How To Plan for Surprise Expenses

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

Have an Emergency Fund

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

Set Up a Money System

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

Check In With Your Finances Regularly

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

Note Potential Future Expenses

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

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

☮
Angela

How to Do a Business Check-In

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

Review

When you take a look at the goals you’re working towards, it’s easy to get bogged down by focusing on what you still need to do. Instead, train your focus on what you’ve already done.

Start by making a list of milestones you’ve hit or steps you’ve completed. Rifle through your day planner or old to-do lists if you need a refresher. Go back through the year, month by month. Especially because it’s likely this year required you to adapt to COVID-19, there are likely some changes to note.

Now, it’s time for a little introspection. Take stock of all the actions you’ve taken towards your goals, and then ask yourself a few questions: How do I feel about this goal? Do I still want to achieve it by the end of the year? Is that feasible? At what pace have I been able to work toward this? What’s my capacity been like?

Don’t be afraid to drop things or add new things. Some goals may simply no longer excite you, or you may have realized that another objective is more important or time sensitive.

During this review process, it’s also helpful to take a look at the systems and work routines you have in place for your business. For example, you may have set an intention to review your numbers once a week, or you may be trying out the a money mapping system. Evaluate the effectiveness of your systems and routines. Are they working for you? Do you have time to do these things? Are you consistent? You may find that your routines need to be simplified or tweaked to be more pleasant or attainable. Or, you might find that your systems and routines are working just fine! Both are vital evidence when checking in on your business.

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

Learn and Adapt

Next, it’s time to use all of that evidence you’ve gathered to adapt your goals and practices. First, notice if you have any goals that you are either discarding or adding. Then, examine the pace at which you’ve worked on your goals. These pieces are important when it comes to planning out the rest of your year.

I recommend drawing or writing out a map for the next six months. Include any events relevant to your business, like conferences, trade shows, or gallery openings. Then, begin to write in milestones you hope to meet in the next six months. Make sure these are realistic! Don’t pressure yourself to level up in three months if it took you six to get where you are now. Instead, allow yourself the space and time to achieve things incrementally.

When you’re making your plan, be sure to adapt your goals to what’s worked so far this year. If you really love a certain routine or feel fired up to keep working toward a certain goal, go for it. If you’ve stalled on a project because you need to do more research, carve out some time to go back to the drawing board. When charting your course, keep your own needs and preferences in mind.

Now that you’ve reviewed your work so far and adapted your strategies and goals appropriately, it’s time for the next few steps. These are intended to really up the feeling of getting a fresh start, while enjoying your business for what it is: a way to meet your life goals.

Refresh

For an extra dash of clarity and focus, include a refresh in your review process! Now is the time to do whatever necessary maintenance you might need to grease the wheels of your business. You might clean your workspace, clear your inbox, or centralize your passwords. Attend to your physical and digital spaces. Check in with your finances, and schedule an appointment with a bookkeeper.

This is usually my favorite part of the review process, because I make time to do all the little things that have been nagging me, like scheduling lower priority appointments, finding that one piece of paper, and sometimes making a new goal chart for myself. Giving yourself the space to get organized can save you time and effort down the road.

Celebrate

Go back to step one, and take stock again of all you’ve done this year, including this review process. Chances are, you will find you’ve done quite a bit of work towards your goals, no matter how close you might be to completing them! Take some time to celebrate all the work you’ve done. Treat yourself to an afternoon off, a fun or inspiring event, or whatever you’d like to do to celebrate your achievements so far! Being a solopreneur is hard work. If you’ve done the work, you deserve to cheer yourself on once in a while.

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

☮

Angela

To Find Clarity and Focus, Do a Mid-Year Review Pt. II

This is part two of a two-part series on doing a mid-year review of your business! You can find part one here

So, now that you’ve reviewed your work so far and adapted your strategies and goals appropriately, it’s time for the next few steps. These are intended to really up the feeling of getting a fresh start, while enjoying your business for what it is: a way to meet your life goals.

Refresh

For an extra dash of clarity and focus, include a refresh in your review process! Now is the time to do whatever necessary maintenance you might need to grease the wheels of your business. You might clean your workspace, clear your inbox, or centralize your passwords. Attend to your physical and digital spaces. Check in with your finances, and schedule an appointment with a bookkeeper. 

