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Improve Your Financial IQ

Stop avoiding your numbers — there’s nothing to be afraid of and everything to gain.

Peri Pakroo

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Keeping careful track of your business’s finances is a must-do task to keep your business healthy. Nevertheless, a huge number of business owners neglect their numbers, and their businesses pay the price. There tend to be two main types of financial blow-offs:

  1. Fully neglecting to track income and expenses by letting receipts pile up (or get lost) and failing to enter data into a bookkeeping system.
  2. Doing a decent job of keeping income and expense records up to date, but failing to use the numbers to answer questions about the business’s financial situation.

While I’ve definitely known more than a few business owners guilty of the abject neglect described in item 1, the second type of financial ignorance is practically an epidemic among owners of growing businesses. Over and over I hear owners admit sheepishly, “I don’t do enough with the numbers.” If you merely keep up with the basics, you might avoid true financial disaster. But you’ll definitely miss opportunities to thrive if you don’t use your data to make strategic decisions.

Getting Over the Hump

If you’ve had your head in the sand about your business’s finances, take heart: You are not alone (by a long shot). Tons of successful business owners loathe dealing with numbers. They regard financial management with fear, anxiety, insecurity or some combination of the above. Typically, they say they are simply too busy running the business to deal with tracking income and expenses or analysing the numbers. Affordable bookkeeping software can be used to automate most of the work, from tracking account balances to generating sophisticated financial reports, putting essential financial information at your fingertips.

If you really hate working with numbers or truly don’t have the time to do so, have a competent employee or outside bookkeeper do the job. However, as the owner of the business and the person responsible for guiding it, you do need to be in the know about your business’s finances. So if you hire someone to do most of the financial management tasks, make sure you’re in the loop and that you understand what the numbers mean. Don’t be shy about asking for guidance or mentoring from an accountant or bookkeeper. If you feel insecure about your level of financial knowledge, you’re in good company. Just make a sustained effort to learn as you go.

Financial Management in a Nutshell

The trick with bookkeeping is to establish a system early to help you stay organised. This can be as simple as a process for organising your receipts and files, as well as having bookkeeping software set up and configured. With a system in place, you’ll definitely be able to handle most or all of your bookkeeping tasks, even if you’ve never done them before.
Financial management can be broken down into three broad steps:

  1. Keeping and organising records of expenses and income. Financial management starts with keeping records of all the money the business spends (expenses) and all the money it earns (income). This means carefully keeping and organising your receipts and expense records (such as bills from the office supply store, invoices from your web-hosting company, and receipts of payments to your employees and freelancers) and your income receipts (such as a cash register tape of your café’s income, cheque stubs from your client’s payment cheques, or your invoices to clients marked ’Paid‘).
  2. Entering this information into bookkeeping software. On some periodic basis — maybe monthly for a small consulting business and daily for a busy café or retail store — you’ll enter the information from your income and expense receipts into a bookkeeping system. More often than not, this will be some sort of financial management software.
  3. Generating financial reports. Finally, with up-to-date information entered into your bookkeeping system, you’ll generate reports such as a profit/loss report or cash-flow projection (described below) to reveal how your business is doing.

Doesn’t sound too bad, does it? Again, setting up a system will make a huge difference when it comes to entering and categorising data in your bookkeeping software. With your data entered, you’ll be all set to do the important (and actually quite fun) part of financial management: generating reports showing you the financial health (or illness) of your business. Generating reports is key to managing your business’s finances and making strategic decisions.

Financial reports summarise the data in your bookkeeping system to show you different aspects of your business’s financial situation. For example, a profit and loss report compares monthly income to monthly expenses to show whether your business is selling enough products or services to cover costs each month. A cash-flow projection shows similar information, but includes other sources of income such as capital contributions from owners or loans (that is, not just revenue from sales). It also organises the information slightly differently to show you whether the timing of your income is adequate to pay your bills on time.

