Pay this bill! You’ll be late with this payment! Make sure you have enough for your SEP IRA!
Now, I tell my money what to do before I even get my paycheck from my company. It’s a great feeling to be in control of this big thing, you know? Lots of business owners I meet talk about the financial side of the business. Do I have enough money to start? Should I go full time or just use the business as a side hustle?
These are all great questions. They’re just really premature ones. Here’s my 5 Step Plan for Stress Free Finances.
1. Get real about your finances.
You have to take a look at all of your bills, all of your accounts payable, all of your bank accounts and every strip of paper and any spreadsheets related to your business and personal finances. This step is the hardest. If you don’t do it, none of the other steps will work – at all.
Oh, and there’s really no outsourcing this. Other steps, maybe you can get someone else’s help. But only you know where those old invoices are buried, where those boxes of receipts are, and how long it’s been since you’ve looked at your credit history and credit score. Take a deep breath, and get in there.
2. Get help from a well-regarded bookkeeper.
Now you can bring in a bookkeeper to sort through the madness that is your financial picture. Even if you consider yourself a fairly organized planner for your finances, those bookkeepers are hard wired to restructure, re-organize, and detail any missing links items or reports. I love bookkeepers! They are true lifesavers for me!
3. Create a one-year budget of your personal finances and your business.
This third one is also critical. This gives you a bird’s eye view of when your money is coming in, where your money comes from, and where it’s going, how long it stays with you, and when you need more of it. This will tell you the hard, cold truth. But once you have it in hand, I promise you’ll feel more in control, which leads to less stress. Whew!
4. Ask yourself why 3 times on everything.
You should not purchase anything without asking yourself WHY three times, (and getting three different answers). Look at expenses as dead weight in your journey to ease on down the road of business success. Do you really need that office space or can you work from home?
Can you get along without the Mercedes or can you muddle along with a more modest car (for now)?
Side note: These slashes are uncomfortable – and they should be. No one really gets what they want without stretching and reaching out for it.
This belt tightening doesn’t mean it’s permanent. You’ll get the Mercedes back again. You may even be able to upgrade to a more expensive car like a Tesla once you have your personal and business finances rolling. Even if you keep a few expenses, downsize them. Get the least expensive account. Shop around for banks that don’t charge monthly fees – or any other hidden fees.
Take one day out of the week as your “frugal day.” Ask yourself, “Where can I save money today?” It will be easy once you see how these savings boost your profits and take-home pay.
5. Focus on existing streams of income and how you can expand them.
The other four steps were really about clean up. Now it’s time to figure out how you can make more money. Review your one-year financial history for your business and develop a 2016 forecast for your business. Even if you have had sporadic sales and more expenses than income, knowing exactly where your money is coming from is of the utmost importance to growing your business and establishing a secure and comfortable future for you and your family. Once you have this part down, you can analyze what you did to earn those sales.
- Who bought from you, and why?
- Did you enjoy working with your customers?
- Can you drill down and focus on a new niche part of your target audience?
This is one of the toughest things you will ever do. Money is such a complex and emotional element of our lives. We have to control it or it will definitely continue to control us. You can pay for a major vacation next fall, with good planning this winter.