My tough love approach (heavy on the love) focuses on bringing order to chaos, and creating solid (and straightforward) strategic plans. I take surveys for fun, never met a process I didn’t like, and am a big believer in personal growth as a keystone to business growth.
If you could “hack” any aspect of your life, what would it be?
There are countless kitchen hacks, like to ripen a banana quickly, put it in a paper bag with an apple. Awesome! Or camping hacks; for fire kindling, use oil covered Doritos. Brilliant! And there are general life hacks; fold your t-shirts and stack them vertically instead of flat so that you can access them without digging and messing up the whole drawer. (Some of the folding and organizing hacks are pretty impressive!)
But what about hacks for your business?
Solopreneurs are always on the lookout for ways to save money and bring in new funds. Starting a new business isn’t easy, so even small money hacks that save you a few dollars a month can make a big difference, both in your startup phase and also as you grow. The money that you save means either more money in your pocket or money that you can reinvest to grow your business.
With the right business hacks, you can save a lot more than just a few pennies every month. In some cases, you can see some big money returns. Here are a few money hacks that can make a real difference for solopreneurs and business owners!
Solopreneurs always need to be vigilant about their cash flow. A healthy cash flow is the lifeblood of every business. Both you and your business need money to survive. As a solopreneur, doing your own books can be complicated and tricky to keep track of every single dollar that’s going in and out of your business, not to mention tracking taxes.
One popular money hack to guarantee that you’ll always have a profit coming in can be found in the book Profit First by Mike Michalowicz. This book lays out a cash flow management system that makes it much easier to know where your money is going and how to make a profit by the end of the year.
Unlike most cash flow management systems that put profit as the last step, Profit First puts, well, profits first! Instead of deducting your expenses from your sales to determine your profit, you deduct your profit from your sales to determine your expenses. You might want to read that again because it turns conventional business wisdom upside down.
This shift in mindset can make a massive difference to the health of your business. Instead of taking a cut of the money that’s left after expenses are deducted, count your profit and salary as non-negotiables. This leaves you with a fixed “pot” of money from which to deduct your expenses, forcing you to be more creative and tight with your company’s money.
I’m not going to lie, it can take a while to switch your mindset over to this way of thinking. But once you do, you’ll always have money in the bank. It’s a fantastic money hack!
We all know that time is money, so automate processes to save time! It will absolutely result in cost savings. This is truly a hack that not enough solopreneurs take advantage of. There are countless ways to automate the most time-consuming and repetitive tasks in your business; and once the automation has been set up, you won’t have to think about it again.
For example, Zapier is a tool that can help you manage your business processes. It’s like the middleman of web app management. You can connect tools like Gmail, Twitter, Evernote, Slack to set up “if this, then that” workflows. For example, instead of manually transferring files around from your email client to your Dropbox, Zapier can do it for you. It even works so that Zapier will recognize when you’ve received an email with an attachment and it will automatically copy that attachment to your Dropbox, then automatically notify you by Slack about the new file. Pretty neat!
That’s just one example of automation and how it can help you save time, and therefore money. Learn more about how to automate your business here.
Speaking of automation tools, one of the best business hacks around is AppSumo. You shouldn’t have to pay full price for software and thanks to AppSumo, you’ll never have to! It’s like “Groupon” for business; it was created with the idea that the tools you need to grow your business shouldn’t put you out of business. And let me tell you, the deals they offer are amazing!
AppSumo also offers an educational component; their deals will introduce you to amazing new tools and technology that you may not know about that can save your business time and money. There are bright entrepreneurs coming up with intelligent solutions to a world of challenges for business owners and AppSumo is one of the first ways that we can learn about these great problem-solving tools.
Watch out though! Sometimes it’s tempting to get every single one of the amazing deals because they all look so cool! Right now, there’s a deal for a program called Vidpulse Pro that lets you monitor your video vitals! If you’ve ever used video in your marketing you know how important it is to be able to see what people are engaging with and this tells you just that. Or, if you ever need stock photos for your business, a couple of times a year AppSumo has an amazing deal with DepositPhotos that could very well be the best stock photo deal of all time: 100 royalty-free photos with no expiry date for $49!
