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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

Financial Advice: How to Avoid the Bad and Find the Good

Financial advice is important, but the wrong resources can steer you in a rough direction. You don’t want the resources you’re looking at to lead you to a place of boredom or despair due to unrealistic goals. Last time, I gave some tips on finding the right financial advice for you, but today I want to break down some red flags to avoid. Then, we’ll look at some signs that show you’re on the right path!

How to Discern an Unhelpful Resources

A financial resource may not be right for you if:

  • The resource is targeted to an income level higher than yours. Even if you aspire to increase your income, financial advice will provide you with feasible next steps if it acknowledges your starting point. Starting out by reading investing guides for people with a $100k to distribute might leave you feeling alienated.
  • The resource chastises you or shames you for habits or behaviors. While many of us do carry emotional baggage around money, I firmly believe we should not be put down for this, or for our financial habits. Shame and blame do not facilitate financial learning. If a resource is telling you to quit things that make life enjoyable, or scrimp every penny as a path to wealth, evaluate these strategies carefully.
  • The resource uses financial jargon you don’t understand. Something like this can quickly lead you to boredom or discouragement. You can always look up the vocabulary words you don’t know, but finding something more accessible makes for a more pleasant and sustainable learning experience.
  • The resource doesn’t reflect your vision for your business or personal finances. Not everyone needs or wants piles of cash – so you won’t enjoy a book about how to get that if that’s not what you want!

Signs the Resource is a Good Fit

Alright, we’ve looked at red flags, now let’s talk green flags. A resource can be great for you if:

  • The resource acknowledges and takes time to help you work on your emotional stories and stressors around money. (One of my faves for this is The Art of Money by Bari Tessler)
  • The resource is accessible, easy to read or consume, and enjoyable. The more you want to come back to something or refer to it, the more helpful it will actually be!
  • The resource is tailored to your version of financial success and gives you steps for moving towards it.
  • The resource is targeted towards your income level.
  • The resource focuses on long-term solutions like mindset changes, money systems, and improved habits rather than “hacks” or penny-pinching.

If a resource ticks all these boxes for you, it will probably set you down the path to financial wellbeing! And it will feel a lot better than trying to read something that just isn’t for you. Next time, we’ll talk about starting the search for resources. For now, feel free to do some good ol’ googling. You can also check out my article on some of my favorite resources. I post more resources and video summaries of important concepts on Facebook, so check that out and see if you get green flags!

☮

Angela

Image Sources:  David Iskander, Thought Catalog

A Brief Guide to Finding the Right Financial Advice

Determining what kind of financial advice you’re really looking for is more important that you might suspect. A lot advice out there is targeted to people who already are or who want to be wealthy. If the advice you’re trying to follow is geared towards a vision that ultimately differs from yours, that can be an issue.The fact that so many financial resources assume their audience has a certain income level is also an issue. If you’re looking for financial help but you can only find resources that are geared towards people who make $50,000 more than you, you’re going to feel left in the dust.

One of my big goals with At Peace With Money is to help solopreneurs who don’t manage enormous accounts feel like they too can take steps down a helpful financial path. I strongly believe that no matter what amount of money you make, there are steps you can take to improve your situation and take care of yourself in the long term. I also believe you can do this without hugely sacrificing your quality of life. It doesn’t feel good to be chastised for your income level or your lifestyle, especially when class structure in the U.S. effects us in a way that means we are often not fully responsible for our financial standing. I don’t think that’s the role of financial advice anyway! Instead, good advice meets you where you’re at, and helps you get where you want to go.

 Know What You Need

Once you’ve decided to find financial advice resources that are relevant to your lifestyle, it’s important to know where you’re at personally. So, be sure to check in with your own finances. If you need a simple process to get clear, check out my Three Steps to Financial Clarity exercise.

Once you’ve done that, you should have a clear idea of your current income level and your hopes for your financial future. Both of these things will help you determine what financial resources are best for you. At the beginning of your journey, you might not be interested in people who talk about managing large investments. That can always come later! Instead, you might be interested in resources that cater specifically to small businesses just getting started, or people who’ve just opened an IRA.

Find Your Teachers

Now it’s time to find some good resources that meet your criteria. Some googling might help with this, but you can also check out my post on my favorite resources. There are tons of people and helpful guides out there. If Suze Orman’s not your style, don’t let her throw you off the path of learning how to make and manage wealth. You don’t have to already be making $100K a year or give up coffee forever to invest in your future – I promise.

I hope this guide has been helpful for you! If you like these ideas or you’d like to work with me for a little guidance, head on over to my Services page, where you can book a call with me.

