Until tax season.
Then I was floored.
You see, I was so giddy that I forgot to save money. I mean, I thought I was saving, but I just didn’t do the math. Yes, that was dumb, I know.
So, when April came, and yes, I waited until the last minute to do my taxes, the sheer amount made me dizzy.
In just a day, all of my saving was gone, and more.
Dear reader, I had grossly underestimated the middle-class tax that we small business owners have to pay out of our own pockets. Yuck!
Anyway. Rant aside, let’s talk about five things you can (and honestly, you should as soon as you’re able to) do to be as prepared as you possibly can as a small online business owner (or any business for that matter, but since I’m a blogger, my mind naturally goes there.)
1. Set aside at least 30% of your income for taxes
To some of you, this is common sense. In retrospect, this should have been the case for me too. But since this was the first time I made so much money outside of a full-time job, my head got stuck in the clouds and I was daydreaming about rainbows and unicorns.
Lesson learned? I realized I had to set aside 30% of my income for taxes.
You should do the same (tax is location dependent, so make sure to find out exactly how much you need to save, and then add a couple more percentage points to that just in case).
2. Then set aside 20% more
That’s for rainy days. I realized that the best possible thing to do is to set aside about 50% of your income. Some of that will go to taxes, and the rest will be for emergencies and retirement.
The sooner you start to save, the better.
3. Make sure you have at least three months’ expenses at all time
It’s great to track your income, but you should track your expenses too. For example, I have monthly subscription fees for various software and services, including but not limited to:
- Website hosting – SiteGround
- Email marketing platform – ConvertKit
I need those for my business. In fact, I pay for some of these services a few months to a year in advance to 1) save money, and 2) make sure I’m covered for a while.
In any case, I try to make sure that I have at least three to six months’ worth of these misc. payments at hand at all times.
4. Always think about what to do next
I have an evergreen online course — How to Make a Monthly Income selling Canva Templates — that brings me more than 50% of my total income.
But what if things change? What if people lose interest in Canva? Just because I’m thriving with Canva now doesn’t mean I always will.
All businesses need to pivot at one point or another. You can grow complacent and lose your income gradually until it hits you that you’re dangerously close to losing your current lifestyle, or, you can be smart and prepare ahead of time for contingencies.
5. Never stop growing your audience
I don’t run ads for my products or courses. I tried it, but to see any significant result from ads, you need to spend at least a few grand. I may be a six-figure blogger, but in the current economy, that kind of money doesn’t leave much for vanity.
So, most of my marketing and promotions are organic and free.
In other words, I sell my products to my email list subscribers.
But you cannot sell the same products to the same subscribers. You need new eyeballs on your content all the time, and you need a way to retain those eyeballs, ergo, you need to actively keep growing your email list.
It is the one area of your business where you cannot take things easy.
Grow that email list and make sure to nurture it too. Subscribers give you their email addresses for a reason; they want to stay in touch. If you’re too scared to send an email, guess what’ll happen? They’ll forget that you even exist! And the next time you do muster up the courage to send an email, they’ll unsubscribe en masse.
It’s always better to be ready than sorry, guys. Take it from me, a person somewhat less than adequate at preparedness.
As always, your questions and comments are most welcome; just scroll down a little to start typing your thoughts.
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