As solopreneurs and freelancers there is SO much to do for our businesses! Between client work, big projects, admin, and marketing, it seems like there are never enough hours in the day. What gets shoved down to the bottom of the to do list? Our business finances.
I feel you- I used to be terrible about my own business finances- and I’m a bookkeeper! But for real, it’s HARD to put our finances first, when there are so many other, money making, things to do.
Our finances tell us more about our business than just what comes in and out. They are a map through our successes, challenges, wins, and do better moments. They speak to us about the health of our business.
Yet, we need to engage with our money to hear what our money to hear what it has to say. Which is why I wrote this post- to give you 9 solid steps to prioritize your business finances for a healthier business. Oh- and you get a free 15+ page action plan to walk you through each one of these steps.
Let’s get to it!
Engage with Your Money Every Day
The more time we spend away from something, the harder it is for us to reengage, which is why it’s super important to engage with your business finances every day. This doesn’t have to be a big deal. It can be as simple as just looking at your bank account at the end of the day (Pro tip- you can do this quickly on your phone).
Be sure that when you are engaging with your money, you are engaging with all of it. Check out your bank accounts and your credit card accounts. You don’t need to look at all your accounts in one day. You can stagger what you are checking on but don’t favor one account over another.
Other ways you can engage with your money everyday?
Spend 15 minutes a day doing your books (this is what I do)
Write down everything you buy (this is great if you are starting out with a budget)
Track your daily spending in an app
Memo and organize your receipts at the end of every day
Only spend cash and note your beginning and ending daily cash balance
Combine these ideas and try out a few of your own to find the one that fits you best.
Organize Your Receipts
Are receipts taking over your life? Do you find them in every crevice of your wallet, purse, desk, and office? Are receipts lurking in every corner of your home? If so, then it’s time to organize them!
The beauty of living in a digital age is that organizing receipts can be a quick and simple process and using a digital system will reduce paper clutter in your office. Here are some ways to organize your receipts digitally:
Scan your receipts using a good ‘ol fashion scanner
Take a picture of your receipts and store in Dropbox or Google Drive folders
Set Aside a Regular Time to Do Your Books
I recommend doing your books every day (see #1) but if that isn’t possible shoot for at least once a week. In whatever form you do your business accounting (paper tracking sheets, a spreadsheet, digital accounting software) make it a regular, recurring part of your business workflow. Do it at the same time, all the time.
Why? So many reasons!
First, the more you do it, the easier it will become and the less intimated you will be by dealing with your money. Win!
Second, the more you do it, the faster the process will become and you won’t even notice the time you spend on your finances (my QuickBooks daily workflow is less than 15 minutes a day). Win!
Third, doing your books regularly means you never fall so far behind that you get trapped in the pit of How-Am-I-Ever-Going-To-Find-The-Time-To-Do-This overwhelm. Double win!
Set up a recurring appointment on your calendar to do your books. Block out this time. Do not give up this time for anything or anyone. This time is your sacred money time. Consider it the most important client meeting of your career. Because your business finances are that important- and so are you.
Review Your Budget Every Month
Budgets are not static- they are living documents that change and fluctuate as your spending and income shifts. Reviewing your budget every month keeps your budget real. It also keeps you accountable to any shifts you have in your spending.
Added an extra monthly expense? Add it to your budget and see how it changes your overall money picture. If you can’t afford the new expense, where are you going to make adjustments? Is the expense really worth the sacrifice in another area?
These are the details you get into when you review your budget every month. Thinking through these details will bring you closer to your business finances and tighten up your money.
Run a Profit & Loss Report Once a Month
Seriously, understanding the profitability of your business is SO major for small businesses. Most people think running a Profit & Loss report (P&L) is just about knowing how much money they made. And these people often say, “I don’t need a P&L because I know I made money last month.”
If you are one of these people- listen up! A P&L tells you more than just how much money you made. It breaks down all your income categories and expense categories (i.e. deduction categories) so you can see exactly where your money came from and where it went.
Want to know what you top selling service was last month? Run a P&L. Want to know where that extra $1,000 went last month? Run a P&L. Want to know if your $500 Facebook Ads investment actually boosted your product sales? Run a P&L.
When you get into a regular schedule of running a monthly P&L you also start to understand the trends in your business finances. What’s your slowest month of the year? What’s your busiest? When do you spend the most? When do you spend the least? Do these correspond with your busiest and slowest months?
Understanding these trends can help you make major business decisions like when to launch a new product, what areas you should consider scaling, and if and when you should make significant investments in your business.
Juicy stuff, I know. Run a P&L.
(Pssssst- the action plan has Monthly Profit & Loss Overview template)
Check In On Your Financial Health Every Quarter
Often we think of our business finances as just the number in our bank account and on our credit card bill. But, there’s more to your financial well being than just checking account. A whole lot more.
Every quarter make a date to review all of your financial accounts. Review your checking and saving accounts and see how much you have. If you have a separate tax savings account (and you should) look to see how much you’ve saved for your estimated taxes.
