This week, Maggie is chatting with Meg Wheeler, who is a business and financial coach who helps online business owners master the money stuff in their businesses. In this episode, they discuss how women business owners can start their businesses on the right financial footing, and how they can continue to manage their businesses to reach financial and business success.
Follow Meg on Instagram
Sign up for Biz Money Blueprint
Meg is a former CPA turned Business and Financial Coach who helps online business owners master the money stuff in their businesses. Her course, Biz Money Blueprint, provides a roadmap to setting everything up, from accounting to taxes to paying yourself. Her membership, Badass Action Takers, helps business owners manage the money, including cash flow, pricing your offers for profits and setting meaningful and achievable financial goals, and building a scalable and profitable business through multiple revenue streams, passive income, and recurring income.
To join the Money Circle Community, visit www.maggiegermano.com/moneycircle.
To learn more about Maggie and her coaching and speaking services, visit www.maggiegermano.com.
Maggie Germano 0:08
Thanks for listening to the money circle podcast. I’m your host, Maggie Germano and I’m a financial coach for women. I’m passionate about helping women improve their relationships with money so that they can take better control of their futures. Part of that journey is making personal finance education more accessible and less judgmental, which is why this podcast exists. Each week, we’ll discuss a new financial topic to help you explore how you can make a difference in your own financial life, or in society as a whole. I’m currently on maternity leave until April, but there are still ways for you to get support from me while you’re on your financial journey. If you’re interested in diving deeper into issues like income inequality, debt or money, shame, check out my new money circle community. In this safe feminist space women gathered to talk about money without fear of being judged or shamed. We break down shame and build community and safety for everyone so that you can find the support you need to gain control over your finances. Visit Maggiegermano.com/moneycircle to learn more and to join the community today. I can’t wait to see you there.
Hey there, and thanks for listening. I’m your host Maggie Germano. And this week, I’m chatting with Meg Wheeler, who is a business and financial coach who helps online business owners master the money stuff in their businesses. In this episode, we discuss how women business owners can start their businesses on the right financial footing, and how they can continue to manage their businesses to reach financial and business success. If you are a business owner, or you think you might be someday This episode is for you. Enjoy.
Okay, welcome, Meg. Thanks so much for being here today.
Meg K. Wheeler 1:52
Oh, thanks so much for having me.
Maggie Germano 1:54
Oh, of course. Yeah, I’m excited. I mean, we met at the she podcasts conference last year, almost a year ago now, which is kind of frightening to think about.
Meg K. Wheeler 2:04
But feels like so long ago.
Maggie Germano 2:06
Yeah, I know. Yeah. It feels like two years, but but I’m excited to have you on the podcast for the first time. So before we launch in, why don’t you just say who you are and what you do?
Meg K. Wheeler 2:19
Sure. So I’m Meg Wheeler, I am a former CPA turned biz money coach. So I basically work with mostly service based and online entrepreneurs to set up, manage and master the money stuff in their businesses. This is everything from their bank accounts, to their accounting systems, to taxes to paying themselves to ultimately scaling in a very profitable way. And I really try to help demystify the money and the number side of business so that we can all grow incredibly profitable, successful businesses, and really just live the lives that we want to live.
Maggie Germano 2:54
I love that. And I know, as a business owner, myself, and someone who helps people with the personal side of money, there is a lot of like fear and unknown when it comes to business finance. And I think a lot of people just try to be like, I’m just gonna close my eyes and look the other way. And like hope I’m doing the right things. And so it sounds like you’re exactly what a lot of people need.
Meg K. Wheeler 3:16
I’d like to think so. And most people who come to me that is what they’re doing, and I get it, I completely understand that there’s no shame. But with just a little bit of support and some guidance, it can be much better and much more beneficial for your business.
Maggie Germano 3:34
That makes sense to me. And so how did you do you said, You used to be a CPA? How did you shift into this work?
Meg K. Wheeler 3:43
Yeah, so I didn’t come here directly. I left my job about three years ago, because I wanted to have a bigger impact. I really loved the work I was doing. But I was looking at what was going on in the world and really feeling as though I wanted to be more involved in in creating change. And so I quit my job, I started my first business which still exists to this day, but in a very different form. It’s called one for women. We started as a gift set company that would stock all of our gifts that’s with women made goods and we would really encourage people to send gifts to their friends for what we call kind of those everyday moments in life. So not babies and weddings, which are, you know, traditionally kind of the women events that we celebrate, but instead job progressions and buying your first home, you know or starting starting your first business. And so that was great. I loved so much of that, but I hated being a product based business owner, which I learned very quickly. And so I pivoted and we actually started a podcast during that time called one for women kind, which was all about how women can support each other through daily everyday actions. And that still exists to this day. So that’s still there. But through all of that, I was needing a Lot of women, especially women in business, and I realized very quickly that women just really aren’t given the financial education that we need, both in our personal lives, speaking to what you do, but also in business. And so many women I met were just incredible business owners, super creative, I was so enamored by what they were doing. But I also saw how much they were struggling because they didn’t understand the basics of finance when it came to their businesses. And so I started blogging about it, I would get frustrated by that they’d get bad advice, or that they, no one would give them advice. And so I started blogging, and that, you know, turned into a business really, without expecting it, because women started saying, Well, how can I work with you? How can you help me? And my answer was, I don’t know. It took me a bit to figure out I started working with, with business owners one on one, and then realize that, again, going back to my point of wanting to have a lot of impact that the best way I could do that was to create educational products that enable primarily women but men to to get the financial education and support they need. So now I have an online course I have a membership. And both of those really allow me to reach out to as many business owners as possible, so that we can all support each other and growing our businesses.
