steady stream of income, even if their business varies from month to month. This is the solopreneur paycheck.

The Function of Profit

Cordoning off funds for operating expenses and taxes may seem practical enough, but the Profit account is what makes the Profit First system unique. The profit account accumulates and then is distributed quarterly. Business owners are encouraged to use their Profit Distributions to reward themselves for their hard work. This keeps the owner excited about and invested in the business. It also discourages any tendency to reinvest everything back into the business, or over-save.  Rewards can range from a day out to charitable giving, to really anything you want!

In part three of this series, I’ll discuss what applying this model to your business can look like, and integrate all the info we’ve gone over so far. If you’re enjoying this and would like more, check out part one! You can also head to my services page and schedule a call with me. Money mapping is one of my favorite subjects. Come talk about it with me!

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Angela

The In-Depth Guide to Mapping Your Money, and How It Can Fortify Your Business, Part I

Keeping track of your money and where it needs to go may feel like a difficult task. That’s why visually mapping it can be especially helpful. When I work with clients, I help them create a visual flow chart to show where every dollar goes. Today, I want to walk through why I do this, and how you can get started on your own money map.

Simplify Decision-Making

The goal of money mapping is creating a clear visual guide of what to do with every incoming dollar. If you’re confused about where to put incoming money, your systems can quickly get out of whack. By drawing out the paths your money can take, you make it clear to yourself where everything needs to go. You also simplify the decisions you need to make, because you have everything spelled out right in front of you! This way you’re able to take action to put your money in the right place quickly and easily.

For extra points, you can automate some of these transfers each month, so that you don’t have to move everything manually. If that sounds interesting, you might like to read “Pick One of These 5 Tips to Automate Your Wealth”.

How Much Do You Need?

In order to create that map and streamline your decision making, you need to do the math up front. It’s important to think about how much you need for your own pay, business taxes, and operating expenses. When I work with clients, I help them determine these numbers in the process of creating their map. If you want a DIY version, you can check out my articles on financial self-care, which will help you determine your personal expenses and understand how they relate to your business finances. Going through your records and averaging your operating expenses can help you get a good idea of what that percentage might be.

The above image is an example map from Hadassah Damien at Ride Free Fearless Money. In this example, you can see that she’s fleshed out the necessary percentages of income that need to be set aside for savings, taxes, business expenses, and personal expenses. In part 2 of our discussion of money mapping, I’ll talk about Profit First and what these percentages are according to their theory.

From Income to Final Destination

Above all, the goal of money mapping is to know where your money is going every step of the way. From the moment you receive income, to the moment that money is saved for taxes, invested for retirement, or put away for a savings goal – you’ve got a plan. Consequently, this is an opportunity to define those final destinations. Creating a tax savings account and an operating expenses account come in handy here. You can also think about creating savings goals for yourself, and making a plan to contribute regularly to those.

If you found this article interesting and helpful, I invite you to download the first 5 chapters of Profit First! The book has its own suggested money map that I’ll also talk about in part 2 of this series. If you’re into this kind of thing, I’m sure you’ll enjoy the book.

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Angela

All About Oversaving, And Why Overcoming It Can Strengthen Your Business

Often issues with money stem from not having enough – so when you hear the word “oversaving,” it might not sound bad. However, oversaving can be a serious issue that may be blocking the potential of your business. It may also point to anxieties that need to be resolved. Let’s take a look at what oversaving is and what you can do to overcome it.

What Is It?

If you experience anxiety or guilt over spending money, even on basic necessities, you may have oversaving tendencies. You might struggle to spend money on your business or operating expenses. Alternatively, it might be hard for you to spend on something other than reinvesting in your business. Or, you might have a hard time parting with any money know you could save it for retirement or business emergencies.

Oversaving both stems from and enhances anxiety, stress, and burnout. It often comes from a fear of scarcity. While saving money is an important skill, if it’s taken to an extreme, it can keep you from spending money to solve urgent problems in your business and your personal life.

What Can You Do About It?

