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.

☮

Angela

Image by Christin Hume

Artists Define Their Own Business Success

Artists Define Their Own Business Success: At Peace With Money

Have you ever noticed that a lot of business advice focuses on how to get wealthy, fast? It’s as if many people view business as a pathway to the motherlode, and little else. But not everyone wants to be the CEO of the next Fortune 500 company. And that’s ok! It just means we need to turn somewhere else for our business advice.

The conversation I had with Megan Auman a few weeks ago was all about another kind of business mindset – seeing your business as a way to sustain your artistic pursuits. Instead of the end goal being amassing the world’s wealth in your bank account, Megan talked about small business as a strategy for fueling an artist’s livelihood. Here are a couple of my favorite points she raised during our chat.

Find Advice that Speaks to Your Vision

So much business advice speaks to people who want to run a million dollar company. Megan indicated that the prevalence of this point of view in business circles could often be hurting artists or driving them away from business altogether. For this reason, it is so important that we start talking about different goals and models for business.

In my last post, I mentioned that artists often want to spend more time doing their creative work, and the best path towards making that time is to make more money! Even if artists don’t want to be a CEO at a computer all day, there is still an incentive to run a profitable business. The key is finding voices who understand and respect what artists need.

The Profit First model and Megan’s courses are two great resources for an alternative view of business. Rather than seeing business as a race to amass capital, both sources look at business as a way of meeting the owner’s needs and sustaining the work they enjoy doing.

Business Automation

While we were talking, Megan brought up the 4-Hour Work Week, the hugely popular book by Tim Ferriss. She mentioned how the book highly encourages business automation, so that business owners can spend more time lounging on the beach. Business automation can also be a great tool for artists and makers, according to Megan. However, instead of beach bumming, artists can use the time freed up by automation to spend more time working in the studio, doing the things they really love.

Artists Define their Own Success: At Peace With MoneyOverall, Megan stressed the importance of understanding what you really want from your business and your life, and structuring it to include more of what you want. Whether this is more time in the studio, more time with your family, or less time spent on certain tasks, automation helps creatives focus on the work they really want to be doing. I have written a little bit about how automation can also be great for your finances, have a look if you like!

I hope you enjoyed these nuggets of wisdom from our conversation. If you haven’t already, definitely check out the full interview posted on Facebook. Megan is a wonderful person with lots of good insights into creative business, which you can look into here. And of course, please don’t hesitate to schedule a call with me if you’d like to talk more about Profit First and setting up your business to meet your needs and desires.

Angela

Image Source: Joshua Coleman

The Stages of Financially Growing a Business

Stages of Business Financial Growth: At Peace With Money

Starting a business is a financially intricate process. I’ve written at some length about avoiding financial pitfalls and myths, and important first steps, but something I don’t see many people talk about are the stages of growth a business goes through as it financially matures. Today I’m mapping these out for you, so you know what to expect on your solopreneur journey.

First, some general advice. When first starting a business, you have two priorities: a) get the word out about your business, and b) keep your expenses low. Doing these two things from the get-go will set you up for business success. If you need some more guidance around wrangling your business expenses, check out this article of mine. 

Fledgling

As you build your business, focus on streamlining your processes. Figure out how you can refine them to be time efficient. Keep track of time spent and ensure you are making a living wage and being cost-effective with your expenses. If you’re purchasing a lot of materials to create a product, look into bulk purchasing your supplies.

In this stage, it’s also important to cultivate the relationship with your current customers. Allotting time or room in the budget around strengthening customer relations and making sure your first customers have exemplary experiences with your business is very important. A good reputation sets you up for success, and good word-of-mouth exposure can eliminate advertising costs later on.

Growth

As your business begins to grow, again refine your processes to cut costs and increase efficiency. As you receive more orders or draw in more clients to serve, your processes may have to adjust to accommodate these larger numbers. You will likely find yourself spending more time doing production or client work. Consider the possibility of delegating or outsourcing some of your tasks, or find other solutions. Work on further defining your role in your business – what are the pieces that you want to keep doing yourself? What can you hand off? Continue to keep an eye on your bottom line.

Maintaining and Sustaining

Once your business establishes some staying power and becomes financially stable, it’s time to move to the next stage. Make sure your business is sustainable for you by keeping it fun and engaging. Continue to challenge yourself. Incorporate new ideas and investigate what role your business can play in the lives of your customers, clients, and community.

Stages of Growing a Business: At Peace With MoneySearch for feedback. Listen to your customers to continue innovating and refining your product or service. If you have a team of other people, focus on them to keep things fresh and engaging. Brainstorm together and streamline your business partnerships.

And of course, again make sure you are earning a living wage. Continue to examine your finances and find ways to improve the financial sustainability of your business. Part of the reason you created it was to meet your needs, after all!

Lastly, at all stages utilize Profit First. This is an essential part of every step, especially the fledgling stage. Setting up money systems that allow you to have a steady paycheck and stay focused on your own financial needs will help you create a business that won’t feel draining to operate.

I hope this little walk-through helped inspire you to work on your business idea! If you need more guidance, take a look at my offerings.

Angela

Image Sources: oldskool photography,  rawpixel

How to Start A Goal-Based Business

How to Start a Goals-Based Business: At Peace With Money

I want everyone to be able to align their business profits with their life goals. But, what does that really mean? You may have all kinds of life goals. Is it really possible to build a business that can help you bring them to fruition? The answer is a resounding yes.

Step One: Dig Deeper

The first step in any intentional process, like designing a business that supports you financially and fulfills you emotionally and spiritually is to spend some time thinking deeply. If you aren’t sure what your goals are, it’s time to figure that out! Envision your life in 5 years, 10 years – where do you want to be? what do you want to be doing? What are you most passionate about? Will starting this business help you get where you want to go?

It’s All Related

To help you think about how your life goals and your business are intertwined, consider this example. Let’s say Sandra is a talented jewelry maker, but she is also deeply passionate about dance. She wants to build a jewelry business that supports her and helps make ends meet. She also wishes to have ample time to attend dance classes, events, and begin performing live. By building up her business so that it runs profitably, efficiently, and provides her with a steady paycheck through the implementation of the Profit First system, she can have more time to put towards her dancing.

Even though Sandra is not choosing to monetize the very thing her personal goals attain to – dancing – she is making more room for it in her life by expanding her business and its capacity to efficiently support her. In this way, her business profits directly support her achievement of her life goals. Some other examples might include building a business that includes a lot of travel if you dream of globetrotting, or creating a business which is founded on ethical principles you’d like to see manifest in the world.

Often, I think we look at business as being a rather sterile aspect of our culture and lives – it’s just the way we make money. In fact, it can be the very opposite. It can be the vehicle for achieving your dreams and visions, whether directly through your business, or via expanding the profits and efficiency of your operations. Starting and running a business is inherently creative – what are you going to create?

If you find you need some guidance in working through the questions I bring up here, I encourage you to reach out. I’m always happy to talk with solopreneurs about how they can achieve their goals through their business. Click right here or on the Services tab up top to learn more about what I offer and how you can schedule a call!

For more reading and resources on this topic, I recommend my article, “What’s Your Money Why?” which touches on some similar subjects and may help you consider these questions more deeply.

Angela

Image Sources: Florian Klauer  Amy Shamblen