This is usually my favorite part of the review process, because I make time to do all the little things that have been nagging me, like scheduling lower priority appointments, finding that one piece of paper, and sometimes making a new goal chart for myself. Giving yourself the time and space to get organized can save you time and effort down the road. It can also add ease to your everyday business functions – which is an added bonus!

Celebrate

Go back to step one, and take stock again of all you’ve done this year, including this review process. Chances are, you will find you’ve done quite a bit of work towards your goals, no matter how close you might be to completing them! Take some time to celebrate all the work you’ve done. Treat yourself to an afternoon off, a fun or inspiring event, or whatever you’d like to do to celebrate your achievements so far! Being a self-starting solopreneur is hard work. If you’ve done the work, you deserve to cheer yourself on once in a while.

If you busted through this whole review process, congratulations. I’d love to hear from you about how your business functions going forward, or if there are any little things you’ve added to the process. Just leave a comment below or shoot me an email at angela {at} atpeacewithmoney.com. If you think you could benefit from working through this process with an accountability partner, you know where to find me – just check in on my Services page.

Angela

Image Source: Emma Matthews

To Find Clarity and Focus, Do a Mid-Year Review

Goal motivational quote

We’re six months down the line. How are you doing with your goals? Have you totally crushed them, worked on them bit by bit, or are you not sure? In the thick of things, sometimes our focus on our goals can get a little murky. Here’s the first two steps of a two part series on doing a mid-year review. Let’s jump in:

Review

Step one in a mid-year review is the review, of course! When you take a look at the goals you’re working towards, it’s easy to get bogged down by focusing on what you still need to do. Instead, train your focus on what you’ve already done.

Start by making a list of milestones you’ve hit or steps you’ve completed. Rifle through your day planner or old to-do lists if you need a refresher. Go back through the year, month by month.

Now, it’s time for a little introspection. Take stock of all the actions you’ve taken towards your goals, and then ask yourself a few questions: How do I feel about this goal? Do I still want to achieve it by the end of the year? Is that feasible? At what pace have I been able to work toward this? What’s my capacity been like?

Don’t be afraid to drop things or add new things. Some goals may simply no longer excite you, or you may have realized that another achievement is more important or time sensitive.

During this review process, it’s also helpful to take a look at the systems and work routines you have in place for your business. For example, you may have set an intention to review your numbers once a week, or you may be trying out the Profit First system. Evaluate the effectiveness of your systems and routines. Are they working for you? Do you have time to do these things? Are you consistent? You may find that your routines need to be simplified or tweaked to be more pleasant. Or, you might find that your systems and routines are working just fine! Both are vital evidence when checking in on your business.

Learn and Adapt

Next, it’s time to use all of that evidence you’ve gathered to adapt your goals and practices. First, notice if you have any goals that you are either discarding or adding. Next, examine the pace at which you’ve worked on your goals. These pieces are important when it comes to planning out the rest of your year.

I recommend drawing or writing out a map for the next six months. Include any events relevant to your business, like conferences, trade shows, or gallery openings. Then, begin to write in milestones you hope to meet in the next six months. Make sure these are realistic! Don’t pressure yourself to level up in three months if it took you six to get where you are now. Instead, allow yourself the space and time to achieve things incrementally.

When you’re making your plan, be sure to adapt your goals to what’s worked so far this year. If you really love a certain routine or feel fired up to keep working toward a certain goal, go for it. If you’ve stalled on a project because you need to do more research, carve out some time to go back to the drawing board. When charting your course, keep your own needs and preferences in mind.

The next two steps will coming out in part two of the series, but I think this gives you enough to chew on for now! If you haven’t yet set goals for your business, or would like some more help thinking them through, check out my article Set Informed Income Goals. And of course, I am happy to walk through the goal setting process with you. All three of my service packages are focused on helping you set, work towards, and achieve goals. If you find you might appreciate some accountability or guidance, head on over to my Services page and schedule a curiosity call

Angela

Image Source:  S O C I A L . C U T