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

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

5 Steps to Get Ready for Tax Time

5 Steps to Get Ready For Tax Time: At Peace With Money

Yep, it’s that time of year again! As a small business owner, or let’s face it, just as an individual, tax time can be stressful.  But there are ways to reduce that stress and be ready for tax time before you know it.  As a former tax preparer and practicing bookkeeper, here are my top suggestions;

#1 – Designate a folder or box for all the mail that arrives regarding taxes.  You don’t even have to open the envelopes just collect it all in your “spot”.  Super simple!

#2 – If you are doing your banking online, you are probably getting email notifications that your tax statements are available.  I like to flag these emails as they come in and then sit down when I have some time later in the week to go back through the emails, log in and download each statement from the bank.  Save all of these to a file folder you’ll call 2017 Tax Documents.

#3 – If you are running a small business (and a side hustle does count), please, please, please tell me you have been running that business out of a bank account separate from your personal spending.  If not, go open that separate account right now!  If so, you can easily determine your income and expenses for the year by reviewing your bank statements.  Better yet, if you are running your business on an accounting platform such as Quickbooks Online and you have updated and reconciled your accounts, those reports are right at your fingertips.  I do suggest that you start this step in January just to give yourself plenty of time.

#4 – You should have received all of your tax mailings by mid-February. If your tax preparer is going to want everything in electronic form (or you just want to stay super organized) scan all of your paper statements and add them to your 2017 Tax Documents folder.

5 Steps to Get Ready For Tax Time#5 – Grab a copy of last year’s tax return and review the entries you had last year.  Or if you have a digital file from last year, compare the statements with the information you have for this year.  This can jog your memory so you know you haven’t missed anything.  The last thing you want is to have to file a corrected tax return because you left something out, so just take the time and make sure you’ve got all of your information.

You did it!  You are ready for tax time!  And if #3 is causing you to pull out your hair, maybe it’s time to talk to a professional to help you set up a system or to decide if you are ready for ongoing proactive bookkeeping.

Angela

Image Sources:   Anton Darius | @theSollers

How to Set Informed Income Goals

How to Set Informed Income Goals: At Peace With Money

This article is the fourth in a month-long series on taking care of your finances as self-care. Specifically, I’m focusing on what you can do with your money to take care of yourself and improve your business in 2019. You can read the whole series by clicking here. 


One of my favorite sayings comes from the artist-turned-business mind Jennifer Armbrust: “A business is a needs-fulfillment machine.” Your business exists to support you; to fulfill your needs. However, if you don’t have a clear picture of what those needs are, it can be difficult for your business to fill them. This week, I’m suggesting that to really financially care for ourselves, we investigate the true costs of our lifestyles. By doing so, we will be able to make informed decisions about what income goals we’d like our businesses to meet. 

The Process

Time to take a realistic look at how much money you’re spending every month. Dig up the past three months of your bank and/or credit card statements. (For most of us, these should be available online). Go through line by line to see where your money is really going. Total up all the expense categories, i.e. groceries, utilities, rent, etc. 

Once you’ve got your totals, you have a realistic picture of how much money you need on a monthly basis. At this stage, you may find it helpful to look critically at your lifestyle, and see if there’s anything you’re interested in culling. If you’re looking for some ideas around creating a budget or spending plan, I’d recommend these articles of mine. Click here. 

Set Informed Goals

Whether you decide to create a spending plan and reign in your expenses, or feel satisfied with your lifestyle costs, you now have a complete picture of your financial needs. At this point, you can now set informed income goals that are designed to meet those needs in your personal life. Without this crucial information, your goals will just be shots in the dark, aimed at an amount of money that “sounds nice” but doesn’t tangibly satisfy a need.

Additionally, once your have this information, you can also take a look at how your business is doing in its current state. Is it making enough to support you? Whether you’ve got a side hustle or something you want to stretch into a full source of income, checking in with this question is important. If your answer is no, you can start to strategize around how you might close that gap. For more ideas on this, check out this post.

I hope this post inspires you to keep working to create a business that truly meets your needs. If you’d like to work with an accountability partner or need coaching around this, please check out my service packages and don’t be afraid to schedule a curiosity call!

Angela

Image Sources:  rawpixelMelissa Askew

Know What Your Numbers Are Telling You

Know What Your Numbers Are Telling You: At Peace With Money

This article is the third in a month-long series on taking care of your finances as self-care. Specifically, I’m focusing on what you can do with your money to take care of yourself and improve your business in 2019. You can read the whole series by clicking here. 


 In the last installment of this series, I talked about how important it is to separate your business and personal finances. Doing so gives you access to a lot of important information about your finances. However, it’s also important to know what to do with that information once you have it. This requires some analysis. Let’s dive in:

Know What Your Numbers Are Telling You

Look back through your financial records for the year. Figure out what products, services, or other sources brought in the most revenue. Identify which months you made your largest and smallest amounts of revenue, so you can understand the rhythm of your income.

Do the same for your expenses. Did you have surprise expenses come up that caused you problems? How can you plan for these surprises in case they happen again? For many people, taxes are a surprise expense. You can plan more effectively once you look at last year’s tax expenses, and prepare for upcoming years. 

