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So far Angela Keller has created 146 blog entries.

3 Tips to Financially Prepare Your Small Business for the Holidays

It’s important to be proactive when it comes to the holidays. They bring a host of financial challenges and opportunities for small businesses. Let’s talk about three ways you can prep your business for the holidays, so that you’re able to have a profitable and satisfying holiday season, without stressing out.

Reflect on This Time In Past Years

Look back to your records to see what happened in your business in past holiday seasons. Which events, specials or sales, and products were the most profitable? If something didn’t go the way you planned, how can you improve on what you did the last few years? This will give you good data to help you focus your offerings this season.

If your business is relatively new, you can simply reflect on the past year and what’s been most profitable for you. Chances are you know what your best-selling products or services are. How can you make sure you have the resources to sell a lot of them? What strategies do you want to use to promote that offering during the holiday season?

Having access to clear financial records is extremely helpful when you’re doing business planning like this.

Plan Sales and Specials

Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday are coming up soon, as well as a host of other times when businesses typically offer sales or specials with their products. Consider whether you’d like to participate in these dates, and how your business is best suited to do that. Perhaps you can focus on promoting packages to up the dollar amount spent by each customer, or offer a deal on your bestselling offering.

Alternatively, you may decide not to participate in these dates, or to do so in a different way. Some small business owners choose not to take part in these events, because it doesn’t feel right to them, or because they choose to celebrate Buy Nothing Day. Even some larger businesses opt out, or take a different path. Deciem, a large skincare brand, holds an annual sale for the entire month of November, to discourage “hyper-consumerism.”

The choice is ultimately yours. Whatever sales schedule you decide to follow, you will also want to take into account your production timeline. Right about now is when many product-based businesses start beefing up their inventories. Here’s an article I wrote for product-based businesses on how to financially survive this process.

If you’re a service-based business or selling digital products, there may still be some considerations for you around your schedule during the holidays. If you’re providing 1-to-1 services, for example, how will your availability change during the holiday season? How can you allocate your resources to ensure you’re able to deliver and make a profit?

Prep for Events

You’ve likely signed up for whatever craft shows, expos, or web events you’ll be participating in during the holidays (or maybe you haven’t yet and now is a good time to think about that!). Now is the time to think strategically about what you can do to get the most out of these events. I wrote an article on upping your profit during holiday events which you can read here.

If this post was helpful for you, you might like checking out my free eBook, The Cash Flow Reboot Guide. This 9-page resource can help you brainstorm to get prepped for a profitable holiday season. Download it for free here.

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Angela

Photo by Kira auf der Heide

How to Prepare Your Business for a Fulfilling Last Quarter

Preparing your business for the final quarter of the year is crucial to both business profits, and your own personal fulfillment. It’s easy to get caught in the holiday rush. Instead, set aside some time to be more intentional. Think about how you want the next three months to go.

Today, let’s talk about a couple different exercises you can use to reflect on your year so far and plan for the time ahead. If you’re feeling ready for a fully fleshed-out review process, you can also check out my article on doing a business check-in.

Reflect and Celebrate the Past 9 Months

Take some time to acknowledge how far you’ve come in the last nine months. If you set yearly goals, check in with the progress you’ve made. Then take a look at all the other things that came your way this year. Even the most focused of us get sidetracked by one thing or another. Running a small business involves a lot of surprises and opportunities. What did you do this year that was unexpected? What are you glad you had the chance to do or participate in? 

Take stock of all the progress and change from this year. If it doesn’t feel like much, compare where you are now to this time last year. Celebrate and congratulate yourself. If you have a profit account, distribute your profits and reward yourself

Review and Tweak Your Goals

Now, take another look at any goals you’ve set. Ask yourself a couple questions about them:

  • Do you need to tweak them or change them to make them more realistic?
  • Do they still resonate with you?
  • How can you reach out for support with meeting these goals? 

Factor in the holidays and make sure you’re giving yourself the time and space you need for other parts of your life as well. Any income goals you’re working toward should be based on your actual lifestyle needs, not just numbers that sound nice.

Backwards Timeline

Once you’ve got your goals in place, it’s time to make a plan to reach them over the next three months. One technique I love for charting a path toward goals is called backwards timelining. Essentially, this means is planning backwards from the point in time when you want to have achieved the goal. Make a plan for each goal, divide the plans up into baby steps, and map them out over time.

