As the owner of a female-led registered investment firm, I would love to inspire those who would like to start their own business but are unsure where that starting point may be.
As I started on my path as a Certified Financial Planner™, I would dive into books, attend seminars, immerse myself in lectures, and record tv programs to further my knowledge. The process of becoming a business owner is all about being flexible. I have had to rework my goals and plans to adapt to both my career and personal life. Below are tips that I took to get where I am today as owner of MacDonald Wealth Management, LLC in Mansfield, Massachusetts.
Write Down Your Goals
When I started to build my practice, I used a whiteboard to list out my weekly goals and tasks. To this day, every Sunday night, I sit and review my past week by looking at my goals and tasks. I check off what I completed, highlight what still needs to be done, and identify what needs to change to be more productive. If something did not work out, I will brainstorm new things to try. Early on in my career, I learned to have thick skin and not take things personally if something was not working. On that note, if something does not work out, learn to adjust and never take it personally. If you feel defeated and knocked down, take a minute to rest and then get back up and try something new.
Whatever happens, do not quit on your goals after experiencing failure. Failure is inevitable and part of the process. Use that as your fuel to keep moving forward.
Create A Budget
Another key is to create a budget. You want to make sure you have as much cash on hand as possible. Depending on your business, your income may be inconsistent, and it is important to make your dollar go far.
When I was starting out as an independent advisor in 2014, the first thing I did was sit and go through my budget. I made a list of expenses I could cut and which ones I could not. Prior to becoming an independent advisor, I was earning a base salary along with commissions. Once I transitioned into an independent advisor, I no longer had the security of a base salary, as many business owners do not. Therefore, it is important that you have a good understanding of your budget.
Adjusting to my new budget called for simple changes. I no longer shopped at Target, as it was a giant black hole in my budget. I switched to the Dollar Tree for supplies and Market Basket for groceries. I stopped getting my hair done as often and passed up invitations to go out for dinner and drinks with friends. In my mind, becoming a successful financial advisor was my number 1 priority and I wanted to align my budget with these goals.
It is hard letting go of certain habits, but when you have a clear vision of your goals your actions must match.
It is crucial to surround yourself with other like-minded individuals who you can run ideas off of. It can become very lonely in the beginning stages of building a business. Friends and family members who have salaried positions do not always understand what a business owner is going through. A pivotal turning point was in 2014 when I created my own women’s networking group and we would meet once a month. As the meetings went on, I created close relationships with these ladies, and we support each other in all areas of life.
The True Cost of Your Time
Two areas I struggled with early on was how to price my financial planning services and maintaining a model work week. When I started out, I was running here and there, willing to meet with anyone who wanted to meet with me, and I had a very low fee structure.
I started working with a business coach in 2016 and the first things he had me do was reevaluate my fee structure and create a model work week. This was a game changer for me. Since then I have increased my fees and I have a set weekly schedule. I strongly recommend doing research within the fields that you are working in to see what comparable prices are. In the beginning, you do not want to experience burnout and not be compensated for what you are truly worth. If I could go back to my younger years, I would have changed this.
Planning for Retirement
As previously mentioned, cash on hand is key when starting out, but in the back of your mind, you should be considering saving for your future retirement. In the first few years, you may not have extra funds to save for retirement, and that is okay. Once income is coming in and you have a strong safety net, I recommend establishing a Roth IRA. A Roth IRA is made with after tax income and your contributions and earnings grow tax deferred. The nice thing about a Roth IRA is you have access to your contributions without having to worry about paying a penalty if you are under age 59 ½. This only applies to your contributions and not investment earnings within your Roth IRA.
As your business grows, I recommend implementing a SEP IRA if you do not have employees or a Simple IRA if you do. Both plans are easy to establish and have low costs. Overtime, if your business continues to grow, and it makes sense financially, you can transition into a 401k plan. This is a great way to establish financial security in your life while endeavoring your business dreams.
I wish you an abundance of success in your future endeavors and continue to strive towards your goals.