There are other online money-saving tools that can also save you a bundle. There’s the Honey browser extension that searches the internet for all possible coupons and applies them to your cart at the time of checkout, saving you as much money as possible on all of your online purchases. There are also services like Ebates that provide cashback when you make a purchase with one of their partners, including many large brand name retailers, either by going through their website first or by installing the Ebates extension.
And let's not forget affiliate offers! Whether you sign up as an affiliate to get a kickback when someone signs up using your personal link (like a few of the links above) or you use other people’s personal referral links to get discounts and bonuses – both are great ways to get more bang for your buck.
Unless you have a background in accounting, doing your company’s books around tax time is going to be one of the most stressful things you’ve ever attempted. There’s just so much that the average person doesn’t know, ranging from what forms to fill out to what deductions you’re eligible for.
You might be thinking, why is an article about money hacks telling me to spend money?
The thing is that hiring a professional to do your taxes is worth every penny, and often ends up saving you money!
First off, you’re going to be losing money due to reduced productivity, as you’ll be spending hours on your taxes instead of working on your business. The stress you’re under will make this even worse, further sapping your output.
In addition, a professional can ensure that you’re taking advantage of every possible business deduction, identifying places where you can apply for rebates or deductions that you had no idea existed. More importantly, they help ensure things are done right which will help avoid a costly audit.
Speaking about hiring people to take care of your money, many solopreneurs get a bookkeeper to do their books every quarter, not paying attention to where the money is going in the meantime. I’m here to tell you that quarterly check-ins just aren’t enough. You need to know where your expenses and income are coming from at all times.
There are tons of ways that you can automate this. You could use Quickbooks or even a personal finance tool like Mint. All you need to do is categorize all of your expenses in the program and set it so that it will send you a weekly update. You’ll be able to see exactly where your money is going without having to lift a finger!
This money hack can feel very thrifty, but in reality, it just makes sense.
As you may know, many of the “no brand” alternatives that you find in grocery stores are manufactured in the same facilities as their branded counterparts. The only difference between them (besides the price) is the brand on the box. The same goes for office supplies and even certain equipment.
As a solopreneur, you can save big bucks on office and kitchen essentials by ignoring the big brands and buying “no name” products instead. You can also carry this over into your personal life because, let’s face it, as a solopreneur, you are your business. For example, instead of buying a $4+ coffee every morning at Starbucks, invest in a great quality coffee maker. You’ll “pay it off” in no time!
When you do need to buy a brand name product, as we mentioned earlier, check with Ebates first to see if you can get moneyback on that purchase when you buy it online.
One of the biggest early investments that a solopreneur needs to make is their computer. This could be a desktop, laptop, or both.
Buying a brand-new, top of the line computer from Apple or Lenovo can cost thousands of dollars. You can save on this cost by buying factory refurbished computers instead. These computers have been inspected and refurbished to make sure they’re in full factory condition. You can often buy them directly from the manufacturer, as well as from major electronics chains. Both Apple and BestBuy have dedicated factory refurbished online stores where you can save big bucks on your new computer!
Actually, this is a pretty good life hack too…
On the road of solopreneurship, you’re going to make some mistakes. They’re unavoidable and, really, they’re invaluable to your learning. Often, these mistakes can impact your bottom line, leaving you in a state of anxiety about any big moves you might make in the future. This fear and guilt can constrain your creative, entrepreneurial instincts and prevent you from moving forward.
This money hack is all about instant self-forgiveness. If you make a financial mistake, acknowledge it, learn from it, but don’t dwell on it. Forgive yourself because feeling guilty won’t help anything. Instead, move forward with your new found knowledge!
Life hacking is fun, but money hacking is even better! Not only does it give you the feeling that you’re a genius (I love that feeling!), it also just makes smart business sense. There are tons of other money hacks out there, just waiting to be discovered. And as a solopreneur, it’s your job to uncover them.
Do you have any favourite money hacks for small businesses? Please share yours in the comments below!
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