In this case, you would plan backwards from December. I highly recommend that you also plan to take some time off for the winter holidays, so factor that into your plan! If you don’t want to be working up until the 31st, start your timeline at Friday December 17th, or a similarly spacious date.

Along with considerations for what will likely be a busy holiday season in your already full life, it’s important to keep your time optimism in check. “Time optimism” refers to a person’s tendency to overestimate how quickly they’ll be able to get a specific task done. Especially if your plan to reach a goal requires doing tasks you’re less familiar with, it’s important to ward against time optimism. You’re likely unsure how long those unfamiliar tasks may take to complete. A simple technique to give yourself ample time to complete a task is to simply double the amount of time you think you’ll need.

If you enjoyed this resource on preparing your business for the last quarter of the year, you’ll probably also like reading The Cash Flow Reboot Guide, my free eBook on adapting your business to changing financial circumstances. It’s 9 pages and full of quick tips and ideas to help you plan out a stellar last quarter of 2021. Download it for free here.

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Angela

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez

Boost Your Happiness By Clarifying Your Lifestyle Costs

Your business exists to support you; to fulfill your needs. If you don’t have a clear picture of what those needs are, it can be difficult for your business to fill them.

That’s why it’s so important to have a clear idea of your lifestyle costs. This gives you a foundation for your income goals. Here, you can clearly see the relationship between your personal and business finances. Below, let’s talk about a couple reasons why getting clear on your lifestyle costs is key.

Set Clear Goals

When you are clear on your lifestyle costs, you’re able to set income goals in your business that reflect how much money you actually need to live a satisfying life. You can make decisions about how much of your lifestyle costs you want/need your business to cover. As your business grows to support you, you gain a sense of fulfillment from running your business, and living an abundant life.

“Fulfillment” is a great destination – figuring out what income number feels like enough to take you there is the important part. Your income goals provide you with a roadmap for your business, so making sure they’re based on covering your needs and wants is paramount.

Create a Solopreneur Paycheck

Your solopreneur paycheck, or owner’s pay, is the result of a finely-tuned money system that connects your business and personal finances. You can create a regular monthly paycheck for yourself, even if you don’t have a regular income. This can be especially helpful for people who go through feast-or-famine cycles in their finances, like performers or realtors.

Money-mapping is a great visualization tool that can help you build a solopreneur paycheck. Understanding your lifestyle costs and how much you want your business to support you will help you start to fill in the blanks.

How Do I Figure Out My Lifestyle Costs?

Ok, you’re sold. You’re ready to figure out how much your lifestyle costs, so you can start incorporating this figure into your business goals. So, how do you figure them out?

I have a couple resources for you! First off, the process of doing this is outlined in How to Tailor Your Income Goals to Your Lifestyle. This process mostly discusses things from a manual, paper-tracking point of view, but I also recommend using money-tracking software if you’re looking for a digital solution. Lastly, if you’re more of an audio/visual learner, you might like to hear what I had to say about how to define your lifestyle costs in last week’s episode of Financial Self Care Friday.

If you enjoyed reading this, you’d probably enjoy my free eBook, 9 Secrets to Financial Self Care. This 12-page e-Book will give you nine different steps to take towards creating a solid financial self care routine.

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Angela

Image: Eye for Ebony 

Use Clear Record-Keeping To Amplify Your Business Profits: Here’s How

You’ve probably heard the saying, “Where attention goes, energy flows.” This quote, which I first heard from Michael Bernard Beckwith, perfectly describes the relationship between you and your finances. The more you pay attention to them, the more you will see growth and change. I’ve seen this happen with clients over and over.

This is especially the case with record-keeping. Regularly tending to an organized bookkeeping system for your business will have a positive impact on your bottom line. This is something you see the best results with if you stick with it long-term. It requires effort on the front end to set up a system that works for you. And, it’s absolutely worth it. Let’s talk about the how and the why of clear record-keeping.

How Do I Keep Clear Records?

First, separate your business finances from your personal finances. There are many excellent reasons to do this, and two different methods that I recommend to clients based on the size of their business. You can read all about that here.

Next, set up a system. You might think this just means finding some record-keeping software, but we’ll get to that in a minute. Your software is just one part of your larger money system. What you want to do at this stage is set up a money map to help you visualize where money goes in your business. You can read my full series on money mapping here.

Once you’ve visualized and established an overall flow of money in your business, get into the nitty gritty and set up your software. My top two recommendations for business tracking are MoneyGrit and Quickbooks. I wrote a longer post comparing softwares that you can read here to get more info about both.

