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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.

☮

Angela

5 Steps to Get Ready for Tax Time

Yep, it’s that time of year again! As a small business owner, or let’s face it, just as an individual, tax time can be stressful.  But there are ways to reduce that stress and be ready for tax time before you know it.  As a former tax preparer and practicing bookkeeper, here are my top suggestions;

#1 – Designate a folder or box for all the mail that arrives regarding taxes.  You don’t even have to open the envelopes just collect it all in your “spot”.  Super simple!

#2 – If you are doing your banking online, you are probably getting email notifications that your tax statements are available.  I like to flag these emails as they come in and then sit down when I have some time later in the week to go back through the emails, log in and download each statement from the bank.  Save all of these to a file folder you’ll call 2017 Tax Documents.

#3 – If you are running a small business (and a side hustle does count), please, please, please tell me you have been running that business out of a bank account separate from your personal spending.  If not, go open that separate account right now!  If so, you can easily determine your income and expenses for the year by reviewing your bank statements.  Better yet, if you are running your business on an accounting platform such as Quickbooks Online and you have updated and reconciled your accounts, those reports are right at your fingertips.  I do suggest that you start this step in January just to give yourself plenty of time.

#4 – You should have received all of your tax mailings by mid-February. If your tax preparer is going to want everything in electronic form (or you just want to stay super organized) scan all of your paper statements and add them to your 2017 Tax Documents folder.

#5 – Grab a copy of last year’s tax return and review the entries you had last year.  Or if you have a digital file from last year, compare the statements with the information you have for this year.  This can jog your memory so you know you haven’t missed anything.  The last thing you want is to have to file a corrected tax return because you left something out, so just take the time and make sure you’ve got all of your information.

You did it!  You are ready for tax time!  And if #3 is causing you to pull out your hair, maybe it’s time to talk to a professional to help you set up a system or to decide if you are ready for ongoing proactive bookkeeping.

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!

☮

Angela

Image: Husna Miskandar

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!

☮

Angela

Why DIY Business Owners Can Still Use a Bookkeeping Partner

Why DIY Businesses Can Still Use a Bookkeeper: At Peace With Money

Recently, several people have reached out to me who prefer to do their bookkeeping on their own, but want to have a second set of eyes on their numbers. I can’t tell you how pleased I’ve been to receive these requests. I think consulting someone else about your books is a great idea, even if you typically keep your records yourself. There are two main reasons why I think occasionally working with a professional bookkeeper, even if you’re a whiz on your own, can greatly benefit your business.

Accountability

Having someone who regularly looks at your books, even if it’s only once every month or so, motivates you to stay on top of them. Regularly scheduled reviews can help you maintain consistency and accuracy in your record keeping, which can streamline your business even further. It’s easy to fall behind on your books if no one’s watching. Having someone else look at them every now and then encourages you to keep up.

Accuracy Check

Your financial records are something you don’t want to mess up. Mistakes can be terribly inconvenient at best, and very costly at worst. Plus, if you are working to learn the skill of bookkeeping, it’s great to have an expert on hand to review your work. That extra pair of eyes can help keep your records orderly.

My Story

When I was running Dolce Beada, I knew how to do my bookkeeping, but I still had someone come in once a month to make sure I stayed on top of all the entries. Having someone look at my records regularly kept me in the habit of recording my numbers and keeping my books from getting messy. I also really benefited from a monthly numbers-check, just to make sure I was doing it right. 

Some business owners may feel that they are not ready to hire a bookkeeper, so they prefer to keep their own records. If this is you, you can still benefit from having a bookkeeper review what you’ve done. Or perhaps you need some training on how to set up and maintain your bookkeeping – an expert can offer this too.  Many solopreneurs also benefit from Profit First Financial Coaching in order to set a revenue goal for their business, fully understand how much they are spending both personally and in their business, and prepare to pay themselves and all taxes as they come due. All of these business concerns require some financial work, and an expert who can coach you through that work can be an invaluable resource. 

If you’re interested and want to learn more about the Profit First and financial services I offer, check out my services page, and book a call with me!

Angela

Image Source: Ashkan Forouzani

5 Steps to Get Ready for Tax Time

5 Steps to Get Ready For Tax Time: At Peace With Money

Yep, it’s that time of year again! As a small business owner, or let’s face it, just as an individual, tax time can be stressful.  But there are ways to reduce that stress and be ready for tax time before you know it.  As a former tax preparer and practicing bookkeeper, here are my top suggestions;

#1 – Designate a folder or box for all the mail that arrives regarding taxes.  You don’t even have to open the envelopes just collect it all in your “spot”.  Super simple!

#2 – If you are doing your banking online, you are probably getting email notifications that your tax statements are available.  I like to flag these emails as they come in and then sit down when I have some time later in the week to go back through the emails, log in and download each statement from the bank.  Save all of these to a file folder you’ll call 2017 Tax Documents.