Maggie Germano 6:22
That’s really wonderful. And I feel like your story is so similar to so many that I hear and with my own story, as well of just like meeting women and seeing this need and seeing this area of struggle and being like well, I actually have the skills and knowledge to kind of help with this. So instead of just kind of like sitting by and wishing it was different, you, you know, like you said, You started just writing about it. But then you saw that there was obviously more of a need and more ways that you could serve and really grow that into a business. And so you did that. And I bet it’s almost a uniquely female thing that I’ve known, right?
Meg K. Wheeler 6:59
Well, we know, we noticed something isn’t working, and we get it done, or it needs to be done. And we get it done. And I think you’re right. I think it is a uniquely women thing, not that men don’t do that, too. But I think it’s it’s what I see in all the women around me. And I think it’s what, frankly, makes us great business owners, if we have the right tools in place to help us get there.
Maggie Germano 7:20
Right, I totally agree. And so say someone who’s listening right now, it has not started a business yet. And they’re thinking about it, but they are maybe they’re a little afraid of the finance side, or they don’t really know which steps to take, what are some of those initial steps that you recommend brand new baby business owners take in the beginning?
Meg K. Wheeler 7:44
Yeah, and the good thing is, so I’ll share a couple of steps, the good thing is none of them are particularly hard, or expensive, which is good. And it really depends on whether you have actually started your business or not. So if you haven’t started your business yet, and and you’re looking at doing it, you know, maybe in a few weeks or a few months down the road, the first thing I would do is actually to just map out what you think the first year will look like financially. And a lot of this is guessing. So don’t worry, there’s not a right answer here. But it’s sitting down and saying what do I think my expenses will be? So my email service provider, my, you know, if you’re a podcaster, and you’re gonna have to pay for hosting my website, just listing out all of those things. And then on the flip side, what am I going to offer if I’m a photographer, and my packages are, you know, priced at x and I can offer for a month, you know, what is my my revenue potential there, and making sure that the numbers add up. And if they don’t add up, and by the way, make sure to pay yourself and that that’s one of the most important things that most new business owners don’t factor in. But if the numbers don’t add up, it doesn’t mean that you should give up or you shouldn’t start, it just means you may need to tweak the numbers, you may need to rethink the business model a little bit. If you’ve if you’re ready to start your business, or you’ve already started your business in terms of tangible steps. The first and one of the most important steps is to get a separate bank account for your business. And I recommend this whether you are operating as a sole proprietor, or you know whether you start a legal entity like an LLC, even if it’s not required, I’m pretty much telling you it’s required. And it’s absolutely something to do. It’s good because it keeps your your records separate from your personal stuff. But I also think it’s really going to give you the data down the road to analyze the money in your business. And so having it separate is just going to help you be more in control and have a clearer picture of what’s going on. And then I’ve got two other quick steps for that as well. The second is to set up an accounting system and this is usually where I lose people, their eyes start to roll and they get bored but I promise it doesn’t need to be complicated. There are some really great options out there that are not complicated. One of my favorites It’s a tool called wave apps w AV, it’s completely free unless you need more kind of in depth tools, which most people don’t need starting out. And it’s great. As long as you don’t have inventory. If you have physical inventory, you can’t use that option. But you just want a tool that’s going to allow you to track your numbers. And I always recommend choosing one that automatically syncs with your bank account with your credit card so that you’re not manually entering in your transactions every month, we want to limit the amount of data entry and work you have to do around this stuff. And then my third is to actually start what I call money meetings. And so especially when you’re first starting out, many meetings are usually twice a month, you can do them every week to if you feel better, a lot of my newer clients like to do them every week. And it’s basically 30 to 60 minutes on your calendar consistently, where you sit down and you look at your money. So you’ll start by looking at what we call your profit and loss statement, which is essentially how much money have you taken in and how much money have you spent? And where does that leave you. You’ll also look at your cash flow your bank account, so how much cash Do I have, and how much cash do I expect to take in and to to put out over the next few months. And those money meetings are really just a great chance to check in on the money in your business. And that way, you don’t have to worry about the money stuff any other time except for that 30 or 60 minute time every two weeks.
