You have less stress at tax season and all year round when you have set up elegant finances that prevent financial clutter. Starting with simple systems and supportive habits, here too a few minutes a day keep the chaos away.
Let's talk about finances and financial clutter, it's tax season so you might be all stressed out about your business finances. This is the right time to actually make a change, so next year will be different.
If you are surprised that I am talking about finances, just a quick reminder, that I am actually qualified to talk about finances as I am a Swiss certified expert in finance and accounting. In fact I work in finance already since 1990 which is a staggering 32 years - oh yes this ages me.
Finances are also kind of the reason why I do what I do now, helping people create supportive environments instead of cluttered and stressful ones.
Clutter & Finances
I could see in all these years what a difference it makes in how we work and how productive and effective we are in our work when we are organized compared to when everything is a mess and chaotic. I also noticed a correlation between a cluttered office, cluttered files and people not having their finances in control or having cluttered finances.
So while I talk a lot about chaotic offices, messy desks, filled to the brim computers and cell phones, I don't want you to forget that when you are doing spring cleaning for all those areas to not forget to clear the clutter in your finances.
Stress during Tax Season
It's tax season right now that I am recording this in April 2022 so you might already be stressed out about your finances and my goal is NOT to stress you out more, on the contrary, I'd love to help you feel more in control around your finances. So lets start.
A lot of you business owners that I meet are thinking that you only need to pay attention to your finances for tax reasons. You make the fact, that you have to turn in a tax declaration the number one reason why finances are important and so you only focus on your finances once a year in order to be able to file your tax return.
Let's get this mental clutter out of the way first.
The tax return should actually only be a side-effect of your financial organization, not the main purpose of it. When you just focus on the tax return it's like your driving your car by only looking through the rear view mirror.
Let me say this again: only dealing with your finances in order to file that tax return is like driving a car by only looking through the rear-view mirror.
I am sure you can totally see that this is not a safe way to drive a car and it's also not a safe way to run a business, no matter what stage your business is in.
Elegant Finances For Your Business
Of course if you are just starting out and you are a solopreneur you need a different focus on your finances, and different systems and routines than if you already have a team and are a bigger company. It's still important at any stage of your business and I would say extremely important in the beginning, to have Elegant, clutter-free Finances.
You want to know what's going on in your finances and feel in control, in fact it's one of the pre-requisites that you can grow your business and also to be able to have a team.
This is not something you can outsource completely, especially not to a bookkeeper or a tax accountant. Because again, most of them only look into the past, that's their job. What you as a business owner need to do is look at the present and look into the future.
Profit vs. Cash Flow
Did you know that you can have a profitable business, meaning you have a profit at the end of the year, but you can still run out of cash the following year? The reason is cash flow.
If you're not paying attention to cash flow and don't have simple systems set up to make sure you have a positive cash flow, meaning always enough money and then some, a positive bottom line might not matter.
When you only focus on revenue like so many people do, but even if you are also focusing on profit, but don't pay attention to the Cash Flow, you could end up in a pickle pretty quick. And that is one of the big risks when you only pay attention to your finances once a year at tax season.
Robbing Peter To Pay Paul
Have you heard of the saying "rob Peter to pay Paul"? That's what a lot of business owners are doing, they rely and depend on today's revenue to pay the bills from yesterday, you might have experienced it yourself or you might know someone who got a tax bill for example and didn't have the money to pay for it.
Now you have to work extra hard and bring in extra revenue to be able to pay the taxes on revenue you made last year or even further back. One big problem with that is, that you will always lag behind, because now you need to pay your ongoing bills, your big tax bill from last year which means it is hard to prevent this from happening again because you might not have the cash available to put aside for this years taxes.
In order to get out of this mess, the only way is to start paying attention to your finances every single day, or at least every single week, look at the present and into the future and make sure your bills are covered.
The Category of Financial Clutter
There are really simple systems that you can implement that take way less time and energy than this freaking out at tax season but most people don't, also
because looking at financial clutter through the lens of clutter clearing, we realize, this is a difficult category of clutter also because we can’t just ask ourselves the questions we would ask ourselves with physical clutter like “do I love it?", "when did I use it last?", or "when will I use it next?”