Angela

Image Source:  Sharon McCutcheon , Luis Quintero

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

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

Goal motivational quote

We’re six months down the line. How are you doing with your goals? Have you totally crushed them, worked on them bit by bit, or are you not sure? In the thick of things, sometimes our focus on our goals can get a little murky. Here’s the first two steps of a two part series on doing a mid-year review. Let’s jump in:

Review

Step one in a mid-year review is the review, of course! When you take a look at the goals you’re working towards, it’s easy to get bogged down by focusing on what you still need to do. Instead, train your focus on what you’ve already done.

Start by making a list of milestones you’ve hit or steps you’ve completed. Rifle through your day planner or old to-do lists if you need a refresher. Go back through the year, month by month.

Now, it’s time for a little introspection. Take stock of all the actions you’ve taken towards your goals, and then ask yourself a few questions: How do I feel about this goal? Do I still want to achieve it by the end of the year? Is that feasible? At what pace have I been able to work toward this? What’s my capacity been like?

Don’t be afraid to drop things or add new things. Some goals may simply no longer excite you, or you may have realized that another achievement is more important or time sensitive.

During this review process, it’s also helpful to take a look at the systems and work routines you have in place for your business. For example, you may have set an intention to review your numbers once a week, or you may be trying out the Profit First system. Evaluate the effectiveness of your systems and routines. Are they working for you? Do you have time to do these things? Are you consistent? You may find that your routines need to be simplified or tweaked to be more pleasant. Or, you might find that your systems and routines are working just fine! Both are vital evidence when checking in on your business.

Learn and Adapt

Next, it’s time to use all of that evidence you’ve gathered to adapt your goals and practices. First, notice if you have any goals that you are either discarding or adding. Next, examine the pace at which you’ve worked on your goals. These pieces are important when it comes to planning out the rest of your year.

I recommend drawing or writing out a map for the next six months. Include any events relevant to your business, like conferences, trade shows, or gallery openings. Then, begin to write in milestones you hope to meet in the next six months. Make sure these are realistic! Don’t pressure yourself to level up in three months if it took you six to get where you are now. Instead, allow yourself the space and time to achieve things incrementally.

When you’re making your plan, be sure to adapt your goals to what’s worked so far this year. If you really love a certain routine or feel fired up to keep working toward a certain goal, go for it. If you’ve stalled on a project because you need to do more research, carve out some time to go back to the drawing board. When charting your course, keep your own needs and preferences in mind.

The next two steps will coming out in part two of the series, but I think this gives you enough to chew on for now! If you haven’t yet set goals for your business, or would like some more help thinking them through, check out my article Set Informed Income Goals. And of course, I am happy to walk through the goal setting process with you. All three of my service packages are focused on helping you set, work towards, and achieve goals. If you find you might appreciate some accountability or guidance, head on over to my Services page and schedule a curiosity call

Angela

Image Source:  S O C I A L . C U T

There is No Wrong Choice

When you run your own business, you make a lot of decisions, mostly on your own. That grants you enormous freedom, but also leaves you with immense responsibility. This responsibility often hangs over our heads: what if we don’t make the right choice? We stall the flow of our businesses by avoiding tough decisions.

I, for one, have definitely struggled with this. When I was running my jewelry business as a full time project, I often put off making decisions. My avoidance of them was fear-based and emotional. I felt like I had to nail every choice and do everything by myself. Not having anyone else to bounce my ideas off of left me frozen and fearful. You can read more about my experience running my jewelry business here

Since then, one of my major breakthroughs was realizing that there is no wrong decision. No matter what I decide to do in my business, I am always able to learn from that choice. If something I do turns out to be a mistake, I find a way to recover and learn not to repeat the misstep. However, I find that the vast majority of choices I make in my business are not typically so high-stakes. Often, I’m making choices about how to utilize social media, what to include in a proposal to a client, etc. I can agonize over the details, but at the end of the day, every choice I make is just another step in a larger experiment: my business! And the purpose of my business is to support me and my life goals – the choices I make within it don’t need to be stressful or fear-fraught.

What are some strategies that could help you breeze through decision making with your business? Perhaps you can get comfortable trying out systems and ideas on a trial basis. Maybe it would be helpful for you to find an accountability buddy to talk to and discuss ideas with. Perhaps hiring on an employee or contractor and delegating some of your workload can take some of the pressure off. It could be helpful to journal and investigate the fear or emotions that are blocking you from making a decision. Simply approaching your business with the mindset that you can learn from all your choices can also help alleviate this.

Making decisions in your business confidently and with an air of curiosity and experimentation can make your business more fun for you. And really, isn’t that what we want?

I hope this post inspired you to go forth confidently and make any moves you’ve been stalling. Go get ’em, tiger! If you find you could benefit from an accountability partner and you’d like guidance around your financial systems, I absolutely love to support solopreneurs around these things. Head on over to my Services page, and schedule a call with me.

Angela

Image Source: Amy Shamblen

 

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.

Angela

Image:  Chris Ouzounis

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