If you’re running a Profit & Loss every month, you can add up your net income for the quarter and multiply it by 20-30% (this depends on what tax bracket you’re in) to see if you are on track with saving for your taxes.
Check in on the health of your retirement account. Look at your contributions, if you’ve had a gain or a loss, and your total balance.
Add up all you asset accounts (checking, savings, retirement, investments) so you know exactly how much you have.
Review all your debts (ALL your debts- not just your credit card bill). Make sure you are paying them regularly and check for any fluctuations in interest rates. Add up all your liabilities (debts) so you know exactly how much you owe.
Finally, note these numbers every quarter (the action plan includes a helpful template) and use them as benchmarks to gauge your financial wellbeing.
Make a 1 year and 3-year from now budget
Making in-the-future monthly budgets is a fun way to set financial goals and prioritize where you want your money to go. They also hold you accountable to your priorities so when you start making more money it doesn’t all go to champagne on the beach.
An in-the-future budget is identical to your regular budget but, rather than filling it in with the right now, you fill it in with where you hope to be in 1 and 3 years.
Start with the income part of your budget and project your 1-year and 3-year goals. You may add additional products or services to the budget or remove the ones you no longer want to offer. Don’t just think about how much money you want to make- think about how you want to make it.
Next move on to the expense portion of your budget and adjust your businesses expenses. Be realistic here- if you are scaling your business or adding new products or services it is likely you will have more expenses. Be sure to account for these expenses. Really plan how much and what you are going to invest in for your business.
After you have your gross income and expenses budgeted, make sure you budget for your taxes! If your net income is higher, you will be paying more taxes so you need to increase the percentage that you save.
Now you are at the fun part of your budget: The Financial Wellness portion. If you don’t already have these lines on your business budget, I highly recommend you add: checking cushion, vacation and sick pay, owner pay.
Checking cushion is how much you want to build your checking account every year. If you want to build it by $1,000 every year, you will need to intentionally keep $84/month in your account. Add this to your budget.
Vacation and sick pay are how much you will put aside so that you are able to pay yourself even when you take time off. Exciting times, I know!
Decide how many weeks a year you want off. Now use the income portion of the budget to determine your weekly income. Multiple that by the number of weeks you want off- that’s how much you need to save a year. Divide that number by 12 and you’ve got your monthly saving! Add that to your budget.
Finally, look at how much you have left and decide on your owner pay. Be sure your owner pay includes your future goals for retirement and any long term and short term savings you are personally building.
What to do next? Use your future budget for inspiration and motivation! Return to it often and see how well you are moving toward your goals.
Start Prepping for Your Taxes in January
OMG this is my soapbox. Don’t start prepping for your taxes in March, or worst, April. Start prepping, and by prepping I mean doing anything that relates to your taxes, in January.
Even small things, like putting all your papers and tax related mail in one folder and reaching out to (or hiring) your CPA will make a big difference when you’re ready to file.
Do as much as you can for your taxes as early as you can. Why? Because the longer you wait, the harder it will be to get things done. Good CPAs and bookkeepers are both extremely busy during this time and, often, if you contact them mid-March, they won’t have time for you.Do as much as you can for your taxes as early as you can. The longer you wait, the harder it will beClick To Tweet
Taxes are stressful for everyone- why make them more stressful and chaotic by starting late and not giving yourself the time you need to prepare properly? Plus the more rushed you are the more likely you are to make mistakes that can cost you big time on your taxes.
True story- I had a friend who started prepping here taxes very late in the game. She did manage to get her stuff in right before the deadline but she made a huge mistake that cost her $7,000 in taxes. Luckily, we caught the error and she was able to file an amended return BUT there was a huge financial fallout from the incident.
The lesson? Start prepping early and enjoy the luxury of filing before the frenzy. My happiest clients at tax time are the ones who file in January and February. Your business finances and your sanity will thank you.
Find a Financial Accountability Partner
A financial accountability partner is a great way to make sure you are doing everything on this list and they also can help you set and stay on track with your financial goals. Do you ever notice that when you tell someone your big ideas they suddenly become more real and you more committed to them?
Now, imagine if you told someone your big financial dreams or money goals for your business- and they cheered you on. How much more committed would you feel? How much more possible would they become?
That’s the beauty of a financial accountability partner.
Here are some ideas of what you can do with your financial accountability partner:
Check in weekly by text about when you did your bookkeeping
Meet once a month to review your P&Ls together
Meet once a month to review your budgets
Meet quarterly and assess your financial health together
Make your 1-year and 3-year budget together and share why these goals are important to you
Have a tax prep workday where you get your tax documents and information in order
Celebrate each other’s financial wins with fun friend dates
Woot woot! If you do all these things I GUARANTEE you will change your relationship with your business finances to a healthier one. And, yes, it is a lot- so grab the free action plan to walk you through every step.
Tell me in the comments:
Which one of these strategies appeals to you the most? How can you get started right away? How will doing it benefit your business?
Prioritize Your Business Finances
Get the free fillable 15+ page action plan and start developing a meaningful relationship with your finances.