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So far Angela Keller has created 106 blog entries.

How to Set Business Goals to Finish 2020 Strong

Here we are – the last quarter of the year! 2020 has been strange and challenging for many of us, but it is definitely not cancelled. Many small business owners have been hit hard financially this year. That means the need to pay attention to business finances is greater than ever. Below, I have some ideas for goals to set to finish out the year strong.

What Do You Need to Succeed?

When setting any goals for your business, it’s important to consider what you need to succeed. If you’re at a point where you’re unsure about that, I suggest doing a business check-in first. If you feel like you’ve got a good picture of your business’s current strengths and needs, you can go ahead with the goal-setting.

When setting a goal concerning your business financials, here are a couple tips. First, set one goal, not a dozen. This will make it easier to manage and complete the goal. Second, identify the thing to do in your business finances that would make everything else easier or irrelevant. This advice is from the book, The One Thing – you can read my book review here. In a small business context, this could look like setting up a money system, finding a good bookkeeper to work with on a regular basis, or building a money team. We’ll talk more about potential goals below, but the important thing is to set your sights on the thing that would make the biggest difference to your business.

Create Good Habits

One potentially life-changing goal you could set for your business in 2020 is to finish out the year with good money habits. When I say “money habits,” I mean checking in with your business finances on a weekly basis. The more aware you are of where you stand financially, the better. I’ve written about the stressful weight that feeling vague about numbers can create for business owners. If you look at your records every week, this won’t be an issue for you! In fact, you’ll be better able to make financial decisions in your business, because you’ll be more aware of the information you need. If you need more ideas about what to look for during your weekly check-in, read my articles on knowing what your numbers are telling you and creating more revenue.

Make a Plan

If your business is feeling the effects of the pandemic, perhaps your goal to finish out the year can be to create a financial resilience plan. The most important thing to do when creating a resilience plan is to first take stock of where you are. I recommend reading my article on finding financial clarity if you want some guidance here. Perhaps your resilience plan will include seeking small-business relief opportunities, or adapting your offerings to our continually changing conditions. For ideas on what to include in your plan, I’d recommend checking out the SBA’s resources on preparing your business for emergencies, and my free guide, Cash Flow Flow Reboot Guide: A Guide to Thriving in Uncertain Times.

Stay On Top of Your Books

If you received money from Paycheck Protection Program or other forms of small business support, it’s very important to stay on top of your record keeping this year. Especially if you’re applying for loan forgiveness, it’s important to keep your financials tidy. The SBA has specific stipulations about what they money can be spent on in order to qualify for forgiveness. Keeping your books in order will help you stay on top of where that money goes so you can qualify. I recommend consulting with a bookkeeper for assistance.

I hope these ideas have given you some thoughts on what the best goal to finish 2020 strong is for you and your business. In my private work with clients, we do a lot to make sure they meet their goals. If this sounds like it might be helpful for you, reach out and schedule a free discovery call.

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Angela

How To Plan for Surprise Expenses

Did you have a nasty surprise yesterday with the estimated federal tax payments deadline? Or perhaps in your business you deal with other surprise expenses – things that add up. Worker’s compensation, insurance payments, replacing equipment, etc. can surprise business owners and knock you out of a financial groove very easily. Whether these things are a big issue in your business or not, I’m a huge proponent of planning to address them, just in case. How do we do that? Well, let’s talk ideas: 

Have an Emergency Fund

Having an emergency fund saved for your business can be extremely helpful. Whether a surprise expense comes up, or some other disaster strikes, having between three and twelve month’s worth of expenses set aside is great in a pinch. This strategy can be particularly helpful in emergency situations, but for taxes and other types of expenses that are somewhat predictable, try some of the other strategies below.

Set Up a Money System

If you’re a regular reader, you know how much I love money-mapping. Setting up any kind of money system can help you think more broadly about how much you need to put aside for operating expenses and taxes, well before it’s time to actually pay for those things. Checking out my articles on money-mapping is a good intro to money systems if that’s what you need to get started. If you’re a seasoned veteran with money systems, or have at least tried them before, maybe it’s time to do a business check-in and see where your business is at financially. Assess the situation and make a resiliency plan.

