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7 Financial Tips for Business Owners During COVID-19

Following the recent restrictions on gatherings, businesses that are allowed to be open, and all other health concerns and restrictions, your business may be caught in the wake of COVID-19. You are not alone. There are many business owners in similar positions to yours. While I don’t have a silver bullet for ending this pandemic (unfortunately) I do have a couple ideas of how you and your business can move through this turbulent time.

Be Proactive With Creditors and Landlords

For many people, rent and mortgage payments are due on the first of April, coming up in ten days. You may also have other bills, such as credit cards or debt payments coming up soon. If you are at all concerned about your ability to make these payments, I encourage you to get in touch with your creditors and/or landlords. Politely but firmly explain your situation to them and ask if you can work something out, like a reduced payment or a refined payment schedule. Because so many people are in a similar place, you may garner their sympathy and receive some assistance.

Cull Your Expenses

Now is the time to really go through your personal and business expenses with a fine-tooth comb. Cancel any subscriptions or memberships that aren’t vital. If you’re in California or Illinois, for example, then you’re probably not going to the gym or yoga studio anytime soon. Review your business’s spending needs and nix anything unnecessary or now irrelevant.

Get Creative With Your Services

Think about ways you can adapt your business to the current times. Maybe it’s time to ramp up your online store and start doing local delivery. Many yoga teachers and entertainers are starting to offer their services online. Brainstorm and get creative.

Check Available Resources

Every community has different resources available to those struggling with expenses due to COVID-19. Here in California, you can refer to the information provided by the Employment Development Department to see if you qualify for aid. Also check local nonprofits and other resources. Many communities are creating volunteer networks and community funds to protect the most vulnerable in the community. If you are seriously at risk, consider seeking these out. Otherwise, consider contributing to them, either monetarily or with volunteer time.

Lean On Your Money Team

This is a time when those on your money team can really come in handy. Reach out to your financial confidants, your bookkeeper, financial coach, etc. and start strategizing on how you can fortify your business during these tough times. Don’t make these decisions alone; remember that you have allies.

Mindset Matters

Although the virus is seriously threatening, those most at risk are the elderly and the immunocompromised. It’s important to remember that we are taking all of these measures in the name of collective care, to protect those of us who are most vulnerable. I encourage you to remember this and to avoid self-victimizing, panicking, or hoarding. Holding onto a mindset of courage and generosity will do wonders in this time, for your own mental health and everyone around you.

File Your Taxes On-Time!

You may have heard that the IRS has officially extended the deadline to pay taxes to July 15, 2020. While this is great news for business owners, it’s important to remember that you still need to file your taxes by April 15th. If you are unable to meet this deadline, you can request a six-month extension for filing. You can check out the IRS site for more info. EDIT: The deadline to file has also been extended!

I hope these ideas bring you some sense of hope and agency in unpredictable times.

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Angela

Why Hiring a Financial Coach Is Worth It

Having someone to talk to openly about your money is an invaluable resource. When that person also helps you set goals and untangle financial knots, that’s even better! Hiring a financial coach can be well-worth the investment. Coaches can help you break through emotional and logistical roadblocks to set up better systems in your business.

What Does a Financial Coach Do?

A good financial coach will work with you in a way that’s personalized to your needs. Their presence and the tools they use help provide structure for you to reach your desired goals.

They also provide nonjudgmental listening and act as a sounding board for your financial concerns and dreams. Given the opportunity to talk through these things, many people begin to work through their emotional blindspots and start making more logical financial decisions. A good financial coach guides this process in a structured and goal-oriented way. For example, they can help you determine a revenue target intended to help you reach other goals in your life. They can also help you test out new ideas for your business and help you tinker with your profit model.

What Do You Gain From This?

Some business owners balk at the expense of hiring a financial coach. The irony of this is that working with a coach can help you increase your profit margins. Like a bookkeeper, hiring a coach can be viewed as an investment in the longterm profitability and wellbeing of your business.

Aside from increased profits, working with a coach is also an opportunity to gain financial clarity. You can work on any emotional baggage you have around money, determine where the money from your business should go to best serve you, or find a way to spend more time attending to your favorite parts of the business.

If you appreciated these ideas, try checking out my service packages. You can schedule a free curiosity call with me to chat about whether working with a coach is right for you.

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Angela

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

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

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

Last week, I talked about money-mapping, why it’s helpful, and how you can get started. Today, we’re going to dive into more money-mapping using the Profit First methodology. Profit First posits its own money system, pictured in the above map. Its goal is to ensure that you as the business owner get paid.

Solopreneur Paycheck

In order to ensure that you actually get paid by your business, you need to portion off a certain percentage of your income, and then designate that for your personal finances. This portioning off is exactly what the Owner’s Pay account is for in the Profit First system. The Profit First system advocates for creating separate accounts for all your different pots of money associated with your business. If you can’t do that or don’t want to, I advise using a spreadsheet. You can use this to keep track of how much money is designated for Profit, Owner’s Pay, Taxes, and Operating Expenses.

