In a Financial Rut? Here’s How 3 Creative Business Owners Mastered Money

Do you dislike dealing with the financial side of running your business? You’re not alone. Many entrepreneurs go into business to do something they are good at, or to fill a creative void. Spending time with accounting software and spreadsheets, however, isn’t often on their list of ways they want to spend their time.

The good news is, you can learn to master money, as the following entrepreneurs illustrate. These entrepreneurs demonstrate how they balance the practical aspects of running a business, including their finances, without losing inspiration.


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Master the financial basics to make better business decisions

Six years ago, Brittany Whitenack started hand-pouring candles. Little did she know that she was building a business that would continue to grow and expand. Her company, Antique Candle Co., now employs 34 people and every candle is still poured by hand. While creating and selling candles is her passion, she acknowledges that she wouldn’t be where she is today without embracing the less sexy side of her business: the financials.

Whitenack says that one of her keys to success has been mastering the financial side of her business. She’s invested time in better understanding her accounting software, she reviews her financials weekly and uses the information they provide to help drive changes as needed.

She explains:

“I spend the most time assessing the Profit & Loss Statement (PNL); specifically, the expense lines for payroll, overhead, shipping costs, and raw materials. One area I’ve specifically been targeting is our shipping costs. As an e-commerce business, it costs us an enormous amount of cash to ship candles. They are heavy and fragile, which is reflected in how much we pay our shipping carriers to ship thousands of candles every day. By evaluating the PNL, I’m able to detect any abnormalities or changes in shipping costs. The carriers like to increase rates all the time! Sometimes that’s a signal to reevaluate our carrier or negotiate better rates.”

Whitenack encourages entrepreneurs to take a hands-on approach to their financials, too.

“I would strongly suggest that you take a class to understand the basics,” she said. “If your goal is to have a profitable business—and not a hobby—then it’s imperative that you are comfortable with your finances, even if you hire an accountant or bookkeeper to help.”

Strategy: Invest in learning the basics of bookkeeping and reading financial statements to make better business decisions.


Related: Strategies for Strengthening Your Business During the Pandemic

Understanding your finances pays off during tough times

Angie Donatone is the director and owner of Sunshine Kids Day Care LLC. She’s made it a priority to know her numbers, and she says knowing her financials has been a big part of the reason she’s navigating the coronavirus so successfully.

During the pandemic, Donatone made the shift to caring for children of essential workers. She also shifted money from payroll to supplies, including purchasing masks and gloves.

“A lot of us open daycares because we have the heart for children and their families,” Donatone said. “But the majority (of entrepreneurs) who own and operate daycare aren’t knowledgeable about finances.”

Her journey to shore up her finances started in October 2019, before anyone had heard of COVID-19. She joined a coaching program called Cash Flow CEO and focused on organizing her finances, maximizing capacity, and creating another income stream. She says that groundwork was essential to allowing her to work on her business and not just in her business.

While it hasn’t been easy, her creative approach to her business has paid off:

“The business is going great,” Donatone said. So much so that she’s planning on opening another facility in the near future.

Strategy: Invest in the skills you need to work on your business, not just in it.

But, don’t let the focus on your financials hinder your creative spark

Michelle Garcia’s business, Heirloom Catering, has dealt with two crises recently: a personal health crisis last year that left the founder and CEO running her business from her hospital bed for a time, and then COVID-19 this year. Still, her catering business was one of the first in her community to pivot when the crisis hit.

Garcia’s business has traditionally worked with local farmers, ranchers and artisan food markers, and she wanted to continue to support them throughout the crisis. She quickly shifted her business to home-delivered meals, as well as a grocery delivery and pick-up service that disbursed $ 45,000 in 10 weeks to other local businesses.

She hired Kristy McDonough, who specializes in helping restaurants create new revenue streams, to run the online store that Garcia said was created “in a fast and furious way.” That, along with a PPP loan and EIDL, have helped Garcia to keep her doors open. In addition to her catering business, a cafe that was in the works when COVID hit is now open, as well.

Garcia admits it’s been tough. She’s spent countless hours analyzing her financials. She uses accounting software and credits her accountant for helping keep her afloat. She also attributes the community support she’s received as one of the reasons she’s still in business.