Finally, I highly recommend consulting with a professional to review your system and make sure everything is set up properly. Reviewing your books with a bookkeeper a few times a year can also be beneficial. You can read my article on working with a bookkeeper to learn more.

Now that we’re clear on the how, let’s talk about why prioritizing clear record-keeping can benefit your business.

Analyze Your Data

Your financial record-keeping is a data source in your business. By having clear records, you can start to trace the revenue trends in your business. You can use this data to analyze what offerings are the most profitable, and what expenses bring you the best returns. If you want to know more about this, read my article on how to focus your offerings to create more revenue.

Reduce Stress at Tax Time

Besides offering you key insights that can help you create a more profitable business, clear record-keeping also makes all your necessary tax-time info readily available. This can be a time- and money-saver, because you don’t have to hire someone else to untangle your mess at the last minute. Besides those obvious savings, the value of reducing your stress is also not to be underestimated!

If you appreciated learning about clear-record keeping and want to take the next step in setting up your system, you might consider working with me to do a Quickbooks training. I love working with solopreneurs to make sure they are set up for success. Schedule a free Financial Self Care Consultation here!

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Angela

Avoid This Impostor Syndrome Pitfall By Connecting With Your Values

One major impostor-syndrome-induced pitfall I see people struggle with is this: overcompensation. Perhaps they’re not getting enough paying clients, or not keeping track of their finances. Or they’re missing some other metric in their business that makes them feel like they’re “getting somewhere.”

Whatever the reason, people in this type of situation can sometimes fall into a pattern of overcompensating. This can become a financial or non-financial issue. For example, many people in this situation may feel their circumstances are due to the fact that they need to learn more. Other people can struggle with feeling like they need to “spend money to make money” and get preoccupied with gear, expensive software, etc.

Especially because you’re the one calling the shots in your business, making these decisions all comes down to you. That’s why it’s important to work through emotional mirages like impostor syndrome before making a financial or business decision. Let’s dive into both of these examples, and then talk about banishing impostor syndrome by connecting with your values:

“I Don’t Know Enough”

People with this story can get caught up on an information hamster wheel. This is especially easy to do with the whole Internet at our fingertips! People might feel that their business isn’t succeeding because they’re missing something, or don’t have the right training, etc. As a result, they sign up for courses, trainings, and coaching engagements. Or perhaps they spend a lot of time listening to podcasts and working through free opt-ins. Whether this version of impostor syndrome results in financial investments or not, it can also make running your business feel murky and difficult.

Exercise: Show yourself what you do know. If there’s a particular subject or specialty that you’ve been researching or wanting to get training in, spend some time writing down everything you already do know it. Just taking a breather and doing this for 5 minutes can remind you of all the knowledge you already hold!

“I Need to Spend Money to Make Money”

This is one of those longstanding business myths that many people can get convinced of unknowingly. I wrote about how people just starting businesses can avoid this pitfall here. What’s important is to keep in mind how you want to do things, rather than looking at how other business owners do them. If we play the comparison game we ultimately end up losing. Social media and comparing yourself to other more established businesses can intensify this feeling.

Exercise: Take stock of what you have. What software systems, supplies, gear, business accessories, etc. do you have that you love working with? Celebrate those and be thankful for them, just for a few minutes.

The Answer? Connect With Your Values

Just to be clear, there isn’t really a one-size-fits-all solution to impostor syndrome. But connecting with your values by tapping into what feels authentically joyful for you is a great step forward. You don’t have to be the industry expert or have all the bells and whistles to run an awesome business! You just have to do things in the way that feels right for you. So take some time to consider what that actually looks like!

It might be the case that you really do value education or having the latest tech for your business. Just make sure you tease those values apart from the feelings of urgency and “less-than” that come with impostor syndrome. Let yourself come to conclusions about what you want on your own, without outside influence, as much as possible.

If you enjoyed this post, you’ll probably like reading through my free e-Book, Three Essential Steps to Starting a Business, particularly the section on having a purpose and a plan for your money. Download it here!