So, back to that Owner’s Pay Account. Once you put a percentage of income in it, you then transfer some portion of that to your personal account, which serves as your solopreneur paycheck. When I work with clients, we work to figure out what portion should go into this account. That amount depends on how much the business makes in revenue, and what portion of their personal expenses they want to cover using income from their business. If income in their business varies month to month, we decide on an amount that they transfer to their personal account, leaving the leftovers to act as their cushion during slow months. This way, the business owner receives a steady stream of income, even if their business varies from month to month. This is the solopreneur paycheck.

The Function of Profit

Cordoning off funds for operating expenses and taxes may seem practical enough, but the Profit account is what makes the Profit First system unique. 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!

In part three of this series, I’ll discuss what applying this model to your business can look like, and integrate all the info we’ve gone over so far. If you’re enjoying this and would like more, check out part one! You can also head to my services page and schedule a call with me. Money mapping is one of my favorite subjects. Come talk about it with me!

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Angela

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

Keeping track of your money and where it needs to go may feel like a difficult task. That’s why visually mapping it can be especially helpful. When I work with clients, I help them create a visual flow chart to show where every dollar goes. Today, I want to walk through why I do this, and how you can get started on your own money map.

Simplify Decision-Making

The goal of money mapping is creating a clear visual guide of what to do with every incoming dollar. If you’re confused about where to put incoming money, your systems can quickly get out of whack. By drawing out the paths your money can take, you make it clear to yourself where everything needs to go. You also simplify the decisions you need to make, because you have everything spelled out right in front of you! This way you’re able to take action to put your money in the right place quickly and easily.

For extra points, you can automate some of these transfers each month, so that you don’t have to move everything manually. If that sounds interesting, you might like to read “Pick One of These 5 Tips to Automate Your Wealth”.

How Much Do You Need?

In order to create that map and streamline your decision making, you need to do the math up front. It’s important to think about how much you need for your own pay, business taxes, and operating expenses. When I work with clients, I help them determine these numbers in the process of creating their map. If you want a DIY version, you can check out my articles on financial self-care, which will help you determine your personal expenses and understand how they relate to your business finances. Going through your records and averaging your operating expenses can help you get a good idea of what that percentage might be.

The above image is an example map from Hadassah Damien at Ride Free Fearless Money. In this example, you can see that she’s fleshed out the necessary percentages of income that need to be set aside for savings, taxes, business expenses, and personal expenses. In part 2 of our discussion of money mapping, I’ll talk about Profit First and what these percentages are according to their theory.

From Income to Final Destination

Above all, the goal of money mapping is to know where your money is going every step of the way. From the moment you receive income, to the moment that money is saved for taxes, invested for retirement, or put away for a savings goal – you’ve got a plan. Consequently, this is an opportunity to define those final destinations. Creating a tax savings account and an operating expenses account come in handy here. You can also think about creating savings goals for yourself, and making a plan to contribute regularly to those.

If you found this article interesting and helpful, I invite you to download the first 5 chapters of Profit First! The book has its own suggested money map that I’ll also talk about in part 2 of this series. If you’re into this kind of thing, I’m sure you’ll enjoy the book.

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Angela

Why You Need to Schedule A Year End Bookkeeping Review

As the year wraps up, I encourage all solopreneurs to engage in a little financial self-care, by reviewing your 2019 books! There are several reasons to review your books at this time of year, and they would benefit from the eye of an expert. If you don’t already have a bookkeeper and feel like you could benefit from some oversight, schedule a review with someone. The financial insight will go a long way for your business. Here are my top two reasons for reviewing your books now.

Tax Prep

First of all, straightening out your 2019 books to prep for tax season simply makes sense. Hiring an expert to help you do this can ensure that your books are accurate. That extra bit of readiness will feel so good come tax season, I promise! It will save you some stress and last minute rushing come tax time. Think of it as a holiday gift to yourself!

Where Did You Make Your Money?

My second reason for scheduling a bookkeeping review with a professional is so that someone with a trained eye can go over your books and help you discern where, when, and from what you made the most money. This kind of insight is invaluable to any small business, especially if your goal is growth. Your financial records hold this info. Work with someone willing to help you find it! For more about finding and working with a bookkeeper, check out “How to Get the Most Value From Your Bookkeeper”. The insights you gain from a good bookkeeping review could help shape your plan for your business in 2020. All the more reason to review them now!

Going over your books with a professional will save you a lot of stress and provide you with knowledge needed to run a successful business. Please consider scheduling a year-end review – you’ll thank yourself later! If you’d like to work with me, I’m currently offering a Quickbooks Online 2020 Reboot, a session meant to help you review and understand your books. You can set one up anytime from now through December 20th, through my scheduling form here.

Here’s to tying up your financial loose ends!

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Angela

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