My Simple Approach to Running a Business Debt Free
I’m passionate about thriving businesses. It’s exhilarating to see a dream turn into a plan and then a vision as the business takes off on its own. I’m sharing my simple approach to running a business and staying debt free because I think that financial freedom paves the way for thriving businesses.
You didn’t open shop so you could feel weighed down and drained. You saw the potential in your business endeavour and want to experience joy through exploring the possibilities.
AT THE BEGINNING
The beginning is exciting and terrifying all at once. You might be a professional in your field, but unless you have owned a business before, you’re probably not a professional at running a business. It’s going to take a diligent hand - not a busy one - to see some positive results. Don’t expect for everything to take off immediately. It takes time for a business to become stable.
If you’re married, have a conversation with your spouse about what kind of hours you need to be putting in each week. It can be easy to start focusing on the things that aren’t important to you! It’s vital to any healthy business to set good boundaries between your personal life and your business.
So what can you do at the beginning to keep you and your business in a healthy financial situation (and avoid all that debt)? I’m sharing below what I did to avoid debt when I first opened shop!
WORK A DIFFERENT JOB
You don’t have to prove anything! I have spoken with several photographers who are afraid they won’t be taken seriously if they get another job to supplement their income. If you take yourself seriously, your clients will take you seriously too! So if getting your business up off the ground is important, then work an additional job until you can support yourself on your business income! This will help you to avoid debt and stay ahead of your finances!
I decided to start saving for a DSLR of my own in the fall of my senior year of high school. I worked at the Southwest Baptist University Cafeteria, made friends (who are still friends today), paid my car insurance and watched my checking account slowly gain momentum.
SAVE + DON’T CHARGE A SINGLE THING
When you are first starting, building your credit score doesn’t need to be on your radar. I know that it’s hard to save for every little business financial goal, but it will protect you and your business in the long run. I suggest pouring a significant percentage of your gross income back into your business while you are getting it up off the ground. You obviously don’t want to put the business ahead of your family’s financial needs, so make sure you have the conversations you need to have!
After almost a year of saving for a DSLR and laptop, I finally had the finances to cover the equipment. I bought my first DSLR the summer after I graduated from high school. I also purchased two lenses, a Macbook Pro and all of the programs that I would need to take the pretty photos I wanted to take. Running a business wasn’t on my radar at the time. I just knew that I loved photography and I didn’t want to stop doing it!
ONCE I WAS FULL TIME
Going full time is a huge milestone! Celebrate (without that credit card)! You know what kind of hard work it takes and you’re willing to see it through. You can now quit working that other job because the income from your business is going to take care of the numbers. Or you are going to take care of the numbers and make sure you get paid!
If you’re not careful, it can still be a challenge to avoid debt even after you’re full time. Below you will see how I structure my business finances so that I can stay ahead of the game without taking on debt.
KEEP BUSINESS AND PERSONAL ACCOUNTS SEPARATE
Your personal account is too important to be muddied with your business expenses. Make sure that you are keeping everything separate. The IRS doesn’t like to see mixed accounts and it will make it more difficult for you to evaluate the health of your business.
We have a personal checking and a business checking. Every check for Jordan Brittley goes directly into the business checking. Then I break down the check into 5 categories based on a percentage: taxes (20%), business expenses (fluctuates based on the package), business financial goals (10%), personal savings (10%), and personal income (fluctuates based on the package).
Your business expenses need to be separated from your business savings. The business checking account is designated for business expenses only. Nothing else can be purchased with this account.
Every business expense will come out of the business account. I don’t ever think another thing about that account. I know that the business account will handle the finances when I need to purchase a gift for a client, order an album, or drive across the state for an engagement session.
This helps me to remain focused on my clients instead of on money when it’s time to serve them!
Every business needs business savings. My business savings account holds taxes for that quarter, business financial goals, and a bit of a bumper in case I make a mistake).
Here are the percentages.
For every session booked, 30% goes toward business savings: 20% for taxes and 10% for business financial goals.
I recently purchased a new MacBook for one of our team members. Instead of charging this and taking on debt with the business, I used the money designated for business financial goals.
SLOWLY BUILD CREDIT
Building credit is important. And you don’t have to build debt to build credit!
If I need to purchase film or an album, I will charge it to the credit card. I know, I know. But let me explain how this works. Because the business account is for business expenses, the money just sits there. So when I receive the bill for that credit card, I pay it all off at once with the business account.
*Note: I’m not a professional accountant, so to understand how to best manage your business money you should consult with your accountant. This information is simply to help show you what has worked for my business.
And since I want to continue to share what I know in a way that benefits you, holler at me on Twitter or Instagram (tagging me) and use the following hashtag: #askjordanbrittley. You can also connect with me through the #ASKJORDANBRITTLEY Facebook group! Let’s build a little community!