In a continuous effort to counter-balance my fear of failure, I like the experience of “lack”. I’ve been a solopreneur for more than four years now and slowly slowly I see signs that the business is out of the nappies and has become a kindergarten child, ready to stay on it’s own with her other small business friends during the day. When I come home all she needs is a bit of checking on (bank balance), a bit of nurturing (invoices and business development) and a bedtime story.
I “practice poverty” by letting essentials such as coffee run out, living with an empty fridge, not having printing paper, wearing old shoes and asking the hairdresser for an extension of payment terms.
I would not say that my company is “successful” or broke even yet. Compared to others our growth is slow and this year I took on a job to cover my living expenses. Still, we send out invoices every month and we have a number of regular clients. The client base is becoming bigger and to my amusement former clients send us their wives and husbands.
I love to be the “family coach”. As a career woman I believe that the interests of the career-driving and the caretaker role need to be more balanced in most marriages. I also believe in long-term relationships and I know that with most of you I will be contact for a lifetime. Still, there are days when I feel like a failure or when I am concerned about ending up under a bridge.
Running a business requires that you confront your fear of failure every day.
When you “practice poverty” you watch all your resources better. In the first-world we are used to luxury and constant access of resources. Switzerland is highly productive because of stability, access to resources and a highly skilled workforce. Here, we cannot imagine a life where you cannot afford to buy anything, not even a cup of coffee. My aunt thought I was kidding her when I told her I did not have money to buy coffee last month. She saw that I was paying easily for our holiday in Italy but she could not see how I live without a certain standard.
I invest in having a cleaning person so I can use my time for the business, my loved ones and myself. I have months where I cannot pay the rent or run out of money to buy coffee. I admit, I was never good with saving money. I always had enough since I went to high school. In order to improve my business cash flow I had to learn to manage my finances better. Maybe you are in a similar situation and profit from my advice below.
I have summarized my learning in “seven cash flow habits for solopreneurs”.
1) Budget vendor expenses and pay in advance
I tend to create a lot of work around myself. In corporations usually my team would be happy to be involved in several projects but in my own business my supporting freelancers can be overwhelmed with the amount of work I ask them to do. About two years ago I started to pay them in advance either on a quarterly or yearly basis. We sometimes stop to work before the end of the year as we are out of money. I had to abandon projects due to a lack of budget.
2) Invest in your Business Priorities
Once you have clarity about what your clients need and how you can help them be more successful you will also know where your priorities for investment should be. Invest in those and abandon the rest.
3) Pay for Survival Tasks
You have survival tasks in every business such as invoices, accounting, making appointments, following up on conversations with prospects, digital media marketing and web-design. Not all of these tasks are your business purpose so you should pay someone to do them for you.
4) Maintain a Wish Book
To avoid impulse purchases I am writing all my wishes into a wish book. I used to buy a lot of books and many haven’t read yet. I don’t do that anymore. I used to have clothes that I did not wear. Not anymore. And I had a lot more shoes.
5) Date a Cook
In Switzerland dining out is very expensive and one of my good decisions was to date a man who loves to cook. Even though my cooking skills have lessened we enjoy a good home-made dinner almost every night. I am thankful for this.
6) Nurture your Spirit, Body and Soul
When we feel fulfilled either through our work or our contribution to the world or through little acts of kindness every day our spirit, body and soul are nurtured. When we feel full of love we do not need consumption to comfort ourselves.
7) Abandon Credit Cards
It’s almost impossible to live without a credit card in our society but I only have a business credit card now so I need to justify my expenses to my accountant. My bank does not give me credit either. So I cannot overspend. It helps.
I am moving out of my comfort zone with this post showing you one of my biggest weaknesses and how I handle it. Let me know if it helped you and if you have any questions.
Nine budgeting ideas for the start-up entrepreneur