When I was at a conference in San Diego last month, I had an epiphany about most new business owners and their business money stuff. Typically, when I work with a family on personal financial management there is a history of making financial decisions that became habit. When we work together, we have to often change years of money habits so my clients can reach their goals.  Business money management is different. Entrepreneurs are not generally “taught” how to manage their money. Rather than a habit to change, there is some learning that needs to happen.

 

In personal finance we are generally dealing with a set amount of money that consistently comes into a household as a regular paycheck on regular intervals. So, we can start from the income. Knowing how much you have to work with makes planning easier. You know how much it will take to cover all of your expenses.  When we have a deficit, a second job can be a solution, and once again we adjust to the new income.

 

Business isn’t that way. You may have income in the first week of the month and nothing in the second. We may have extreme income differences each month, and we may not know how much we will have to work with when the month starts! This difference is what often leads to cash flow emergencies in business, and stress when you are running negative cash. You must know how much you need to make to cover all of your expenses, but you may not know exactly which week you will make what you need.  Business money management is more dynamic and requires at least a weekly look at how things are going. 

 

Here are three simple steps to managing your business income as it comes in, and to keep cash on hand.

 

  1. Know your B-Number. You must know what you need to make, and you must prioritize the B-Number expenses first. Pay these above all other expenses to keep the business operating and able to keep generating income. If you do not have it, get your free worksheets at www.entremoneycoach.com.

 

  1. Track your income as you make it. You don’t need to obsess over your money each day, I had a client who did that, and she never enjoyed being an entrepreneur. Just write down what you make every day you make money. For simplicity, go ahead and write the totals on a calendar the day it comes in.

 

  1. Pay your expenses when cash flow is positive. You can pay the bills weekly or bi-weekly but know when you have made your B-Number, and when you are funding other things such as marketing, debt, and growth. Other coaches may disagree with me, but I have held the water bill for an extra week to ensure that my cash flow was positive, meaning I had more left over after I paid the bill, and didn’t let it run dry. I tend to be a little nervous about not having cash on hand, so I wait until I have sufficient cash to pay my expenses.

 

Finally, as you are making more and more over your B-Number each month, make sure you are funding an emergency fund. A good rule of thumb is three times your B-Number to keep on hand to protect against cash crunches. Just open a free checking account and start to put some money away.

Entrepreneurship means always having to say, “no worries,” even when we are worried. And as a group, we worry a lot. We want to be relevant, successful, financially secure. We are, in many cases, able to separate what we can control, and what we can’t control. But where money is concerned, 60% of entrepreneurs lose sleep when there’s a crunch. It’s safe to say that we struggle with the control thing when we are talking about our money. I am guilty of this too and am still working on it.

 

So why are we so crazy about the money? For many of us, it’s our metric of success. When we are responsible for every aspect of our business, from finding clients to keeping staff happy, juggling vendors and paying the bills, we gauge how we are doing by the amount of money we make. But when we use the bottom line as the only metric of our success any changes in the cash can increase the stress to unbearable levels. So, what can we do when we feel the financial stress rising up?

 

  1. Recognize the stress. Stress can zap your creativity and ability to make the best decisions you can make to get through a rough patch. If you can see stress rising in yourself when you review the financials you can take action to mitigate its effects. Don’t wait until you can’t sleep or turn off your brain to take action.

 

  1. Admit what you can’t control, and act accordingly. I have worked on this one for a long time. I can’t control if my invoice gets paid on time. I can’t control when people cancel appointments. I can’t control when packages arrive late. I can take affirmative steps to prevent these things from happening, but I cannot control these events when they happen. When I realize I cannot control the event, I give myself grace and a timeline for being upset.

 

  1. Don’t lie in bed and worry about money. Worry at the desk. Fine. The dinner table, fine. Not in bed. That’s not fine. If it’s not in the bank when the bank closes, it’s not in the bank. Your being up at 2am worrying about the money in the bank won’t affect your balance one bit. It will affect your ability to show up the next day. It will affect your health. Train yourself to keep financial stress outside the bedroom. If you wake up in the middle of the night and have financial worry- get up. Take it outside your sanctuary.

 

  1. Find non-monetary measures of progress and success. In today’s business world there are metrics everywhere. Websites and social media platforms can show you how you are reaching out and impacting the world. You don’t only need to measure by the money. What are a few ways you can look at your progress now without the bank book?

 

  1. Give yourself CEO space. No people. No projects. No progress reports. Schedule an hour or two a week to close yourself off to think, reflect, and to be by yourself. Use this time to brainstorm, meditate, listen to music. To Just BE. I’m still working on this. Entrepreneurs by nature are human doings much more than we are human beings.

