Today’s post is an insightful guest post from savvy virtual assistant Regina. She shares how she managed to set up her own business to show that you can do it too. There are always options. Her bio is below.
Man, 2007 was a crazy year. Not crazy in a bad way but really life-changing. January saw the arrival of my son and after some back and forth, sometimes here and sometimes there dad, I found myself an official single parent. Wasn’t the plan I had envisioned but hey, life happens.
No tears. What doesn’t break you will make you stronger, I believe.
Life was peachy (or so I thought), until one day in March, I got the shock of my life: my BFF at the time and babysitter to my three boys was leaving my boys alone during the day. To get high.
Smack me with a feather, why don’t you?
Some tough decisions had to be made – do I find another sitter so I can continue to work at my job? Do I quit and just pray that it all works out somehow?
Well, I chose door #2 and turned in my resignation the next day. I just couldn’t take that chance again, having someone else watch the boys and put them in harm’s way.
But my boss (who I found out was a single parent at one time) was a real darling and suggested I work from home.
Wowser! You almost had to pull me off the ceiling because I was so excited. A working mom’s dream come true, right?
Yes, the working at home part is great but I had a whole new challenge: managing business finances. What does that look like? Well, one month could be gangbusters and the next, a total bust. You’ve got to be ready for both scenarios.
So let’s chat a bit about how to run your business finances in the most efficient way as a single parent.
Use free resources and trials until you really know what works for you and your business.
Oh goodness, how many tools and resources have I signed up simply because some guru/expert/online bigshot said, “You must use this! Your business has to have this or you’ll never make money!” Yep.
That’s a lot of wasted money down the drain and as a single parent, you need to count your pennies.
If you sign up for a trial, make a note of the trial end date. Raise your hand if you’ve signed up for a product or service on a trial basis and then got the surprise of your life when you checked your bank account and the money has been taken out? All because you forgot to cancel the subscription before the end of the trial.
Don’t feel too bad – I’ve done it. Now I put an appointment on my calendar a few days before the end of the trial to give the product one final review before I make the decision to keep it or let it go.
On the heels of that:
Track your expenses and don’t be afraid to let things go if you’re not seeing results.
I use a calendar note to cancel Clickfunnels? Let me tell you a bit about that:
I signed up for a 14-day Clickfunnels trial. I launched a new ebook and I’d heard so much about the magic of Clickfunnels so I figured – why not? But at $97 per month, I just couldn’t justify the expense so I cancelled it. Maybe I’ll circle back and give it another go. The moral of the story? Don’t get all caught up in the hype of certain tools where you’re too afraid to let them go if they just don’t fit your needs.
Business expenses can add up quickly so do yourself a favour: track how much you’re spending on those fancy-schmancy tools each month. I use a Google spreadsheet to do this but find what works for you and set up a system.
You can also use as many free resources as you can while you build your business. Nothing wrong with that – plus, there are some really decent free tools out there.
Set aside an amount for rainy days.
This should be a no-brainer but alas, I’ve made some dumb mistakes when it comes to this. In my early days of being an online business owner, I totally ignored the fact that clients can (and will) come and go, taking that precious income with them. I remember one client in particular – totally awesome to work with and paid premium prices for my virtual assistant services.
One day, I logged into my email and my heart sank: the client had hit some tough financial times and was shutting down immediately. Oh, crap! Now what? The electric company didn’t care that my client had gone bust. They wanted their money – now.
Put aside at least 20 percent of your paid invoices into a rainy day fund. At least that much and more if you can. You’ll be glad you did when a client can’t pay you or goes ghost (yes, that has happened).
Invest in yourself by taking some much-needed downtime.
While this doesn’t relate to finances, your time and well-being are just as important as how much money you’ve got in the bank. If you’re running low on energy, you can’t expect to run your business well. Unplug when you feel yourself getting stressed. My de-stressor is watching a British soap called “Eastenders.” I curl up in my favourite chair with a snack and tune in to watch fictitious folks with some serious issues.
Have you ever flown? The pilot says that in the event of an emergency you should put the air mask on yourself first and then help the person seated next to you. As a single parent, you’re probably stretched thin and if you don’t take the time to recharge, you’ll be no good to anyone. Period.
Some other things I do to cut costs and watch pennies:
- I’m a huge online shopper and I use Ebates whenever I do. Ebates is this really cool app where you get cash back when you shop. And since I’m shopping online anyway, why not make a little money while I’m doing it?
- Buy in bulk. With three boys always eating, buying in bulk is a necessity. I’m a Sam’s Club member and I buy items in bulk, such as cereal, meat and household items, like toilet paper. The $100 yearly membership fee is a bargain considering how much I save and with free shipping (whoo hoo!), I can order pantry items and have them delivered to my home.
Life’s too short to worry about how you’re going to pay the bills so if you’re a single parent, take charge and put a plan in place. You can do it – really!
Regina’s passion is helping online business owners launch and grow their businesses authentically and organically. When she’s not working at the local ministry, blogging or tinkering with Squarespace, she enjoys spending time with her family, watching “Downton Abbey” to the point that it irritates her boys and people-watching from her front porch. Her new book, “The VA Playbook,” will launch in May 2018. Visit liveandworkbyfaith to learn more.