Profit First

Home/Profit First

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!

☮

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.

☮

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!

☮

Angela

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon

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.

☮

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!

☮

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.

☮

Angela

Image Source: Jason Blackeye

How to Create A Business That Restores You

A lot of people start their business with hopes for a better life in mind. More freedom, more money, a better schedule, and a legacy to pass on are just a few things that people starting out on their solopreneur journey might hope for. However, once a business gets going, whether it’s a full time project or a side-hustle, for many it becomes a demanding enterprise. My goal is to bring the solopreneur’s relationship with their business back into balance, by making sure the needs and desires they set out to meet in the first place are organizationally and financially prioritized.

So, how do we do this? The path toward creating a business that is restorative to you, the owner, combines intentional decision making and organizational action. Here are a couple key factors I’ve identified through my work with clients:

Boundaries

I recently review Jennifer Armbrust’s awesome book, Proposals for the Feminine Economy, in which she introduces twelve principles for feminist business. Principle number one is very simple: “You have a body.” While this can be interpreted in a number of ways, to me, it’s a reminder to slow down and set reasonable expectations for myself. By keeping my physical and mental limits in mind when setting up my schedule, choosing my daily tasks, and considering the scale of my own business, I’m able to avoid exhaustion and burnout. Some solopreneurs leave the corporate world or another industry in hopes of finding better work-life balance on their own. Healthy boundaries around when and how much you work can help you realize that dream and restore mental and physical wellbeing.

Clear Objectives

Consistently, I ask my clients to consider their “money why” – the clear financial objective they aim to achieve through running their business. Your money why can be a very specific goal like saving to buy a house, or it can be more general, like sustaining your budget. I have an article all about how to set income goals based off your needs. Reading it and doing a check in can help you establish your own clear objectives. By keeping your efforts focused on those, you can make sure specific needs and desires are met.

Quarterly Profit Distributions

This is one of my favorite practices from the Profit First system. To use this practice, during a fiscal quarter, you collect a portion of your profit in a specific account. At the end of the fiscal quarter, you take whatever money has collected and use it to reward yourself and celebrate your hard work. This is a great way to stay energized in your business. You can take this reward without guilt because you have the system in place to know your business is healthy, and this money is specifically set aside for you. If you’re intrigued by this concept, I encourage you to download the first 5 chapters of Profit First and play around with my allocations calculator!

I hope these ideas help you see a path towards your own restorative business. If you’re interested in learning more about what I do with my clients, you can check out my Services packages or schedule a call with me.

☮

Angela

Image:  Meghan Schiereck

When to Take the Leap

When to Take The Leap: At Peace With Money

You’ve relegated your passion project to side hustle status for a long time, working on it in between your day job and other parts of your life. But you know that if you want to get your business growing, you need to invest more time. That’s when you start asking yourself, “When can I get this off the ground? When can I take the leap, quit my job, and do this full time?” This is a question that must be considered carefully. While I support jumping in, I think it’s best to make the decision based on practical financial criteria. Taken at the wrong time, that leap could jeopardize your business. So, let’s take a closer look at what criteria you and your business should meet before you’re ready to take it to a full-time level.

Savings

Before you leap into the realm of self-employment, it’s good to have some savings to cover your expenses before things get going. This requires calculating your living expenses for each month, and then deciding how many months worth you want to have saved up. Many sources recommend saving up between six months and a years’ worth of expenses, but it’s ultimately up to you. Whatever number you decide, make sure it correlates with how much time you think you’ll need to get your business to a point where it supports you. If you need some resources to help you determine your monthly expenses, I recommend my article “Three Steps to Financial Clarity.”

Proof Of Concept

It’s important to prove to yourself somehow that people actually want your product or service – that there is a demand and real profitability in your idea. Setting up some metrics specific to your business idea can help you divine whether this is the case or not. Depending on your industry, this test could look very different. It might be helpful to research what success and demand look like in your industry. Ensuring that your business will have customers is an important step in the path towards solopreneurship.

When to Take The Leap: At Peace With MoneyI know they say “Leap and the net will appear,” but in order to take care of yourself financially, I think it’s best to take the leap only when you’ve already constructed at least some of that net for yourself. I understand this is difficult territory. It can be hard to know when you might make more money if you’re able to work on your hustle full time, rather than playing it safe and keeping it on the side. My advice is to think carefully and critically and make sure you have the resources to take care of yourself!

If you enjoyed this article and want to talk more about the profitability of your business, and how you can make it work for you, don’t be afraid to reach out. You can check out my Services page and schedule a call.

I first published this post back in May, but I thought August would be a good time to roll it out again, with our theme being transitions. If you have other business transition-related thoughts or questions, just let me know in the comments. I’d love to address them this month!

☮

Angela

Image:  Chris Ouzounis

To Find Clarity and Focus, Do a Mid-Year Review Pt. II

This is part two of a two-part series on doing a mid-year review of your business! You can find part one here

So, now that you’ve reviewed your work so far and adapted your strategies and goals appropriately, it’s time for the next few steps. These are intended to really up the feeling of getting a fresh start, while enjoying your business for what it is: a way to meet your life goals.

Refresh

For an extra dash of clarity and focus, include a refresh in your review process! Now is the time to do whatever necessary maintenance you might need to grease the wheels of your business. You might clean your workspace, clear your inbox, or centralize your passwords. Attend to your physical and digital spaces. Check in with your finances, and schedule an appointment with a bookkeeper. 

This is usually my favorite part of the review process, because I make time to do all the little things that have been nagging me, like scheduling lower priority appointments, finding that one piece of paper, and sometimes making a new goal chart for myself. Giving yourself the time and space to get organized can save you time and effort down the road. It can also add ease to your everyday business functions – which is an added bonus!

Celebrate

Go back to step one, and take stock again of all you’ve done this year, including this review process. Chances are, you will find you’ve done quite a bit of work towards your goals, no matter how close you might be to completing them! Take some time to celebrate all the work you’ve done. Treat yourself to an afternoon off, a fun or inspiring event, or whatever you’d like to do to celebrate your achievements so far! Being a self-starting solopreneur is hard work. If you’ve done the work, you deserve to cheer yourself on once in a while.

If you busted through this whole review process, congratulations. I’d love to hear from you about how your business functions going forward, or if there are any little things you’ve added to the process. Just leave a comment below or shoot me an email at angela {at} atpeacewithmoney.com. If you think you could benefit from working through this process with an accountability partner, you know where to find me – just check in on my Services page.

Angela

Image Source: Emma Matthews