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Angela

Photo by Magnet.me on Unsplash

Book Review: 55, Underemployed, and Faking Normal by Elizabeth White

Elizabeth White might know impostor syndrome better than many of us. In her book, 55, Underemployed, and Faking Normal, she discusses the financial insecurity that has become a reality for many older people, women, and marginalized groups in the workforce. This book is emotionally uplifting and full of resources. Here are a couple of my favorite points from the book:

Unshaming Underemployment

What’s so interesting about this book is the way it’s starting a conversation  that seems to be sorely needed. Case in point: Elizabeth White originally began this book project after first penning an essay on the same topic online. It got a huge response, because so many people are in a situation where they are experiencing the same level of financial insecurity and ageism.

Not only does this book bring this topic out into the light, but the author also does a wonderful job of absolving older and vulnerable people of the shame they may be feeling around their finances. She discusses many different contributing factors, including our changing retirement system, healthcare system, ageism in the workplace, women and minorities earning less, and women living longer. She points out skillfully that these are not things individuals can control. 

Seeking Support

Along with this robust discussion of societal factors, the author also brings in a guide to creating support groups. She terms these “Resilience Groups.” She describes these groups as small groups of people coming together to discuss their financial circumstances openly with one another. They can be a hub for information- and resource-sharing, and group problem-solving.

If you’ve read my blog for awhile, you’ll know that having open and honest conversations about money with other people in your life is something I advocate for consistently. Creating space in multiple relationships in your life to talk about money is very important. It’s one of the best ways to release the shame of whatever financial situation you may be dealing with. As Elizabeth White points out, it’s also a great way to access resources and new perspectives on your situation. For more reading on these ideas, check out my articles on money buddies, building a money team, and finding a mentor.

Busting Through Denial

“The cavalry is not coming.” The author is adamant that one important facet of managing financial insecurity and instability is accepting your circumstances. She discusses the importance of letting go of magical thinking, and introduces the concept of “smalling up.” This concept encourages us to think about what we really need to be content, and prioritize that. Going beyond a call for us to live within our means, she asks us to think about what it would mean to “live a life not defined by things.”

This point resonate deeply for me, as something I often work on with my clients is helping them uncover their values and shape their finances to better reflect what’s important to them.

You can learn more about this book on Elizabeth’s website. The book is both an important wakeup call and a helpful resource. I highly recommend reading it! I hope you enjoyed this review. If you’d like to get connected with more of my content, sign up for my newsletter! Blog posts are delivered to your inbox every week, along with a monthly tailored note to you from yours truly.

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Angela

Image: Elizabeth White

Why Financial Education is One of the Best Investments

When we evaluate whether an investment is worth making, one of the most important considerations is what type of return it offers. Financial education boasts an excellent return. This is true in the context of your business and your personal finances. Below, I go on to list the top three benefits of investing in financial education of any kind!

Increasing Your Longterm Wealth

When we hear the phrase “return on investment”, this is the first thing most of us probably think of. Financial education does indeed have a great financial return, especially in the longterm. No matter what type of financial education you pursue, if you implement what you learn, you will increase your longterm wealth. The knowledge you apply to your financial life will change and improve how you handle money. You may find yourself more capable of making decisions around saving, spending, and investing. Over time this can have compounding positive effects.

This is true both in the case of business and personal finances, by the way! Even just the way that financial education can make you more aware of your money tends to have positive effects on both areas. When you pay more attention to your money, it’s more likely to flourish.

Acquiring Relevant Skills

The skills you learn when you invest in financial education will always be relevant to your life. As far as I know, most of us need to manage our money throughout the course of our lives. If you are a business owner, the money skills you acquire will be helpful not only to your business, but may also be helpful to your business peers and any people you want to hire or mentor in the future. Money skills really do keep on giving!

A Sense of Peace with Money

In my opinion, this one may be the best of all the benefits. The peace of mind and clarity that come along with getting the financial skills you need to manage your money well are absolutely amazing. I’ve witnessed many clients experience a great reduction in their stress levels after a few sessions together. Money is one of the leading causes of stress in the U.S. Especially for those managing debt, gaining the financial skills to recover and surmount it can be deeply emotionally healing.

Where Can I Get Financial Education?

In this article, the term “financial education” refers to any resource that helps you better understand your finances. Whether this is a podcast, a YouTube channel, a workshop or class series, or working with a coach or bookkeeper, anything you find helpful in this arena counts!

If you’d like some ideas about finding financial education resources that meet your personal needs, I have a couple articles on finding the best financial education resources for you. This article discusses why it’s important to find resources that cater to your personal vision of what wealth and success look like, while this article breaks down a couple red and green flags when it comes to evaluating a financial education resource. You can also take a look at some of my favorite financial education resources.