Fear of Finances
Another roadblock is, a lot of people are so scared of finances and that's exactly the main reasons why they have financial clutter, because they don’t take charge or their finances, and leave the control to others, or hide or run.
It's also different from regular clutter in that if your house is full of stuff no authority will come and tell you you have to clear your clutter and clean your house. But with finances, you have the tax authority who is demanding that you file your taxes.
Hiding and ignoring makes things worse, and it's going to freak you out more and more, it will weigh heavier on you which makes it very hard to really focus on your business and serving your clients to the best of your ability.
You are cheating yourself, your business and your clients of “the best you”, the best version of you.
How to Start
Be brave and start assessing where you stand and what needs to be done, start your journey from chaos to peace. Because no matter if you just started your business or your goal for this year is 100K,
- if you can’t bring yourself to open up your bank statements,
- or get your taxes taken care of,
- if you can’t bring yourself to create an honest assessment of where you are right now,
how do you expect to reach your revenue goal and grow your business?
If you are in pain now because of tax season, do yourself a favour and start changing it, start taking control of your finances so next year is different. Actually it will not just be next tax season, you will experience the benefits daily, you will feel so much more in charge and control of your business and as a result you will be able to serve your clients better and grow your business on a solid foundation.
Back in 2016 I wrote a blog post about overcoming the fear of finances, here a quick summary. It might sound very familiar to you, because it's basically my 3 principles for successful decluttering but used for your financial clutter:
1) Start small
Just as people try to take on too much when they start clearing the physical clutter in their house, be careful not to take on too much with your finances at first. Depending on where your business stands you only might need set up a daily habit for your financial files and maybe a 15 minutes a week financial meeting with yourself.
You don't have to go from zero to 100 in 3 seconds or less, instead you want to start building a solid foundation and a system that works for you and can grow together with your business. Starting small helps you with that. Just imagine how much more peaceful and in charge you would feel by spending just a few minutes a day or a week. Not to talk about how much less stress and work you have to do for tax season.
2) Go the route of least resistance
That's similar like when I say start with the least emotional area when starting to clear clutter. We don't want to start with the hardest part, and we also want to have some quick wins, so let's start with the present. Forget the past for just a bit and start with the status of your finances today even if it's end of April (or when ever you are reading this), start with today, get clear on your present situation and then start looking forward and to make your life less stressful around finances.
3) Don't Try To Be Perfect
Another pitfall could be to try to do it perfect from the start, or try to find the perfect way to do it, the perfect system. What happens when you do that you set yourself up for failure because again you try to go from zero to 100 in 3 seconds.
I am a perfectionist and I know all about how this can sabotage one’s progress when we try to do it ‘right the first time’. Our brains don't work that way
When you are at the beginning of overcoming your fear of finances, this can overwhelm you to the point that you give up before you started. Besides, the big take away is, you can’t really know yet what is perfect – perfect for you that is. You don’t have the knowledge or experience to know what works best for you.
Also, don’t let anybody tell you that there is THE PERFECT Way, only ONE WAY, to deal with your files and finances, that is simply not true. It's more important that you start and that you keep going, tweaking and shifting until it works for you and puts you in charge and control.
The more you actually do something, the more you will automatically come up with easier ways, better ways, more time saving ways to do it. The beginning might be a bit challenging but it will get easier by the day.
But you need to start first, and then you need to keep going to see what works best (for you) and what doesn’t.
Your journey from chaos to peace starts with a few minutes a day of focusing on your files and finances.
If that still sounds way too scary or you don't believe you can do it on your own but you are so ready to make a change now, maybe because you are again all stressed out that it's tax season and you are not prepared, contact me
- Download your guide to set up your workspace for success
- If you want to know more about my background check out my about page
- Check out the eBook that I co-authored with Vicki McLeodFrom Chaos to Peace - a simple program to clear your clutter and change your life
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