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

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

Check In With Your Goals – Time for a Review

Check In With Your Goals: At Peace With Money

Time to review your goals.  Only four months left in 2018, can you believe it? It’s certainly flown by for me, which is why this week I want us to take some time to reflect on our goals. Many of us set goals at the beginning of each year.  You may have set some goals for your business that you have since been working towards. It’s been a while since January, so now’s the time to check in!

The Review

Review your goals and begin to reflect on your progress for each one. Now, here’s the tricky part: don’t get caught up in what you still need to do. Instead, it’s important to spend a good chunk of time reviewing what you’ve already done to reach your goals. If you feel like you can’t remember everything, try going back month by month. If you use a day planner, flip through it and scan your old to-do lists. 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 reflect on the work you’ve done, and congratulate yourself on this work. 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.

While you’re having this victory party for yourself, now may also be a good time to map out what you hope to get done during these last three months of 2018. By reflecting on what you’ve done up to this point first, you are able to clearly see the pace you work at. With this in mind, you can set realistic expectations for the next three months, rather than trying to cram in too much work.

My Check-In

You may remember that I set a goal earlier this year to be mindful by enjoying what’s right in front of me. I want to share a little check-in of my own on this goal. That way, you can see how it’s going and be inspired to reflect on your own goals.

I’ve been doing a couple things throughout this year to stick with this goal. Every weekday, for 10-15 minutes each morning, I’ve been writing in my little gratitude journal. During my morning walk, when I reach the top of our road, I cross the street to take in the view of the Monterey Bay for a few minutes. In this way I’ve been able to appreciate the place I live more fully. I also notice changes in the season and the forest, and even the subtleties of the fog cover.

Check In With Your Goals: At Peace With MoneyI’ve also been trying to practice a technique for grounding my memories. The way this works is, when having a good experience, you try to capture the memory by taking in all the sensory details. Notice how your surroundings smell, feel, sound, and taste. Paying attention to these details has helped me appreciate them more. I learned this technique from Lucky Bitch by Denise Duffield-Thomas. It’s a great read, and I hope to do a book review on it soon!

For more resources on reviewing your goals, I recommend this video series by Muchelle B. on Youtube. I hope this post inspires you to check in with your goals, celebrate your hard work, and be mindful of your capacity as you finish out the year. Remember to enjoy your business, and your life! If you find you need some help setting goals, especially for your business, check out my services page or set up a discovery call with me!

Angela

Image Sources: Brooke LarkAmy Shamblen

What’s Your Money Why?

Your money “why” is like your business’s compass, because it’s hard to get where you’re going if you don’t know exactly where you’re going or why you’re going there! Everyone talks about finding your “why” – your motivation or purpose – in business. Doing so is absolutely important, but today I want to talk about your money “why” because I think that is equally important to the direction of your business. Knowing exactly what your goals are for the money your business generates will  guide you in your financial decision making process and ultimately to the realization of said goals.  

My Money Why

When I started my first business, I wanted to make some “extra money.” The problem was, I really wasn’t clear on what that money was for. Without direction that extra money seemed to  simply come and go.  When I started my bookkeeping business, I had a specific goal for the money I was making: I was paying college tuition for our oldest daughter. She has since graduated and I am now in the process of putting our second daughter through college (three years to go!). After my goal for my money is to supplement our retirement, so that my husband can leave his demanding career. Because I know specifically what these things cost, I have an exact number to set as my revenue goal.

Know Your Money Why: At Peace With Money

Whether you have started your business to fully support yourself or your household, or you’re doing a side hustle to pay for “extras,” if you know your money goals and can get some exact numbers you need to meet in order to reach these goals, you will be so much more clear on how to get there. This added clarity will simplify your decisions, and make your objective more clear. You will also be more likely to make better decisions to maintain your business’s profitability. They always say, “keep your eye on the prize.” Doing so is a lot easier when you know what the prize is!

So, ask yourself a few questions: Why did you go into business? What are some life goals you have that cost money? What are some specific financial goals you need or want to meet with your income? Come up with specific numbers and stay focused on those – now you know your money why! If you need some assistance getting to the bottom of your money why, perhaps you’d like to check out my Business Beginnings or Turning Points packages. 

Angela

Image Sources: James ChouCasey Horner

What is the Feminine Economy?

What Is the Feminine Economy? At Peace With MoneyAs someone who’s been involved with finance throughout my career, I love hearing about and researching new financial ideas. When I came across Proposals for the Feminine Economy, a talk given by Jennifer Armbrust, it piqued my interest. Immediately, I began to see the parallels between Jennifer’s ideas and Profit First ideology. Today, I want to share these parallels and discuss how we can apply these ideas to our business as solopreneurs!

Money as Water, Business as Art

Jennifer speaks about thinking of money as water, flowing where it is needed. She maintains that a business is a “needs-fulfillment machine.” To me, this aligns directly with the Profit First philosophy of creating a business that meets the owner’s financial needs. My objective is always to help my clients align their business profits with their life goals. This includes making sure their business is supporting them financially and meeting their needs!