If you want to take a look at more of my content for some financial education resources, check out my library of free e-books (scroll down on the page) and my episodes of Financial Self Care Friday! You can also check out my services and book a free Financial Self Care Consultation!

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Angela

Image: Keren Levand

Want to Grow Your Business? Check Your Impostor Syndrome First

Financial anxieties hold us back in many ways. Oversaving can prevent us from living our lives fully and meeting our needs. Similarly, impostor syndrome often holds us back from investing in our businesses and developing our experience as business owners.

“What if I’m not _____ enough?”

Out of all the questions impostor syndrome brings out of the shadows, this one is probably at the root of all of them. You might find yourself stalling on getting further education because you don’t feel ready. Perhaps you’re refusing to take the leap and hire an employee or purchase some equipment because you feel like you “can get along well enough without it.”

While this may be true, when we don’t take these steps because we’re internally blocking our own growth, this can have longterm effects on our wellbeing and satisfaction in life. In some cases, doing any of these can make a huge difference to you and your business. Are there places in your business where you’ve been wanting to grow but are holding yourself back mainly because of fear? Are you afraid of success or growth? Take some time to sit with these questions and separate what you truly want but are keeping out of your life based on fear from what actually doesn’t sound fulfilling to you.

Look at Your Numbers

Sometimes having unclear finances can fan the flames of your impostor syndrome. That means the first step is to get clear on where you stand financially, in your business and your personal life. I have a lot of resources for getting started on this process on my blog, but you might like to start with my e-Book, 9 Secrets to Financial Self Care.

Once you’ve got the big picture cleared up, refer to this post from last week, “How Much Should You Invest in Your Business?” which can help you think through how much money is reasonable to spend here. Rather than relying on your feelings about money and your business, let the numbers do the talking. Seeing how much money you actually have available to spend is much more reliable for decision making than listening to your impostor syndrome.

Prioritize Your Why

Above all else, when faced with a decision around your business, refer back to your money why and your core values. Ask yourself, “Will making this choice bring in more of what I want?” If it’s a yes, even though it might bring up anxieties, you know the way to move forward.

Happy investing! If you’d like to work through this process with an expert guide, check out my services and set up a Financial Self Care Consultation! I’d love to see if we can work together to help you bust through emotional and financial blocks.

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Angela

How Much Should You Invest in Your Business?

When you’re feeling ready to invest in yourself or your business, the next decision to make is, “How much do I spend?” This is different for everyone, but the key is to think about how the investment will pay off. How soon can you expect a return on purchasing equipment, or more education?

Below, I have mapped out some questions for you to think through when getting ready to make an investment in a couple different categories. Having clear answers to these questions can help you make a decision on what amount will be a sound investment for your future and the future of your business.

  • Buying equipment or supplies – With this one, ask yourself, how much extra are you going to make or save by buying that piece of equipment? Or, are there other ways this equipment or supplies will reduce costs or increase profits? Really sit down and do the math – quantify what your situation is now without the thing you want to purchase, and estimate what things would be like once you’ve made the investment. 

 

  • Hiring  an employee – Whether you’re considering hiring a VA or another type of employee, figure out how much of your time a task you’re going to turn over to them is absorbing for you. Try calculating your hourly wage, and considering what other things you could be doing with that time that may bring your business more profit. Weigh this against what it will cost to hire them, get them trained, get them on payroll and provide them their legal benefits. Plus include the cost of bonuses or whatever else you might want to factor in so you can be a kind and generous employer. 

  • Coaching or further education – This may be the least cut-and-dry category when it comes to calculating possible payoff. However, as someone who has personally benefitted tremendously from investing in business coaching and further education from people like Karen McCall and Kadijdja Yansane, I highly recommend making this type of investment after careful consideration. Vet the training or coaching out. What kind of results have people who’ve gone through the program achieved? Also, check in with yourself about what your goals are for this new education or coaching engagement.  Working through mindset blocks or knowledge gaps can be huge for your business. This can enable you to grow quickly and make the moves you want to make. However, make sure you have some clear goals you can name, and that you aren’t attracted to these programs purely because of impostor syndrome.

I hope these questions help you think through your potential investment. If you would like some assistance, I’m happy to join you for a free Financial Self Care Consultation, where we can discuss what you’re seeking and find out if working together might be a good fit.

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Angela

Image:  Iris Wang

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