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July 2014 Archive

running a debt-free business (#5 is a work in progress)

DebtFreeBiz-Blog

Around the time I started my business was right around the time I started getting serious about getting rid of debt.

I was getting married and was spending a lot of money on the wedding. I’d been in debt before, and it’s no fun to try to crawl out of, so instead of adding more debt, I basically decided I’d ‘get another job’ by starting my own business. Because I was short on cash, it was a necessity to start a business conservatively, and without creating debt. I started my business on these principles because I had to – but have kept those principles in place, because they WORK. I know all businesses can’t be started without big purchases upfront, but creative businesses usually can. There will always be things to buy, but they don’t always have to be purchased upfront. They can be paid for with earned revenue, if you have the option to start small, and slow. I’ve mentioned before, that there is a very low barrier of entry now on starting a business. In fact, there are countless books written about starting lean businesses. I’d love to share a few things with you that helped me start and maintain a lean business. Disclaimer – I’m NOT a professional financial adviser, this is just what worked for me.

1. Bill wisely

Don’t do ANY work until it’s paid for.

To us, this means splitting up payments, and having each one due before the work is performed. When I started my business, I just wasn’t big enough to have ‘credit’ to cover my clients, and bill them later. I used their cash to order the materials, plain and simple. I watched my bosses bill clients, net 30 or 60, and then after non-payment, have to add on finance/late charges… and inevitably they had to hunt them down for payment. They never wanted to pursue it legally, so they just ended up losing the money. I knew that wasn’t even probable for me, so I made it my policy from day one to get paid before the work was done, and it’s served me well I think.

What if a prospective client is not okay with it? They are probably the ones who would find some excuse to not pay you in the end – so stand your ground. You deserve to get paid for your work no matter what. You are a professional, they are leaning on your expertise as a business and your contract should clearly state your terms.

I was talking to a home contractor the other day, who said he also takes payments before ordering materials and work is completed, stating he ran a “debt-free business” and I thought that idea was brilliant. It makes so much sense when you put it that way. Feel free to use that line to anyone who questions your policy. Repeat after me: “I run a debt-free business.”

2. Purchase wisely

I’m an Amazon Prime shop-a-holic in my personal life (anyone else?), but I don’t purchase things for my business on a whim. It has to withstand a few criteria in order to get me to buy. You can use some criteria of your own, to help you decide, but here’s what I ask myself:

First of course – is can I pay for it in cash/debit, or are there payment plans in place to make it so that I can pay in cash? Do I really NEED it? Do I need it NOW? Will it return the investment I put into it within a few months? If it’s a workshop – will it directly make way for me to make more money? Or, is it stress relieving to help with productivity, or will make connections that will open new doors?

I see a lot of people falling in to the trap of things being “tax deductible”. Tax deductible does not mean free. You are still paying for a majority of the object, only a tiny fraction of it is saved on taxes. With that said, if you need something anyway, a tax deduction can be a nice perk. Just remember you’re still paying for about 80% of it. You’d save 80% on that purchase by not making it.

3. Structure wisely

One money killer in business is having a structure or setup that requires too much overhead. Is it okay for you to just stay small? Is it necessary to have a brick and mortar studio? Could you share the office space with others?

Making sure you are the right official business structure can save you money. I recently incorporated and became an S-corp, which will save me money, and also gives me valuable protections that could save me a LOT of money. Consult with a lawyer or CPA to see which structure is right for your situation.

4. Hire wisely

Do you have employees or independent contractors? I have both, and I’m saving money and headaches by having them be the proper classification.

Do you have help at all? A lot of times it actually SAVES money to hire someone at a lower rate than you’d be charging to do the same task. Let me say that again, a lot of times it actually SAVES money to hire someone at a lower rate than you’d be charging to do the same task. Don’t assume it’s cheaper to do something yourself. You should be doing the highest paid items in your business, and giving the least paid (or totally unpaid tasks) to someone else.

Conversely, are you paying TOO many people? I’ve seen some business owners hire out too many people as well. Make sure everyone on your team is doing their job well and efficiently. Perhaps one of your amazing employees can do the job of another less-than-stellar one. You’re doing both them and your business a disservice. They should all be invested in the business success. When your business profits, your employees do too!

