Today we are back with more Q and A, and today’s question comes from Phylicia Ghee!
“I wish I had a real life mentor to ask questions and go to for guidance, but for now I just have to work with what I have I guess, since I cant afford to go back to school for business. I still get lost in the logistics of bookkeeping, taxes and cash-flow. How did you and Jody learn to tackle, understand and keep track of those financial aspects of your business?”
Finances, taxes and cash flow are all tough when you are first thrust into a major part time or full-time biz. But, if you follow the 5 SIMPLE steps below, you will be on your way to less headaches and more fun in your business!
1. Use professionals.
We have a tax guy and a small business adviser (both work for Tax Alternatives in Nashville). Paying a small fee to have a real pro advise you is worth every penny and we have never regretted it. Do not try and do your taxes on your own when running a small business because it is not worth it to make a mistake with the IRS.
2. Only use advisers with the heart of a teacher.
If your advisers primary purpose is NOT to have you fully understand what’s happening with your money, your taxes and so on, then don’t hire them. You must have a standard that they live up to, so we use our business hero, Dave Ramsey, who has his own Endorsed Local Providers that offer insurance, home loan, tax help, small business advise and more. These people DON’T work for Dave, but instead are required to run their businesses according to Dave’s principles for success, then they pay him a finders fee for his endorsement.
We have used Dave’s ELP’s for the past 5 years for insurance, taxes, retirement and more and feel very educated and informed from them. You can find ELP’s in your area HERE.
3. Become a Reader.
Jody and I learned what we know about finances from friends, and from reading. When you become and avid reader of business books, you will start to put your business together correctly. Start with Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey, then start reading more and more books on finances and small business practices.
4. Protect the Down Side
I (Zach) had the privilege of meeting with Roger Barnett who owns the billion-dollar brand Shaklee. He said that any business he buys (like Shaklee) needs to have an 80% profit margin, and not cost him MORE than he can afford to lose. One of the smartest things you can do with finance in your business is always protect the down-side. Don’t ever put up too much risk or go in too deep that you can’t afford to lose it all. (Tweet this out!)
Example: You have a day job that makes 25k per year. You want to go full-time in your photo business that is making 10k a year right now. You think if you had all the gear you need and could use that extra 40 hours a week your working in your day job to put into your photography business that you can make it work! But cash-flow is limited, so you take out a 20k loan to buy your gear. This is a major mistake because you are not protecting the down-side. IF you quite the day job and IF your photo business doesn’t take off right away, you will be worse off then when you started.
5. If your not the expert, don’t try to be.
Jody happens to be an expert at cash-flow and bookkeeping and can tell you to the dollar our monthly budget we need to live, how much we need to clear (gross) excluding expenses, minus taxes and tithe to cover those expenses. She can tell you how much we made in January, and knows how much we need to make in December to stay on track with our goals. She knows to the dollar what’s in our retirement, how many products of a certain kind we need to sell to pay off our house, and knows the Profit and Loss of each product and service we offer.
Most people are not that experienced. And although you should strive to get informed and you should know where every dollar is going, if that’s not your best strength, hire someone that has that gift in whatever area you need.
Lastly, with cash-flow, the smartest way to run a business is debt free. Jody and I have been debt free since 2005 (with the exception of our home) and started our business with cash. We have so much less stress and so many more options because of that. So we recommend getting serious if you have debt and getting rid of it as soon as possible. That will free you up to go at this thing with much less risk, and make the journey that much more fun.
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Learn the 5 SIMPLE steps to managing your business finances by @zachandjodyphotography on their blog at http://tinyurl.com/kdbcao8 :)