Starting your own business is a huge milestone and one that comes with great preparation, hard work, and, most often, expenses. While most mompreneurs are prepared for the initial investment in starting their business, they are often surprised by the subsequent expenses and financial needs that come up.
As a result, many mompreneurs make common money mistakes that could easily be avoided. They unknowingly compromise their financial future and sabotage their business. In an unpredictable economy, business owners can’t afford to ignore the “rules” of good money management. To help you avert the path to financial disaster, here are five common money mistakes and ways you can avoid them.
Mistake 1: Not creating a business emergency fund
Many financial gurus, from Dave Ramsey to Suzie Orman, preach the importance of setting up an emergency fund for unexpected expenses. While many women in business have money set aside for personal family emergencies, they forget to do the same for their business. Without setting up a safety net for your business, you’ll be tempted to pay for emergencies with a high-interest credit card.
Solution: Set clear financial goals for your business. Determine a realistic amount to set aside for unexpected expenses. For most, this will be six or more months of expenses. Though it may take time to grow your savings to this amount, make it a consistent practice to save a portion of your profits for this emergency fund. You’ll be thankful when unplanned events happen.
Mistake 2: Mismanaging credit
When starting out, it’s tempting to use credit cards to finance your business with hopes of quickly turning a profit to pay it back. However, using credit cards without a plan can spell disaster for mompreneurs. Paying the minimum each month will keep you financing the debt for an extended period of time with much of your payment going towards interest.
Solution: Create a payment plan that will allow you to more quickly pay off the debt. Statements from credit card companies now show you the amount you need to pay in order to pay off the debt in three years. Using that as a guide, create your own plan to pay off the bill sooner or close to the three-year mark. If you find yourself over your head, consider credit counseling to help you create a realistic plan. You can find counselors through the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.
Mistake 3: Becoming a human bank for friends and family
So your business is finally making a profit and you happily report it to your previously leery family and friends. Now instead of trying to talk you out of going into business for yourself, they call asking for loans. Though there’s nothing wrong with helping others financially, you want to be sure you aren’t giving out money that should be going towards your bills, emergency fund, or other needed business investments.
Solution: To save relationships and to ensure you have your expenses covered, ask yourself if you need the money back. If lending will make you strapped for cash until it’s repaid, then learn to say “no.” But, if you can loan the money and not miss it, then give instead of loaning. You are less likely to get back money loaned to family or friends anyway, so think of it as a gift.
Mistake 4: Overspending
If you’re not loaning or giving it away to others, then you might fall into the trap of overspending on business expenditures. This type of overspending generally results from failing to keep accurate records of all purchases.
Solution: Keep a small accordion envelope in your purse or car to hold all business receipts. You can separate them by categories such as supplies, equipment, advertising, etc. For online purchases, set up a special file in your email inbox or on your desktop. Then once a week (or daily if you are super-organized) transfer the amounts to a notebook, spreadsheet or financial software, such as Quickbooks or Freshbooks. By tracking your expenses, you are able to gauge where you are overspending and cut back in needed areas.
Mistake 5: Not investing in yourself
It’s easy to direct your money to expenses for day-to-day operations. These are necessary to not only stay in business, but to grow it as well. However, it’s also easy to overlook the most important factor in your business: You! In business, it’s important to continually grow your skills. No matter what industry you’re in, the environment changes daily, and new ways of doing things constantly developed.
Solution: To maintain your expert status, it’s important to seek out leaders in your industry and learn from their experiences and their research. Join online groups in your industry, or follow blogs of leaders in your field. Make smart investments in training, seminars, and events that will help sharpen your skills and make you more of a leader in your niche. By allocating a portion of your income to professional development, you will have the finances needed to improve your skills.