Lately, though, Garcia said it feels like she’s consumed with crunching numbers, applying for loans and all of the tasks she dislikes most about running her own business. While she continues to focus on her financials, she said it’s time to prioritize the creative aspects of her business again, the ones that made her want to be an entrepreneur in the first place.

Strategy: Stay on top of your finances, but don’t let them quash your creativity.


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Bottom line: Put your financials first

Belinda Rosenblum, CPA and creator of the Cash Flow CEO course that Donatone participated in, works with many creative entrepreneurs to help them master money. She has found that most people start their businesses based on a passion, but without understanding the money side of their business, they often create an expensive hobby.

“There’s no money management ‘prerequisite’ to becoming a business owner,” Rosenblum said. “No course, plan, or test to prepare you. So, you’re left to figure it out as you go, trial-and-error style. You make mistakes and learn from them, but soon realize that every single little ‘lesson’ costs you… and eventually adds up.”

She encourages entrepreneurs to take the time, no matter what stage of business you are at, to get a better handle on the money flow in your business.

“Knowing your numbers and strategically growing your profit are essential to creating a sustainable business,” Rosenblum said.

She also added that getting a clear handle on your finances can help you to:

  • Determine the right revenue streams to pursue and the necessary actions to take each day toward achieving your goals.
  • Know your value in the marketplace and charge accordingly.
  • Spend on items for the best return on investment for your growth.
  • Plan for profit and not just for revenue.
  • Maximize your time doing what you love (and what you’re great at).

You’ll never be nearly as successful as you can be until you know your numbers, and until you know how to manage them in order to align with what matters most to you and your business, Rosenblum explained.

“You can create income for yourself and create impact with your talents and skills,” she said. “They don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Money can help fund both.”

The post In a Financial Rut? Here’s How 3 Creative Business Owners Mastered Money appeared first on StartupNation.

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Time Management Skills Successful Business Owners Must Have

Time. It’s something that we all take for granted. But, as a business owner, it’s your greatest resource. Without enough time, you’re less likely to achieve your goals. You won’t be able to focus on what’s really important. Less time — adds stress to your already hectic life. And, you can kiss a healthy work-life balance goodbye without it. Here are the time management skills a successful business owner must have.

For the business owner — here are the essential time management skills that you will want to possess.

Work the hours that suit you.

Here’s one of the best things about being your own boss. You can work whenever you want. Of course, that doesn’t mean you can slack off or just come and go as you please. What this means is that you aren’t forced to work that 9-to-5 schedule if it doesn’t fit you well.

For example, let’s say that you’re a parent. Your working hours could be when your children are in school, let’s say around 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. When they’re doing their homework, you could then use that time for administrative tasks or reviewing your calendar for tomorrow.

Another option would be to work around your energy levels. If you’re a morning person, then knock out your most essential tasks bright and early when you have the most energy. Night owls, on the other hand, are more productive in the late morning or afternoon.

What’s more, well have our own ultradian rhythms — which are the body’s rest-activity cycle. But, for most of us, that means that we can only focus for 90 to 120 minutes before we need to take a break.

Keep a time log.

Want to get more done? Then keep a time log so that you can see how you’re spending your time. Additionally, time logging will let you know what your biggest time-wasters are. It will keep you from over-or-underestimating how long certain things take down the road. And, tracking your time encourages you to stop multitasking and hold yourself accountable.

There are actually a couple of ways that you can conduct a time audit. The first would be to track everything that you do throughout the day, such as your morning commute or the time spent on a specific task.

The other way would be to set a timer for every 15 minutes. When the time is up, write down what you did during that block of time.

You could also use time tracking apps and tools like Toggl, RescueTime, or Timely to keep tabs on your digital usage.

Focus on what you do best.

“As much as you need a strong personality to build a business from scratch, you also must understand the art of delegation,” Richard Branson once said. “I have to be good at helping people run the individual businesses, and I have to be willing to step back,” he added. “The company must be set up so it can continue without me.”

When you stop trying to do everything on your own, you’ll not only free up your valuable time. You’ll also make more money. That’s because you have the right people working on the right tasks.

For instance, even if you’re familiar with the basics of accounting or coding, you’re going to spend more time on these tasks, then an expert would. And, you’re more likely to make a costly mistake.

Implement the Two-Minute Rule.

