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How to Build Your Best Money Team

Money team jumping into the air

Money is a team sport. Although we have an unfortunate notion in our culture that talking about money is taboo, we need to do our best to break it. By collaborating with others and building a team of people we can trust to talk to about our money, we can start getting the help and information we need.

There are many different people who can make up a money team. Money confidants, such as close friends and coaches who you can confess your financial feelings to, and receive good advice from, are one good example. Your bank can be considered a part of your money team, especially because good customer service is an important aspect of banking. Similarly, your tax prep person, financial planner, accountant or bookkeeper, and even the people you get financial advice from, are all important parts of your money team.

These “team members” fall into three different categories: people in your life, trusted professionals, and advice sources. Let’s take a look at each category and figure out how you can find good team members.

People in Your Life

Anyone in your life who you’re able to talk to about money falls here. Most importantly, these people are able to provide you with space to air your feelings. In some cases, they may also offer good advice. For example, if you’re friends with an accountant or a retirement planner, you’ve hit the jackpot! If not, good friends that you can open up to are still very helpful. The more we air our feelings about money, the more we’re able to think clearly and pursue practical solutions

If you don’t have anyone in your life that you’d consider a financial confidant, don’t worry. Run through your list of connections and identify some people with whom you might feel safe sharing thoughts, feelings, and ideas about money. Then, try approaching them with the idea of sharing these things. Many people are happy to have someone to talk to about this, so it’s worth a shot. For more tips, you can read my article on Why You Need a Money Buddy.”

Trusted Professionals

Here’s where your team members might get more diverse. Financial coaches, bookkeepers, tax preparers, and financial planners all fall into this category. Not everyone will need to refer to every one of these professionals, and perhaps not on a regular basis. However, working with professionals in all of these areas can do wonders for your financial life.

Like a money buddy, coaches are there for you to confide in, but are also trained to help you find specific solutions. Good bookkeepers are able to deliver valuable financial insights about your business and follow appropriate record-keeping laws. If you run a business, you might find you appreciate that someone else does your record keeping, while you get to do whatever it is you really enjoy. Here’s an article about how to find a good bookkeeper.

Tax preparers are great to consult with during tax season. The most helpful tax preparers help you get a better idea of what you need to file, what you can write off, and if you qualify for any credits. Depending on your assets, you may or may not need to have a financial planner you can regularly work with. If you want to do some complex planning, it might be good to consider adding a financial planner to your money team.

Advice Sources

The last category is made up of public figures and advising entities. Your bank is probably the most important member of your money team here. If you don’t have a bank that provides good customer service, or if you’re getting charged bank fees, switch, and fast. Being able to sit down with a bank employee when you have questions is an important aspect of building your money team. Bank fees are just annoying, but also totally avoidable! Read my articles about “How to Avoid Bank Fees” and “How I Broke Up With Wells Fargo (And You Can Too!).”

Earlier in this article, I mentioned that a financial planner can be a good reference, but another option is to simply meet with a planner at a firm as needed. I had one client who, when planning for retirement, made one appointment at a firm and got all her questions answered. No commitment needed, and a good source of advice.

The last member of this category is public advice figures. There are quite a few out there, so finding the ones who give the best advice for you might require some sifting. These articles contain some of my thoughts on finding good financial advice. Also, here are a couple of my personal favorite resources.

Building a money team takes some work, but when you have a network of people, professionals, and resources who can help you solve your money problems, you’ll be glad you did it!

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Angela

Image: Husna Miskandar

Reduce the Hassle: 3 Tips to Keep Your Money System Simple

When I work with small business owners I often run see this one unfortunate pattern; many business owners believe that your money system has to be complex in order to work. The reality, however, couldn’t be further from that. We’ve already talked about how important having a money system is, and how to visualize it with money-mapping. Keeping your money system simple and streamlined makes it easier to visualize, but also much easier to follow through on and keep organized. If a system requires a bunch of checking in or spreads your money into a bunch of accounts you forget about, it’s not worth the maintenance. Here are three strategies you can use to pare down your business’s money system to a manageable size.

