We have been working through our fall round of quarterly client check-ins, so there’s been a lot of talk around the virtual office about financial “goals.” Having something to aim for can be a great source of motivation, and beyond their basic monthly sales goals, most of our clients are chasing one or two success milestones: say, a $10k month, a six-figure year, or the budget to hire an assistant. By this time in the year, we have over six months of numbers to look at—and we have a pretty good idea if we are on track to meet those goals or not. For those who look at their books as a reflection of their success as a business owner, it can feel like a season of guilt and shame. (Happy fall, y’all!)
One client came in feeling disappointed because she wasn’t making what she expected in sales this year. When Katie asked about her original intentions for the year, she said what she really wanted was to push herself to grow as a business owner and a person—which she definitely did! Once that shame was out of the way, we were able to have a great conversation about where to go from here. This perfectly illustrates why we prefer to talk about “intentions” rather than goals. There’s no need to put any more pressure on ourselves!
However, the business community at large and the service providers who specialize in helping us with financial goals, such as advisors and business coaches, make it really easy to slip into this mindset. Who wouldn’t want to work with the gal who made her first million with a magical email series or the guy who went from $1k a week to $1k per day, and then per minute?
Especially for new business owners, judging success by the numbers alone is a quick route to feeling empty and demoralized.
Financial Health and Sustainability
This leads us to our topic of financial health and sustainability: what does it mean for you? Can’t we just focus on how to get to the $10k months and virtual assistant?
While those figures make for some flashy marketing, the hard truth is that there is much more to success than the numbers will ever show. Without any context as to how and why those strategies worked for them, it’s absolutely unfair to compare anyone else’s numbers to yours. In fact, success on the outside is no indication that things are okay on the inside.
If you want a recipe for success, here it is:
- Define your intentions for success
- Put the practical next steps in place
- Find the meaning in your numbers and see if it’s matching up
Our CPAs can help you with parts 2 and 3: choosing which parts of your business to invest in now, using QuickBooks, managing cash flow, handling planning and paying taxes and more.
But we can’t do any of that without some critical information from you:
- What are your intentions for your business beyond building a money-making machine?
- What value do you bring to your clients’ lives and businesses?
- Where do you want to put your time and energy?
- What keeps you coming back to work every day?
Our job at Monarch CPA is to help you bridge the gap between your intentions for your business and those measurable financial goals everybody loves to talk about. It turns out there’s a whole world of structures and processes and work in-between.
A Metaphor for Financial Health
Let’s go back to the “season of guilt and shame” for a moment and look at it from a different angle. As accountants, our lives revolve around the tax year; a time to save and a time to spend (you get the picture). There are seasons and rhythms to growing a business, but also natural disasters that are beyond your control.
That’s why we say that sustainable financial health is a lot like farming. You have to plant your crops and nurture them, and there are things you can do to increase your chances of success: test the soil, rotate your crops, invest in some fertilizer or an irrigation system. And all it takes is one drought season or a tornado to ruin everything—but that doesn’t mean you’re not good at what you do or that it’s not worth trying again. You’ve got some land and maybe something about corn and manual labor gets you really excited. That’s why you’re a farmer.
Your crop rotations and fertilizer are step 2 in the success formula if you’re following along. Budgeting your time and money is an emotional process, which is why we begin with your emotional intentions. You don’t have to know all the ins and outs of what’s tax-deductible or what credits you can claim (that’s what we’re here for), but it’s important that you at least understand what your money is doing on a monthly basis. It’s up to you how much you get involved with bookkeeping and accounting, but we can help you understand your monthly reports, plan for tax time and file your return.
Finally, we can get out in the field with you to see if those crops are coming along as expected and determine what changes you can make to keep them healthy and thriving. Your numbers are what they are for now, and while we can’t make any promises about getting you to that big, impressive number, we can support you in achieving long-term results. We talk about more than finances with our clients: you’ll need the infrastructure, the support people, and probably a little marketing legwork to keep growing over time. We may not know much about actual farming, but sometimes financial coaching is a bit like therapy.
To help get you started, Katie created an in-depth strategic planning course that will take you through all of the whys and what-ifs to flesh out a foundational vision. The course will be launching soon so make sure to check back so you can work through this four-module series and start building your down-to-earth business dream.