Maggie Germano 11:31
I really love that because I think what you were just kind of insinuating is like money can feel stressful, it can feel worrisome. And if you have so many other things to deal with with your business, the last thing you want to be thinking about all the time is money. And but it is imperative to be thinking about and focusing on the money in your business as well. So having those specific times or it’s like every two weeks or every week, these are the 30 to 60 minutes, I’m going to feel a little stressed about money, or at least just paying attention to it. If it does stress you out, that might be part of it. But then otherwise, you don’t have to think about it as much, but you’re not ignoring it. You’re not avoiding it, you’re scheduling it, which I think is also helpful with people with their personal finances too, if they tend to get overwhelmed or stressed. But yeah, don’t want to ignore it and avoid it, because that only leads to trouble.
Meg K. Wheeler 12:24
Yeah, and I can say this. And it’s funny as much as I am all about the business money. And I’m you know, this is what I teach. And I’m very in control. For me on my part. On the personal side, I think you and I are opposite in the sense, right? Like you came to me and said, I need help with business money, I need help with personal money. But I can tell you this, you know, when I ignore it, or when I skip those money meetings on the business or the personal side, it’s never better to do that. Because then when I do finally catch up with it, I’ve got to do more work to clean up. I’ve got to dig through more stuff to figure out what’s going on. I’m always happier. When I consistently do those money meetings, even though they’re sometimes hard, sometimes the numbers don’t look great. And it can be a little bit stressful to figure out. But I’m always relieved when I walk away from them. Because when when you have knowledge of what’s going on, you’re so much better off than sitting there wondering, Oh, where’s my bank account at or Oh, I don’t know if we’ll be able to afford this. I that knowledge is very empowering. And so consistently sticking with it is really important.
Maggie Germano 13:30
I totally agree, because that’s the thing I feel like As humans, we think that if we just stick our head in the sand, or we just like turn our back to a scary situation, that means we’ll be safe from it, it’s not going to affect us. And logically, we probably know that that’s not true, the more you ignore something, especially a financial issue, the bigger it’s going to get both in your brain in terms of like fearing this like really scary monster. And also just like in actual numbers, if there’s an extra bill or an extra fee on top of something because you’ve missed something or you you know, get an overdraft fee or whatever it might be. And so even though it can feel less fun and more scary to have to think about it and pay attention more often, you’re actually in more control, the more you’re paying attention because it gives you the opportunity to fix something as soon as it happens.
Meg K. Wheeler 14:24
The other thing I would say to you I use this I call it a trick but I mean I tell my clients what I’m doing, I use this with my clients a lot is to, to build in an incentive when you do your money meeting. So even for me even again, I’m a numbers person, but I don’t always love to sit down and do my Monday meetings. So generally I will do them on Friday mornings when I get when I go sit at my favorite coffee shop and I get a doughnut and that’s you know, even just having that to look forward to I’m like, Okay, this isn’t going to be so bad because I’m going to see my friends I’m going to sit at my favorite place. This was pre COVID and I’m going to enjoy my donut. So just even build In a small incentive for creating those meetings to be more enjoyable can can be a really big, big help.
Maggie Germano 15:09
Yeah, I’m a big fan of that too. And like, with my clients with their personal finances, we kind of work on like, what is that fun thing? What is that treat? What is that incentive, there’s definitely been clients who are like, I’m gonna go to my favorite coffee shop on Sunday mornings and do this, or I’m gonna have a glass of wine along with me when I’m doing this, or I’m going to like, just go get myself a small treat, once it’s done. I mean, we talked about that with like, small children, like, you get a star for doing this thing, or you get, you know, you get this sort of reward for this. And like, I don’t think we necessarily grow out of the need for that. So building that in is really important. Like you’re allowed to treat yourself when you do something good.
Meg K. Wheeler 15:52
We are all toddlers at heart.
Maggie Germano 15:54
So yes, exactly. We never really outgrow. Um, so what are certain financial steps or financial necessities that you see some of your clients kind of forgetting to take whether it’s in the beginning or when they’re more established? Or just avoiding generally?