Limit Your Cards

If you’ve got a ton of cards under your business, keeping track of all of them and keeping them paid off can be difficult. To make it easier on you, I suggest paring down the number of cards you use. This will help you better keep track of your bills, credit rewards, and any other info associated with your cards.

Please note, I’m not advocating for closing any of your credit cards, as this can lead to a lowering of your credit score. However, here’s a good guide on how to do that, if you’re interested.

Under One Roof

One recommendation I regularly make to my clients is to consolidate their money into one institutions. If you have business bank accounts at three, four, or five different banks, that’s gotta be hard to stay on top of! Getting it all under one roof will help you keep an eye on your finances as a whole more easily. If you have multiple banks and you’re wondering how to go about consolidating, you might like to read this piece about switching banks we featured a couple years ago. It contains a guide to comparing banking offers and picking to the best option.

Keep Track

Making a regular habit of checking in with your finances. Make this easy by consolidating your passwords to your different accounts and portals. If you don’t have to go searching for passwords before you begin your checkin, you’re way more likely to actually do it!

I also recommend using an app or other tracking system. I especially like Mint.Others also like YNAB, or paper money tracking. Digitally tracking your money can save you some time, while also giving you a quick snapshot of your accounts when you need it.

If you found these tips helpful, you might also like this article on automation, which is another money hack to keep your systems tidy!

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Angela

The In-Depth Guide to Mapping Your Money, and How It Can Fortify Your Business, Part III

In the last two parts of this in-depth guide to money mapping, we’ve talked about why it’s helpful and how to get started. We’ve also touched on creating a system of accounts to set up a regular paycheck for yourself and an assurance of profit. Creating your own money map based on these ideas takes a lot of evaluation of your finances. You need to assess your operating and tax expenses and analyze your living expenses and savings goals. Once you’ve assessed these amounts, they translate into the percentages you put into each account.

What’s Your Percentage?

I help clients figure out what their percentages could be. We assess the needs of their business, and we figure out how much they actually need to live on. We discuss their life goals, and how those relate to money. There are good benchmarks for each percentage, which are suggested by Profit First. For your reference, the suggested percentages are: 5% profit, 50% owner’s pay, 15% taxes, 30% for operating expenses. This breakdown applies to most solopreneurs (anyone under $250,000 in annual revenue).If this doesn’t feel doable for you right now, don’t sweat it. It takes a lot of work, evaluation, and good financial habits to create a sustainable money system.

Applying the Model

Let’s look at an example of all of this mapped out. In this example business, the owner is using the ideal benchmarks and keeping a cushion in their Owner’s Pay account. What they do take out is then subdivided, with 20% of their pay taken off the top for three savings goals (I like to call this “paying yourself first.”). The remainder of this money goes to living expenses. While this model might be unrealistic from where you stand, keep in mind that this is something my clients work towards. I’ve included it here so you can start to picture what your own money system looks like.

If you enjoyed this guide, I recommend also checking out Part I, and Part II. And, try going to the Tools page, where you can play with an allocations calculator. Plug in your revenue and your preferred percentages to see what your amounts are! Then you can start filling in your money map.

Money mapping is an important tool, and one that I enjoy walking clients through. If you’re interested in working with me, check out my services page to check out my packages, and schedule a call.

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Angela

 

Image by:

Estée Janssens

Why Your Finances Might Be Feeding Your Impostor Syndrome

If you’re not aware of how your business finances look, it might be feeding your imposter syndrome. Ignoring the financial side of your business prolongs the anxiety that surrounds that part of your life as a business owner. Impostor syndrome can be detrimental to your business. It undermines your success and obscures opportunities for growth. Let’s take a look at the different ways impostor syndrome affects your business.

Anxiety

Impostor syndrome is commonly marked by a feeling of not fully trusting your own success. This anxious feeling says “Don’t let them find out who I really am!” and fails to recognize all your accomplishments. If you feel uncertain about your business finances, this takes a toll on your stress and anxiety levels. Consequently, your relationship with your business can feel increasingly strained and uncomfortable. Financial uncertainty and related stress can create a vicious cycle.

