If you’ve been following me for any time, you know that I am all about protecting your business, now, wherever it is in its evolution. One of the best ways to protect your business is to have an emergency fund. Also known as a management reserve, this fund is a stash of cash equivalent to at least three times your monthly expenses, including your paycheck. The importance of having extra cash for emergencies cannot be overstated. I have worked with entrepreneurs who spend everything they make each month in profit. They enlarge marketing budgets and add services to their businesses but have no cash to protect their existing milestone.
Three times your breakthrough (B-Number) is my recommendation for a first emergency fund goal (you can easily calculate your numbers with the free worksheets at www.entremoneycoach.com.) The reason I believe three months is a minimum number is that if the sun explodes, you still have a full quarter to right the ship. You will have expenses and a paycheck for the three months it takes to pivot, to launch, to take corrective action in your business.
At first that number may seem a bit high, and honestly you may be thinking, “I’m barely surviving right now, you want me to save HOW MUCH?” But it is possible to save towards your goal and hit it in a few simple steps.
- Get Set Up for Success. Make sure you have a separate bank account so that your emergency fund money doesn’t get comingled and accidentally spent. Keep it liquid but keep it separate, even in a different bank. Have a fee free checking account, with checks, for access and have a defined list of what constitutes an emergency.
- Put a little in each month. Make your emergency a line item in your budget. If you write down your savings goal, and you write in a goal for saving a certain amount, you are more likely to do it. Save a little each month, and you will be amazed how fast it grows.
- Make larger deposits as you make more money. Alternatively, or additionally, save a portion of your profits over your B-Number in a good month. Let’s say that you have a very successful month in sales, commit to stashing some portion of that profit in the fund.
- Celebrate your progress. You are actively taking steps to protect your business should you need a little money to cover you.
Treat your emergency fund as a priority and it will be funded faster than you expect. And once it is funded, you are done! You will then be in a better position to grow and take on new growth and risks, and more confident knowing you can cover what you need to every month. Happy Entrepreneuring!