The Payoff

By generating reports, you’ll be able to see trends and patterns in your business’s finances and identify profitable opportunities to pursue. You’ll also avoid letting your business simply drift along – or worse, run it into the ground. Here are just a few ways that analysing your financial reports will help your business:

  • You’ll be able to price goods and services more competitively, pace growth more effectively and trim costs strategically — for example, you might cut back on travel expenses or outsourced services that aren’t helping to generate sufficient income.
  • You may be able to reduce taxes by timing your purchases strategically and claiming all your deductible expenses — things that often escape businesses with disorganised records.
  • You’ll be able to manage your business’s cash flow, ensuring you can pay important bills on time. Cash flow management is a critical element in every business. When it’s done poorly or not at all, you may find yourself short of cash when it’s time to pay taxes, payroll or other crucial expenses. This is exactly the type of scenario that forces businesses to close up shop for good.

Peri Pakroo is the founder, Publisher and Editor of Pyragraph, an online creative career and lifestyle magazine. You can read more about her at her blog www.peripakroo.com.

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Cash Flow

18 Ways I’ve Earned Rent Money When I Was Broke

Nothing motivates your hustle more than the prospect of an eviction notice.

John Rampton

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It’s an interesting world out there. In the past five years I’ve gone from being worth millions to being broke to being worth a millions again. There’s been more than one month where I didn’t have enough money to pay rent. There are times you need money, and need it quick.

With a more connected world, there are more opportunities to make money doing micro jobs and taking advantage of constantly evolving opportunities. Plus, globalisation has opened the door to add value for people well outside of your immediate proximity.

Here are 18 quick ways I’ve made money to pay rent when money is tight:

1. Teach a skill that you’ve mastered to others

If you are a talented musician, athlete or you have other desired skills, you could get paid to teach others. You could either become a freelance teacher or look for a service that helps match you with clients. This is an opportunity to make some serious money, improve your teaching ability and help others. Do not underestimate all of the time you spent as a kid playing the piano or learning to do backflips.

I’ve been able to scrounge up $100 teaching math to neighbourhood kids. This could turn into a longer gig as well.

Related: Which Side Hustle Should You Try? (Infographic)

2. Drive for Uber and/or Lyft

driving-uberThere are a few prerequisites you have to meet to become a driver. Assuming you are 21+, have been driving for three years, have a clean record and a nice enough car, though, you can make serious money driving for Uber or Lyft. You can be a driver for both at the same time, and can drive at whatever hours you want.

It took me about a week to be all setup to drive. So it’s not an overnight money situation, but it’s a quick way to make some money for bills. Most of the time money is deposited very quickly, often the same day.

3. Put a room in your house on Airbnb

There are inconveniences that come with being an Airbnb host, but it is quite easy to do so. As long as you have a room to spare in your house, you can rent it out for extra money. Plus, it could give you an opportunity to meet and connect with interesting people.

It took about three weeks for me to get set-up, actually host guests and see money in my bank account. It can happen faster but that’s about the timeframe it took me.

4. Build a social media brand

Social media is quickly becoming the world’s most powerful platform for generating revenue and reaching an audience. While the ecosystem is becoming more and more competitive, there are a number of tools you can leverage to stand out.

I’ve personally used this Instagram automation service to help me accelerate my growth quickly and gain new followers. It is important to invest in generating high quality content such that you develop loyalty among your fans before you begin to monetise.

I now can earn a few hundred bucks quickly by pushing brands out online.

Pro tip: Make sure to always disclose with #ad in the message.

Related: Are You Ready For A Side Hustle? Here’s How To Know

5. Go through your old things and sell them

You likely have books, clothes and other novelty items lying around that you no longer use. Spending a few days to go through those things and list them on Amazon, eBay or other sites to make some extra cash.

6. Pickup jobs on Fiverr

fiverr-logoThere are countless tasks on Fiverr that you can pick up. None by itself is a large amount of money but doing many tasks, though, can add up to a nice chunk of cash.

Money comes a few days after the task is completed. Most are cheaper tasks with demanding customers but can really start to add up. One month I paid all my bills from just working on Fiverr at $5 per gig that I did.

7. Dog walker/sitter

You can do this on a neighbourhood level or use a service to find clients. Walking or sitting for dogs tends is minimal effort for extra cash. Plus, if you like animals, what is better than getting paid to spend time with them?

I recommend starting small, say $1-2 per hour and working your way up once you have stable clients. It’s not much, but it can start to add up over time plus give you enough money to make bills.