Check In With Your Finances Regularly

Ideally, you have a bookkeeping pro doing this, someone who can regularly look at your numbers and pull out important insights. Or, if you’re doing it on your own, you have someone that you consult with on a semi-regular basis to review your books. Even when you’re not working with a professional, regularly looking at your finances is the way to go if you want to be prepared for surprise expenses. The more aware you are of where your business is financially, the more prepared you will be to deal with an issue when one comes up. I recommend finding a way to make regular intentional time looking at your finances fun, like finding a money buddy or setting money dates.

Note Potential Future Expenses

Take time to think about what potential expenses may arise in the future. Perhaps you use a lot of special equipment in your business, and some of it is getting into disrepair. Maybe you simply have a hard time remembering when insurance or tax payments are due. Take note of all of these things and factor them into your money system or savings plan. Write important due dates on the calendar well ahead of time so you’re aware of them. Have an equipment replacement fund set aside for when your laptop or pottery wheel or farm vehicle finally busts or needs repair. The more you can anticipate these things and incorporate some wiggle room into your money system, the less you’ll be knocked sideways financially when they do come up.

I hope this list has given you some good ideas for dealing with surprise expenses. If you need more ideas about developing financial resilience in your business, check out my free e-book, Cash Flow Reboot Guide: A Guide to Thriving in Uncertain Times.

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Angela

My Current Financial Goals!

So frequently, I talk about goals and planning and money systems here. But rarely do I share with you what’s going on behind the scenes for me. Today I want to give you all a look into my financial goals, and how systems work in my business.

System at Work

In my own business, I use a money mapping system that helps me allocate funds from my business for different purposes. If you haven’t read my full series on money mapping, I recommend doing so by clicking on the links above. My money mapping system helps me to allocate a portion of the income I make for saving up for my financial goals. I have a habit of over-saving, so it’s important for me to have a system in place that helps me navigate how much to spend and how much to save. If this sounds familiar to you too, check out my article on over-saving, and how overcoming it can help you! Making this discovery has definitely been helpful for me.

Goals: Big and Small

The goals that I’m currently leveraging my money system to save up for range from small things to big life events. Last November, I bought a 2016 Rav-4, so one of the goals I’m working on is paying off my car loan. I am also saving up to do a motorcycle tour of New Zealand! Originally I had a target date for this goal, but now things depend on when COVID-19 is no longer an issue, so things are a bit more flexible. You can read more about my motorcycling journey (and how being a small business owner helped me with that!) here. My last goal has less to do with saving and more with just practicing good financial hygiene. My husband is hoping to retire soon, so we’re keeping an eye on our spending to make sure we can live within our means when that happens!

Hopefully this post has given you a flavor for my goals, and helped you think about what yours might be too! For more help here, check out my article “Know Your Money Why.”

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Angela

 

How Starting My Business Helped Me Live My Motorcycle Dreams

Earlier this month, I completed my fifth annual 1,400-mile cross-country motorcycle road trip. This is my third year riding my own bike, and my third year riding on my dream motorcycle, a red Indian.

I haven’t always been a motorcyclist. The first two years of this trip, I rode on the back of my husband’s bike. But after that second trip, I decided I wanted to learn how to ride. I completed my local motorcycle safety program and got my license. We bought a Honda Rebel 250 and I set a goal to ride my first 500 miles. Then I set my sights on a bigger bike, more mileage, and a longer trip.

Living my motorcycle dreams involved a long process of incremental growth, a flexible schedule, and some money. I had all of these things because I was a seasoned business owner. While I’ve been working under the name At Peace With Money for about three years, I have a much longer history of doing independent bookkeeping work, and before that I ran a jewelry design business. The skills I gained as a solopreneur – dedication, commitment to incremental progress, etc. translated well into becoming a motorcyclist.

I also have a flexible schedule as a solopreneur, which meant I could find the time during the week for lessons and rides. And I had the ability to pay for a course, because of my financial savvy in my own business experiences. I find that solopreneurship can be full of valuable lessons, and can give you the skillsets and necessary resources to accomplish the things you’ve dreamed up. That’s why my objective with At Peace With Money is to help solopreneurs align their business profits with their life goals; because I think it’s 100% possible!