In the famous words of David Allen, “If it takes less than two minutes, then do it now.” Sounds simple, but think of all of those small things that add up. Instead of taking a minute to respond to an email, you wait until the end of the day when your inbox is overflowing. That dish you didn’t wash after lunch? It becomes a dish full of dirty plates.

Furthermore, this rule helps you form new habits. And, most importantly, it can help overcome procrastination. As an example, instead of declaring that you want to read more, start with a small goal like read one page daily.

“The idea is to make your habits as easy as possible to start,” says James Clear. “Anyone can meditate for one minute, read one page, or put one item of clothing away. And, as we have just discussed, this is a powerful strategy because once you’ve started doing the right thing, it is much easier to continue doing it.”

Break your activities down into simple problems.

“Utilizing your consciousness requires more energy and can be avoided by simplifying your problems,” writes Mario Peshev for Entrepreneur. “Excellence in time management revolves around establishing a process and breaking it down into small, atomic operations that are easy to grasp and don’t require intensive resource consumption.” Cutting down your resource consumption is what makes business owners successful. They’re able to take a “complex task and decompose it into pieces, thus making the remaining process easier to comprehend and follow,” adds Peshev. “The simple operations are simple, and executing them doesn’t require dozens of follow-up questions preventing you from checking tasks off your list.”

Don’t fall into the urgency trap.

As a business owner, you have a lot of responsibilities. To make sure that you achieve them, you need to have a system in place. For me, that’s writing down my to-do-list and adding the most important items to my calendar. It’s a simple and effective tactic to make sure that I don’t forget to do anything. And, it allows me to block out time for these actions, so I don’t schedule something else.

Here’s the problem, though. With so many things to do and so little amount of time to get to them — which tasks do I start with? Well, that depends on your specific priorities. These are usually the activities that move you closer to your goals or have a date attached to them. So, your top priorities should always be scheduled first and come before everything else.

Unfortunately, a lot of us get sidetracked by things that are less important — even though they seem deserving of your time and energy. Eventually, your time management and productivity suffer — which is never good for business.

To avoid this, don’t fall into the urgency trap. Identify which items you must do, defer, delegate, and drop. Stick to listing no more than crucial tasks for the day. And focus on your priorities when you have the most energy.

Schedule “me” time.

Scheduling “me time” isn’t a waste of time. Me-time may turn out to be your secret weapon against stress and lack of focus. The more you add to your schedule, the busier you’ll get. Over time you’ll be burning your candle at both ends. As a result, you’ll become burned more. Or, even worse, you’ll be putting your mental and physical health in peril.

Always schedule free time in your day. It doesn’t have to be much. But, if you have an hour of blocked time throughout the day where nothing is listed on your schedule — it can do wonders for you mentally and physically. After all, free time makes us happy, encourages self-care, adds flexibility in our calendars, and recharges our batteries.

Cluster similar tasks.

Switching between tasks all day isn’t practical. It’s chaotic and encourages us to multitask. Think about it. You respond to an email, then rush out the door to speak with a supplier, and then come back to file paperwork. And, in between all that, you have to attend to any problems that your customers or employees are experiencing.

As opposed to jumping all over the place, organize your day by blocking similar tasks together. For example, block out a specific time to clean out your inbox and return call, another to file paperwork, and one more for problem-solving. Depending on your business, you may also need to box out time for meetings, checking your inventory, or testing your products.

Identify and eliminate distractions.

Distractions are the leading cause of poor time management. But, how can you remove them when they’re constantly screaming for your attention?

One way would be to keep a distraction log. It can be as simple as a piece of paper or Word Doc, where you jot down what interrupted you from work and when. For instance, if an employee takes a break at about 10:30 a.m., they may stop by your office to chat with you. The problem is that this is when you don’t want to be disturbed. To correct this, either take a break around the same time or close your office door.

You can also eliminate distractions by putting your phone on ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode, installing tools that block distracting websites, or scheduling check-ins or phone calls instead of taking them when you have something else planned.

Arm yourself with the right tools.

Finally, surround yourself with the right tools. An online calendar is an obvious choice. But, you may also want to use a tool like Calendar to automate all of your scheduling needs. Evernote and Todoist care useful for managing your tasks. While Hootsuite, Pardot, and Xero can put your social media, email marketing, and accounting in autopilot.

By using these tools to automate your most tedious and redundant tasks, you’ll have the availability to focus on your priorities.

