CRASH LANDING TO MY SMALL BUSINESS FINANCES
Small business finances can be a daunting set of words. Money is not always a comfortable topic in most social circles, which is not necessarily our fault. In my upbringing, I was never taught about budgets or managing money. When my parents gave me a nest egg of cash upon my graduation, what did I do? You guessed it. I blew that cash like it was burning a hole in my pocket the size of Texas.
When I started my journey as an entrepreneur, it was right around the time I was getting married. Trust me, hitching yourself to someone else is the fastest way to realize you actually don’t have your proverbial sh*t together and that it’s time to buckle down and “adult.”
Luckily for me, I have an incredible best friend who also just so happened to be a finance major (thank you, Universe). She taught me so many simple practices for managing my money, and it revolutionized my financial picture. The main concept she taught me was what we coined “The Bucket Method.” More on that later.
OFF SEASON FINANCES
As a wedding photographer in the Pacific Northwest, we have a distinct on and off-season to our work. Washington State goes through her “ugly phase” during the months of late November-early May. There is lots of rain, sleet, and snow mixed with our gray skies and murky green-brown landscapes. Serial killer vibes, ya know?
It’s very easy as a wedding photographer to be living la-vida-loca during the summer months when cash is flowing hand over fist, and we are rolling in it. Then winter comes, and it’s as dead as low-rise jeans and overplucked eyebrows from the 90s. However, it doesn’t have to be.
Using simple tools and practices can set you up for success with your small business finances. We just need to know three simple things:
- How much we need to be saving for monthly expenses?
- Where can we trim the excess spending?
- How to actually save this money and not accidentally spend it
Thankfully these are all questions that can be answered quickly; let’s dive in.
GET REAL ABOUT YOUR BUDGET
Now, now, stop your slow backward creep heading towards that rock you’ve been living under. This is not the time to shy away from the financial freedom you could create for yourself. This part won’t be that scary, I promise.
Using this Free Small Business Budget Template I’ve created, you’re going to list out all of your monthly expenses for your business. It’s usually easiest to open up your last 1-3 months of bank statements and see what’s been recurring OR use a service like Rocket Money to evaluate your account for recurring payments automatically. Some subscriptions or expenses are monthly, while others might be quarterly or annually. On the excel template, you’re going to break them out into these categories, filling in only the GREEN spaces. The template will do the rest to divide them into the other pay schedules automatically.
This will give you a sweet little snapshot of all your annual small business expenses as it relates to monthly, quarterly, and yearly cost. Awesome, right?
WHERE CAN WE SAVE OUR MOO-LAH
Now here’s where our template gets a little fancy. On the far right column, you’re going to see a drop-down option: Keep or Cancel. Sometimes we have these subscriptions or expenses we don’t even realize we are paying into. This is the time to clean house.
I want you to go line by line and decide if this is an expense you want to keep or if it’s something you can get rid of. There is no shame in what you need for your business. This is just a way to analyze your tools to see if you can cut down on expenses.
For any line that you end up marking “cancel,” it is now your task to go cancel that subscription and remove the line item from your budget. Watch that monthly small business expense rate drop, baby!
NOW, HOW DO I SAVE FOR ALL OF THIS?
Remember our little friend, The Bucket Method? If you haven’t taken a peek at that delicious freebie, feel free to click the link. We’ll be here when you get back.
Using the Bucket Method of setting up multiple savings accounts in your business banking account, we’re going to label one as “business savings.” This account will be your money for off-season expenses, camera repairs, education investment etc.
Looking at your annual calendar, typically as a wedding vendor, you can see when your high months of income revenue will be and when invoices will drop off. For my business, I will plan to have saved at LEAST 6 months’ worth of expenses in this account (along with other funds for camera repairs, education, etc.) by the time the wedding season is over. Overall, I like to have ~$9,000-12,000 saved for all of the items listed above. I don’t always use this much money, but I find it gives me enough buffer in case there is a conference I want to attend, a new lens, or, again, repairs that I need.
To have this amount of money in that account by the deadline I set means that whenever an invoice hits my bank account, I automatically go into the said bank account and divvy the funds amongst my business buckets. These include
- Taxes (ew!)
- Sarah’s Paycheck
- Sarah’s Solo 401k
- Business Savings
Yes. Every time an invoice hits. That means I look at my money often. This can be scary at first, but once you see it sitting there, like a sweet baby angel, you enjoy the sensation of keeping it there…hence, making yourself a glorified saver.
See, wasn’t so bad, was it? When it comes to your small business finances, you have the power to take control and rid yourself of any “scary money feelings” if you’re willing to take action to change them. Creating a budget, analyzing where you can save, and using extra savings accounts to keep money separate are the holy trinity of small business finances.
Be sure to snag your copy of the Small Business Budget Excel Sheet and get to work! I know you can do this, and I can’t wait to see the wealth you build because of it.
Onwards & Upwards