Under-Compensation

If you’re not looking closely at your business finances, you might be under-compensating yourself without even knowing it. Whether your prices are too low, or you need to cut back your operating expenses, you may be underpaying yourself. Finding yourself scrambling and struggling to get work done for less pay than you need is disappointing for many business owners. It can add to your feeling that you aren’t truly succeeding.

The Solution: Look at Your Finances

In short, there’s a feedback loop between your finances and your identity as a business owner. Therefore, the best thing to do is to really look at your business’s finances. If you feel underpaid, research changing your prices. Study your personal lifestyle and establish an income goal, and then look for ways your business can bring in that income. Go over your business expenses with a fine-tooth comb. Most importantly, remember that there are solutions to your financial woes, ones that you have the ability to find and implement! I believe in you!

If you want more of my thoughts on this, check out this facebook live video I made on the topic. If you’re interested taking a look at your finances, check out my end of year Quickbooks Online Reboot offer. This session is intended to help you simplify your system, learn QBO shortcuts, and identify secret insights in your financial records. You can schedule a session through my contact form.

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Angela

How to Invest in Your Business At Exactly The Right Time

Once you’ve gotten the ball rolling with your business, it can be difficult to chart a clear path forward. Running a business is full of constant decision making, and often it can be tempting to just stick with what works, without trying to expand. However, with a few strategic moves, your business can meet the income goals you want it to reach. But what are they? The thought of spending the money for a certain marketing plan, or hiring a coach only to find little return on your investment, often plagues business owners. How do you know when the time is right to invest in your business?

As part of my series on financial mistakes business owners have made early on in their businesses, today I’m exploring when to take the leap and spend for business success. For other posts in this series, check out the articles on tax prep, pricing, and hiring a bookkeeper. Let’s jump in:

The Mistake

When should you invest in your business? Doing so at the wrong time and not doing so at all can be equally debilitating for your business. I’ve noticed this in the business journeys of quite a few of my clients.

The Solution

Knowing when to take the leap to invest in your business, to spend on marketing or hire an employee, can be tough.  These decisions can become clearer through working with an advisor to review the costs and benefits and also by using the Profit First system for guidelines around spending for operational expenses or for expansion. You can read more about the Profit First system by downloading the first 5 chapters of the book, or by exploring my page on the theory, and the allocations calculator. 

I hope these thoughts have been useful! If you’re interested in investing in your business but don’t know where to start, check out my Service Packages. I offer guidance on exactly these sorts of things. I’m also offering an accounting reboot session for anyone using Quickbooks Online as an end-of-year special. It can make a huge difference and help you identify trends in your business finances.

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Angela

Don’t Let Your Taxes Sneak Up On You, Do This Instead

Taxes don’t come out of nowhere, yet somehow it’s easy for us as business owners to get caught unprepared. As both a bookkeeper and financial coach, I see this often, but it has a simple fix. This month I’m reviewing mistakes women told me they learned from early on in their solopreneur careers. Let’s unpack this one:

The Mistake

One woman I spoke with told me she regretted not setting aside money for taxes. Some women also told me they were initially surprised by the additional self employment tax. Clients often come to me after they’ve been hit with the tax bill. At this point, we have to pay off the tax debt and save for this year’s taxes. Doing both is tough, and can make a real financial mess for new business owners. 

The Solution

To solve this problem, I recommend two things. First, work with a tax preparer or bookkeeper who will help estimate a percentage to be held out for taxes. You can read more of my advice about working with a bookkeeper here. Putting money aside will help avoid that nasty surprise.  This can also be a precursor to implementing the Profit First system, which is designed to keep your business prepared to pay its expenses, and pay you a fair wage. If you want to go the extra mile, you can also read my article 5 Steps to Prepare for Tax Time. 

Although recovery from this type of situation needs to be thorough, it’s a chance to implement new and better systems and get your business organized. I hope you appreciated these insights, stay tuned for next week’s article!

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Angela

Your Prices Matter, Here’s Why

When it comes time for you to price your services or products, you might find yourself at a loss. There are all kinds of pricing formulas out there. Some involve complicated math and some that just ask you to consider wholesale versus retail pricing. My personal favorite way to determine prices is to set income goals informed by the purpose and the plan you have for the money you earn from your business.

