Do you suffer from financial instability?
For you go-getting entrepreneurs out there, having your own business is never an easy task, not to mention the many responsibilities that come with it. Financial management is almost an unspoken factor when it comes to building a successful entrepreneurship. Stefanie O’Connell Rodriguez, a millennial personal finance author and founder of Statement Cards, is here with advice for some of the financial instability concerns that you may be encountering.
1. “I quit my job and started my own business; I’ve been very stressed about my financial situation and started to question if I made the right choice…”
Stefanie: There’s absolutely nothing wrong with having a traditional job or returning to one after starting a business. We have to make the decisions that are best for us based on our circumstances and goals in any given moment. At some point, entrepreneurship might make the most sense for you. At other times, it might make more sense to have a traditional job. No choice is final or permanent, and it’s important to evaluate often to make sure you’re working in alignment with your values at any given time.
If you most value stability and security, you might decide to return to traditional employment. If later decide you want more independence, you might decide to pursue business ownership again. Or perhaps you explore some hybrid of the two.
Ultimately, the goal is to have a lifestyle you love. And if you ignore the rest of the factors that make up your lifestyle – your health, your family, your relationships, etc. – and only focus on the work, you might find yourself making trade offs that aren’t actually worthwhile.
2. “Some of my friends and partners told me starting my own business is too much of a risk, I agreed but I knew this is the path for me…”
Stefanie: Ultimately no one can make these decisions for you. Your decisions about work and entrepreneurship should be driven by your values and priorities, not anyone else’s.
3. “Getting a loan may be what’s needed for my business now but I’m afraid of being in debt…”
Stefanie: It’s okay to be wary of debt, but you don’t want to be so risk averse that you impede your ability to successfully grow and run your business. So before making a decision, spend some time researching the likely return on investment of any debt you might take on and project a repayment timeline. This way you can make a more informed decision about whether or not taking on debt is worthwhile, and have a plan of action for repaying it.
4. “I don’t know when my financial situation will be stable again… ”
Stefanie: There’s a ton of financial instability in entrepreneurship, so I always recommend grounding yourself in the things you know to be stable. For example, you may not be able to project exactly when and how much you will be paid from month to month, but you should be able to make a fairly accurate estimate of your costs each month. Or, if you know your total monthly cost of living and business operations, you know how much you need to be earning at a minimum after taxes each month, you can then use your knowns to help ground you while working through unknowns.
You can also create a lean budget and lush budget – using your lean budget in low revenue months, keeping your living and operating costs to a bare minimum, and using your lush budget in high revenue months to include additional savings contributions and possible business reinvestment costs.
These kinds of systems can help you create some structure in what can otherwise be a very unstable and unstructured work environment.
5. “The bills keep coming in and I am not sure if I’ll be able to settle them…”
Stefanie: If you consistently find yourself falling behind and unable to pay bills, consider where you might be able to make cut backs or cultivate additional revenue streams, even temporarily.
Maybe that means holding off on outsourcing contractor work for a few months or subleasing a portion of your retail or office space until you become whole again. While not necessarily ideal or sustainable long-term, short term trade offs and adjustments can help bring you back to a place of stability and peace of mind.