This question has come up a lot (as it should) so it’s time we address it here. One of the goals of your business is to make money, but how do you go about using that money for your life? Here are a few questions to help you figure that out. Today, I’m speaking to sole proprietors and single-member LLCs, but if you’re not in that category and have questions on this, let me know.
What do you need? Think through the costs associated with your most basic needs (rent, food, fuel, utilities, etc.). Be realistic about this and don’t try to make some spartan budget if you know that’s not going to work for you. We’re just gathering information here so put down your best estimates.
What do you want? Go to the next level and think about what you envision and want for your life, usually you will have goals that are beyond your current situation and that’s great! How would that new reality change the numbers above (usually they will be bigger!)? Again put together your best guess of how much it would take to fund that goal or lifestyle. These answers will help inform your revenue targets or how much your business needs to make.
What can your business realistically support? According to the Profit First method, if you’re a new business or a business bringing in less than $250K/year, you would aim to pay yourself 50% of revenue (after materials and subcontractors) to start. That leaves the rest for operating expenses, taxes, etc. How does that number match up with what you need and want? If your business doesn’t currently have the margins to pay you what you need/want, here are your go-to solutions: increase sales and/or decrease expenses. Another option is to take on a part-time job to help keep you afloat for a bit – just make sure this doesn’t take you too much away from actually being able to GROW the business. I’ll be touching more on this soon when I share my book review of Profit First.
How do you record it? When you pay yourself, it’s not a payroll expense and will not show up on your Profit and Loss. Instead, it will show up on your balance sheet as a reduction in equity and cash.
Now is a great time of year to think about investing in your business. There are going to be plenty of upcoming sales this quarter (for software, digital products, and physical products) so let’s talk about how you can time it right to invest in your business at a great price.
Over time, I’ve used this same approach to add tools and resources to my business to support operations and growth in a sustainable way. Each item or tool I’ve added has special meaning and value 1) I know that my business earned the dollars to support the spend which is satisfying in itself; and 2) each addition was well thought out and intentional.
Questions to ask yourself
When you think about purchasing something for your business, you want to ask yourself a few questions to assess needs vs. wants along with appropriate timing.
Is this purchase necessary for my business? Is this item necessary to support business operations? This one is kind of a no-brainer, but still important to start with. Sometimes you must spend on items that are absolutely necessary, but may not be directly related to revenue generating activities. This is a great question to ask in all circumstances as there are items you may THINK you NEED, but they are actually just shiny “wants” that are a distraction and not the best use of your funds.
Will this purchase support my business growth? Will this purchase generate revenue? Will you be able to turn around and make a profit using this new product or tool? If you will be able to make a return on your investment, that’s the ultimate purchase win. Will it enable you to offer a new service or work more efficiently? Will it set you up for growth without the growing pains?
Is it time for this yet? Sometimes a purchase may not be a bad idea, but it’s a bit too soon. It may be a great product or service, but your business may not be able to support the spend yet or it may be a tool or software that is overkill for the stage you’re in.
Does this purchase fit my current means? Is it in budget? Even if it would really be nice, but if it’s going to break the bank you may want to hold off until you have the plan or the funds in place to comfortably make it work without putting your cash flow and bottom line unnecessarily at risk.
Once you’ve answered these questions, you should be able to more confidently make the decision to purchase or not to purchase. If you decide to purchase, make sure you document and record the transaction so you can see how it impacts your business as well as your tax return.
If you’re ready to invest in your business, I’ve got something exciting to share with you. In January 2021, I’m launching a 6-week LIVE program to walk you step-by-step throughhow to implement the most foundational financial systems and processes in your business so you can move from feeling stuck and unsure to in-control and empowered in your business decision-making. I’m opening up 10 spots to work with me to create true transformation – if you want in, book a call here (spots are limited!).
Q4 brings the possibility of a fresh start for a strong finish. Right now, many business owners are still feeling overwhelmed and disheartened as they manage massive change in their business and personal life. The sense of potential that comes from a temporal landmark like Q4 or the holiday sales season may be just what we need to give us the oomph to make progress on that goal or take action on that one thing you keep thinking about, but not doing. I say ride that potential as far as you can and use it to your advantage!
