Keep Track Business Expenses
Q: Need advice and HELP to keep track of business expenses. I need a business type person to help me figure out profit and loss for my current business – teaching yoga and childbirth. If someone asked me what my income is gross or net, I couldn’t tell them. I am not naturally an organized person, get distracted easily, and my schedule is wonky. I just am unable to accomplish anything. I have a great reputation in the birth community and yoga community as an outstanding teacher but as a business person – YIKES! I wish I knew if there was someone who could help me with my costs, expenses etc. and with accomplishing tasks.
I have 3 days a week where I teach in the middle of the day and then again in the early evening. 2 other days, I may only teach in the evening or in the middle of the day. If I start in the morning, by the time I get to the point of being able to accomplish anything or “get in the groove”, I have to go teach a class or run a breastfeeding support group. It’s almost impossible to gear up again once I’m home because I know in just a few hours I have to go teach again and I need to make dinner, prep for class sometimes, etc.
I feel like I need someone to look over my shoulder and/or hands on show me the way to keep track of business expenses. Who would I hire to help me do that, if there is such a person?
A: First things first: good for you for asking for help! Being a business owner is another path of self-development, as you have to learn other skills outside of your “zone of genius”.
Take A Small Business Course
The first thing that I’d suggest is that you find an entrepreneurial course that enables you to apply entrepreneurial lessons to YOUR small business. This may seem time consuming, but in a workshop setting you have the benefit of working with a facilitator and peers. Of course you could hire someone to help you with these details, but you won’t internalize the lessons the same way, that will benefit your business the most.
Most cities have small business organizations that offer workshops like this, and sometimes they are even subsidized by the local government. Google “small business” and your city (or state), and you may be surprised what’s out there. I have taken small business workshops that lasted 4 months, another that was 10 sessions, and lots of smaller ones that dealt with other things that I’ve needed to learn to build a business. One workshop that is national is Kauffman FastTrac which offers workshops for people at different stages of business. Another workshop was “Workshop in Business Opportunities” (WIBO) in NYC. This is how I learned about reading a Profit/Loss Statement, how to identify the “Break Even” number for my business, as well as important details like licensing, legal aspects, insurance, etc.
Create A Business Workflow
Now once you start getting those lessons into your fingers, it’s time to find a workflow that works for you. Depending on how your business is doing, you can choose one day a week to look at the numbers of your business. For me, I do this on Thursdays. I do it first thing in the morning, before social media, and before the day gets away from me. I record my income, and also note the upcoming expenses for the next week. As an online business owner, I have automated expenses that come every week. Checking my upcoming expenses keeps things from falling through the cracks. People with lots of income/expenses will do this every day. You can use a spreadsheet or a program like Quickbooks to track your cash flow. If you have a hard time keeping up with the cash flow in your business, you can also hire a bookkeeper once a month.
Get A Small Business Coach
I really want to stress the importance of you learning how to keep track of business expenses, and not delegate it to someone else. Business is a practice, just like yoga. And just like you can talk to someone about yoga poses, it doesn’t mean anything until they get it into their body.
You can get a short-term jumpstart by getting help from a small business coach. SCORE is an organization of retired business people who offer their time to help new business owners, so you can also find a free or low-cost business coach. Your local small business organizations may also offer 1:1 coaching too.
One Day At A Time
And like practicing yoga, learning how your business works is a process. All of the biz tasks I do now took me SEVERAL years to establish as habits. And I fought much of it along the way. So you have to go gentle on yourself. I also recommend building relationships with other business owners, as you will learn so much from them as well. Find other yoga teachers, but also business owners in other industries to give you other perspectives.
I wish I could say that it was easy, and could be delegated, but it’s like asking someone else to do our pushups for us. But being an entrepreneur, and being able to create an income doing something we love is so worth it!