Are your business finances stuck in a money rut? Often, we get so comfortable with our money habits that we forget there are new things to try. Our system goes stagnant and we wonder why our finances feel so dead.
Not this year! Now is the perfect time to start new money habits for your business. Try implementing these money habits little by little or do a complete overhaul of your financial system. You may be surprised at how simple these money habits are, yet they can have a big impact on how you run your business and your finances.
Here are my top money habits to start right now to rock your business:
Add invoice due dates to your calendar
Raise your hand if this has ever happened to you: You send an invoice to a customer. You get really busy with the next project, and being the badass you are, throw yourself deep into your work. You finish that project, send your invoice, and realize, “Hey that other person never paid their invoice and it’s 30 days overdue!”
If you having cash flow issues in your business then adding invoice due dates to your calendar is a must. It’s a double must if you’re forgetful or tend to move quickly from one project to another.
One of the top reasons small businesses feel strapped for cash is because their inflow (what they get paid) isn’t coming in quick enough to keep up with the outflow (what they spend). This is because people are laggers and often need several reminders before they pay.
Adding invoice due dates to your calendar helps you keep on top of the laggers and move their laggy butts along when you need cash. Extra bonus points for adding a late fee to your invoice so that, once the due date has passed, you can send them an updated invoice with a fee for your troubles.
Subtract 30% from everything you earn
Do you ever notice how when you’re self-employed it feels like you’re making waaaaaaaay more money than when you got a paycheck? Large sums of money get plopped into your bank account and it’s party-time-excellent almost every day.
Except I have some bad news for you. That big chunk of money isn’t all yours. In fact, at least 30% will be going out to the IRS come tax time.
Avoid major disappointment down the road by factoring in the 30% before you go on a spending spree. You are actually taxed on your net income (everything you make AFTER expenses) but it’s still helpful to subtract 30% of your gross income just to be safe.
This is especially important when doing planning for your business. A lot of people will set financial goals and make plans to scale their business without factoring in their taxes. Then, when they reach their goals, they’re surprised that they aren’t grinding in a whirlwind of Benjamins.
Add this money habit to your routine- automatically (at least mentally) subtracting 30% from what you earn- so your aren’t dancing to tiny violins come tax time.
Pay your debt first
There are a million things I know you’d rather spend your money on than debt. And it’s hard to tear yourself away from all the fun to pay off the money you’ve already spent. But… debt is a very real part of life and needs to be dealt with sooner or later.
Prioritizing your debt may not leave you feeling on top of the world, but it will help you build a strong financial base for your business. You see, your business isn’t a one-time thing. It’s something you’re building over the course of many years. And you want to teach it to stand tall and strong on its own two feet.
Leaving debt to fester just makes it that much harder to get your business to stand up straight.
Start looking for ways to pay off your debt, even if it means putting off buying that new and shiny gadget or software program. It’s easy to get caught up in the, “But if I buy this for my business it will help me make more money” cycle.
If you get lured into this line, consider this: Whatever thing you want to buy is not guaranteed to help your business grow. You know what is guaranteed to help your business? Paying off your debt.
Check your budget before you spend
Your budget is there for a reason! So often people spend a bunch of time fine tuning their budget only to blow it off when the next fun thing comes around. Having a budget is not the same as using a budget. And using a budget is the thing that is going to help you manage your cash in your business.
Consider your budget a spending map. That means every time you are going to spend money on something, consult your map to make sure you are moving in the right direction.
Also, just because you don’t like what your budget tells you doesn’t mean you shouldn’t listen to it. You may have to get used to not hearing what you want to help you rein in your spending to better align with your goals.
If you are particularly susceptible to blowing off your budget, consider making a list of all the things your budget will enable you to do. Maybe it’s saving for a vacation or just being able to pay yourself enough to live off of without stress.
Whatever it is, check your budget then review your goals list to remind yourself what’s really important when that shiny gadget comes along.
Save what you earn from unexpected projects
It’s the most wonderful feeling when an unexpected project or client lands in your lap. Our natural instinct is to celebrate this small win by rewarding ourselves with something nice.
Now, I’m all for celebration and rewards, but one of the most successful saving strategies I’ve found is to save all the money I earn from unexpected projects (ie those that are not factored into my income budget). Often people ask how I’m able to take trips or save as much as I do and it’s because I consider random projects or clients savings money.
Usually I’ll take a tiny bit to have some fun with (because seriously what’s the point if we aren’t enjoying out money?) and then 90-95% goes straight into savings. Just this year, this strategy has enabled me to take a trip to Hawaii, Vietnam and Cambodia, New York, Puerto Rico, and Portland. I’ve also met my business savings goals, tax savings goals, and personal savings goals employing this strategy.
The best part? Nothing about my regular finances has to change. It’s money I didn’t expect to earn, which means my personal and business budget stay the same.
What money habits are you trying to start this year?