Saving money is a great habit, but the key to overcoming the oversaving habit is to get strategic about your saving. Rather than living in this panicked feeling of “I have to save every dime I possibly can,” create some money systems! Coming up with savings goals, establishing a spending plan, and automating your money are all great ways to introduce strategy and systems. 

Savings goals can be especially helpful, because they can lend purpose to all that saving, but they also create an end point you’ll eventually meet. Limiting and directing your savings in this way can help curb the habit and assuage your anxieties. When you use the Profit First system, you put aside money to pay yourself first, but you also save for taxes, put aside money for operating expenses, and also distribute profits every quarter, which are meant to be spent by YOU so you can reward yourself for your hard work. If you’re interested in learning more about the Profit First System, check out the first 5 chapters of the book here.

Doing some emotional work around money can also really help you clear up your oversaving. I recommend reading Bari Tessler’s The Art of Money for more ideas about this. She helps you unpack your feelings around money and combining the practical with the emotional. If you’re interested, check out my book review.


Oversaving can be a sneaky habit, difficult to catch and overcome, but I believe in you – you can do it! And anyway, saving is so much more effective when it’s done in order to meet a goal. If you enjoyed this article, I suggest looking into Profit First. If you want to chat more about these ideas and take a look at your money, you can take a look at my service packages and book a call. You have a few more days left to set up a Quickbooks 2020 Reboot, which you can schedule here. Doing a year-end review could help you identify a couple goals to save for!

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Angela

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon

Why You Need to Schedule A Year End Bookkeeping Review

As the year wraps up, I encourage all solopreneurs to engage in a little financial self-care, by reviewing your 2019 books! There are several reasons to review your books at this time of year, and they would benefit from the eye of an expert. If you don’t already have a bookkeeper and feel like you could benefit from some oversight, schedule a review with someone. The financial insight will go a long way for your business. Here are my top two reasons for reviewing your books now.

Tax Prep

First of all, straightening out your 2019 books to prep for tax season simply makes sense. Hiring an expert to help you do this can ensure that your books are accurate. That extra bit of readiness will feel so good come tax season, I promise! It will save you some stress and last minute rushing come tax time. Think of it as a holiday gift to yourself!

Where Did You Make Your Money?

My second reason for scheduling a bookkeeping review with a professional is so that someone with a trained eye can go over your books and help you discern where, when, and from what you made the most money. This kind of insight is invaluable to any small business, especially if your goal is growth. Your financial records hold this info. Work with someone willing to help you find it! For more about finding and working with a bookkeeper, check out “How to Get the Most Value From Your Bookkeeper”. The insights you gain from a good bookkeeping review could help shape your plan for your business in 2020. All the more reason to review them now!

Going over your books with a professional will save you a lot of stress and provide you with knowledge needed to run a successful business. Please consider scheduling a year-end review – you’ll thank yourself later! If you’d like to work with me, I’m currently offering a Quickbooks Online 2020 Reboot, a session meant to help you review and understand your books. You can set one up anytime from now through December 20th, through my scheduling form here.

Here’s to tying up your financial loose ends!

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Angela

Why Your Finances Might Be Feeding Your Impostor Syndrome

If you’re not aware of how your business finances look, it might be feeding your imposter syndrome. Ignoring the financial side of your business prolongs the anxiety that surrounds that part of your life as a business owner. Impostor syndrome can be detrimental to your business. It undermines your success and obscures opportunities for growth. Let’s take a look at the different ways impostor syndrome affects your business.

Anxiety

Impostor syndrome is commonly marked by a feeling of not fully trusting your own success. This anxious feeling says “Don’t let them find out who I really am!” and fails to recognize all your accomplishments. If you feel uncertain about your business finances, this takes a toll on your stress and anxiety levels. Consequently, your relationship with your business can feel increasingly strained and uncomfortable. Financial uncertainty and related stress can create a vicious cycle.

