Being an entrepreneur means a careful balancing act of many things. Marketing and advertising, product manufacturing (actual game development), and even personal finance just for starters.
The thing is, everything must be carefully kept up when you’re an entrepreneur. On an average day, you might have to handle a huge mess in development, live stream on Twitch to get more exposure for your game, blog, and make sure your team is paid. It’s easy to let your personal finances take the backseat when so much of your work life depends on your ability to balance things effectively.
But personal finance is crucial for everyone, especially someone running a business. You have to think strategically. Are you overspending? What can you spend the most money on, and why should you? Are your bills being paid on time, or are you barely making ends meet?
Let’s cover some basics so you at least have a solid foundation to work with.
1) Open a Separate Business Account
Your business money and your personal money need to be kept separate at all times. Obviously, when you begin, you need to use some personal money to fund and start your business up, but that changes as your studio grows. Suddenly, you transition to using your profits to fund your business.
So in that spirit, open up a separate business account where you deposit all revenue. It is from this account that you will pay business bills and pay employees (business expenses). This is, of course, assuming you have a day job. That way your day job funds your personal life and account, and your business funds itself, with its own account.
If you do not have a day job and your business finances both itself and your personal life, then you still need two accounts. Your personal account should have enough money to pay personal expenses like groceries and Netflix, while your business account should ensure your employees are getting paid (that includes you!), the lights are on in the studio, etc.. And all revenue needs to go into your business account, since it is your business revenue after all.
2) Crunch Some Numbers & Leave Breathing Room
In order to properly manage your money you need to know three things:
- How much money you’re making.
- How much money you’re spending.
- How much money you’re saving.
Begin by making a list of all the money your business is bringing in. Every cent accounted for. If you’re making a different amount each month, select the lowest amount you’ve made in the last six months, as this will be a safe amount to assume you’re making on a monthly basis. If you make more, great! Put that in savings.
Speaking of savings, remember to be honest about your expenses first. How much money is going out toward bills and lifestyle costs? Don’t skimp and set a random number either. Select the highest amount you’ve spent in the last six months. This will ensure you always account for expenses honestly and have the money to cover everything.
Whatever is left after spending goes toward savings. This is the money you need to have on hand so you’re not just making ends meet, or breaking even. Enough savings and you can purchase a home, go on vacation, or splurge on something particularly nice for a wedding.
3) Always Set 20% Toward Priorities
This includes paying off debt, saving toward retirement, and your emergency fund. These three categories are the things people don’t want to think about when they’re young, but it happens.
Retirement is a matter of time, and as an entrepreneur, it’s your duty to ensure you have enough money saved up to be able to retire in peace.
Plus, what happens if you fall ill and require a hospital stay? Do you have the money to cover it? Do you have health insurance?
Or what about those student loans? These days, most people in their 30s have college debt due to loans they took out when they were 18. It’s a reality everyone needs to think about.
4) Keep an Eye on Your Credit Score & Report
Credit scores mean everything. That number determines whether you’re approved for a credit card, for a car, or even a home. But see, there’s more than meets the eye with credit scores. That score give you one number that tells you how well you’re doing in general. But a report is what breaks it down for you, and highlights where you’re doing well, and where you need to improve.
In order to make sure you’re doing well, start by checking your score, but don’t ever forget your report. Improve what you can based on the information, as this could save you a lot of money, time, and hassle down the road.
5) Brush up on Taxes
When you set aside your salary for the year, you need to be mindful of one thing: whether that salary will give you enough money to cover your expenses and goals after taxes.
Investopedia explains it best:
“For example, $35,000 a year in New York will leave you with around $26,399 after taxes without exemptions in 2016, or about $2,200 a month.”
Is $2,200 enough on a monthly basis for someone living in NYC? Absolutely not! This person would have to work two full-time jobs to make ends meet.
To calculate salary, use an online calculator, like Paycheck City. It shows you your gross pay, how much goes into taxes, and how much you’ll have left (net, or take-home pay).
6) Set Financial Goals
This includes wanting to be done paying off student loans by 2020, wanting to own a home by 2021, and wanting to make $80k by 2022. Whatever your financial goals are, they will set the tone for every decision you make starting now.
You might find yourself not wanting to shop as much, not wasting money on items you’ll never use, and passing up on the expensive lunch you always get. You’ll be thinking big picture.
7) Eliminate What You Can
Speaking of thinking big picture, consider eliminating what you can. Maybe you should kick the Starbucks habit and the elaborate home decor spending that you don’t really need in the name of Instagram. Maybe you’re eating out too much or getting food delivered too often and should look into meal prepping.
Or maybe you’re hiring too many employees, and you honestly only need five people, not eight. It sounds harsh, but the reality is you only have so much money. And by eliminating what you can, you have more money to put toward savings.
8) Shop Alone
“Oh, my God, that looks so GOOD on you! You should buy it!”
We all have that one friend that influences us while shopping. And we’ve all bought things we later look at in the bright morning light and think “I’m never going to wear this.”
It doesn’t matter how old you are, there’s something about being complimented that makes us feel good. And if someone other than you thinks it looks fantastic, chances are high you’ll buy it.
Hence, it’s better to shop alone. Doing so will ensure you stay true to who you are, what your style is, and have no one to blame but yourself if you overspend.
9) Seek Constant Education
Warren Buffet, known for being the best long-term investor ever, believes that you should go to bed smarter than when you woke up that day. It’s his belief that your own knowledge is the best investment you could ever make, since the better educated you are on a topic, the better equipped you are when it comes to making wise choices.
So, lower the chances of making risky business choices and go grab a book!
10) Give Back When You Can
Whether you believe that everything you put out into the universe comes back to you twofold or not, we can all agree that giving back when you can is a mark of an honorable heart. Not only are you helping others advance themselves, you’re also paving the way for yourself too!
For instance, let’s assume you offer free certifications for your employees, benefits, and monthly company parties with bonuses for exceptional work. Not only are you giving back, you’re also investing in your company. The happier and more improved they are, the better their work ethic.
It’s our hope that you’ve learned something helpful to improve your finances and business. This article does not constitute financial or legal advice. Consult with a CPA or lawyer to discuss your specific situation.
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