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Being an entrepreneur is difficult enough as it is — innovating with new ideas, turning concepts into products, managing teams of talented people — even without the questions of finance management. Poor financial literacy has been an Achilles’ Heel for an abundance of entrepreneurs, meaning that modern business leaders simply cannot afford to take any risks when it comes to managing their money.
If you’re in the early stages of entrepreneurship, chances are you can’t afford the level of accounting and financial services you probably need. In order to fill that gap, you’ll need to buckle down and hit the books.
Here are five finance tips to help you avoid missteps on your entrepreneurial journey.
1. Boost and maintain your credit score
If ever you want to borrow money in order to get your nascent business off the ground, you’ll need to have a solid credit score backing you up. Loaning money out for new ventures is extremely risky for lenders, and your credit score will be one of the most important factors they use when determining your eligibility for a loan.
Things like responsible credit card usage are the building blocks of good credit, but that doesn’t mean you can’t cut some corners to give your score a bump. New programs like Experian Boost allow you to retroactively add on-time payments like phone or internet bills to your credit history, thus lifting your score just a bit higher. It may not sound like much, but that little bit can spell the difference between a loan and a friendly handshake.
2. Use personal funds — efficiently
According to the Small Business Association, personal funding is far and away the most common source of capital for startups with 64.4% of new businesses using them to get off the ground. Personal finance is a great way to get your business into gear, but you have to be careful; doing so sloppily can do harm to both your company and your checking account.
The most important thing to be mindful of is excessive fees. Personal funding for small businesses usually involve large dollar-amount transfers which can incur precipitously high charges, adding an unnecessary burden.
3. Develop a budget
The only way to keep your finances in tip-top shape is to put in the effort towards managing them effectively. Even the most quantitatively minded business leaders won’t be able to crunch all the numbers in their head. If you want to stay on top of it all, you’ll need a budget keeping you steady.
Every business will need a different type of budget due to industry specializations. If you don’t have a balance sheet to look at, it’s only a matter of time before you can’t even determine whether you’re losing money or making it.
4. Create an emergency fund
Preferred CFO reports that, of all businesses that fail, 82% do so because of cash-flow issues. As the pandemic showed, consistent business is far from a guarantee in this world. Anyone looking to ensure resiliency during the early stages of their business needs to do so with an emergency fund. First-time entrepreneurs won’t be able to store away huge sums of cash for a rainy day, and that’s OK. Even just having a little on hand to cover payroll in a pinch is better than having nothing.
5. Know tax regulations
To operate a small business is to wade deep into the swamp of taxes — a swamp from which the unprepared truly never return. In order to prevent unexpected taxes from inhibiting your growth later on, do your homework now.
The IRS operates an extensive knowledge base regarding the taxes that small businesses could expect to run into, but even this may not be enough. Do research into your city, county and state’s taxes as well to know precisely what you’ll be required to give back in the future.
Knowing the ins and outs of small business finances can make a huge impact when it comes to determining which businesses succeed and which fail. Jumping into the entrepreneurial game will always be scary, but even just a bit of financial know how can make all the difference.