As one year transitions into another, we always see a sudden rush to get or start getting your financial house in order. A lot of bulleted or numbered lists come out of things to do without necessarily explaining why you need to do it. Maybe the assumption is that you already know which begs the question if you did know, wouldn’t your finances already be in order?
The reality is that many people who live in the US are not financially literate or put another way they don’t fully understand the language of money. That lack of understanding is what leads to having a financial mess on your hands. Let’s be clear though – IT’S NOT THEIR FAULT!
Nowhere in the education system in this country is financial literacy CONSISTENTLY taught. That one glaring absence leads to almost half of the population not knowing things that are key to keeping your bank accounts and overall finances in the black.
Think we’re kidding? Take the quiz on the website above and then post your score in the comments below if you’re brave. Are you financially literate?
If you get a score that you feel is too low to post, here’s how you change it. Register for this free course happening January 6th at 8 PM EST and increase your financial literacy in record time!
Does anything sound better than being your own boss?
Well, maybe a brand new sports car or free ice cream for life. But even a state-of-the-art fully-decked-out sports car will eventually need routine maintenance, and the taste of mint chocolate chip can get old after a while.
The same kinds of things can happen when you start your own business. There are many details to consider and seemingly endless tasks to keep organized after the initial excitement of being your own boss and keeping your own hours has faded. Circumstances are bound to arise that no one ever prepared you for!
Although this list is not exhaustive, here are 5 things to get you started when creating a business of your own:
1. Startup cost
The startup cost of your business depends heavily on the type of business you want to have. To estimate the startup cost, make a list of anything and everything you’ll need to finance in the first 6 months. Then take each expense and ask:
Is this cost fixed or variable?
Essential or optional?
One-time or recurring?
Once you’ve determined the frequency and necessity of each cost for the first 6 months, add it all together. Then you’ll have a ballpark idea of what your startup costs might be.
(Hint: Don’t forget to add a line item for those unplanned, miscellaneous expenses!)
“Find a need, and fill it” is general advice for starting a successful business. But if the need is apparent, how many other businesses will be going after the same space to fill? And how do you create a business that can compete? After all, keeping your doors open and your business frequented is priority #1.
The simplest and most effective solution? Be great at what you do. Take the time to learn your business and the need you’re trying to fill – inside and out. Take a step back and think like a customer. Try to imagine how your competitors are failing at meeting customers’ needs. What can you do to solve those issues? Overcoming these hurdles can’t guarantee that your doors will stay open, but your knowledge, talent, and work ethic can set you apart from competitors from the start. This is what builds life-long relationships with customers – the kind of customers that will follow you wherever your business goes.
(Hint: The cost of your product or service should not be the main differentiator from your competition.)
3. Customer acquisition
The key to acquiring customers goes back to the need you’re trying to fill by running your business. If the demand for your product is high, customer acquisition may be easier. And there are always methods to bring in more. First and foremost, be aware of your brand and what your business offers. This will make identifying your target audience more accurate. Then market to them with a varied strategy on multiple fronts: content, email, and social media; search engine optimization; effective copywriting; and the use of analytics.
(Hint: The amount of money you spend on marketing – e.g., Google & Facebook ads – is not as important as who you are targeting.)
4. Building product inventory
This step points directly back to your startup cost. At the beginning, do as much research as you can, then stock your literal (or virtual) shelves with a bit of everything feasible you think your target audience may want or need. Track which products (or services) customers are gravitating towards – what items in your inventory disappear the most quickly? What services in your repertoire are the most requested? After a few weeks or months you’ll have real data to analyse. Then always keep the bestsellers on hand, followed closely by seasonal offerings. And don’t forget to consider making a couple of out-of-the-ordinary offerings available, just in case. Don’t underestimate the power of trying new things from time to time; you never know what could turn into a success!
(Hint: Try to let go of what your favorite items or services might be, if customers are not biting.)
5. Compliance with legal standards
Depending on what type of business you’re in, there may be standards and regulations that you must adhere to. For example, hiring employees falls under the jurisdiction of the Department of Labor and Federal Employment Laws. There are also State Labor Laws to consider.
(Hint: Be absolutely sure to do your research on the legal matters that can arise when beginning your own business. Not many judges are very accepting of “But, Your Honor, I didn’t know that was illegal!”)
Starting your own business is not an impossible task, especially when you’re prepared.
One other vital thing that makes starting your business easier is having a plan and a mentor. Register for our FREE master class happening Wednesday, August 12th at 9 PM EST to get access to both!
But that doesn’t stop “budget” from being an intimidating word to many people. Some folks may think it means scrimping on everything and never going out for a night on the town. It doesn’t! Budgeting simply means that you know where your money is going and you have a way to track it.
