April is Financial Literacy Month! If you’re an entrepreneur, this is one of the most important things you can practice, whether you’ve just opened your doors or you’ve been in business for decades. Here are a few important habits to start exercising now!
Develop and Track Clear Goals
It can be easy to have vague, long-term goals like “make it to year 5,” or “sell at year 10,” but those goals are hard to meet without planning the steps leading up to them. You need short-term goals to supplement the long-term ones, and you need specific numbers. Consider the financial milestones you want hit six months from now, one year from now, 10 years from now, etc.
Write them all down and don’t just file them away. Keep them in front of you! Make a calendar specifically for your goals. Schedule check-ins for yourself, and ask yourself what you’ve achieved since the last check-in. Be flexible with your goals, too. If you reach a check-in point and find that your goals aren’t realistic with your current budget, adjust them! Lofty goals can be inspiring, but if they aren’t realistic they’ll only discourage you. Also, take the time to consider what you lack or need to reach your next goal, and work out even smaller steps toward attaining those.
Invest in Your Team
As you’re building your team, know that each person you hire is a separate investment. Not only are you investing money in them, but you should also be investing time and encouragement. Your goal is to have as little turnover as possible—you want a seasoned, competent, and loyal team behind you for the years to come.
Great employees are not something to cut corners on. Pay them what they’re worth, have a thorough and robust training program, and constantly encourage them. Encouragement can be as simple as taking an interest in them as people, asking about their families and hobbies, etc. Figure out what their goals are and let them know that you’re there to help them! When people feel valued, they’ll go above and beyond for you.
That being said, it’s also important to know when and where you can outsource certain jobs or tasks. One of the amazing things about being an entrepreneur in today’s world is the ability to connect with talented people all over the world. There’s a huge pool of available talent essentially at your disposal—use it! It can save you a lot of money and time, but make sure you do your research first. Find out where outsourcing makes sense for your company, and where you should be utilizing the staff you already have.
As an entrepreneur, you know people don’t start businesses to become instantly rich. There are a lot of sacrifices you have to make—they’ll differ from person to person, but this is a tip any entrepreneur can use: Cut costs wherever you can. There are certain things that you should never cut corners on, but save as much as you can. Utilize assets you already have, like a laptop or phone, even if their old—you can upgrade later.
Just like you have personal savings for family/home/health/car emergencies, you should have a nest egg for your business, too. This means not spending everything you get! It sounds simple, but it’s easier said than done. It will make a world of difference though, and your life much less stressful.
Monitor Your Expenses
This is another tip that sounds simple, but will change the way you handle your business. As an entrepreneur, you wear a lot of hats and are responsible for money and every direction it goes in. Keep track of everything. It’s easy to take credit as a given, but it’s not a good idea to take advantage of its existence. Use your records to make sure you’re always spending less than you’re earning, and to find out where you can adjust your budget if necessary. This is one of the most important things you can do to meet your financial milestones!
Remember Where Your Started
As cliche as it sounds, never forget where you came from. Remembering where you started will drastically benefit your future goals, and staying humble will help in all areas of your life. Anything can happen at any time—business can be great one minute and hit a dry spell the next. Always keep that financial safety net under you, even after years of success.
Never lose your passion—that’s what started the whole thing, right? Remembering your humble beginnings will make sure you don’t forget why you started this journey in the first place.
Never Stop Growing
No matter what field you’re in, we can guarantee it’s always changing, and with constant change comes the risk of being left behind. There’s always more to learn, so make sure you’re keeping up! Have a team surrounding you in addition to your business team. Have trusted mentors, friends, family, and financial advisors that you can go to for advice and knowledge. This goes hand-in-hand with the last tip—don’t think you know everything. Utilize what resources you have, and always strive to be better.
For more resources and advice for entrepreneurs, contact the Entrepreneurs’ Organization of Birmingham today!