Meg K. Wheeler 16:16
Oh, yeah, there’s there are two I can think of, and there are two really important ones. So the first is taxes, not to, you know, really go to the worst conversation topic ever. But, but you do have to pay taxes. I mean, that is the reality of the situation. And actually, I like to reframe this. And instead of groaning about taxes, I actually like to think about what taxes give us in return, you know, taxes really do give us our communities and, you know, our education system, and, and so many other things. And so I just tried to flip that little mindset shift, to think about it in a better way. But when you are a business owner, I think it can be very easy to forget about taxes, especially at the beginning, where you may not be making a lot of money. So what I see a lot with my clients is, number one, they may actually be in a loss position. So they haven’t started making profits yet. And they think I don’t need to do anything. And the reality is, even when you’re in a loss position, you still want to file your business taxes, whether that’s on your personal return for most of us if you are, you know, a sole proprietor or a single member LLC, or on the business’s own return if you’ve got a C Corp, or maybe an S corp, because those losses can actually be used to offset other income. And so this is especially important with the first year of one for women, we were in a loss position, you know, we’d bought a lot of inventory and kind of all those capital startup costs. And that loss really helped offset my household income and really kind of made us be able to afford keeping the business going. And so it’s really important to do that. The other thing with taxes are quarterly taxes, and I get a lot of clients who say that they didn’t even know that quarterly taxes existed. So this is very common in quarterly taxes are actually quarterly tax payments. And the reason they exist, or they’re required in most cases, is because if you think back, if you ever had a nine to five job, and your employer would withhold taxes from your paycheck, right? Well, they would actually pay those taxes in on a regular basis. So the IRS doesn’t actually give you until April to pay your taxes. They require your taxes to be paid as your income is earned. When you were in a nine to five job, your employer took care of that for you, they’d withhold the money, they pay it up to the IRS. But now that you own your own business, you have to do that. And so the IRS is actually giving us a bit of a grace period by saying you only have to pay every quarter versus every week or every month. And so we most business owners do have to make quarterly tax payments. There’s a few exceptions, but very few people fall under them. Generally, my rule is if you’re making money, you probably owe money. And so that’s a big one as well for a lot of my clients is that they just miss those quarterly payments. And the consequence of doing so is additional fines or penalties or interest when you do go and file your taxes in April if you haven’t paid into the system yet. So I always recommend that my clients set up a separate bank account to save money from each usually each month or each. You know, each sale they get in depending on how your business is structured. And then you pay that in every quarter. And I even have one of the resources I offer to folks in my community is my quarterly tax workbook because the calculation can feel a little overwhelming, which I know is a big reason why a lot of people don’t do them. But once you get in the habit of doing them, you’re really going to be very grateful that you’ve paid that money in. So that’s the first one. The second one I would say is is paying yourself I referenced this a little bit before. But this is huge. I work with so many business owners who come to me after two or three years And they’re still not paying themselves. So basically, you’re working in your business for free. And you know, it’s a little bit of a longer answer than I can probably explain on a podcast, it depends on everyone’s situation. But my biggest recommendation is as early as possible in your business, start building into your budget paying yourself. And even if right now you say, I can’t afford to pay myself anything, I want you to just pay yourself $1. Even if that’s all you can pay yourself, like figure out the most you can pay yourself right now. And the trick I like to say is pick a number that you can commit to consistently every single month, again, even if it’s $1, or $10. I don’t even care what the number is, as long as you commit to it every single month. And I want you to pay yourself that every single month. And then once a month on your when you sit down for your money meeting at the end of the month, I want you to look at that number, and I want you to try to raise it. But every time you raise it, you’re recommitting to pay yourself that number consistently every single month. And what I find with my clients is after doing this exercise, usually within three to six months, they get to a point where they’re paying themselves, if not their ideal number, pretty close to it. Because just getting in the habit of paying yourself consistently. And then really trying to challenge yourself every month to raise that number becomes almost sort of a challenge for people and they get excited, like, Oh, can I can I raise it by you know, 100 more dollars this month, or whatever it is. So that’s what I would tell folks is this as soon as you’re able to do that in your business, or as soon as you listen to this and start doing that in your business. And it’s it’s really important, because otherwise you’re working for free.
Maggie Germano 21:43
Yeah, that’s really good advice. And it seems pretty intuitive, right? Like, of course, you would be paying yourself while so you’re running a business. But I’ve heard the same thing where people, they’re just not making that a priority. It ends up being you know, paying for other things within the business or wanting to invest it back into the business or even just fear of like taking money out of the business and not having like a savings account for the business.
Meg K. Wheeler 22:10
I get that a lot.
Maggie Germano 22:11
Yeah. And so how do you? I mean, I’m sure it’s different for every individual that you work with, but how are they kind of maintaining the ability to run a business, if they’re not a not maybe not able to pay themselves or just choosing not to pay themselves over time?
Meg K. Wheeler 22:29
Well, I think that’s the problem is most people aren’t, and at some point, it hits ahead. And the business either folds or you know, something has to give a lot of the clients that I work with come to me, and they’re in credit card debt because of that they weren’t paying themselves. So it might be personal credit card debt. But that’s an issue, or what I see a lot is that they’re paying themselves very inconsistently. So they’ll, you know, they’ll do a big launch or have a big client sign on or something and they’ll get a lot of cash in. And they’ll go Hey, I finally pay myself and that’ll hold them over for a little bit. But that’s another big misconception is that cash equals payday. Cash Flow is very much something that I believe in tracking, and that we do a lot of work with in my community, but we also look at your budget, because just because you have a lot of cash in doesn’t mean that you can spend all of that cash. And that is something that I would say that is probably the single most common issue for my community members is that they’re really tracking everything in terms of is, is the cash in my bank account? Do I have cash, and therefore that equals what I can do? And that’s just not not the case? So I think the answer is that it doesn’t sustain for for forever, and eventually, unfortunately, the business folds, and they go back and they get a job or they figure something else out.
Maggie Germano 23:56
Yeah, I mean, that makes sense. Right? Like, if unless you have other income, whether it’s from a partner or you’re independently wealthy, or there’s family money or some whatever might be going on, you have to actually be making some sort of profit to support yourself as well.