Solopreneur Paycheck

Look at your total revenue. Did you pay yourself? Did your business pay you money? If so, move money from your business to your personal account. In the Profit First system, Owner’s Pay and Profit accounts are used to divvy up income and ensure that the owner is getting paid. This is called paying yourself first, an important practice for any business owner. Actually separating your income from the other categories, like savings for operating expenses and taxes, is key to a thriving business. 

Bringing It All Together

By analyzing your finances and gleaning all this information, you are ultimately able to tie loose ends and What Your Numbers Say About Your Business: At Peace With Moneycreate a financially streamlined business. Strategizing to prepare for surprise expenses and taxes, offer more of your most profitable products or services at the optimal time of year, and remembering to pay yourself all contribute to financial success. If you’re interested in doing this analysis work with some professional help, I’m happy to speak with you. Take a look at my service packages and schedule a curiosity call. If this has piqued your interest about Profit First, download the first 5 chapters for free here on my website! I do hope this post helps you find some financial insights into your own business!

Angela

Image Source:  Martin Sanchez

Artists Define Their Own Business Success

Artists Define Their Own Business Success: At Peace With Money

Have you ever noticed that a lot of business advice focuses on how to get wealthy, fast? It’s as if many people view business as a pathway to the motherlode, and little else. But not everyone wants to be the CEO of the next Fortune 500 company. And that’s ok! It just means we need to turn somewhere else for our business advice.

The conversation I had with Megan Auman a few weeks ago was all about another kind of business mindset – seeing your business as a way to sustain your artistic pursuits. Instead of the end goal being amassing the world’s wealth in your bank account, Megan talked about small business as a strategy for fueling an artist’s livelihood. Here are a couple of my favorite points she raised during our chat.

Find Advice that Speaks to Your Vision

So much business advice speaks to people who want to run a million dollar company. Megan indicated that the prevalence of this point of view in business circles could often be hurting artists or driving them away from business altogether. For this reason, it is so important that we start talking about different goals and models for business.

In my last post, I mentioned that artists often want to spend more time doing their creative work, and the best path towards making that time is to make more money! Even if artists don’t want to be a CEO at a computer all day, there is still an incentive to run a profitable business. The key is finding voices who understand and respect what artists need.

The Profit First model and Megan’s courses are two great resources for an alternative view of business. Rather than seeing business as a race to amass capital, both sources look at business as a way of meeting the owner’s needs and sustaining the work they enjoy doing.

Business Automation

While we were talking, Megan brought up the 4-Hour Work Week, the hugely popular book by Tim Ferriss. She mentioned how the book highly encourages business automation, so that business owners can spend more time lounging on the beach. Business automation can also be a great tool for artists and makers, according to Megan. However, instead of beach bumming, artists can use the time freed up by automation to spend more time working in the studio, doing the things they really love.

Artists Define their Own Success: At Peace With MoneyOverall, Megan stressed the importance of understanding what you really want from your business and your life, and structuring it to include more of what you want. Whether this is more time in the studio, more time with your family, or less time spent on certain tasks, automation helps creatives focus on the work they really want to be doing. I have written a little bit about how automation can also be great for your finances, have a look if you like!

I hope you enjoyed these nuggets of wisdom from our conversation. If you haven’t already, definitely check out the full interview posted on Facebook. Megan is a wonderful person with lots of good insights into creative business, which you can look into here. And of course, please don’t hesitate to schedule a call with me if you’d like to talk more about Profit First and setting up your business to meet your needs and desires.

Angela

Image Source: Joshua Coleman

Artistry and Solopreneurship Can Coexist

In our society, we often hear this myth of the “starving artist.” We see art and monetary success as polar opposites. I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Megan Auman, a jewelry designer and business coach. Her two livelihoods alone defy our myth about art vs. money, and Megan’s philosophy follows this same sentiment. While we were talking, she made a couple of points that really struck me that I wanted to share with you all.

Artists Need Money

One great point Megan raised, is that artists can often be found talking about how they just want more time to focus on their art. Pursuing the business aspects of an artistic career is often seen as not aligned with this goal. In reality, however, artists need money in order to support themselves and have time to do their creative work. Megan put it simply, saying “The more money you’re making, the less stressed you are, and the more energy you have to create more work.” Building up the practical side of your business so that it generates income can actually enable you to spend more time doing what you really love.

Creativity and Business Sense Can Coexist

You might have read the title of this post and scoffed. The idea that arts- and business-intelligences can’t coexist runs deep for us! However, Megan raised the point that good business people have many of the same skills as artists. Skilled business people are often creative, good at finding solutions, and able to think in nonlinear ways, just like artists. Business skills are a capacity that can be grown and nurtured. Even if you’re an artist at heart, through self-education and inquiry, you can develop your business skills. The two realms are interrelated and can easily combine to shape your livelihood.

I really enjoyed speaking with Megan because our goals are very similar; we both want creative solopreneurs to have profitable businesses that allow them to spend time doing what they most want to do. Whether it’s their creative work or other pursuits, all of those things take financial security. Business success is within reach, even, and especially if you run a creative business. I encourage you to watch the full interview here and check out Megan’s resources, Artists & Profit Makers, and Market Your Selfie, for more of her wisdom. Many of Megan’s ideas are well-aligned with Profit First concepts! If you want to talk finance, check in and schedule a call with me on my Services page. 

Angela

 

Image Sources: Rosie KerrS O C I A L . C U T