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Financial Tips for Your Side Hustle

Here is the final installment in our “financial tips for” different industries—Financial Tips for Your Side Hustle. This article is for anyone building a business on the side of a full-time job or on the side of another business.  Creating a side business and growing it to allow you to replace your 9-5 and go full time into entrepreneurship is an exciting journey. Here are a few financial tips to help you make that happen.

 

Financial Tips for Your Side Hustle

 

 

Start Your Separate Personal Financial Identity immediately

 

From day one, treat your business as a business. Separate your banking, get a debit card for business expenses, and have all income from all sources deposited into the account. Just point your PayPal, Stripe, Square, or whatever you use to the business account.  Pay your expenses from that account. You will file a different tax schedule when you own a business. Keep receipts and treat it like the real business it is right from the start.

 

 

 

Have a Pricing Strategy That Gets You Into Profit Quickly

 

Many times, when entrepreneurs begin side businesses they start off with pricing that is often too low to make much of a profit. This can be because there is the feeling that the venture is for “extra money,” so making even just a little bit is “fine.” Yet, the best strategy is to be priced correctly from the beginning, so you aren’t just breaking even or worse, losing money with your side hustle.  You are in business to make money, and that means pricing yourself to include your real costs, your paycheck, and some profit to make sure you have capital for growth.  Follow this link (Mastering Your Cash Flow (kartra.com)) for my free three part pricing formula.

 

You don’t have to lose money the first few years in business. See this blog post (5 Tips for Maximizing Business Profits (entremoneycoach.com)) more tips to maximize your profits.

 

 

Set up for your Self-Employment Taxes and pay them at least quarterly

 

Part of treating your business like a business right away is to set yourself up to file your taxes as a business. In the U.S. if you are a sole proprietor that means a schedule C.  When you file that report of self-employment you will need to pay your self-employment taxes. Make it a habit from the start, and you will always be in compliance with the IRS. I learned this lesson the hard way, and ended up owing over $27k in self-employment taxes back the year of my husband’s accident when we lost our consulting business.  We did not set ourselves up, and taxes were an afterthought. Oops.

 

It’s easy to set up to pay your taxes online, visit https://eftps.gov and register. They have to snail mail you a PIN so it takes a few days to set up, but once you are enrolled you can easily make online deposits into your “tax account.” You should deposit 20-30% to start, based on your other job, tax bracket, etc. Visit your accountant to figure out exactly what is best for your situation. But just do it. I withhold when I take a paycheck, I don’t even wait for quarterly anymore!

 

 

If you are going to scale and leave your 9-5 have a plan

 

As you are scaling and building your side hustle to become your full-time gig, I always recommend having a plan. It won’t be perfect, and it will probably change, but you should know your numbers, have some money squirrelled away, and keep debt down so that the payments, if any, are manageable on your new entrepreneurial salary. Plan your income and profit each quarter, knowing how much you need to make to pay everything, including yourself.

 

And know that sometimes businesses take off faster than expected, sometimes they take longer.  Have a real conversation with yourself around what the minimum number of sales or clients you have to consistently have to make a move. It doesn’t always have to be a calendar date! Make your plan around events that happen inside your side hustle and celebrate every milestone.

Financial Tips for E-Commerce Sellers

For the past few weeks, I have been doing a Financial Tip series. This week, we will be focusing on Financial Tips for E-Commerce Sellers. In this blog, we will tackle 4 topics that would allow E-Commerce sellers to take their businesses to the next level. 

 

 

 

FINANCIAL TIPS FOR E-COMMERCE SELLERS

 

 

Know what you are REALLY being charged to use the platform

 

If you are using a shopping platform such as Etsy, Poshmark, Shopify, or E-Bay, know that there are considerable fees that can be a part of each transaction. If there is an embedded payment service, there are transaction and interchange fees for taking payment. Then there are fees for listings, advertising, and renewing items on the platforms. These are common, and the cost of doing business with these services. Just know what they are. I had a client one time on Etsy who ended up paying almost 40% of an item with advertising (someone bought through the Etsy ad link), listing, shipping, and payment. When we looked at the numbers she didn’t realize it was so high.

 

 

 

Get your shipping down with pre-paid services

 

I got this tip from a friend of mine who mails out about 100 packages a week! There are places to buy pre-paid labels for the postal service here in the US to get shipping costs down. My husband has used Pirateship (Free USPS shipping software | Pirate Ship) to ship some packages from his coffee business, and it saved his customers anywhere from $1.50-$4.00 per package. That’s significant!

 

A few others to check out are:

 

If you are reading me in the US, another thing to do is to contact your local business development specialist at the United States Postal Service. They can give you referral codes for vendor partners to create your shipping labels at no cost! My husband had a short conversation with our local post office and had promo codes for five vendors the same day!

