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.

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Angela

Is Your Business Serving Your Life, Or the Other Way Around?

As a business owner, it can be tough to make sure you don’t get caught up in the hustle all the time. I’ve worked with many business owners whose businesses were definitely the main center of their time and attention, but who weren’t really getting their needs met that way. This is really unfortunate to see, yet so common. Today, I’m going to walk through an exercise you can use to evaluate whether your business is serving your life, or the other way around, and then suggest some next steps. Let’s dive in:

Reflect

To evaluate whether your business is serving your life, or the other way around, there are many different questions you can ask yourself. I recommend setting aside at least 20 minutes to reflect on a few of these questions. Pick whichever call to you:

  • How are my needs being met by my business?
  • What is my primary emotion while performing business tasks, and why?
  • What needs are being fulfilled by my business? Which are not?
  • Do I gain anything by running my business? Do I miss out on anything?
  • Is there balance in my life between all the different roles I play (ie. business owner, friend, partner, etc.)? Which role do I spend the most time in?
  • What are my goals in life? Is my business helping me get closer to reaching them?

Re-evaluate

Once you’ve sat with those questions, you will have a clearer idea on where your business might be running your life. Balance between your business and other parts of your life might be out of whack, or maybe you simply aren’t getting paid enough. Now that you’ve acknowledged the issue at hand, it’s time to re-evaluate. Ask yourself, “How can I re-orient my business so it serves my life?” Start thinking about and researching new strategies you can use to close the gaps between your needs and what your business is providing.

A couple pointers for inspiration: if you feel like you’re not getting paid enough, check out my article on considering your hourly wage and my article on creating an owner’s paycheck. Another good place to look for solutions is my series on money-mapping.

Take Action

After you’ve researched and thought through strategies, it’s time to take action! Your business doesn’t need to run your life. Acting decisively to end this cycle will only help you. Whether it’s opening a separate account or deciding on a day every week where you look at your numbers, any action you take is a step in the right direction. If you work well with an accountability partner, you might enjoy my profitability coaching services. Feel free to schedule a call with me to see if we’d be a good fit.

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Angela

Stop Expecting “Business As Usual”

So far, 2020 has been a challenge for many business owners. The COVID-19 pandemic and its economic fallout and the protests that have broken out around the country have both rocked the business landscape. Many solopreneurs and business owners have had to completely reshape their offerings and financial strategies. Perhaps this includes you!

This time last year, I shared my thoughts on how to do a mid-year review. This time around, I’m thinking about how rather than reflecting on the year so far, it’s time to adapt to a new and different future. I had prepared a blog post about how my income expectations faltered as the pandemic set in. However, because so many people ended up needing help straightening out their books, I blew my original income goal out of the water! My point with this post was going to be how important it is to not let a dismal situation limit your expectations for your business. But, at this moment, I think there’s something deeper to learn. In these rapidly-changing times, it’s important for us to adapt and be gentle with ourselves.

No More “Business As Usual”

Despite the many plans for re-opening the U.S., for many of us, things are not going back to normal. Perhaps you already know this from looking at your bottom line. Or maybe you’ve seen reports about how small businesses have been affected at large. The economic effects and social effects of recent times have created a lasting change in the small business landscape. It’s important for us as business owners to prepare for things to continue to change. This can look a myriad of ways. Creating a money system and putting together a savings cushion are two great strategies for establishing financial resiliency if you want extra ideas.

Just because things aren’t going back to normal doesn’t mean it’s all doom and gloom, though. Aside from the economic effects, both the pandemic and the recent Black Lives Matter protests have also enriched the business landscape from a social perspective. There are so many opportunities for collaboration! Now more than ever, we have an opportunity to lift each other up. If you want more ideas for collaboration, check out my article on 7 Tips for Business Owners During COVID-19 and my Cash Flow Reboot Guide.

Be Gentle

Don’t be hard on yourself if you don’t meet your income goals or if your business is struggling. Conversely, if you find yourself getting a ton of business as a result of the pandemic, don’t work yourself too hard, either! Coping with changes in your business can be challenging. Giving yourself the space to be present with feelings that come up and get enough rest are of paramount importance. The reality is that, no matter how hard you grind right now, in many cases things are still going to be challenging. This is a hard time in the world for most people, solopreneur or not! Be gentle in your expectations of yourself as best you can.

Be Present

In addition to stepping up to give your emotions some space, this is also a time step up for your community as a business owner. The current moment we are in is showing us many ways to do this. Whether we choose to uplift Black colleagues, create fundraising projects, or present some offerings for free, we’ve got options in how to contribute. I think that, if we want to, we can use this moment to permanently change how we do business. I love the way that Proposals for the Feminine Economy frames businesses – as “needs-fulfillment machine[s].” How can we find ways to do business that meet, not only our own needs, but the needs of those around us? Both COVID-19 and the Black Lives Matter protests have shown us how connected we all really are – socially and economically. This is a question we can sit with right now.

What are your thoughts about business as usual? Has your business experienced any bumps in the road? Please sound off in the comments below. If you’re feeling in need of more guidance on how to navigate this time, don’t hesitate to check out my services and schedule a call.

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Angela

Image by Christin Hume

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

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