Meg K. Wheeler 24:12
And I think the other deeper point here, too, is and I see this, especially with women, I see this very rarely with men is also that this is us devaluing ourselves because we are and and we don’t have enough time to get into the patriarchal history of all of this. But, you know, women for so long have bared the burden of unpaid labor. And so I think it’s very much ingrained in who we are to, you know, to our point at the beginning of the the episode about how when we see something that needs to be done, we just do it and I think that’s very much the mentality that a lot of women have going into their businesses and they don’t think about the fact that well hold on, am I getting paid for this? But at the end of the day, our time is incredibly valuable. And if we’re ever going to truly have gender equality and truly have the power that we want and deserve and need, then we need to really recognize the importance of paying ourselves. And valuing the thing I always say is you are your business’s most important asset. And so if you are not taking care of yourself and paying yourself, then you are setting your business up for failure. And I think more women need to recognize that because it tragically is the reason why so many businesses fail.
Maggie Germano 25:39
That’s a really good point. And I think that that’s a huge takeaway for people who are listening to is that, like you were saying, we’re used to undervaluing ourselves, we’re used to being undervalued by others. And we’re used to being unpaid and just doing what we need to do anyway, because it needs to get done and be unpaid labor just needs to happen because it carries communities and families. And I would also guess, that a lot of women business owners are also starting businesses that they’re very passionate about. And they’re, they want to help other people. And so the idea of like, helping other people, it’s like, oh, I would just do I would do this for free, or, you know, I mean, I personally get a lot of requests to do a lot of stuff for free. And it’s like, well, but you know, it’s for this cause. And it’s like, Yeah, and I really care about this cause but like, I’m also running a busy guy, right, like, volunteer everything. And so I’m sure there’s a lot of that going around too. So it can make it it’s, it messes with your head.
Meg K. Wheeler 26:42
There really is. And I think women are so generous, which is fantastic. But I see so many women give away everything, every moment of my life. And I’m choosing to use that time for something that gives me value. And this is I think part of where we get hung up as women is we think that value must mean money. And you know, currency dollars, if you’re in the US is just one form of value, right? So I’m doing this podcast episode with you, you’re not paying me, but this is not a waste of my time. This isn’t me give it this is valuable to me, you’re my friend, I’m supporting you, this helps me, you know, there’s value in everything we do with our time. And so when I think about when I get any requests to do anything, whether it’s in my business, or in my personal life, I’m always thinking about what is the value? And I think as women, we worry that that makes us selfish or greedy. And it doesn’t, it means that we are protecting ourselves and our time and, and ensuring that we’re using our precious time in the best way possible. And we need to do more of that. Because, frankly, that’s what men do. And and I think it, you know, is one of the reasons why women are so burned out and why we are to be clear, we’re underpaid for a lot of reasons that have nothing to do with anything we’ve done. But I think it’s also you know, why are we’re struggling in our businesses sometimes. Because we’re not demanding that our time be used in the most valuable way possible.
Maggie Germano 28:24
Yeah, I totally agree. And I was I was gonna say something about burnout too, as you were talking and, and I think it’s really important to remember that if you want to show up in the best way that you can, whether it’s for your family, or your friends, or your business, or volunteer work that you do whatever it is that you care about most, you can’t show up well, in those areas. If you’re giving every piece of yourself to everyone who asks, in order to be there for people and the way that they need you. You have to be more particular and you have to be more like you said, demanding. And that’s then inherently the opposite of being selfish because you’re doing your best to then be your best self.
Meg K. Wheeler 29:08
Yeah, the it’s funny, I wrote a paper as a philosophy major in college and I wrote a paper about selfish about self being selfish. And the example I used at the time was the oxygen masks on the airplane that even as a parent, you’re told you have to put yours on first before you ever assist your child or anyone else. And I think that’s the critical lesson to remember here is that we can’t be anything for anyone else if we are not everything to ourselves first and that is why me People ask me all the time, how do you do everything you do? Because I choose very wisely how to use my time. And I don’t waste a moment of it. I’m not perfect. There are definitely been some moments I wasted but especially home COVID you know, pull out the phone, done some social media scrolling, but for the most part, I really treat my time as the the value that it’s worth. And I’m very particular about how I use it.
Maggie Germano 30:04
Yeah, and I think that that comes through at least just from like kind of observing you from afar, which is like all the different things, we’re talking about this before we started recording, all the different things that you kind of have going on, or the things that you’re able to prioritize and focus on your family and all these other things. And I mean, obviously, I can’t see you every moment of the day. So I’m sure you have stressful moments to where you feel overwhelmed, and you’re human. But it does kind of come through that you are being particular about the things that you’re choosing to do. And that’s nice to see.
Meg K. Wheeler 30:39
I’m glad to hear that. And I’ll tie it back to a money point, if, if you will, which is that, especially in my business, when I am stressed, and when my list feels very long, and I’m trying to figure out how to do everything, the first thing I do, are those revenue generating activities. And I think many of us spend a lot of time in our business, doing things that aren’t actually going to generate us revenue, you know, redesigning the website, so it looks prettier, or making the cool Instagram filter, you know, those things are great. But they don’t ultimately generate you more revenue in your business. And at the end of the day, you’re running a business to be a business unless you just want a hobby. And if that’s great, then just call it a hobby, but I’m really thinking about how you’re using your time, and is this going to generate the revenue, and then working your way down from there. And so because of that, even though my list is always very long, I’m usually getting done the things I need to get done. And I’m never feeling that stress about everything else. Because I know that those are not things that really matter to the success of my business.