She also suggests that we treat business as art, as a process of experimentation. She encourages everyone to monetize their natural skills and abilities and build business structures that allow for growth. Her emphasis clearly lies on building business and a larger economy that meet the needs of the people running them. In her book, room for growth and meeting personal goals are also needs that a business can serve to meet.

How Can We Use This?

First, if you haven’t viewed the talk yet, I suggest watching it! Jennifer’s solopreneur story is one full of creativity and inspiration.

Next, take some time to think over these ideas and apply them to your business. Perhaps it might be helpful to list out all your needs. Think about things like time spent with your family and doing social activities, your involvement in your community, the amount of money and time you’re able to give to causes you care about, your diet, health and exercise, time for creativity and expression, yoWhat is the Feminine Economy? At Peace With Moneyur spiritual needs, etc.Which of these needs is your business meeting?  Which ones are not being met, and how could you adapt your business to better serve you in that area? What are your goals? Is your business helping you meet those? Answering these questions can help you discover whether your business is truly supporting you in all the ways it could. Approaching your business with a creative eye can help you create something more supportive. That’s Profit First in action!

I hope these ideas have piqued your interest just as they did mine!

Angela

Image Sources:  Omar Lopez , Hian Oliveira

Why Every Solopreneur Needs a Mentor

Why Every Solopreneur Needs a MentorAs a solopreneur, you have a huge amount of control over your business. You get to make all the decisions, whether they’re creative decisions, financial decisions, or simply what kind of stamps to get at the post office. But what do you do when you need to bounce ideas off someone? Who do you turn to when you could benefit from another’s wisdom? The solopreneur’s work life can easily become isolated. That’s why it’s important to reach out to others and find a mentor! Someone who can help you solve problems, make decisions, and refine your ideas can be immensely helpful to your business, especially if that person is experienced and knowledgeable.

My Mentorship Experiences

In the early years of my career, when I was living the corporate life, it was easy to have a mentor because there were so many people around and available. My coworkers and supervisors were available for me to “talk shop” with whenever I pleased. Their influence and advice proved invaluable for me in that stage of my career.

When I started my jewelry business, I found I no longer had access to that same store of wisdom and encouragement. As a result, I often made the mistake of often trying to figure everything out on my own. Because I knew I still had a lot to learn as a business owner, I turned to online courses. I took a course from both Tara Gentile about building my own website, and  a course Megan Auman, who really helped me learn more about running my own creative business. (I would highly recommend both for solopreneurs looking for a good course!) I also participated in Etsy’s Bootcamp program. As far as I can tell, they no longer host that program for sellers, but it was a step-by-step program that connected Etsy sellers and helped them prep for the holiday season. Through this experience, I found another Etsy seller who became my accountability partner and helped me work through the trials of running my own business. 

These mentorship relationships were an integral part of both my corporate career and my solopreneur life. They provided me with fresh ideas, advice, and sometimes simply the support I needed to get things done!

What’s a Mentor For?

If I learned anything the hard way from my early days as a solopreneur, it’s this: don’t try to do everything yourself. There is so much I wish I had known (particularly financial stuff!) when I started my own business, and so many ways I could have benefited from the problem-solving power of two brains rather than one. I encourage you to reach out to potential mentors, particularly if  you have specific questions or don’t have expertise in some area.

Where Can I Get One?

Where you look for your mentor depends on what kind of help you need. If you’re looking for general industry advice and people to bounce ideas off of, you could turn to your business-savvy friends or perhaps befriend some people working in the same industry. When I owned my jewelry business, networking with other creative business owners was always helpful for me.

Why Every Solopreneur Needs a MentorIf you’re looking for expertise or need answers to big questions, taking an online course or seeking out a coach or specialist might be your best bet. I know I definitely would have benefited from speaking with a Profit First Professional when I first started out! If you’re looking for help in the financial department, you know where to find me. You can read more about my services and schedule a curiosity call if you’re interested!

Happy mentor-hunting! May you find the advice and energy you need.

Angela

Image Sources: My Life Through a Lens, Brooke Lark

Why Selling More Doesn’t Mean Making More

I assume that when you started your business, you wanted to put money in your pocket. Whether your goal for that money is to use it to fully support yourself or your family, or to fund a particular life goal, your business is meant to supply you with money.  As such, making money by selling product is often the business owner’s most common focus. Enter, the hustle timeline.

The Hustle Timeline

When we first start a business we have to get out there and hustle to sell something; to get things moving. Eventually we start rolling. But at some point we want to make more money, and we believe that growing our business is the way to make more profit.

So, we hustle some more. We do more gigs, we move more product, we sign on more clients. There is more money coming in, but there still doesn’t seem to be enough. Then we set our sights on a particular goal, the gig, the number, the client that’s big enough to put us over the edge so we can put more in our pocket. But it never really happens. Here we find ourselves trapped in the timeline; always hustling, and never quite reaching our goals.