8. Take advantage of credit card deals

There are countless credit card deals that are always popping up. Managing multiple cards is not the most fun, but it can yield you significant benefits. Be on the lookout for these deals. Some require that you spend a certain amount on the card within the first few months, and others have yearly fees. If the money that you are getting is greater than your costs, though, they can be a great use of time. Plus, if you are spending a certain amount of money anyway, you might as well do so on a card that will give you the maximum benefits in return.

Related: 3 Ways To Set Your Side Hustle Up For Success

9. Go thrift shopping and resell the best items

People turn in some awesome items to thrift stores. Going through the stores to find good deals is both fun and rewarding. You will likely find some items you can resell for a nice profit, and you might even find some cheap things to keep.

10. Proofread

proofreadingYou can get paid to proofread articles, books, and journals today. You have to be meticulous and able to stare at a screen for a while, but it is nice and relaxing money in return. Sites like Freelancer can help you find clients to do the proofreading for.

11. Do surveys and studies

Services like Mechanical Turk will pay you to take surveys, and there are always listings to get paid for participating in studies. The work can be a bit monotonous, but it is typically a mindless way to make money.

12. Keep your email receipts

You can make money today simply by not deleting receipts that come via email. Earny automatically scans your email for old receipts and matches what you paid to current prices. When there is something being sold for less money, now, they will help you get the difference back.

13. Take advantage of your data

There are services that will give you money just for offering access to your data. For example, Nielsen gives money away just by letting them install a software on your computer that tracks your habits. It might feel scary to give others access to this data, but in many cases, it will have zero impact on you.

Related: 50 Jobs, Gigs And Side Hustles You Can Do From Home

14. Make a bet to do something that will improve your life

If you have a goal you are trying to accomplish, make a bet with someone that you can do it.

This could be a great way to lose weight or pick up a new talent. It will incentivise you to actually do so, and you will be able to make some money for your efforts. Keep track of this in your calendar app.

15. Be a mystery shopper

You can get paid to pose as a regular customer for services like pizza delivery. Mystery shoppers are how companies test their customer service, and, in return, you can will get paid. You have to find the right deals, but doing so offers another effortless way to make money.

16. Become a search engine evaluator

You can make $12/hour evaluating search engine accuracy. Despite how good we think Google is, they still make mistakes and are willing to pay people to find them.

17. Sell your trash or recycling

empty-cans-recyclingThere are countless companies that will pay for your empty cans and sometimes even your trash. You are going to be creating the waste anyways, so why not take advantage of it?

18. Approach companies for consulting services

If you have a skill that you think you can help businesses with, then approach them about it. Many companies, even successful ones, struggle in a variety of different areas. If you know what you are doing and can demonstrate that, you could make some serious money helping a company out. This could especially be the case for companies that do not have enough money to hire more people full time but have enough to pay a one-time fee for a project or service. Hot topics today include SEO, digital marketing, and design.

Ready to take your making money to the next level? Here is a quick self employed guide to help you get started.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Cash Flow

4 Scenarios When It Makes Good Sense To Take On Business Debt

Debt is often necessary to grow.

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You need to invest money into your business to make it grow. You need money to expand your workspace, buy more materials or equipment and to market your business.

Without an infusion of money, your business will remain stagnate. You might be able to grow a little bit, but you’ll never get big results.

If your business doesn’t bring in a large revenue that can be funneled back into the business, you’ll likely need some type of loan. The loan will give you a financial boost, and you can pay off the loan with increased revenue from business growth.

You shouldn’t automatically think of debt as a bad thing. Debt is often necessary to grow. But, there are good times and bad times to take on debt.

Here are four times taking on debt is beneficial to business growth.

1. You want to provide more products

If you want to offer new products or carry more inventory of current products, you need money to buy them. Getting a small business loan can give you enough money to provide more products.

When you carry more inventory, you need space to store and display it. You might use a storage unit, buy a second location, move to a larger location or maybe even add on. Small business debt can help you purchase more space.

Related: Entrepreneurial Balancing Acts with Debt

2. You want to increase your marketing efforts

radio-adsYou will only get more customers by getting the word out about your business. That’s why you need small business marketing.

Marketing doesn’t have to be expensive. You might create something as simple as flyers or do basic social media marketing. But, to reach more people, you might need more elaborate marketing tactics. You can invest in magazine ads, radio ads, billboards, pay-per-click ads and more. To achieve marketing success, you might need to consider taking out a small business loan. The extra cash will let you market your business well. You can pay off the loan with the increased revenue from the influx of new customers.