Maggie Germano 31:50
That’s really good advice. And that’s something that I still struggle with too. Or it’s like I get really distracted by certain tasks or other things that it’s like, then if I step back, and I’m like, Wait, is that actually bringing in revenue to my business, is that going to lead to revenue to my business, and a lot of times, especially when it feels like busy work, it’s not actually going to do any of that. And that’s been something especially this year with like COVID and I have worked with business coach and I was doing all these different, like, just lots of thinking and lots of changing and lots of just so much up in the air kind of, of having to kind of rethink and be more thoughtful about how I’m spending my time during the day, and where certain activities are actually going to get me and then allowing myself to not care about the other stuff.
Meg K. Wheeler 32:42
Exactly. And I do I do want to give a lot of grace to for people listening it, you know, especially her listening to this timely, where we’re still in the covid 19 pandemic, because I think this year is sort of the exception to that rule. Right? I know, certainly myself, I’ve had trouble focusing, trying to balance kit, you know, kid being home, and just the stress and the grief. And I think let’s let’s be honest, there’s a lot of grief this year, whether or not you’ve lost someone to to the disease. And I just I think we need to give ourselves a lot of grace with that, that what I’m telling you works in a sort of regular year, if you will, but also recognize that whether it’s this year, or it’s just something is going on in your life, that is dismantling normalcy for you recognize that sometimes you’re not going to always be able to use your time in the best way possible. And that’s okay. And you need to just give yourself some grace with that.
Maggie Germano 33:40
Yeah, I agree with that, too. Because Yeah, I mean, with a global pandemic, and literal wild like the country literally being on fire and figuratively being on fire towards the election this year, the social justice crises, like it’s just been, it’s a lot to handle at once, especially when we you know, the normalcy of life is so disrupted with COVID. And so many people’s businesses are suffering. I know mine is I know, lots of people have just fully lost jobs, and there’s so much going on. So expecting yourself to be just as productive as normal is really unfair.
Meg K. Wheeler 34:19
Yeah, it really is. And I it’s not even I’ve had friends who’ve said to me, there’s no reason why I should be any less productive because they still have their job. You know, they may not necessarily have kids, and I said, the emotional not that I’m a therapist, putting on a different hat right now. But the emotional toll of everything going on this year, is just and the grief that we are all dealing with is is just making it really hard for us to work at 100% of what we’re capable of, and that is internal. And it’s not always easy to see. But we really need to be aware of it because it’s the reality of this year and it’s okay. It’s okay.
Maggie Germano 35:00
Yeah, I totally agree. I think that’s a good a good takeaway piece as well. But so for for when we some day go a little bit back to normal, and people are continuing to run their businesses and they, you know, want to make sure they’re keeping things on track. What do you kind of recommend the consistent steps folks are taking and the things to pay attention to, to just be thoughtful and consistent and on top of your business finances as you go along every day?
Meg K. Wheeler 35:33
Yeah. So let’s go back to that idea of the money meetings, the sort of regular meetings that you’re going to have, excuse me, where you’re going to sit down and really look at the numbers in your business and dive in a little bit there. So one of the most important things that I recommend my clients stay on top of is cashflow. This is actually one of the biggest reasons why businesses fail is they run out of cash, even if they’re doing great otherwise. And it’s especially one of the biggest issues for for women, because our access, and especially women of color, because our access to capital is so much less than it is for other people. And you know, so when you think about some of these bigger businesses, you know, if they had a cash flow issue, well, they can get a loan, or they can get a line of credit, or they’ll get a bailout, we don’t get those options. And even women and especially single women, so women who aren’t married, who don’t have the ability to go to a bank and have a partner, perhaps with a stable income, cosigning are really in a difficult position. Because of that lack of access to capital. So getting a good handle on your cash flow is key. I tell all of my clients, I use a cash flow tracker, it’s very simple. It’s an Excel, you could make your own. But I basically tell them to track a rolling three month period, so that I can always tell and I put in placeholders for either income coming in, or expenses going out for those three months, and then I’ll update them as the actual numbers hit. And the good thing about the rolling three months is that it first gives you a really good glimpse into what the next few months are going to look like. So if there is an issue, you can identify it early. And you can try to shift some things around or fix it. But I think it also gives you the ability to plan ahead. So if you are in maybe a better cash flow position and you want to invest into your business, it gives you the ability to see what the opportunity is to do that as well. So really managing your cash flow is number one, I think they’re a huge, we’ve already talked about paying yourself, I won’t go into that one further. But the other one I would say is also making sure that what you’re selling is profitable. This is another issue I see. And this is more so the case with folks who are in the service space business. And a lot of this has to do with D valuing their own time. But I also think it’s it’s really just in general, it’s harder to price, you know, services, right? So you’re kind of looking at competitors and trying to figure out how to do all that. So I actually do a profit analysis on every, you can either do it on every client or project or you can do it on every service if your services tend to be the same. And I look at Well, what am I bringing in. So let’s say my package is $1,000. And then I look at what are my costs. And so I’m going to spend five hours on it. And let’s