Last Sunday, I had the opportunity to be interviewed by Alison Maslan, CEO of Alison Maslan International. During that interview, which was broadcast live to nearly 100 business owners from around the world, I had the opportunity to share and teach some of the most important things business owners need to know to take control of their money and build the wealth they really want.
As I was sitting in the chair, and the spotlights were shining in my eyes, I felt a profound sense of both gratitude and relief. That’s not to say that I wasn’t also nervous and full of that anxious energy that flutters in the pit of your stomach when you’ve worked really hard and want everything to go exceptionally well—but this time, the overwhelming feeling I had in those precious moments before the cameras started rolling and Allison asked her first question, was one of deep, rooted, confident, calm, gratitude.
This morning I received a note from someone I consider to be a thought leader, Marie Forleo, whose online course, B-School, has been a foundation for starting my business. Marie offers, “Gratitude is the most fundamental practice to quickly transform your life — any time of year.” How right she is!
I know she’s right, because I’ve done it—I’ve transformed my life and my business. And I know it, because that’s what I was feeling—this profound sense that I know what I’m doing. I know what I say is true because it is true in my own life, through my own experience.
I know that I’m offering people the secrets I’ve learned from transforming my own financial realities.
I know that I’m offering people the best thinking that comes from academia, science, economics and optimists.
I know what I’m talking about—because I KNOW what I’m talking about—on that deep, as-lived experience level that makes what’s true for me true for you, too.
And this kind of bedrock knowing—this is the foundation I’ve built for my self, my life and my business—and that level of bedrock gratitude that calms everything into a gorgeous shade of perfect love—that was my experience.
And then I started speaking. And I offered Allison’s audience, nearly all women business owners doin’ it for themselves, these eleven financial need to knows for their business.
10 Essential Financial Planning Tips for Business Owners
- Start with the end in mind.
Understand the kind of business you are starting, whether it is saleable, and what multiplier to use to estimate its sale price. These numbers are critical to knowing how much to pay yourself and how much you need to save on the personal side in order to achieve economic independence.
- Think of yourself as and behave like the Chief Executive Officer of your own financial future.
Your first loyalty is to your own financial and overall well-being. Gambling your own tomorrow on a business opportunity today should not be done lightly. Yes, most of us are all-in, but taking only risks that you can recover from—and learn from—is critical to long-term success. Serial entrepreneurs only take calculated risks and they have contingency plans.
- Speaking of being the CEO—your company has an executive team, and you might be it!!
If you haven’t hired a Chief Financial Officer, a Marketing VP or a Sales VP—you’re it. If you don’t take your executive responsibilities seriously, something will suffer. For most of us, it’s far too easy to hide behind our laptops and continue to be the practitioner of the product or service we sell. This is a surefire path to burnout, and even poverty.
Create checklists, weekly or bi-monthly calendar items, delegate or hire someone to ensure that all of the critical aspects of your business are being tended to!
- Take control of your finances by tracking, automating and cultivating daily financial awareness.
I often share that I log into my online banking every single day (well, except Sunday) and simply look at what has taken place in the accounts since the last day. I have four checking accounts, and it takes only a few moments, but it means the difference between managing my financial life and dealing with it. It’s a huge mindset shift, and being vigilant about bank account transactions combined with automating my finances means I am in control of my financial life.
- Keep your business expenses separate from personal.
It sounds simple, and most people know it, but you have to use different accounts and different credit cards and debit cards for business versus personal expenses. It’s critical for accounting and tax preparation.
- Know what you can deduct and track receipts.
Personally I use an iPhone app called Scanbot which sends images of invoices and receipts straight on over to Evernote. My tax guy will get one single digital file from me come tax time. No shoe boxes.
- Review your books at least once a quarter.
Get your accountant to put together standard accounting reports such as Profit & Loss, Balance Sheet, and other reports that will be customized to your own business type. Review these reports and track which direction the numbers are headed
- HIRE A TAX PREPARER
A good tax preparer will not only prepare your return, but coach and advise you on maximizing your deductions and configuring your life and business to take advantage of other opportunities. Tax benefits abound when you own your own business. Don’t make the mistake of scrimping here—that’s short-sighted. Find someone you trust!
Pro tip: Tax preparers either have the designation Enrolled Agent (EA) or Certified Public Accountant (CPA). All EA’s do tax returns, not all CPA’s do. Find someone who specializes in working with business owners. Also, some tax preparers charge separately for tax prep and tax strategy or consulting. That’s normal, just know the total price you’re going to pay to get both.
- If you have enough revenue, say $1m or more, consider implementing a company retirement plan.
Business owners can sometimes deduct up to $250,000 or more on a tax-deferred basis depending on profits, entity type, employee age and tenure. Consult with a financial advisor to see what type of retirement account will maximize your tax benefits. I find tax preparers often recommend the SEP too often, so make sure you ask a retirement plan expert (Ahem. Like me.
10. Be vigilant
As the owner and leader of the business, its your energy and attention that are the catalyst for results. There are seven billion other people on the planet, and you are the only one responsible for your company results at the end of the day. Be vigilant, create and communicate your expectations clearly and often, and manage those numbers! As I closed my talk, I promised these business owners that I would create a training program just for them—a program that offers an in-depth exploration of the ways of being a for a business owner on her way to financial fulfillment and this kind of deep bedrock gratitude.
And as I made this promise, I felt it all well up again—there is something extraordinary that comes from really having walked the walk on a path to gratitude.
I wish that for all of you this season, and every day of the rest of your lives.