3. You want to build your credit score

You need good credit to get a loan. Plus, good credit can get you better payment terms with your vendors. But to get good credit, you need experience with taking on and paying off debt.

Taking out small loans can improve your business credit score. Small loans show that you are responsible and capable of handling debt. And when you make payments on time, your credit score increases.

Once you build up your credit and prove to lenders that you can handle debt, they will be more willing to give you larger loans. And, your score and timeliness might result in better loan terms, such as lower interest rates.

Related: Every Tough Choice Has Management Debt – Are You Accounting For Yours?

4. You want to hire employees

At some point, you might spend so much time on your business that it consumes your life. You might miss out on time with your family and friends. Or, you might have so much business stuff to do that you can’t get everything done.

Hiring an employee can help you grow your business. You can get more done and produce better quality work. You can hire employees who have special skills that will benefit your business.

Spending money on an employee is worth it if having that employee can help you earn more money. If this is the case, you might take out a loan to help prepare for the employee, cover recruiting fees, and pay for wages until your business begins earning more. When figuring out how big of a loan to take out, make sure you consider the true cost of hiring an employee.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Cash Flow

How Stokvels Allow You To Make Smart Purchases Through Group Buying Power

The traditional model of stokvels are evolving. A major draw card that comes with starting or joining a stokvel club is the group buying power that comes from the cooperative model.

Tshepo Moloi

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The traditional model of stokvels are evolving. A major draw card that comes with starting or joining a stokvel club is the group buying power that comes from the cooperative model. Yes, this can be used to secure significant discounts from wholesalers in many instances when making bulk purchases and sharing these savings across members. However, as stokvels have evolved over time, we are seeing more and more stokvels looking to use their group buying power to make “smart purchases” that can turn a profit in the long run.

Arguably becoming business club orientated instead of consumer club orientated. This article explores smart tactics stokvels can employ to get the most bang for their buck in 2018 instead of purely being consumption based.  

Related: Stokvels 101: Is Group Saving For You?

How do you generate income with your group buying power?

Getting a great deal on perishable goods is never a bad thing. However, your stokvel can do a lot more with its buying power to earn revenue for its members. Our foreign brothers and sisters from the rest of Africa who are running spaza shops have unlocked one of the secrets to this. Using their collective buying power to amass perishable items at notably discounted rates to sell at a highly competitive rate, they are able to earn revenue from the cooperative model approach. This principle can apply in any business where bulk buying opportunities exist for “cooperatives”.

For example, minibus taxi owners/associations looking to get better deals can galvanise and approach car manufacturers and those who sell parts for better bulk discounted prices on vehicles or parts. The trick here is to look at purchasing “perishable goods” that as their value or usage gets discounted, you are able to generate revenue out of them higher than the purchasing amount.

How to identify perishable goods that can generate revenue for you or your stokvel?

Based on the taxi and spaza shop examples above, arguably it is easier to identify such goods when you are in a common business with your stokvel members. However, this is an economics  exercise i.e. identifying goods which are high in demand that you’re stokvel can supply at a profitable rate. As a stokvel, you should be asking yourselves what are essential perishable goods that are in high demand, that your family, close friends and immediate neighbours need. For example, toilet paper is a perishable good that is and always will be in demand. Would it not make sense to source this perishable item at a bulk for sale to friends and family of the stokvel?

Better yet, if one of the stokvel club members has enough storage space, would it not make sense to purchase the toilet paper making machine as an asset? Your stokvel must get entrepreneurial about the immediate opportunities that exist around them and see how best to take advantage of these gaps. However, if your stokvel does not have a slight of entrepreneurial bone in it not to worry. There are innovative ways for your stokvel to purchase such assets that yield great returns for your stokvel club. One such way to do this is through asset crowdfunding platform, The People’s Fund.

Related: Picking Your Lane: Maximising Your Chances Of Success And Happiness

The truth is that your bulk buying power strength depends on how well your cooperative model approach is organised and well run. The stronger your cooperative model approach, the stronger you will likely leverage off other forms of revenue generators better than perishable goods such as asset rental discounting products.

At the end it comes down to not only how much you have managed to save but also how well you can generate additional revenue from your savings. After all, isn’t money suppose to work for you?

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