When the Breakthrough Number (B-Number) process was developing, I used it for the easy visualization of protecting the inside of your business four walls. It was first created to support a client who knew of the Dave Ramsey “7 Baby Steps” approach to personal finance. Each of the walls I identified for business helped her make decisions on how to spend money and to put processes in place for money management. Over time I continued to use the approach over and over and finally gave the process a name…

The Breakthrough Number

I know what should happen when people figure out their unique number. They should be more in control of their income. They will know their minimum monthly amount of money the business must bring in, reducing stress and uncertainty. Finally, they will see the wisdom of including their own salary in the business spending plan (budget).

What I didn’t foresee happening were these additional, unexpected benefits that came with working through the calculation process.

 

  1. More accurate wholesale costs.

I’ve worked with several business owners who forgot something, some small or easily forgotten expense that affected their profit margin. Running through each of the walls carefully uncovered things like the cost of blank labels and ink for handmade products. That cost was easily overlooked because it was under $25.00/ month, but it needs to be included because it affects the real cost to the business and needs to be recovered.

 

2. Finding hidden money and a chance to become leaner.

The first time this happened I was actually in an airport helping a friend run through the breakthrough number process. We were discussing her critical operating expenses and remembered that she had a service she paid for every month that she was no longer using! This service was about $100.00/ year. More than once I have seen clients eliminate or change services and expenses when they take a hard look at deciding what is critical.

 

3. More confidence in making strategic business decisions.

This benefit was sort of foreseeable in that I knew people could use the process to calculate different scenarios such as hiring new people or adding a service because they would be able to forecast the new expense’s impact on the money. But the way my client uses it to make decisions is quite surprising! She literally just uses her known monthly B-number amount to help her make decisions. Her breakthrough number is about $5k a month and included her personal paycheck. Anytime she wants to do anything different she looks at how much she made over her number that month and how much she has in the bank. She can then say, “Oh, this is okay, I made an extra $2k and I can still pay myself for 3 months.” That was her quick ‘back of the envelope’ calculation for hiring her part-time VA and a business coach. Amazing!

 

If you are still without your unique number you can get it today, right now for free.

Just visit http://entremoneycoach.com to grab your free worksheets. You will have your number in under 30 minutes! Happy Entrepreneuring!  

 

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.  

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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!

I am a multi-passionate entrepreneur. Across the businesses I am a teacher, coach, and cheerleader, but my businesses are very different and have very different audiences. I teach and coach entrepreneurs with their money and strategy, I tutor and coach non-traditional law students through school and the bar, and I teach ballet, tap , and jazz one day a week. And I am passionate about each one of my ventures. I know there are some of you out there who are just like me. I wanted to take a minute and support you by providing a few tips and tricks for balancing the finances across entrepreneurial pursuits. We will start with the “rules.”

 

Rule number 1: Every venture is different; you must separate your finances. Period. I have accounts for each business. I have check books for each business. I go so far as to have Stripe for one and PayPal for another to process payments. The money is earned in different businesses. By using PayPal, I can also “park” the money until I need to transfer it. No co-mingling. I keep everything absolutely separate. So should you.

 

Rule number 2: Expenses are different and should be tracked for each venture separately. This is as easy as putting all the receipts in a different folder, one for each business. Make sure that you pay the right expenses from the right account. Another benefit of PayPal is I can send money directly from the business account to pay expenses. You can set up the same for your businesses. Keep them separate.

 

Rule number 3: Taxes are separate in each business. You must pay the self-employment taxes on each venture. If you are a sole proprietor in the US, you will have one EIN if you are operating with your own social security number. You can make a single tax deposit online to cover the taxes for all three, but you must keep withholding separate in your tracking. You must file a “Schedule C” every year for each business that you own as a sole proprietor on your taxes.  If you are an LLC, Limited, Corp or any other structure you must absolutely deposit your own taxes but let your accountant do the K-1 filings at the end of the year.

 

It doesn’t have to be complicated for the multi-passionate entrepreneur. I sit down and handle each business separately and in turn. I have a written spending plan for each, and the B-number that goes with them. I spend less than 1 hour a month on the financial planning and management of the companies.

 

How to do it:

 

  1. Have Your B-Number. Know your B-Number for each business separately and have a written spending plan for each. I’ll say it again, know your breakthrough numbers and have a plan for the money in each business. If you need to calculate your breakthrough number get the free workbook at entremoneycoach.com. This step will save a ton of stress and crazy. You know what you need to make, what you need to pay, and where your money is going.