say my hourly rate is $100. So that’s $500 for my time, but then I also look at my overhead costs, like my website and my internet. And, you know, Facebook ads or whatever else it may be. And I allocate a portion of those overhead costs to every job I do. And that really gives me a sense for is this profitable? Am I making money on this, and I have had so many clients come to me. And when we do this analysis, they’re either making very little, or they’re actually losing money. And that tends to happen when they fail to factor in the value of their time. So I think that’s really critical as well, because as we go to scale our businesses, I talked to a lot of women who say I want to scale I want to grow, I’ve hit six figures, which of course they’re always talking about revenues, not profits. But I’ve hit six figures I want to scale well. The only way to scale is to be growing something that’s profitable. And so really understanding that is key. And the last thing I’ll say is if you offer multiple things, don’t spend your time on something that isn’t as profitable as something else. So and this is I had a client come to me where she offered a VIP coaching package and she also had an online course. And the online course was you know on evergreen she wasn’t delivered live so she did very little to actually she’d created it. It was done. When we looked at her numbers her profit margin was About 20% on her coaching, meaning for, excuse me, for every dollar she bring in for coaching, she had about 20 cents in profit, the profit margin on her course was 90%. So for every dollar she brought in for her course, 90% or 90 cents was profit. That’s a huge difference. And yet she was spending all of her time marketing, the coaching. So really understanding where your profits coming from and where your opportunity to grow can be very helpful. It doesn’t mean you have to abandon the thing you love. She didn’t abandon coaching, we just raised her prices, we cut back on some of her expenses that were going into that. But we also had her put more money into marketing for the course, because that was easy money, I’ll take a 90% profit margin.
So really understanding those things, is what enables you to take your business from I’m one person making enough to pay my bills to I run a 7, 8, 9, 10 figure business.
Maggie Germano 41:03
Yeah, and that makes sense to me, for sure. And I but I could also see how that the idea of trying to figure all that out can be really scary to people and like, literally, where do you even start with that? So what do you recommend, whether it’s working with someone like you who can help you kind of figure those things out? or other steps to kind of understand what’s actually profitable in your business?
Meg K. Wheeler 41:27
Yeah. So you know, it’s, I’m going to say it’s a fairly simple exercise. But I also know that it’s a fairly simple exercise for someone like me who’s very comfortable with this stuff, I get that this is very overwhelming for people. This is actually why I created my membership was because I wanted the people in my community to have the ability to do this. This kind of analysis, without having to go out and hire a financial advisor or CPA or even bringing a CFO into your business, which is very, you know, can be very expensive. In fact, when I first started this business, I mentioned I was doing one on one work, I was working as you know what we call like a fractional or a part time CFO, where you essentially go into businesses and do that work for them every month. And it’s great, it’s expensive for businesses. So what I focus on doing is actually empowering my clients to understand how to do the work themselves. So that you can then take it and go do those calculations anytime you want to offer a new product or service, or you get a new project that you want to do that for. So I sort of hate to give the answer of Yes, you should work with someone. Because I really do like people to be able to do things themselves. But I do think just spending a little bit of time, perhaps a little bit of money to find someone whether it’s me or someone else, but find someone who can help guide you in this will pay dividends because knowing this, you know, I hear a lot people will say, Well, I’m just going to pay somebody, when I make enough money, I’m going to pay somebody to worry about this stuff. At the end of the day, the best CEOs and not even just the best, but good CEOs understand the financial aspects of the business, they’re not ignoring them, they’re meeting with their CFOs probably once a week, if not more often, because it’s critical. The numbers in your business are really the most important measure of your business’s success and trajectory. So as the CEO of your business, the way to act like the CEO is to really understand this stuff. And so I think the the investment in again, not paying someone to do this for you, but learning how to do it yourself is really important.
Maggie Germano 43:41
Yeah, no, that definitely makes sense. And, and I think, then figuring that out, it takes away some of that fear around, like the only way I can figure this out is to hire somebody, and I can’t hire somebody, and then you kind of get in that loop. And then you don’t make any change and that sort of thing. So, I mean, it’s just like with anything, like figuring out how to do it yourself and then eventually offloading it when you can afford to offload it will then make you feel much better.
Meg K. Wheeler 44:08
Exactly. And one of the things I actually talked about a lot in my group is how you can actually hire or use if you already have one VA, a virtual assistant to do a lot of the money tasks that that you don’t need to be involved in so that when you go to your money meetings, they’ve already prepped everything for you. And the VA is a great option when you’re first starting out. Because I huge fan of bookkeepers I fully support having a bookkeeper if you can, but they’re a little bit more expensive. And I think for a lot of our businesses depends on what business you’re in, obviously, but especially if you’re service based if you’re kind of in the online education world, you don’t have as complicated of a business, business accounting and so you don’t need a bookkeeper. And so really using a VA which can oftentimes be a lot less expensive, can be and it’s we’re talking like one hour a week, maybe it’s not very much of their time. But it really can make a huge difference and enable you to truly act in that CEO role and not as the data entry person.