#3 – If you are running a small business (and a side hustle does count), please, please, please tell me you have been running that business out of a bank account separate from your personal spending.  If not, go open that separate account right now!  If so, you can easily determine your income and expenses for the year by reviewing your bank statements.  Better yet, if you are running your business on an accounting platform such as Quickbooks Online and you have updated and reconciled your accounts, those reports are right at your fingertips.  I do suggest that you start this step in January just to give yourself plenty of time.

#4 – You should have received all of your tax mailings by mid-February. If your tax preparer is going to want everything in electronic form (or you just want to stay super organized) scan all of your paper statements and add them to your 2017 Tax Documents folder.

5 Steps to Get Ready For Tax Time#5 – Grab a copy of last year’s tax return and review the entries you had last year.  Or if you have a digital file from last year, compare the statements with the information you have for this year.  This can jog your memory so you know you haven’t missed anything.  The last thing you want is to have to file a corrected tax return because you left something out, so just take the time and make sure you’ve got all of your information.

You did it!  You are ready for tax time!  And if #3 is causing you to pull out your hair, maybe it’s time to talk to a professional to help you set up a system or to decide if you are ready for ongoing proactive bookkeeping.

Angela

Image Sources:   Anton Darius | @theSollers

Know What Your Numbers Are Telling You

Know What Your Numbers Are Telling You: At Peace With Money

This article is the third in a month-long series on taking care of your finances as self-care. Specifically, I’m focusing on what you can do with your money to take care of yourself and improve your business in 2019. You can read the whole series by clicking here. 


 In the last installment of this series, I talked about how important it is to separate your business and personal finances. Doing so gives you access to a lot of important information about your finances. However, it’s also important to know what to do with that information once you have it. This requires some analysis. Let’s dive in:

Know What Your Numbers Are Telling You

Look back through your financial records for the year. Figure out what products, services, or other sources brought in the most revenue. Identify which months you made your largest and smallest amounts of revenue, so you can understand the rhythm of your income.

Do the same for your expenses. Did you have surprise expenses come up that caused you problems? How can you plan for these surprises in case they happen again? For many people, taxes are a surprise expense. You can plan more effectively once you look at last year’s tax expenses, and prepare for upcoming years. 

Solopreneur Paycheck

Look at your total revenue. Did you pay yourself? Did your business pay you money? If so, move money from your business to your personal account. In the Profit First system, Owner’s Pay and Profit accounts are used to divvy up income and ensure that the owner is getting paid. This is called paying yourself first, an important practice for any business owner. Actually separating your income from the other categories, like savings for operating expenses and taxes, is key to a thriving business. 

Bringing It All Together

By analyzing your finances and gleaning all this information, you are ultimately able to tie loose ends and What Your Numbers Say About Your Business: At Peace With Moneycreate a financially streamlined business. Strategizing to prepare for surprise expenses and taxes, offer more of your most profitable products or services at the optimal time of year, and remembering to pay yourself all contribute to financial success. If you’re interested in doing this analysis work with some professional help, I’m happy to speak with you. Take a look at my service packages and schedule a curiosity call. If this has piqued your interest about Profit First, download the first 5 chapters for free here on my website! I do hope this post helps you find some financial insights into your own business!

Angela

Image Source:  Martin Sanchez

Business Expenses Are Not Free

Business Expenses Aren't Free: At Peace With Money

There is a common misconception among business owners: thinking that “I will write that off as a business expense” means it’s free. Let’s bust this myth! Our business (and bottom lines) will be all the better for it. 

Why Do We Think This?

The root of this misconception probably stems from our experiences as employees of larger companies. As an employee, business expenses are often “free” in that you get reimbursed for them or your company is covering the expense. However, now that you own your business, the expense is included in your bottom line. Business expenses no longer disappear into the ether of corporate bureaucracy – owning a small business means every expense shows up. 

A New Way to Think About Business Expenses

It’s true that as a business owner, you do get a tax write-off for business expenses. But it is also true that an expense is still an expense; the money still leaves your accounts. It’s important that, as business owners, we rewire our brains to recognize this. Business expenses are not equal to receiving things for free. Free stuff is still the best option!

Business Expense Advice: At Peace With MoneyRecognizing this may mean we need to reexamine our approach with expenses in general. When making a purchase, it’s important to ask yourself, “Is this expense actually adding value to my business? Do I really need this?”. Often we are pressured into spending money on our businesses that we don’t really need to, especially when starting out. Evaluating our priorities and finding financial clarity in our businesses can be a helpful step in the right direction. 

As my final tip, I’d like to present a favorite Profit First strategy of mine. Ask yourself, “Can I wait just one more day to make this purchase?” This simple question can again help you in evaluating your financial priorities, and buy you more time to get your business finances in order. 

 


Angela

Images: rawpixel.com , Brooke Lark