The aim with budgeting is to be aware of your spending, plan for your expenses¹, and make sure you have enough saved to pursue your goals.
Without a budget, it can be easy for expenses to climb beyond your ability to pay for them. You break out the plastic and before you know it you’ve spent fifty bucks on drinks and appetizers with the gang after work. These habits might leave you with a lot of accumulated debt. Plus, without a budget, you may not be saving for a rainy day, vacation, or your retirement. A budget allows you to enact a strategy to help pursue your goals. But what if you’ve never had a budget? Where should you start? Here’s a quick step-by-step guide on how to get your budgeting habit off the ground!
1. Track your expenses every day
Start by tracking your expenses. Write down everything you buy, including memberships, online streaming services, and subscriptions. It’s not complicated to do with popular mobile and web applications. You can also buy a small notebook to keep track of each purchase. Even if it’s a small pack of gum from the gas station or a quick coffee at the corner shop, jot it down. Even tiny expenses add up to sizable amounts if not tracked. Keep track of the big stuff too, like your rent and bill payments.
2. Add up expenses every week and develop categories
Once you’ve collected enough data, it’s time to figure out where exactly your paycheck is going. Start with adding up your expenses every week. How much are you spending? What are you spending money on? As you add your spending up, start developing categories. The goal is to organize all your expenses so you can see what you’re spending money on. For example, if you eat out a few times per week, group those expenses under a category called “Eating Out”. Get as general or as specific as you wish. Maybe throwing all your food purchases into one bucket is all you need, or you may want to break it down by location – grocery store, big box store, restaurants, etc.
3. Create a monthly list of expenses
Once you’ve recorded your expenses for a full month, it’s time to create a monthly list. Now you might also have more clarity on how you want to set up your categories. Next, total each category for the month.
4. Adjust your spending as necessary
Compare your total expenses with your income. There are two possible outcomes. You may be spending within your income or spending outside your income. If you’re spending within your income, create a category for savings if you don’t have one. It’s a good idea to create a separate savings category for large future purchases too, like a home or a vacation. If you find you’re spending too much, you may need to cut back spending in some categories. The beauty of a budget is that once you see how much you’re spending, and on what, you’ll be able to strategize where you need to cut back.
5. Keep going
Once you develop the habit of budgeting, it should become part of your routine. You can look forward to working on your savings and developing a retirement strategy, but don’t forget to budget in a little fun too!
¹Jeremy Vohwinkle, “Make a Personal Budget in 6 Steps: A Step-by-Step Guide to Make a Budget,” The Balance (March 6, 2020).
So if you’ve checked out this blog in the past few months, you may have come across the New Beginnings post. Unfortunately that effort has been DELAYED, not cancelled due to some timing and technical issues recording and editing the videos. So we’re going to move forward with more posts starting this week.
But if you’re a long-time follower, you undoubtedly remember our Divorce Your Job & Keep the House series from back in 2015. Well we’re happy to report that the series of blog posts (that was never completed, we know and we’re sorry 😞) will now be released as an online course. Now I, Ms. ME, know what you’re thinking:
I don’t have the time for a long drawn out course ⌚
I don’t have the money 💰
I’m afraid of failing, lack of support 😨
I have an idea of what I want to do but don’t know where to start 😵
SHUT ALL OF THAT NEGATIVITY DOWN NOW!!! And flip it…
You don’t have any more time to waste doing something that doesn’t speak to your dreams and passions. 🏁 And I promise this course will not be long. In fact the intro is only about 30 minutes .
You have the money for my FREE masterclass. What’s more every attendee will walk away with a my FREE side-gig starter pack.
You will conquer FEAR (false expectations appearing real) and step into the life you were meant to live. I will support you.
That’s GREAT that you have an idea!!! I’ve done it before, I’ve taught others and I’m ready to show you where to start.
I listen to the TJMS on the way to my day gig. I believe it was the week of December 12th (2011 when this was originally posted on my prior blog) I heard my fellow, native South Carolinian J Anthony Brown improvising a blues song about women needing to wash their head scarves because it was making the back of their heads stink.
*Update: Try as I might I couldn’t find an audio clip online. If anyone happens to find one please leave a link in the comments. Thanks ❤
It got me thinking that’s not the only thing that probably goes uncleaned for far longer than it should. Here’s my quick list of beauty care and other items that perhaps go overlooked but should be cleaned at least weekly:
Nightly head scarf (of course)
Makeup brushes and sponges
Glasses (prescription or stylish shades)
Cell phone (because unless you’re 100% hands-free ALL the time, it will touch your face at some point)
More specifics on why it’s important (besides just being clean) and how to clean some of these items quickly and easily in future posts every other Wednesday!