 

 

Maximize profits with good pricing and good transaction records

 

I frequently see pricing mistakes in this industry, and often it is because entrepreneurs just double or triple their wholesale costs. It would be better, and more accurate to do a breakdown of operating costs and labor that should be included above the wholesale price of an item. Finally, I like to see an added profit margin.  If you need a good pricing formula for any product or service grab my free resource.

 

Often times I see labor as a sticking point in pricing goods.  If you are a reseller, don’t forget to include the time it takes you to shop, take photos, upload and list items, and pack them, when you calculate pricing.  If you are selling items that you make, know how long it takes you to create the item you sell, and make sure that is considered above your operating costs and the actual wholesale cost to make, photo, list, advertise, and sell the item.

 

Once you figure out your operating costs, please include the costs of using the platform that we talked about above, consider adding a flat labor cost to every item, and then a flat profit amount. For example, you can add $10.00 to an item to cover labor and profit above what you need to recover to make the sale. If that isn’t enough, you can go up, if it’s too much, you can go down.

 

 

Another key to ensuring you are maximizing profit is to keep meticulous transaction records. If you need to pay to relist the item, that additional fee is coming out of your profit margin. Know exactly what to pay for everything you make and everything you sell. If you paid $23.00 for a designer item to resell on Poshmark, you need to record that amount.

 

Estimating what you paid or what it costs to make something is an easy way to lose money in your business. What you paid is the starting place of your pricing structure to make money in this business. You can use a spreadsheet, just a notebook, or some software, whatever feels good for you, but don’t skip this step.

 

 

Check your expenses and margins quarterly

 

A lot of things can change in 90 days in ecommerce. Set aside time to review the expenses in your business. Look at the time you are taking to create and list your items. See if your shipping rates are still working. Look at your platform expenses and make sure that you adjust prices as necessary to cover any new increases.

 

Take the time to check your profit margins as well. Is one platform outperforming another in sales? Are your margins staying relatively consistent or are you going wildly up and down on certain items? You can take an average sale at your average price in a few categories and look for trends. If you typically sell items at $35.00, $60.00, and $85.00, look at a few sales in each of those price ranges. That’ll keep you from feeling overwhelmed at the idea of reviewing 1200 transactions! Make sure everything you sell makes a profit. Likewise, limit your losses. Because I know that sometimes lose a little bit to move something stored in inventory for a while.  

 

There are million-dollar eCommerce businesses built every year around the world. People love point-and-click convenience. The ability to get items that aren’t readily available where they live and unique online finds.

 

Financial Tips for Coaches and Consultants

This article is relevant for all service providers, but I’m focusing on coaches and consultants who use the online space to make sales and provide services. Here are a few financial tips for coaches and consultants to make the finances easier, and better, for service providers!

Financial Tips for Coaches and Consultants

 

FINANCIAL TIPS FOR COACHES AND CONSULTANTS

Have a financial structure for money management and taxes right away

 

I see service providers frequently live out of their own personal accounts for a while. It’s so important to set up your business bank account and to create a system for withholding taxes and paying yourself as soon as you can.  Typically profit margins can be larger in the online space, because the cost of doing business is minimal, and I see many entrepreneurs make the mistake of treating their revenue as, “it’s all my money anyway.” This co-mingling makes it difficult to hire contractors, such as a social media manager, because you shouldn’t pay business expenses from a personal account. This can create a tax nightmare.

 

You must pay self-employment taxes on your own paycheck, and if you are using the money in that account, even for business purposes, it be your own personal money. Create a separate financial identity from the start. Get a business bank account. Set up your online deposit with the Internal Revenue Service or your home tax agency and make sure you are withholding and depositing your taxes. Pay yourself every two weeks and let the rest of the money sit in the bank until you get paid again or must pay bills.

 

Calculate everything in your pricing, and know your numbers and your margins

 

My next tip is one that I get some pushback on, I want you to calculate your numbers and know your margins. The reason I get pushback is because people frequently want to “feel” into their pricing, which isn’t a bad thing, but just make sure your feelings are profitable. 

 

I worked with an entrepreneur who was losing money on her most expensive package. By the time we calculated the hours, the services and additional bonuses and things provided, her $1500.00 package had a net LOSS of $80.00 per client. OUCH. In fact, her most profitable package was $195.00. It was extremely hard for her to hear, but it was the truth. Her lower cost packages were covering her losses. She was very frustrated in business, and that was why.

 

You need to know how much you need to make, how much you are legitimately profiting, how many things you need to sell, and at what price, to grow your business strategically and sustainably. Please get your numbers.