A couple of practical tips to make this work for you…
Set aside some time over the next few days or this weekend to reflect and plan. Review your current goals and tasks and create some realistic expectations for the next few months. Make sure to take the holidays into consideration if you celebrate as you may want to give yourself extra space during that time to rest, recharge, and be present.
Make it a date and put it on a calendar (paper or digital) so it’s in front of you day to day and week to week and has time allotted to it. For this I like to put down everything I know is going to happen to see what space I’m working with, then I can visualize what time I’m working with to achieve my goals and complete tasks and projects. I especially utilize recurring time slots for certain projects/tasks or I block out specific windows of time for others.
A few key business points to remember for this quarter:
Talk to your staff and customers and ask them for their feedback on their experience with your business this year.
Review what’s working and what’s not with your offers, products, or services.
If you’re launching any special sales or products for the holidays – make that part of your Q4 strategy. Here’s a great list of pertinent dates.
Get caught up or stay on top of your bookkeeping as year end is right around the corner. If you’re up-to-date, end-of-year filing and reporting is going to be so much easier for you. If you need help with this part let’s set up a time to talk it over (you can book your call here). I’m also offering a new online training in early 2021 for those of you who would like support, but aren’t quite ready to jump into a one-on-one relationship yet. Business Financial Foundations (B.F.F.) is a 6-week LIVE program to walk you step-by-step through how to implement the most foundational financial systems and processes in your business. I’m opening up just 10 spots to work with me to create true transformation and we’re getting started on January 7th. If you want in, let’s hop on a call and talk some business strategy! Book a call with me here.
Hope this overview was helpful, leave a comment below with how you are approaching Q4. Would love to hear what you’re up to!
Running a business takes A LOT of work, but when we can get the financial management piece to run a bit more smoothly, you will feel more in-control and empowered and less out-of-control and helpless.
Think about this for a moment…
What are the words and feelings that come to mind when you hear the phrase business finances? Are they positive? Negative? Neutral? For those of you who experience feelings of frustration, confusion, and fear when you think about this topic – please know, you are absolutely not alone and I want to share something with you right now that might lighten the load just a bit…
Your business financials provide information NOT identity.
Sometimes we are afraid to approach the topic because we may see areas for improvement and perceive them as personal failures (which are painful to face). I challenge you to take a different approach and take on the attitude of curiosity on a quest for improvement. What you don’t know CAN hurt you so get in there and start discovering and figuring out where you can do better. Take a clinical approach and imagine you are searching out information to inform your decision-making vs. searching for mistakes that you’ve made.
The process of recording and reviewing your financial information is a PRACTICE that will be unique to you and your business and will change as you learn and as you and your business grow. The sooner you start and the more you practice, the quicker you can find out what methods and systems work for you.
Knowing your numbers and having a firm grasp on your financial picture allows you to plan AND react from a place of empowered confidence. Even when the scenario is not what you wish it was – awareness matters. If you are aware of what is, you can take effective steps to make better, more informed decisions and have more options at your disposal. The most sure path to improvement is to keep going, keep practicing, and keep showing up.
Simple Steps Will Get You Started
Your must have tools to get started are really only a laptop, phone, and a notebook. Coffee helps too of course:) If you can set aside time each day/week/month to record transactions, you will thank yourself later! When I first started working with one of my clients, they would wait until the end of the year to review their records and prepare for tax time. Not only was that negatively hanging over their head throughout the year and putting a ton of pressure on them at year-end, they were also missing out on information that could enhance their decision-making and giving up headspace and bandwidth to that massive to-do.
Now they have a system in place that allows them to stay on track, make informed decisions (they are planning to make their first hire), and tax time was a breeze this year! I share this to let you know that you are not alone, and with the right mindset, workflows, and tools you can get there too!
If you’re interested in a DIY approach click here to schedule a phone call to review your options. If you’re looking for more support and someone to jump in to help you, book a call here to find out how we can work together.
Lis Lee Accounting is not a financial planner, broker, or tax advisor. Neither Lis Lee Accounting nor the content herein are intended to provide legal, tax, or financial advice. The content and materials are intended only to assist you in your general organization and decision-making for your business or practice. Lis Lee Accounting shall have no liability for errors, omissions or inadequacies in the information contained herein or for interpretations thereof.