 

  1. Use color coding. I have different colored folders for each business. I mark receipts as I have them and place them in the correct folder by color. To avoid payment errors, I have checks in different colors with a little icon in the corner. Color coding keeps everything easy and organized. You can find different colored folders at any office supply store.

 

  1. Delegate what you aren’t good at, or don’t like to do. Stay organized with a virtual assistant, bookkeeper, accountant, etc. The actual bookkeeping for my businesses is very straightforward, and I don’t do it, and it takes less than 3 hours a month for all the businesses. I only manage the income and planning.

 

  1. Always have a plan for your money. Don’t let your money run off and spend itself. Know what each business’s income is for. Your money every month needs to have a purpose. You may decide to take a salary from one business, with the intent to use the money to grow a different one. Have a plan, withhold your taxes, and use your money strategically.

 

I celebrate multi-passionate entrepreneurs like me and understand that being organized can sometimes be a challenge. But take these few steps above to make managing the finances across multiple businesses easier. Happy entrepreneruing!

NOTE: I am not an insurance agent, I don’t sell any policies, I don’t recommend products and that is best left to the professionals in the field. This is just mine and my husband Mike’s story. A story about what we wish we knew to protect our family as small business owners. I am sharing primarily because I work with entrepreneurs and these are the things we wish we would have known back in 2013. 

As the Entre Money Coach I get asked frequently, “What made you become a financial coach?” So, I am just going to share our raw story, and our mistakes that closed our previous company.  That closure threw us into severe financial difficulty, and took nearly  three and a half years to dig out. Also, this post is not about life insurance, the most obvious, or even insurance for our physical business. I want to share the types of insurance that we didn’t know about but can perhaps prevent financial ruin for another family.

When Mike wanted to start a consulting business in 2011, I was so excited. And it was great. It really was. Mike and I followed the state guide, took all the legal steps, got our business license and set up our office space in our home. Then we took courses through the Small Business Administration and met with awesome advisors through SCORE. In short, we followed the “rules.”

We had a business plan, a (now defunct) website, worked hard, read everything, learned a lot, made a ton of rookie mistakes, embraced them, kept going. After about a year or so, we thought we had it figured out. And for the business, we sorta did. But today we talk about UNEQ Consulting (pronounced unique), LLC, in the past tense. It’s been gone since March of 2014. Because on November 1st 2013, Mike was working at a site in Eufaula, Alabama and fell head first 18 feet off of a ladder. Onto concrete. Yup. In three seconds, our life was changed forever.Mike survived the accident. Thank God. Had he passed? This would be a different conversation. But Mike survived, with a severe head injury and years of rehabilitation ahead. But this post isn’t about the accident.dandelion seeds blown into the air

Here’s why our story is important. It’s about what we didn’t do, and really never thought about. It’s our mistakes in not protecting our family and livelihood first as self-employed small business owners. I am sharing so that you can make different decisions.

So, here’s a short list of what we wish we had done:
Had a management reserve, or emergency fund with three months of our B-number saved in it, so we could take regular paychecks for a while. 
  • Had some sort of disability insurance on Mike, or “business continuity” or Key Man insurance.
  • Understood that unemployment insurance is for the employed- just not the self-employed
  • And that Social Security has an “exclusionary” period for around five months, where even if you are approved, there is no back pay
  • Not incur unnecessary debt.  For example, credit cards “we paid off every month.” We paid them every month until the income ran out, the deductibles started needing to be paid, and I had to choose. I have a course module on when it is the “right” time to leverage for growth. But we weren’t doing that. Sometimes our b-number went on the plastic and that was a big mistake

November 1st, 2019 just marked six years since our life changing event. Mike has made an amazing recovery, and it took years of digging in and working hard to recover financially. We paid it all in full, including the IRS lien on the house (for back self-employment taxes), and have sworn off personal debt. Over those six years we have been busy. I finished law school and became a consumer attorney and financial coach. Mike went through three grueling years of rehabilitation and walks without a cane.

This is why I coach entrepreneurs to avoid the financial mistakes we made. I want your business to serve your customers for many years to come. Long after the scary 5 year statistic. We hope that this post reaches just one person who needs to read it, and that they take action now to protect their livelihood and family. Please share our story with every self-employed person and small business owner you know.