Under-Compensation

If you’re not looking closely at your business finances, you might be under-compensating yourself without even knowing it. Whether your prices are too low, or you need to cut back your operating expenses, you may be underpaying yourself. Finding yourself scrambling and struggling to get work done for less pay than you need is disappointing for many business owners. It can add to your feeling that you aren’t truly succeeding.

The Solution: Look at Your Finances

In short, there’s a feedback loop between your finances and your identity as a business owner. Therefore, the best thing to do is to really look at your business’s finances. If you feel underpaid, research changing your prices. Study your personal lifestyle and establish an income goal, and then look for ways your business can bring in that income. Go over your business expenses with a fine-tooth comb. Most importantly, remember that there are solutions to your financial woes, ones that you have the ability to find and implement! I believe in you!

If you want more of my thoughts on this, check out this facebook live video I made on the topic. If you’re interested taking a look at your finances, check out my end of year Quickbooks Online Reboot offer. This session is intended to help you simplify your system, learn QBO shortcuts, and identify secret insights in your financial records. You can schedule a session through my contact form.

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Angela

How to Invest in Your Business At Exactly The Right Time

Once you’ve gotten the ball rolling with your business, it can be difficult to chart a clear path forward. Running a business is full of constant decision making, and often it can be tempting to just stick with what works, without trying to expand. However, with a few strategic moves, your business can meet the income goals you want it to reach. But what are they? The thought of spending the money for a certain marketing plan, or hiring a coach only to find little return on your investment, often plagues business owners. How do you know when the time is right to invest in your business?

As part of my series on financial mistakes business owners have made early on in their businesses, today I’m exploring when to take the leap and spend for business success. For other posts in this series, check out the articles on tax prep, pricing, and hiring a bookkeeper. Let’s jump in:

The Mistake

When should you invest in your business? Doing so at the wrong time and not doing so at all can be equally debilitating for your business. I’ve noticed this in the business journeys of quite a few of my clients.

The Solution

Knowing when to take the leap to invest in your business, to spend on marketing or hire an employee, can be tough.  These decisions can become clearer through working with an advisor to review the costs and benefits and also by using the Profit First system for guidelines around spending for operational expenses or for expansion. You can read more about the Profit First system by downloading the first 5 chapters of the book, or by exploring my page on the theory, and the allocations calculator. 

I hope these thoughts have been useful! If you’re interested in investing in your business but don’t know where to start, check out my Service Packages. I offer guidance on exactly these sorts of things. I’m also offering an accounting reboot session for anyone using Quickbooks Online as an end-of-year special. It can make a huge difference and help you identify trends in your business finances.

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Angela

Don’t Let Your Taxes Sneak Up On You, Do This Instead

Taxes don’t come out of nowhere, yet somehow it’s easy for us as business owners to get caught unprepared. As both a bookkeeper and financial coach, I see this often, but it has a simple fix. This month I’m reviewing mistakes women told me they learned from early on in their solopreneur careers. Let’s unpack this one:

The Mistake

One woman I spoke with told me she regretted not setting aside money for taxes. Some women also told me they were initially surprised by the additional self employment tax. Clients often come to me after they’ve been hit with the tax bill. At this point, we have to pay off the tax debt and save for this year’s taxes. Doing both is tough, and can make a real financial mess for new business owners. 

The Solution

To solve this problem, I recommend two things. First, work with a tax preparer or bookkeeper who will help estimate a percentage to be held out for taxes. You can read more of my advice about working with a bookkeeper here. Putting money aside will help avoid that nasty surprise.  This can also be a precursor to implementing the Profit First system, which is designed to keep your business prepared to pay its expenses, and pay you a fair wage. If you want to go the extra mile, you can also read my article 5 Steps to Prepare for Tax Time. 

Although recovery from this type of situation needs to be thorough, it’s a chance to implement new and better systems and get your business organized. I hope you appreciated these insights, stay tuned for next week’s article!

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Angela

Your Prices Matter, Here’s Why

When it comes time for you to price your services or products, you might find yourself at a loss. There are all kinds of pricing formulas out there. Some involve complicated math and some that just ask you to consider wholesale versus retail pricing. My personal favorite way to determine prices is to set income goals informed by the purpose and the plan you have for the money you earn from your business.