Time Management Skills Successful Business Owners Must Have was originally published on Calendar by .

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[Zoomcar in LiveMint] Zoomcar launches telematics software for fleet owners amid slowdown in mobility

Vehicle rental platform Zoomcar has introduced a software stack focused on corporates and fleet owners that will help track driver behaviour and vehicle status in real-time to prevent rash driving and curb vehicular damage. The product ‘Zoomcar Mobility Stack’ (ZMS) includes an IoT device and software that will work across both internal combustion and electric vehicles and is fully hardware agnostic.

Read more here.

The post [Zoomcar in LiveMint] Zoomcar launches telematics software for fleet owners amid slowdown in mobility appeared first on OurCrowd Blog.

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Delightree raises $3M to help franchise business owners simplify their operations

Owning one brick-and-mortar business seems complicated enough. But running multiple locations? For many owners, that’s a constant juggling act of phone calls, check lists and driving back and forth from store to store. In the middle of a pandemic, it gets all the more complex.

Delightree, a company out of the previous Alchemist Accelerator class, has raised $ 3 million to build a tool hyper-focused on helping owners of franchise businesses (think hotels, gyms, restaurant chains, etc.) take their operations and workflows digital.

A big part of the idea with Delightree is to move much of what currently happens through pen-and-paper checklists over to smartphones, allowing franchise owners to know what’s going at their locations from afar. They digitize workflows like the daily store opening/closing procedures or maintenance routines, with employees checking boxes on their devices rather than a paper to-do list. If something gets missed along the way, Delightree can automatically ping the owner to let them know before it becomes an issue.

They’ll also help to automate and track things like onboarding new employees and staying prepared for inspections, while giving owners a centralized place to make team-wide announcements or contact employees.

Delightree evolved out of a previous company built by its co-founders, Madhulika Mukherjee and Tushar Mishra. They’d been working on Survaider, a tool that monitored customer feedback across social media, review sites, etc., and turned that feedback into actionable to-do lists.

“When we were piloting it, our customers started saying: ‘can we create our own tasks? Or can I tell something to my employees through this?’ ” Mishra told me. “It was just such an obvious problem, so we started building Delightree.”

Delightree co-founders Tushar Mishra and Madhulika Mukherjee

The team has also been working on a feature they call Delightcomply, which helps stores stay up to date on the latest CDC guidelines for businesses operating through the pandemic, and to automatically share compliance details with potential customers. A business could use Delightcomply to publicly outline the steps it’s taking to keep employees/customers safe, for example, with the listing automatically updated to show the status of each task.

Delightree is currently working directly with each new customer to help them through the initial setup — specifically, to help franchisees take the standard operating procedures they receive directly from the brand owners and turn them into Delightree workflows. They’re still working out their exact pricing model, but say that they charge on a per-location-per-month basis, with pricing varying depending on the size/complexity of the business. They’ve set up a waitlist for anyone interested.

This $ 3 million seed round was funded by Accel Partners, Emergent Ventures, Brainstorm Ventures, Axilor Ventures and Alchemist. As part of the deal, Emergent partner Anupam Rastogi has joined Delightree’s board of directors.

Startups – TechCrunch

Owners of 88.com project earnings of $100 million USD selling premium emails

 DomainGang.com: Forget about the HEY.com email, here comes China’s 88.com. The Chinese lucky number depicted as the shortest possible .com domain, is offering email addresses to hundreds of millions of China’s users. The domain 88.com is valued at a staggering $ 50 million dollars by its owner, a company that delves into China’s gam…
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Debate between owners on how to move forward

So, I'm a young student in college that has been working in bicycle shops for a few years and recently started doing repairs for one of those aforementioned shops. For the past few months during the coronavirus pandemic we have seen a massive spike in sales unlike anything ever before and we were very lucky to have ordered so many bikes before the whole thing started.

Now, I have a few friends who also know how to repair bikes and we have been seriously considering opening a workshop of our own, independent from any particular store, since all of these new bikes will need service and the number of capable repairmen nearby is very limited. We are debating amongst ourselves whether we should just own equal parts of the company, run it only during the summer when we are out of school and pay ourselves profits of the company or if we should hire employees, give them proper training and guidance and make this into a full time company, only managing it during the winter.

Any and all comments are welcome and greatly appreciated. -Cheers

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Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!