 

Money stress when you are not in control does nothing to impact your bottom line and everything to affect your health and creativity. These skills are a work in progress for most of us. But managing to keep money stress at bay by focusing on other measures of success, ensuring a good night’s sleep, and reminding ourselves where we aren’t in control will make running your business less stressful. Happy Entrepreneuring!

Small businesses are started with an intent and design for growth. To impact more people. To serve a larger audience over time. That’s why entrepreneurs start businesses, right? More growth typically means more money. Another reason we start a business.  Keeping your finances organized for growth can be tricky. Particularly if your business grows quickly. Growing businesses mean growing expenses. Perhaps the addition of a new team member or increased wholesale or raw material costs. So, how do you keep track of it all? Here are five tips for organizing your finances for growth.

 

  1. Make sure you have all of your bills and expenses in one place. You should never have to go looking for a bill to pay it. Write down who you pay, what it’s for, account numbers, contact information, and online login info in a notebook, on a spreadsheet, or just on a list in a Word document. Keep this list updated anytime you make a change to the business expenses.

 

  1. Be intentional with your payments and take all your bills off autopay. If you aren’t already, this is the time to manage cash flow very carefully. You need to be in control of your cash. Holding the water bill for a day or two while you are waiting for your invoice to be paid keeps cash in your pocket just in case. Cash flow issues cause sleepless nights in around 60% of entrepreneurs. Control yours.

 

  1. Track all money coming in, in writing, and leave it in the holding account until you pay bills, payroll, or write yourself a paycheck. Don’t use any money coming in before it’s time. When you are growing you may have intermittent bills or newer expenses that are due in a time period that is new for you. Don’t try to rely on memory to tell you where that $65.00 cash payment went. It doesn’t have to be a complicated system. You can use a sheet of paper. JUST WRITE IT ALL DOWN.

 

  1. Have categories for your “extra money.” Miscellaneous is the category of money that runs off and spends itself, and we don’t want this. I am a firm believer in “profit parking lots” that have names, and a purpose attached. You need to have a separate bank account from your operating account for holding these profits. Use a fee free checking account, and don’t forget to look online for a bank. My clients have had great success using an online bank for their holding account.

 

  1. Don’t forget to put money in your emergency fund to protect the business you have as you are growing. Three months of your breakthrough, or B-Number, is a wise amount to put aside in case of emergency. Giving yourself a full quarter’s worth of money to cover expenses as you pivot or launch something is a smart move. To figure your B-Number use the free worksheets on www.entremoneycoach.com and the free videos on the Entre Money Coach Facebook page.

 

You don’t have to make money organization and management complicated. You just have to maintain control, track it all, and protect yourself with categories and purposes for profits. Use these five tips to prepare your business for growth. Happy Entrepreneuring!

I’ve developed the concept of the business 4 walls from the Dave Ramsey 4 Walls approach, which makes sense, since I started my practice as a Ramsey Financial Coach. Imagine the 4 walls are the sides of a box, and you will consider the things on the inside of the box more important and needing protection than things on the outside of the box. That is how you need to view your business. You need to protect the things that keep the doors open and keep you able to continue to make money. The inside of the box.

We protect those walls by prioritizing what gets paid when. You control the money. You also decide who gets paid, “how much” because the reality is that many times businesses have to juggle when invoices are paid late, or cash flow is tight. More than once I paid the electric bill in two halves instead in one payment when we first started UNEQ consulting. And it saved our cash flow.

Here are three simple steps you can take now to secure your business 4 walls.

1. Take the bills off auto pay. I am a huge proponent of intentional business money management. I want you to pay your bills intentionally. And limit electronic access to your operating account so you can control all of your money, and pay halvsies if necessary.

2. Prioritize your expenses. Organized into the four walls, you pay the bills in this order:

Wall 1. Rent or internet, and utilities, your access to your buyers
Wall 2. Critical Operating Expenses that are required to keep doors open
Wall 3. Inventory or products to sell or provide services with
Wall 4. Payroll and payroll expenses

This includes paying yourself. And not out of the till, writing a paycheck and withholding taxes. For more on this approach, and calculating your B-Number, grab the free e-book at www.entremoneycoach.com

3. Start an emergency fund. You need to protect your four walls and pay these expenses every month, even if the sales are slow or money is late to the table. This is the quarter where many businesses make a bulk of their earnings. Hold some back for the slower months of January and February. Try to hold back the amount you need to cover your four walls, so you continue to be able to get a personal paycheck in 1st Quarter 2020.

If you take these few steps you will be protecting your business, your ability to make money, and your personal income.