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

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

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

When Is the Right Time to Invest In Your Dreams?

Whether you’re wanting to quit your day job and go full time in your business, invest in some equipment to level up your production, or get a higher level of education in your field, all of us face choices about when to invest in our dreams. Let’s talk about how to make these decisions from a financial perspective.

Consider Your Timing

First, establish a timeline for yourself on making this investment. By when would you like to start your training, hire an employee, etc? Now, think realistically about other events and expenses that may come up around that time. For example, making a large equipment purchase around the holiday season may prove to be financially stressful. By analyzing your timeline and any upcoming expenses, you can plan to have the funds and energy on hand to take this new leap.

Establish a Savings Cushion

Especially because these decisions are typically financially loaded, it’s important to already have, or begin to cultivate, a multi-layered savings cushion. Ideally, you have a savings cushion to cover periodic expenses, and another to cover income-loss emergencies, typically an amount to cover 3-12 months of your expenses saved up. You can read more about establishing a savings cushion in my article “How to Plan for Surprise Expenses“. Take a look at these ideas and then make a plan to establish a savings cushion before taking your big step.

Tune Up Your Money System

This is a good idea whenever you’re making any financial decision. Take a look at your income and expenses and see how things are going with your savings. Making a regular habit of doing this is immensely helpful and can simplify financial decisions like this one. My e-Book 9 Secrets to Financial Self Care has a lot of great insights on how to establish a habit of checking in with your money.

If you have yet to set up a money system, you might like to check out my articles on money-mapping. “The 4 Components of a Restorative Money System” is a great place to start.

I hope these suggestions are helpful and that your decisions making process is a peaceful one!

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Angela

How to Use Your Profits to Create the Generous Business You Envision

I’m a big proponent for using a money system in your business for many reasons. One of those is the way it can make giving away money, or donating, so much easier. Today, we’re focusing on how to use your profits to be able to give freely in your business. In my series on money mapping, I wrote about setting up a profit account like the Profit First system suggests. I’ve also written about how you might use that profit account to donate money. This post will be a more in-depth exploration of those concepts, so go ahead and read those posts if you haven’t already!

When it Comes to Profit, Values are Key

In my post “The In-Depth Guide to Mapping Your Money, and How it Can Fortify Your Business, Part II,” I describe the profit account in a money system this way:

The profit account accumulates and then is distributed quarterly. Business owners are encouraged to use their Profit Distributions to reward themselves for their hard work. This keeps the owner excited about and invested in the business. It also discourages any tendency to reinvest everything back into the business, or over-save.  Rewards can range from a day out to charitable giving, to really anything you want!

Note that last bit: charitable giving. Recently, I’ve made a couple posts about how to figure out what we really want to spend our money on. It has to do with our values – when we know what’s really valuable to us and we think about how to get that, we can spend our money in ways that are the most purposeful and fulfilling to us. We can spend in a way that brings us that feeling of “enough.”

Lynne Twist, author of The Soul of Money, describes this phenomenon this way: “When people were able to align their money with their deepest, most soulful interests and commitments, their relationship with money became a place where profound and lasting transformation could occur.” Imagine doing this every quarter with your quarterly profit distribution! To create a generous business and get the most satisfaction from your profits, I encourage you to engage in some soul searching. Think about what the word “generous” means to you and what you might do with your money to embody this word.

Generosity Creates Relationships

One suggestion I’d like to make here, is sharing your profit distribution in the form of bonuses for any employees or independent contractors you work with. Appreciate the work they do by sharing your profits. Receiving their thanks and building up a relationship of mutual appreciation can be one of the most satisfying ways to use your profit distribution. It can also improve the overall quality of your work life! Because I advise clients to use the money accumulated in their profit account every quarter, the last distribution of the year comes up during the holidays. This is the perfect time to show employees some appreciation.

Be Community-Oriented

The past year and a half gave us more opportunities than ever to show up for our community as small business owners. I encourage you to think about organizations in your local community or on a larger level that you would like to show visible support for with your business. I wrote a post about thinking about your business’s role in your community called “How to Step Up for Your Community as a Business Owner,” that you might like to read to get some more thoughts on this subject.

I hope this post inspires you to be generous this summer! If you would like to work with someone to develop a money system which enables you to feel abundant and be generous, schedule a Financial Self Care Consultation call with me. I’m happy to chat and see if we can work together.

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Angela

Image: Elaine Casap


This blog post is a re-publishing of the original article, “How to Create a Generous Business,” published in November 2020. For more articles on this topic, check out the “giving” tag. 

Boost Your Social Impact With the Power of Belief

I’ll get straight to the point – what you do with your business and your money matters. A year ago, protests against racist policing and in support of Black lives erupted around the country. Today, we can reflect on those moments and think about the impacts they had, like the conviction of Derek Chauvin and the reduction of police budgets in more than 20 major cities, and look to the future to see how we might add to the movement ourselves.

Typically on this blog, I share practical tips related to giving, like how to use money mapping to give back and tips for stepping up for your community as a business owner. Instead, this article approaches the issue from a mindset-centered perspective. Many of us feel discouraged when it comes to thinking about social change. However, it is important for us to stay in touch with the belief that we really can make a difference. Internalizing this is the first step when it comes to making social impact with your business. Here are a couple tips on this subject:

Reclaim Your Power

When world and community issues are displayed to us on the news, they can feel huge and overwhelming. At this point, many of us feel helpless – while we might be able to imagine alternatives a better world, who are we to bring it about? The world’s problems are so big, and we feel very small.

This is where we need to reclaim our power. It’s important to recognize that while you may not be able to Wonder Woman the world’s woes away, you are capable of making a positive difference in the world. You can plant flowers, donate, fundraise, deliver and inspiring speech, cook a delicious meal for hungry people, and so on. Even better, your power is multiplied when you join up with other people who also wish to create positive social change.

Get Clarity On Your Values and Your Money

One thing that might be feeding a sense of powerlessness in your life is a lack of clarity with your values and your money. If you feel strongly about social issues, but your schedule, income goals, and spending plan don’t reflect that, it’s time to go back to the drawing board.

If you’d like to have more time to volunteer, or more money to pass on as reparations, think of ways you can incorporate these considerations into your schedule and finances, while still caring for yourself. You are in charge of all of these resources. How would you like to allocate them?

See Yourself In Your Context

If you want to use your business to make positive change but you aren’t sure where to start, look around you. Who is your community? Who surrounds you, locally, in your industry, in your interests and organizations? When you take a look, surely you can start to see creative ways you and your business can help fill a need or brighten a day.

There might be local issues you’re passionate about, and there are likely organizations already doing work to improve the issues who would love your help or expertise. The same goes for your industry or a group you might belong to, like your church.

Remember the Butterfly Effect

The Butterfly Effect dictates that small events have a rippling effect that can cause much larger events to occur. While you may feel that your contribution to the world is small, what you do ripples out. I love this quote from author and activist Grace Lee Boggs, who says, “We never know how our small activities will affect others through the invisible fabric of our connectedness. In this exquisitely connected world, it’s never a question of ‘critical mass.’ It is always about critical connections.”

Next week, we’ll look at some of the more practical aspects of giving when it comes to your finances. For now, I hope these suggestions inspired you and gave you a couple ideas.

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Angela

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