This month, I’m going over some financial mistakes women I’ve talked with recently first made in their business, and how to correct them. Let’s dive in:

The Mistake

This woman I spoke with listed not pricing her services high enough as her biggest financial mistake. She priced them too low initially. After realizing this, she found it difficult to raise her rates, because her first clients expected her low prices. She struggled between raising her prices and earning a wage that was too low for her needs. 

The Solution

If you are just starting out and are about to price your products – congratulations! You can take preventative action to make sure this doesn’t happen to you. The most important thing to do first is to establish your money why – your purpose and plan for the money you earn though your business. Where will it go? What will it do? An important part of this process is looking through your expenses and determining how much your business will support you with them. Once you’ve established your money why, you’ll be able to set income goals based off this information, so that your income is truly able to cover your living expenses. Once you know how much money you need to make, it’s easy to figure out how high your prices need to be.

Ask yourself a few more questions: What products or services are you planning to produce and sell most often? How much time, labor, and supplies will go into production? Account for those costs in your pricing formula, and make sure the answers are what you want them to be. If you’re planning to make most of your money from custom embroidered portraits, but you actually hate embroidery, maybe you’ll want to tinker with your profit model a bit. After this inquiry, you’re well on your way to pricing yourself well. For more resources, check out this article I wrote about my interview with Megan Auman.

If you’ve already priced your products and wound up in a similar situation to the woman above, you can still double back and figure out your true income targets and prices. The real challenge comes in actually implementing a rate change. Before you do this, it can be helpful to do some mindset work. Raising your rates can be a scary prospect that brings up all kinds of emotional baggage, but if you work on it, you can get to a point where you feel settled. Then, go ahead and raise your prices! You deserve to be comfortable and make a living wage. After all, isn’t that why you went into business for yourself?

I hope you found this helpful! I’m doing a series on financial lessons learned from business in honor of Financial Planning month, so stay tuned. And if you enjoy these thoughts, I wrote a lot more about planning and financial lessons in this month’s newsletter. Read it here and subscribe if you wish – you can unsubscribe any time.

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Angela

Image Source: Jason Blackeye

How to Create A Business That Restores You

A lot of people start their business with hopes for a better life in mind. More freedom, more money, a better schedule, and a legacy to pass on are just a few things that people starting out on their solopreneur journey might hope for. However, once a business gets going, whether it’s a full time project or a side-hustle, for many it becomes a demanding enterprise. My goal is to bring the solopreneur’s relationship with their business back into balance, by making sure the needs and desires they set out to meet in the first place are organizationally and financially prioritized.

So, how do we do this? The path toward creating a business that is restorative to you, the owner, combines intentional decision making and organizational action. Here are a couple key factors I’ve identified through my work with clients:

Boundaries

I recently review Jennifer Armbrust’s awesome book, Proposals for the Feminine Economy, in which she introduces twelve principles for feminist business. Principle number one is very simple: “You have a body.” While this can be interpreted in a number of ways, to me, it’s a reminder to slow down and set reasonable expectations for myself. By keeping my physical and mental limits in mind when setting up my schedule, choosing my daily tasks, and considering the scale of my own business, I’m able to avoid exhaustion and burnout. Some solopreneurs leave the corporate world or another industry in hopes of finding better work-life balance on their own. Healthy boundaries around when and how much you work can help you realize that dream and restore mental and physical wellbeing.

Clear Objectives

Consistently, I ask my clients to consider their “money why” – the clear financial objective they aim to achieve through running their business. Your money why can be a very specific goal like saving to buy a house, or it can be more general, like sustaining your budget. I have an article all about how to set income goals based off your needs. Reading it and doing a check in can help you establish your own clear objectives. By keeping your efforts focused on those, you can make sure specific needs and desires are met.

Quarterly Profit Distributions

This is one of my favorite practices from the Profit First system. To use this practice, during a fiscal quarter, you collect a portion of your profit in a specific account. At the end of the fiscal quarter, you take whatever money has collected and use it to reward yourself and celebrate your hard work. This is a great way to stay energized in your business. You can take this reward without guilt because you have the system in place to know your business is healthy, and this money is specifically set aside for you. If you’re intrigued by this concept, I encourage you to download the first 5 chapters of Profit First and play around with my allocations calculator!