I hope this little pep-talk give you a dose of inspiration for the week. Think of a dream you’ve always had. How could you orient your business to focus on achieving it? You might also like to read How to Start a Goal-Based Business for more thoughts on this subject.

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Angela

 

Is Your Business Serving Your Life, Or the Other Way Around?

As a business owner, it can be tough to make sure you don’t get caught up in the hustle all the time. I’ve worked with many business owners whose businesses were definitely the main center of their time and attention, but who weren’t really getting their needs met that way. This is really unfortunate to see, yet so common. Today, I’m going to walk through an exercise you can use to evaluate whether your business is serving your life, or the other way around, and then suggest some next steps. Let’s dive in:

Reflect

To evaluate whether your business is serving your life, or the other way around, there are many different questions you can ask yourself. I recommend setting aside at least 20 minutes to reflect on a few of these questions. Pick whichever call to you:

  • How are my needs being met by my business?
  • What is my primary emotion while performing business tasks, and why?
  • What needs are being fulfilled by my business? Which are not?
  • Do I gain anything by running my business? Do I miss out on anything?
  • Is there balance in my life between all the different roles I play (ie. business owner, friend, partner, etc.)? Which role do I spend the most time in?
  • What are my goals in life? Is my business helping me get closer to reaching them?

Re-evaluate

Once you’ve sat with those questions, you will have a clearer idea on where your business might be running your life. Balance between your business and other parts of your life might be out of whack, or maybe you simply aren’t getting paid enough. Now that you’ve acknowledged the issue at hand, it’s time to re-evaluate. Ask yourself, “How can I re-orient my business so it serves my life?” Start thinking about and researching new strategies you can use to close the gaps between your needs and what your business is providing.

A couple pointers for inspiration: if you feel like you’re not getting paid enough, check out my article on considering your hourly wage and my article on creating an owner’s paycheck. Another good place to look for solutions is my series on money-mapping.

Take Action

After you’ve researched and thought through strategies, it’s time to take action! Your business doesn’t need to run your life. Acting decisively to end this cycle will only help you. Whether it’s opening a separate account or deciding on a day every week where you look at your numbers, any action you take is a step in the right direction. If you work well with an accountability partner, you might enjoy my profitability coaching services. Feel free to schedule a call with me to see if we’d be a good fit.

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Angela

How to Do a Business Check-In

So, how is your business doing these days? We find ourselves just past the halfway point of an exceptionally challenging year.  It’s likely circumstances in your business and your life have changed. Now’s the perfect time to take a pause and check in with your business. How are you doing with your goals? In the thick of things, sometimes our focus on our goals can get a little murky. Below, I share a process for reviewing your business with an eye towards those goals, and celebrating what you’ve already done. Here’s the step-by-step:

Review

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. Especially because it’s likely this year required you to adapt to COVID-19, there are likely some changes to note.

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 objective 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 a money mapping 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 attainable. Or, you might find that your systems and routines are working just fine! Both are vital evidence when checking in on your business.

Finally, it’s a good idea to check in on how much you’re earning. Perhaps you’ll want to take time to consider your hourly wage, or look into revenue cycles in your business. Checking in with where your business is at financially is key in this step.

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. Then, 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.

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 space to get organized can save you time and effort down the road.

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 solopreneur is hard work. If you’ve done the work, you deserve to cheer yourself on once in a while.

I hope this outline has given you some ideas for checking in with your goals and your business. If you’d like someone to engage in this process with you, this is something I love to do with my bookkeeping and coaching clients. Please feel free to review my services and schedule a curiosity call.

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Angela

How To Focus Your Offerings to Create More Revenue

Many businesses are multi-faceted. Diversifying is a good thing, so many business owners have a large network of different offerings. Because of this, it can sometimes be difficult to know what offerings to focus energy into. Today, I’d like to introduce a way to analyze your business and figure out where to focus.