 

Stop feast or famine with payment plans and signature offers

 

Coaching and consulting can be feast or famine, and the income can be very unpredictable, especially when you are starting out and haven’t built up your client base. To stabilize your income quickly, please have payment plans available for anything you offer over a certain dollar amount. You get to decide, but I have a client that offers at least 2 payments for anything over $299.00. I have another client that starts at $500.00 and still another that starts at $1,000.00

 

When you offer payment plans you are giving people access to your programs and services at a price point, they can more easily afford, and you get to project income out into the future. Just make sure you cover any additional interchange fees, the fees charged by the bank for running the card each time, in your pricing. Based on the dollar amount, that may be just a few dollars. Again, this is your decision.

 

I know there are some people who do not recommend extending payment plans beyond the length of the program or service the client is buying.  I understand that there is a risk that they will get the service and not pay the remainder. But, while there is a little risk that someone will not honor their payments, generally people follow through, and if you have good policies and procedures surrounding payments (discussed below), you can protect yourself from these instances.

 

Have policies to protect you from chargebacks and from giving refunds if you do not offer them

 

Do not accept anything without a payment agreement. I have a podcast episode, “Get it in Writing” that talks through the basics of what should be in an agreement. I want to talk here specifically around payments. Protect yourself from chargebacks. That is where someone complains to the credit card company or payment portal, and the company gives them the money back- straight from your account. If you do not have anything in writing that says, “no refunds” or “all sales are final” then you will not win against the payment vendor.

 

Make sure that your terms and conditions are required for EVERY sale you make. Take the time to draft them or have an attorney help you and post them inside the sales process. For longer programs or bigger ticket items, send a follow-up agreement in writing to clients. There are a few people in the world that will try to take advantage, and having good, clear, and acknowledged policies surrounding payments will protect your income and your business.

 

Coaches and consultants need to protect themselves financially. I have a special place in my heart for this group of entrepreneurs, because it’s where Mike and I started with UNEQ Consulting in 2011, and I wish I would have had these tips, and had taken this advice back then.

 

 

Author’s Note:

If you enjoyed this blog about Financial Tips for Coaches and Consultants, feel free to visit my other blogs and resources

Financial Tips For Writers

Let me start by saying that writers don’t have to be starving artists to be successful. Today, in this blog, we’ll be talking about financial tips for writers.

financial tips for writers

 

The fact is, you’re a business owner, you are self-employed, and you’re actually running the business of you. To run a business, you must have some money. When people say they just want to write and not worry about the money, what they’re saying is, I’m not interested in, protecting, growing, and developing the business of me, which is the income and revenue-generating source of my business.

 

 

With that in mind, here are some financial tips for writers

 

 

Have a monthly budget and put away enough of your advance or royalties to cover 3-6 months of expenses

 

In the book writing world, your royalty checks are held anywhere from 2-6 months after books are sold. That’s a long time to wait to get paid. I know that many writers have a feast and famine cycle in their financial lives for this reason. One of the best ways to break that cycle is to make sure your personal expenses are covered every month and the money is in the bank. This will bring some security and can support your ability to create by removing financial stress. Calculate the costs of your food, utilities, rent or mortgage and transportation every month and squirrel away the amount you need to pay a few months of your expenses.

 

If you are freelancing or writing for a magazine or other organization that pays regularly, know what you need to bring in every month, and price your articles and projects accordingly. Make sure you can cover your monthly expenses. As soon as possible create an emergency fund and squirrel away a few months of income to prevent the feast and famine of the publishing world.

 

 

Think of your labor in a book as a sunk cost  

 

It is very hard sometimes to imagine recovering some financial benefit to all the hours you put into developing your work. It is much more difficult than somebody who, say, a jewelry designer, who knows that it takes an hour and a half to make a certain piece, and we can put a direct dollar figure to what they want to recover. So, I’m going to start by saying I understand that writing is hours and hours and hours and having an hourly rate that you recover actually could be very difficult to calculate. This may give people a little bit of a pause about using a formula because it may seem more complicated.

 

But just pricing a book and hoping to sell a bunch of copies isn’t necessarily the best business model, because you don’t know whether or not you’re actually making back what you’re putting in to generating the work. It’s smart to have a sales goal; a financial goal, for the work.

 

think about pricing accordingly

 

There are two considerations you can use for this. The first one is you need to know how much you need to recover for your personal money. During the time you spent writing, on average, what do you need each month for food for your rent or mortgage for your transportation for all your utilities? Having that as a base as an operating figure that you would use?

 

Then, how many months did it take you to write this particular piece of work? How many months of operating expenses? Did you basically put out during the time that this was in development and being written, so having that number there gives us a place to start for you to recover money for your personal needs. If you were to consider your operating costs, let’s say that it took you five months to develop this particular piece of work, and your operating costs every month are $3,000, you’re looking at $15,000 as the minimum that you need to make back in order to cover your own time. Time that in reality you “loaned” the book to write it.

