Running a business was never my dream. It was a necessary step in order to build my vision for facilitating women’s stories and using my talents to amplify those stories. The last five years of business ownership were more an outcome of the dream, than the dream itself. I sure didn’t plan this path, so you can probably imagine I was anything but ready for all the challenges that come with running a business: taxes, health insurance, invoicing, accounting, hiring people and making every decision in order to fully support myself.
It’s been a wild ride, one that I’ve reflected on immensely especially as I’ve just recently taken on a full-time job running programming across nine gathering locations at The Riveter, all the while keeping pieces of my sweat-&-love-built business continuing on. I’ve been on both sides of the fence, and now I’m living in a permanent straddle of that fence. I can tell you, the grass isn’t greener on either side, but sitting up here does give me some perspective (and maybe some splinters).
The foundations that have helped me run my business all these years are still helping me while I add another professional dimension. Here’s a few bits of advice that continue to anchor me:
Look at your financials. And re look at them. And know them. And immerse yourself in them. And ask questions about them. How much money is your business bringing in, and what areas of your business are bringing in the most money (and are those areas energizing to you?) How much are you spending? What are you spending it on? I handle most of my business ops via QuickBooks Self-Employed. It helps me track my business expenses and profits, and well as managing my invoicing and taxes. I wish their new bookkeeping tool – QuickBooks Live – had been around from day one. I would have loved to have an on-demand bookkeeper to keep me accountable to my financials and intimately know the details of what was coming in and out at all times. With this tool QuickBooks gives you a virtual, on-demand network of screened bookkeeping professionals that help you keep your financials organized. Hallelujah! This was the area of my business I struggled with the most, and the one that in the past year I committed, full stop, to leveling up. If you’re feeling the same, don’t get down, get in action. And QuickBooks Live is the tool to help you do that.
Ask for what you need. My books were always a place I needed help. So too were the financial models for projects I was working on. These were areas of stress that I always had to ask for help from people I hired or friends who were savvier than me. By watching these amazing role models, I realized that people who succeed are direct about what they need. They ask for it. Whether it’s in a meeting with friends and family or from a hired accounting professional, people are willing to help if you ask for it. No one builds a business alone. It requires formal and informal teams of people. As my parents always told me, “If you don’t ask, you don’t know.” And I know I’m not alone in this. A recent study conducted by QuickBooks and Wakefield Research found that nearly three in four small businesses first sought advice from family and friends before going to an expert or professional. You wouldn’t ask your friend without medical training why you’re sick, so why would you ask her about your business if this isn’t her area of expertise? If you need help, ask a professional! There are so many resources out there, and tools like QuickBooks Live can help you navigate any curveballs that come your way.
Block your days. The cool thing about running a business is that you get to wear all the hats. The maddening thing about running a business is that you have to wear all the hats. There’s so much that needs to be done, and whether your team is huge or tiny, the buck stops with you. Whether it’s external meetings, creative work, bookkeeping, or future planning, the best way to maximize your energy and your days, is to block time for certain types of work. If it’s not scheduled, it’s probably not getting done. And if you’re forcing yourself to wear all the hats in any given hour (read: constantly multitasking) you’re probably not getting any of the big important stuff done. So whether you block creative time in the morning, planning midday, and meetings in the afternoon, make sure your calendar has everything accounted for.
Running a business is every bit the magic you’d hope for. While it can be tough on some days, these are the reminders that I believe help us all…because you’re SO not alone.
This post was created in partnership with QuickBooks Self-Employed. So many of us are figuring out this dream together…I wanted to let you know what helps me!