It’s About Time

By studying your financial records with an eye to times of the year, you can learn a lot about how your business behaves over time. Whether your business is product- or service-based, it is likely subject to fluctuations. It’s likely that these fluctuations are seasonal, or else focused on specific events. For example, let’s say you own a craft business that brings in the most revenue in the spring and early winter. If you look closely at your records and what you’re doing in your business throughout the year, you might realize these spikes in revenue come from particular sources. In a craft business, it might be that there are several public craft fairs you like to attend in the spring. In early winter, perhaps people buy your products as Christmas gifts. (For some advice specifically about craft fairs, please check out this post!) By analyzing time cycles in your business, it becomes more apparent to you what times of the year and what offerings bring in more revenue. This makes it easier to direct your focus in your business.

Using This Info

Once you’re able to analyze your records from this perspective, you need to figure out how to use the information you find. Focusing on the products or services that bring you the most revenue, as well as the time of year, events, or other factors that effect this, is an important way to discern this info. How can you re-create these conditions to bring in more revenue? For example, perhaps you have one product that’s particularly popular around summertime – can you create variations of this product? How can you expand here?

In our current situation, many people have had to adapt their offerings. Perhaps you’ve had to do this in your business as well. If so, it could be great to conduct this type of review over your financial records of the last several months, since shelter in place began. Ask yourself the questions above, and think about what results you’d like to achieve. Would you like more revenue? More sales of a certain offering? Or perhaps you’re just not clear about what’s working best in your business. Analyzing time cycles can help you figure this out.

This is one of many things a good bookkeeper can help you discern from your records, and something that I regularly do with my clients. If you’d like some support in this process, please think about scheduling a curiosity call with me. I also recommend reading my free e-book, the Cash Flow Reboot Guide, for ideas and strategies to adapt your business to the ongoing pandemic conditions. 

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Angela

Image by Nicole Geri

Why Your Business’s Financials Might Not Be As Bad As You Think

Your numbers might not be as bad as you think. Many solopreneurs tend to avoid their numbers out of a feeling that if they really look at them, they’ll find financial troubles. While excusing yourself from looking at your numbers might put the problem on hold in the short term, that low-level stress and uncertainty doesn’t go away. In fact, it piles up into a sense of dread. I’m here to tell you that dread is needless. Here’s why:

No More Perpetual Vague-ness

Currently, I’m reading a book by Karen McCall called Financial Recovery. One of my favorite quotes so far is how she talks about the way people treat their finances, when she says “most people live in a state of perpetual vagueness.” Getting familiar with your numbers can actually be a comfort, because it can lift you out of this state of perpetual guesswork! Many people find that when they actually take the time to really assess where they’re at financially, it’s better than their previous emotional perception. So that’s why I say your numbers are better than you think – it’s likely true!

Take the Plunge: Look at Your Numbers

There are a number of ways to take this plunge. First, you can look through everything yourself. Especially if your books are not that complicated, or you have a rough system going already, taking a look on your own is a good idea. You can also get a good picture of whether you’re able to hire or consult with a bookkeeper. A good bookkeeper will be able to deliver a lot of important financial insights. This will certainly help you get out of that vague place. Even if your financials are indicating some unfortunate things, a good bookkeeper can soften this blow by helping you come up with strategies to surmount any difficulties.

If you were waiting for that extra push to really look at your business’s financial situation, here it is. And if you’d like to seek some assistance, with bookkeeping or profit strategy, feel free to book a curiosity call with me to see if that’s right for you!

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Angela

Image by bruce mars 

The Best Thing You Can Do For Your Business

Today I am excited to bring you a client success story. With the tax deadline coming up swiftly, tax preparations have been on my desktop and my mind. But they haven’t been weighing down my clients, because of the tools we use to prep for tax season.

The Story

I have one client that I’ve worked with for several years now. In the beginning of my time working with them, taxes were a huge, stressful burden. By using a money mapping system that relies on Profit First principles, we were able to start setting aside money to pay taxes. In 2019, the client had an excellent year and made a lot of money. In ordinary times, this would be great. However, because we faced lower income this year due to the pandemic, if we hadn’t saved ahead of time, we would have found ourselves in disaster come tax season. Thanks to the money system we instituted, we had our tax payments completely covered, even with lower revenue this year.

