Some financial mistakes are minor and can be corrected on the fly, but some can easily burn the house down, so to speak. It’s a big reason why the majority of startups fail during their first few years of business. A cash flow that suddenly dries up, a huge unexpected expense, or a rapidly accumulating amount of debt have all been known to bring even the most promising new businesses to their knees.
Here are some of the biggest financial mistakes new business owners tend to make and how to avoid them.
Not Separating Business and Personal Bank Accounts
Although having one account may seem more convent, commit yourself to creating separate bank and credit card accounts for your business before you start to collect revenue. Doing this at the beginning will make it much easier to do the accounting for your business, plan for tax time and budget for unpredictable expenses that may lie ahead.
Having separate accounts will also allow a more accurate picture of your business’ financial health by preventing overlap between what you personally earn & spend and what the business is generating & costing on a monthly basis. This will also better shield you from damaging your credit if your business were to take a nosedive.
Making Big Purchases for your Business
When you start a new business, it’s understandable to want the best equipment, a fancy website and office. However, if you’re itching to make major purchases during the startup phase of your business, think these decisions over carefully. Some expenses will be mandatory depending on the type of business you’re starting, but you need to ask yourself if the expense is going to help you generate more revenue in the short-term.
Other expenses that aren’t essential to the growth of your company offer very little value to your bottom line. Make do with what you already have. Grow your business first and accumulate a higher level of disposable cash before spending on the “nice-to-haves.”
Making Big Personal Purchases
During the first year of business, there are a lot of unknown variables and unexpected learning opportunities that will come your way. The reality is that you’re going to hit roadblocks, you’re going to have failures and some of these may come with a big price tag on them.
If you purchase a car, home or any other large personal purchases and your business has something unexpected come up, you won’t be able to pay yourself next month. You can’t be strapped down with a huge amount of personal expenses. Be as minimal as possible in your business and personal life while growing your new business.
Not Saving for Slow Times and Emergencies
There is no shortage of people telling you to keep a stash of savings at hand for unexpected expenses. Call it saving for a rainy day, but there will be times when something happens and covering the cost with your credit card is a short-sighted solution that will only create more problems down the line. Most financial planners advise entrepreneurs to keep at least three months worth of expenses in an emergency fund for both their business and their personal expenses.
Not Creating a Clear Budget for your Business
If worst comes to worst, you may be able to run your business without a clear plan for the future, but you’ll have a very hard time succeeding without at least a rough budget to help guide what you can and cannot afford to spend each month. Your job is to steer your new business towards profitability, and you can only do that if you create a budget for operational, marketing and other expenses. Having a clear budget increases financial discipline and clarifies the roadmap to business growth.
Create a budget, track your expenses, save for emergencies and always think of expenses in terms of how they will generate revenue for your business.