I hope these ideas help you see a path towards your own restorative business. If you’re interested in learning more about what I do with my clients, you can check out my Services packages or schedule a call with me.

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Angela

Image:  Meghan Schiereck

Why You Need to Consider Your Hourly Wage As a Business Owner

Have you paused to consider what hourly wage your business pays you? This might not seem important – maybe you think that as long as you have your bills paid, you’re all set.

Why Think About Your Wage?

The thing is, this is really about pricing your products appropriately. First you need to understand your money why, or why you earn the money you take in from your business.  This will help you understand if your current prices can really sustain the goals that you have financially. You can learn how to set informed income goals here. Once you understand what your income target is, you can work backwards and see how much of your product or service you would need to produce and sell in order to make that income. The next step is to see whether that’s realistic. 

The Cost of Low Prices

Look around at what other people in your industry are selling their product for. If you’re giving your goods away because they’re priced so low, you’re not doing anyone any favors. Remember, selling more doesn’t mean you’re necessarily making more. You aren’t making money, you’re reducing the value of what you do in the eyes of the buyers and you’re making your industry fellows unhappy.

Consider Your Time

When you are considering how to price your product you may take into account the cost of supplies, transportation, and other materials. However, you must also take into account the cost of your time. If you were working for someone else and getting paid, you would receive an hourly wage, so consider that just as important in your own business. If you hired someone to help you with production, you’d need to pay them an hourly wage too. If you’re planning to scale up a business you’ll need to be able to hire other people and your prices need to be able to sustain that.

Another thing for product-based businesses to consider when looking at your pricing is your interest in wholesaling. When selling wholesale, you will typically  sell at 50% of your retail price. If, at this price, you’re not covering your costs, labor and making a profit that supports your financial goals, you need to raise your prices. 

I hope these thoughts of mine have helped you consider how taking your hourly wage into account can help you accurately price your products and meet your income goals. If you’re interested in learning and thinking more about pricing formulas, I encourage you to check out my interview with Megan Auman. Our talk, plus my articles on how artists define their own success and how business skills and artistic sense can coexist, are great resources for anyone with a creative business looking to tinker with their profit model. Enjoy!

 

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Angela

Photo: JOSHUA COLEMAN

Book Review: Proposals for the Feminine Economy by Jennifer Armbrust

This week, I was reminded why Proposals for the Feminine Economy resonates with me.  I was on a call with my business coach feeling discouraged about my own business forays. She suggested a mantra – “I am a successful business owner.”  As I was trying this on during my morning practice the next day, I knew I needed to define “successful.” The definition I’ve come up with is confident, committed, open to new clients and collaborations, self-sustaining, abundant, and growing.  This definition gives me a feeling of lightness, hope and helpfulness towards others.

These principles are what Jennifer emphasizes in her book. As a society, we see business success through a lens of masculine values and results. She suggests that we instead strive to view business as a creative environment and value our business using more feminine metrics, like care, mutual aid, sustainability, and needs-fulfillment  Her book is filled with beautiful illustrations, one of my favorite being the wheel of values in a feminine economy. A couple other examples of masculine vs feminine economy that have stuck with me include the differences in employing competition vs collaboration or consumption vs resourcefulness.  

This book is about transforming our relationship with money and work, which are aligned with my own philosophies.  I love her manifesto “100 Ways to Make More Money” and have several favorites. I particularly love these two because they are the basis of why and how I work with my clients:  “See fiscal empowerment as a revolutionary act” and “Become conscious – know why you do what you do with your money.”

Lastly, I very much enjoy her thoughts about cultivating an abundance consciousness.  Again, it is easy to define abundance through numbers when thinking about businesses, and particularly for me as a profitability coach. She reminds us to “feel how rich you are already” and to remember that “money isn’t the only form of wealth”. These are the lessons I try to remember when I define the success of my business and the success I am helping my clients to experience. I highly recommend checking out this book and Jennifer’s website in general. You can also read my post on the feminine economy for more information on the concept. I hope you find it inspiring!

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Angela