Maggie Germano 45:08
Right. And there’s a big difference between that of being like the big idea person, the execution person and the details in the weeds person.
Meg K. Wheeler 45:16
Maggie Germano 45:18
So is there anything else we haven’t talked about yet in terms of steps you want business owners to make sure to be taking, or mistakes that you see that you want people to avoid? Anything we haven’t touched on yet that you think’s important?
Meg K. Wheeler 45:32
Oh, my gosh, I think we’ve covered the basics. Um, I think my, the biggest mistake that I see people making is ignoring this stuff and saying, I’ll deal with this, when when I go full time in my business, or when I’m making more money, you know, or later, there’s always some reason something they’re pushing it off for, and I cannot stress this enough. Not only is it going to be less stressful if you deal with it early, but it’s actually going to help you grow your business faster and better and bigger. If you’re on top of this stuff, knowing your numbers is, in my opinion, one of the most like top three important things that you need to do to have a successful business. And and it’s if you don’t know your numbers, even if it feels like you’re doing okay, right now, I think you’re gonna find that you’re really holding back your business, and, and potentially ensuring its its end, if you don’t focus on this stuff. And I hate to be so sort of fatalistic about it. But, um, I’ve looked at a lot of businesses that have succeeded and a lot that have failed. And, you know, the two common themes are, you know, having a product that solves a pain point that people care about, and knowing your numbers. And those are the ones that succeed. So I just, I can’t reiterate that enough. And there are people like me, I’m not the only one. So if you don’t like me, there are others. But there are people like me that really work to make this stuff as simple and painless, and easy to digest as possible. And it’s, it’s worth reaching out. I know, it’s not the sexy part of starting a business. But it’s I can tell you, it’s far more important than what your Instagram feed looks like, or how pretty your website is, trust me.
Maggie Germano 47:34
Thank you for that. That’s really helpful. And I hope that really hammers that home for folks who are listening who either are business owners or want to be someday because I totally agree. So is there anything that you’re working on right now in your businesses that you want folks to know about that you’d like to promote?
Meg K. Wheeler 47:54
Oh, my goodness, we’re, we’re doing our planning for 2021, which I think is partially because we’re done with this year. And we just, we need something to look forward to. But we’ve got a lot of really exciting things coming up. So I would say for anyone who wants to learn more about this and feels like they’re ready to get started. If you had to make a wheeler.com forward slash start, I’ve got a free Small Biz quickstart guide for you. It’s going to give you all the basics, it’s very easy to work through. You know, if you’re looking to go a little bit deeper in my courses, money, blueprint is always a great option. I also do have that membership, which is really kind of that next level. So if you’ve got your accounting, and your bank account and all that setup, but now you want to figure out cash flow and paying yourself and pricing, and really kind of managing the money stuff, then my membership is a great option for you as well. And you can find both of those by just going to my website.
Maggie Germano 48:48
So great. And I will link to all of that in the show notes too. So folks have easy access to that. And I love that you have different levels of engagement that people can just like, slowly get started, or they can just go all in depending on what they need.
Meg K. Wheeler 49:04
Everyone’s at a different place. And that’s okay, I’ve got something for you.
Maggie Germano 49:07
Oh, great. And how can folks follow along with you aside from going to your website? How else can they find you?
Meg K. Wheeler 49:14
Yeah, so I’m on Instagram @MegkWheeler, I also run a free Facebook group that is Badass Money Makers. If you go to Megkwheeler.com/group you can join. We talked a lot about money. We talked a lot about other stuff, too. I do a weekly q&a in there. So if you ever have any questions, it’s tends to get really busy around tax time. So it’s a great resource. And I hope to see all of you in there.
Maggie Germano 49:37
Wonderful. Thanks so much for taking the time today. This was I know, I learned some new things. So I’m sure listeners are learning plenty too. And so I really appreciate you sharing your knowledge.
Meg K. Wheeler 49:48
Yeah. Thanks for having me, of course.
Maggie Germano 49:54
Thank you so much for listening to the money circle podcast this week, if you like the conversations we’re having here and you’d like To go even deeper, join the new money circle community. In this safe intersectional feminist space, we will break down money shame and build community and safety for everyone so that you can find the support you need to gain control over your finances. Visit Maggiegermano.com/moneycircle to learn more and to join. If you’d like to get more connected with me, subscribe to my weekly newsletter at Maggie germano.com/subscribe to learn more about my financial coaching services, my speaking and workshop offerings or just to read my blog visit Maggiegermano.com. You can also follow me on instagram and twitter @MaggieGermano. I look forward to hearing from you. Bye bye
Like what I have to say? Subscribe to Money Monday so you never miss a post! You’ll get all my latest financial tips and tricks, and any upcoming events. Join me!