The Success

Now my client and I are happily relishing in a worry-free tax season. Saving for taxes is one of the best things we’ve done for this business. It’s helped us avoid a lot of sticky financial problems and kept things running smoothly.

Our success is all thanks to the money mapping system we use. I’ve written a series on money mapping that you can read through to get a sense of how to put this tool to work. Aside from tax season, it has a lot of other benefits, like reminding you to save and making your work in your business feel meaningful. This process of creating a money system is a big part of what I do with my clients. You can book a curiosity call with me if you want to know more about how the process might apply to you.

A Little Reminder

Just in case you don’t get my newsletter, here’s a PSA: By July 15th, your 2019 taxes are due to be filed and paid, if you owe. You are also required to turn in your first and second quarter estimated taxes for this year. Please read my article on 5 Steps to Get Ready for Tax Time to get prepped. I’m also happy to offer my services – please don’t hesitate to reach out

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Angela

Image by Javier Sierra 

By |2020-07-10T13:20:06-07:00July 10th, 2020|Categories: Profit First, Taxes|Tags: , , , , , |0 Comments

Stop Expecting “Business As Usual”

So far, 2020 has been a challenge for many business owners. The COVID-19 pandemic and its economic fallout and the protests that have broken out around the country have both rocked the business landscape. Many solopreneurs and business owners have had to completely reshape their offerings and financial strategies. Perhaps this includes you!

This time last year, I shared my thoughts on how to do a mid-year review. This time around, I’m thinking about how rather than reflecting on the year so far, it’s time to adapt to a new and different future. I had prepared a blog post about how my income expectations faltered as the pandemic set in. However, because so many people ended up needing help straightening out their books, I blew my original income goal out of the water! My point with this post was going to be how important it is to not let a dismal situation limit your expectations for your business. But, at this moment, I think there’s something deeper to learn. In these rapidly-changing times, it’s important for us to adapt and be gentle with ourselves.

No More “Business As Usual”

Despite the many plans for re-opening the U.S., for many of us, things are not going back to normal. Perhaps you already know this from looking at your bottom line. Or maybe you’ve seen reports about how small businesses have been affected at large. The economic effects and social effects of recent times have created a lasting change in the small business landscape. It’s important for us as business owners to prepare for things to continue to change. This can look a myriad of ways. Creating a money system and putting together a savings cushion are two great strategies for establishing financial resiliency if you want extra ideas.

Just because things aren’t going back to normal doesn’t mean it’s all doom and gloom, though. Aside from the economic effects, both the pandemic and the recent Black Lives Matter protests have also enriched the business landscape from a social perspective. There are so many opportunities for collaboration! Now more than ever, we have an opportunity to lift each other up. If you want more ideas for collaboration, check out my article on 7 Tips for Business Owners During COVID-19 and my Cash Flow Reboot Guide.

Be Gentle

Don’t be hard on yourself if you don’t meet your income goals or if your business is struggling. Conversely, if you find yourself getting a ton of business as a result of the pandemic, don’t work yourself too hard, either! Coping with changes in your business can be challenging. Giving yourself the space to be present with feelings that come up and get enough rest are of paramount importance. The reality is that, no matter how hard you grind right now, in many cases things are still going to be challenging. This is a hard time in the world for most people, solopreneur or not! Be gentle in your expectations of yourself as best you can.

Be Present

In addition to stepping up to give your emotions some space, this is also a time step up for your community as a business owner. The current moment we are in is showing us many ways to do this. Whether we choose to uplift Black colleagues, create fundraising projects, or present some offerings for free, we’ve got options in how to contribute. I think that, if we want to, we can use this moment to permanently change how we do business. I love the way that Proposals for the Feminine Economy frames businesses – as “needs-fulfillment machine[s].” How can we find ways to do business that meet, not only our own needs, but the needs of those around us? Both COVID-19 and the Black Lives Matter protests have shown us how connected we all really are – socially and economically. This is a question we can sit with right now.

What are your thoughts about business as usual? Has your business experienced any bumps in the road? Please sound off in the comments below. If you’re feeling in need of more guidance on how to navigate this time, don’t hesitate to check out my services and schedule a call.

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Angela

Image by Christin Hume