5. Choose clients wisely

The single most hefty killer of money and time could be a draining client… Someone who sucks up all your time, or positive energy and gives you nothing in return to fill your cup back up. Someone who does not appreciate you, your services or your talent will be a drain on you fiscally, emotionally and spiritually. It is also doing a disservice to the client if you aren’t in love with them or their project. If you are not a good fit, they won’t be getting the BEST of you. It’s a waste of precious time and energy on both sides.

  • To me, this is the hardest part of business. I naturally want to help everyone, always. I will always be a work in progress in this area because of that. I do try to remind myself that THEY deserve better. There is always a better fit for those type of clients, and to truly help them, sometimes I have to let go.

 

As always in business, it takes a lot of heart, AND a lot of brain to keep your heart in check. Are you running a lean, debt-free business? Could you do even better?

 


Tired of trading time for money? Need to develop a system of passive profit that doesn’t depend on you? Have no clue what to offer or how to start? This is exactly why I developed the e-course, Create Passive Profits. This course will help you to develop the idea and hit the ground running with it. Early-bird registration for Create Passive Profits opens VERY soon. Make sure you’re signed up to the DLP newsletter to be first to know when registration opens!

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3 ways to hold on to your biz when craziness strikes
CrazinessStrikes-blog

If there’s anything that’s common amongst my friends, colleagues and clients, it’s that this summer has been straight up CHAOS. Do you feel me friends? It seems like everyone I talk to is having a period of craziness. I’ve heard mercury is in retrograde but honestly, I have no idea what that means. I just see a lot of people going through a lot of crazy things lately.

To the creative entrepreneur, there is so much more at stake when the crazy hits.

Our businesses and everything we work for are on the line. Some days it feels like we are completely under attack.

Whether you’re pregnant, just had a new baby, suffered a job loss, bought a home, went out on your own – it all adds up to our own little slice of crazy. I was (still am) 100% there right now. We had a new baby in May and bought our first home in June – and really a million other crazy things that happened all at the same time. So does this asteroid ball of crazy mean that our businesses have to suffer? Absolutely not. Here’s 3 ways to navigate the turbulent waters and make sure your business comes out intact.

1. Remember what really matters

Yes, our businesses matter. They matter A LOT. But by focusing on the things that really make up the fabric of who we are and what we care about, we can really start to put things in perspective. If we think about the worst thing that could happen in our business, we realize, we will still survive. We still have our loved ones and our families and friends. That’s all that truly matters. It helps to take the pressure off a bit to think of those things instead.

2. Work on working less – creating passive income

This is super important if you’re entering into a pattern of crazy that will take up most of your time. Most of us cannot just afford to stop working or to take an impromptu vacay while our crazy gets sorted out. I am a huge advocate of creating passive income for these times. If you currently have a passive income stream, crazy times are the times to start boosting it, to give yourself that safety net. If you don’t yet have a passive stream of income set up, do yourself a favor and get one going (or check out my Create Passive Profits class coming soon, I know some of you have asked me about it).

3. Know that you are a bona-fide Entre-Hustler

I know that sounds funny – but I got the best advice from a close friend when I was worrying about my business a couple months ago. I told them I was worried about all these what-ifs, and they told me, “You’ll work it out. You’re a hustler.” What they meant is – I’m an creative entrepreneur, and I will figure it out. If something doesn’t work – we then adapt and test things until it does work. That’s the beauty of running your own business isn’t it? You control your destiny. You are a Entre-hustler (I think I just made up a new word) and you will figure it out.

So remember, no need to let the crazy get to you when the crazy hits. Have a plan – or make one now – and believe in yourself when these times happen. This too shall pass, and you’ll come out better than ever and ready to tackle the next round of crazy!

 


 

Wondering how to develop a passive income stream in YOUR businesses for the crazy times? This is exactly why I developed the e-course, Create Passive Profits. There is information out there on how to begin, but it’s very general and super muddled. I’ve worked hard to devour all the information, speak to those currently doing it, and clean it up in an easy to understand and customizable way for CREATIVE businesses. There’s a lot of junk information out there, car salesman type techniques and just generally outdated information. I created a course that I wish was out there! This course will help you to develop the idea and hit the ground running with it. Early-bird registration for Create Passive Profits opens very soon. Make sure you’re signed up to the DLP newsletter to be first to know when registration opens!

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