The Answer

There are only two ways to put more money in your pocket: increase margins or decrease expenses. If we are using the same labor, materials or processes as we increase sales we are increasing our output, but not gaining anything. Perhaps we may have even added to our spending to buy that new printer or new app to handle the increase in sales volume. If we haven’t examined our spending, we aren’t gaining anything. Taking a good look at our margins and our business expenses is an important step to upping the profits of our business. 

Why Selling More Doesn't Mean Making More: At Peace With Money

To examine your expenses and profit margins, ask yourself these questions. Is your product or service priced appropriately, or are you undervaluing it? Comparing your prices industry standards can help you suss out an answer. So can calculating in materials, labor, and other costs. If you’re unsure how to price your product or service, do some research to get other opinions and methods!

Are you delivering your product or service in an efficient manner, or are there places you could cut time and expenses? Look at your processes, and be discerning. Have you reviewed your business expenses lately to see if it’s really all necessary?

Ask yourself these questions and review the inner workings of your business. This is where your profit is hiding. Let’s get it into your pocket.

Angela

Image Sources:  Roman Kraft ,  Nik MacMillan

Book Review: Steal Like an Artist

Steal Like an Artist Book Review: At Peace With MoneyThere are so many good books out there that could benefit solopreneurs and people looking to educate themselves about personal finance. I’m an avid reader myself, and lately I’ve been devouring books on the subjects of small business, finance, and retirement. I thought it may be useful to you all to hear about my reading discoveries, so I’m sharing a book review of one of my most recent reads, Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon. 

The Read

This is an easy read. It gets straight to the point while offering up entertaining anecdotes and doodles. It starts off with the premise that creativity is something everyone has, and that the advice contained in the books can be applied to a number of professions. Personally, I believe this is great reading material for any business owner, not just creative types. After reading, I found myself thinking creatively about my own business. 

Just Start

Kleon’s points are inspiring and motivating. One of my favorites: don’t wait until you know everything, just get started. This advice applies to business so well, and is something I’ve touched on in my writing about starting a business. Feeling the need to have everything planned or figured out can often stop solopreneurs in their tracks. Kleon encourages readers to not let this stop you, and to take up a mindset of learning as you go.

Digital Vs. Analog

Kleon also writes about how he divides his desk into digital and analog tasks and materials. He goes back and forth between the two modes very intentionally. Even if you aren’t an artist working with your hands, it is important to get away from your computer. Our brains respond differently to physical and embodied tasks. If you give your brain and body different surroundings, it is likely you will free up new ideas and insights. My favorite way to get the creative juices flowing is to take a walk through the woods with my dogevery morning. On the walk, I notice if I am not listening to podcasts or messing with my phone, I tend to come up with a lot of ideas at this time. Getting away from digital distractors is an equally important piece of the creative process.

I hope some of you are inspired to give this book a read. I definitely found it inspiring and encouraging for my own inner solopreneur!

Angela

Image Source: Austin Kleon

How To Pay Yourself First

How To Pay Yourself First: At Peace With MoneyI use the hashtag #PayYourselfFirst all the time, but what does it really mean to pay yourself first? It’s a core aspect of Profit First philosophy. It’s also an important part of how I organize my own personal finances. I want to make sure all my readers know how to pay themselves first, in their business and personal finances, so let’s dive in.

Keep What You Earn

“Paying yourself first” is about having a system in place to make sure that you get to keep a portion of your earnings. In my last post on automation, I talked about David Bach’s book, The Automatic Millionaire. Bach includes the concept of paying yourself first in this book and applies it to personal finances. He suggests setting aside savings right off the top of every paycheck, even before breaking it down for living expenses. Users of this system do quite literally pay themselves first! In his system, the money goes to retirement savings accounts, but the system can be adjusted in both business and personal finances to fit your own needs.  Taking a cut for yourself from each paycheck is and important but easily forgotten practice.

Beyond Corporate

So, how does this apply to solopreneurs? If you’re working outside the corporate world, you’re probably working without health and retirement benefits. This is all the more reason to set up a system to take care of these needs. Setting aside money to address health and retirement costs is important for many people, but especially so if your main source of funding for both is your own business. 

How to Pay Yourself First: At Peace With Money

I always say I want to help my clients work with the Profit First system to align their business profits with their life goals, and I assume one of those goals is to support yourself in your health and retirement! Every financial aspect of your business can be set up with this in mind. Your products should be priced appropriately so that you earn something for yourself, rather than just simply covering costs. A part of that money should be invested into your future and your healthcare fund. This is the Profit First system at its core. This is what I want to help solopreneurs work towards with their businesses.

Take a look at your personal and business money systems and ask yourself, do you pay yourself first? Are you setting aside money to support and reward yourself? If you’re interested in more on this topic, I highly suggest downloading the first 5 chapters of the Profit First book through my website.

 

Angela

Image Sources:  Alisa Anton, zixuan Fu