This month, I’m going over some financial mistakes women I’ve talked with recently first made in their business, and how to correct them. Let’s dive in:

The Mistake

This woman I spoke with listed not pricing her services high enough as her biggest financial mistake. She priced them too low initially. After realizing this, she found it difficult to raise her rates, because her first clients expected her low prices. She struggled between raising her prices and earning a wage that was too low for her needs. 

The Solution

If you are just starting out and are about to price your products – congratulations! You can take preventative action to make sure this doesn’t happen to you. The most important thing to do first is to establish your money why – your purpose and plan for the money you earn though your business. Where will it go? What will it do? An important part of this process is looking through your expenses and determining how much your business will support you with them. Once you’ve established your money why, you’ll be able to set income goals based off this information, so that your income is truly able to cover your living expenses. Once you know how much money you need to make, it’s easy to figure out how high your prices need to be.

Ask yourself a few more questions: What products or services are you planning to produce and sell most often? How much time, labor, and supplies will go into production? Account for those costs in your pricing formula, and make sure the answers are what you want them to be. If you’re planning to make most of your money from custom embroidered portraits, but you actually hate embroidery, maybe you’ll want to tinker with your profit model a bit. After this inquiry, you’re well on your way to pricing yourself well. For more resources, check out this article I wrote about my interview with Megan Auman.

If you’ve already priced your products and wound up in a similar situation to the woman above, you can still double back and figure out your true income targets and prices. The real challenge comes in actually implementing a rate change. Before you do this, it can be helpful to do some mindset work. Raising your rates can be a scary prospect that brings up all kinds of emotional baggage, but if you work on it, you can get to a point where you feel settled. Then, go ahead and raise your prices! You deserve to be comfortable and make a living wage. After all, isn’t that why you went into business for yourself?

I hope you found this helpful! I’m doing a series on financial lessons learned from business in honor of Financial Planning month, so stay tuned. And if you enjoy these thoughts, I wrote a lot more about planning and financial lessons in this month’s newsletter. Read it here and subscribe if you wish – you can unsubscribe any time.

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Angela

Image Source: Jason Blackeye

Why You Need a Bookkeeper From the Beginning

I recently had the chance to hear from some other women about the hardest financial lessons they’ve learned through running their businesses. One of the women I spoke to listed not hiring a bookkeeper from the start as her number one mistake.  

The Mistake

When she started her business, this woman decided not to hire a bookkeeper right away. She had a vague plan to address it eventually – she knew she could either do it herself, or hire someone when her income was higher. However, when it came time for taxes, she had a big mess on her hands. She had to hire a professional to clean it up on a short timeline in order to pay taxes, and that emergency help was costly. She also missed out on having a complete understanding of her business that year, because she couldn’t look at her numbers clearly. Because of this, she missed all sorts of important analytics, like what sold best, when it sold, etc.

The Solution

After this fiasco, the best thing to do is to hire a professional to come in regularly. Even if it’s once a month or once every two weeks, knowing someone else is coming in can keep you accountable to your books. A good bookkeeper also finds and shares any financial insights they catch. This is an invaluable but often understated aspect of bookkeeping services. Understanding where your profit comes from, where your operating expenses go, and any other money-related patterns in your business can help you make better business decisions in the long run. If you’re interested in more on this topic, I recommend my articles How to Get the Most Value From Your Bookkeeper and “Know What Your Numbers Are Telling You.”

Why You Need a Bookkeeper From the StartFinally, once you hire a professional, instead of just taking your best guess yourself, you may find you’re more relaxed about the state of your business. The value of feeling at peace with money is not to be understated.

I hope you found this helpful! I’m doing a series on financial lessons learned from business in honor of Financial Planning month, so stay tuned. And if you enjoy these thoughts, I wrote a lot more about planning and financial lessons in this month’s newsletter. Read it here and subscribe if you wish – you can unsubscribe any time.

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Angela

Image Source: Steve Johnson