 

The second consideration is to come up with a number or percentage of costs that are profits. Adding a little bit of extra money to the cost of a book for profit is important, but in all honesty I get a lot of pushback from creatives on generating profits.

 

 

Don’t let your love of writing overshadow your need for profits

It isn’t just writers. For some reason, many creatives want to be the altruistic entrepreneur.  The fact is that the more profit you make the more impact you can have. Price your books and services and deals for profitability.

 

If you’re not making a profit, you can’t have a level of impact above anybody else. How can I say this? Well, how can you be insanely generous and donate to the causes that mean something to you?

 

How can you create opportunities or hire people? Whether it’s a cleaner for your home, or an editor, or an assistant? You can’t do those things without making a profit. In some ways, profit is your duty. As a business owner, you really are the only engine that is going to generate additional money in the marketplace; support other people and causes, or allow you to do volunteer work. When you look at profit as an impact you can see that it’s okay to make a profit.

 

Writers have unique gifts and storylines to bring to the world. But the vision of the starving artist does a huge disservice to craft. Follow the tips I had discussed to make sure you make money while doing what you love. 

 

 

Author’s Note: 

Did you enjoy reading Financial Tips for Writers? If this is something that resonates with you and you need further assistance to take your business on to the next stage, visit my RESOURCE CENTER

Food Business

Do you have a food business? Whether it is a cottage business like a home bakery, or a restaurant, or takeout place, there are a few key things you can do to stay in profit in your business. Here are some financial tips for food businesses. 

Food business

 

 

Financial Tips for Food Businesses

 

Know your real food costs on everything you sell and have good margins

 

  • Make sure you calculate your food costs, don’t guess. Take the time to know what it really costs you to create that dish or bake that cake. All the costs involved. Include costs of packaging, labels, and labor, to calculate the true prices. Consequently, that container adds to the cost of delivering the food, as do any food labels– whether it is served in-house or sold online.

 

  • Don’t forget operational expenses and waste costs in your pricing scheme as well. For instance, every business has fixed operating expenses such as rent, internet, and phone. However, as a food business, you also must include waste and other costs like linens, that other industries do not have to include.

 

  • Watch your margins. If you are producing food products, I like to see 60% or better, if you are reselling items, I like to see north of 35%. You will save money, and will have higher margins, by buying ingredients and producing items in-house versus re-selling food that was already made.

 

Watch your inventory spend

 

It is VERY, VERY, VERY easy to overbuy inventory in a food business. In fact, suppliers give volume discounts. It is important to remember that any money you have tied up in inventory is money that you do not have available for other things.

 

Keep in mind how often you can get a delivery from your suppliers. Is the savings of $10.00 worth the additional $77.00 in your walk-in or freezer?

 

Good inventory management will allow you to have better cashflow. Knowing your top sellers and the items that need to be on a regular schedule of ordering will prevent the “feast and famine” orders swinging hundreds of dollars each week.

 

Have an emergency fund and keep debt low

 

Lots of things can happen that affect revenue in your business. If you have bad weather and your restaurant doors are closed for a day or two, or a shipment of your cookies gets damaged and needs to be replaced, it costs your business money.  Relying on the public to decide to eat out or order in on a given night isn’t always predictable. Keeping some cash stashed is a good idea to offset any lower revenue months. Typically, quarter one each year is brutal on food businesses. Having the money set aside to cover any income dips can be the difference between staying in business and not.

 

Along the same lines, keeping debt low is important. Most of the inventory in food businesses are perishable and aren’t available as collateral to take out an emergency line of credit if needed.

 

For example, the depreciation of equipment also can make the food business equipment a little riskier for the bank to loan on for full value.  In addition, not having a lot of debt in the business can also make a difference in the success of a food business in a slower season.

 

Create a sinking fund for equipment repair and replacement

 

Food preparation requires equipment. Ovens, fryers, stovetops, refrigerators, etc., are commonly found in restaurants and home food businesses. These pieces of equipment will often need regular maintenance, and at some point, replacement. Creating a separate fund early in the business where money is parked for these specific needs can ensure that if a piece of equipment goes down, the restaurant budget doesn’t struggle to cover the repairs.  This fund truly protects the business from expensive appliance repairs that must be made to keep the business running.

 

 

Author’s Note on Financial Tips for Food Businesses:

 

Using these tips will help to ensure that your food business operates with finances in the black. You can protect yourself and your business from the most probable money issues facing your industry by:

  • getting good margins
  • only having the necessary inventory
  • having an emergency fund and keeping debt low
  • saving to maintain equipment.

 

Did this blog bring you a bit more clarity?

 

Then visit our linktree below for some useful resources!

 

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