In this interview with Sara Fins, a finance coach specializing in helping Solopreneurs navigate the often overwhelming world of business finances, we delve into essential insights and strategies. Sara sheds light on common challenges faced by entrepreneurs, emphasizing the need for financial literacy and understanding. She discusses how her course, “Easy Business Bookkeeping,” provides practical solutions to the prevalent issue of financial overwhelm, empowering individuals to take control of their finances, gain clarity, and develop confidence. Through real-life success stories and valuable tips, Sara demonstrates that with the right guidance and tools, anyone can effectively manage their finances and set themselves up for business success.
[Q] Who do you assist, and what’s your approach?
I’m a finance coach, and my primary focus is helping Solopreneurs, particularly coaches, wellness practitioners, and similar professionals, get a handle on their business finances. I achieve this primarily through my course, “Easy Business Bookkeeping,” which serves as a step-by-step guide. It equips them with the knowledge and tools to effectively manage their financial data, make informed business decisions, and prepare for taxes.
I developed a straightforward spreadsheet tool with accompanying tutorials to simplify the process. My motivation for this venture stems from my background as a CPA and my transition into health coaching. I noticed that many of my peers struggled with financial management, whether due to confusion around the process, the cost of hiring a bookkeeper or investing in software like QuickBooks. So, I established this business to bridge the gap, catering to those just starting their entrepreneurial journey and those ready to embrace more advanced financial practices.
My approach is to partner with my clients to educate them on what they need to track and how to go about it, offering a user-friendly starting point. For those seeking more personalized guidance or integration into their business operations, I provide coaching. It’s a blend of setting them up with essential bookkeeping skills and empowering them to take control of their finances, particularly in the early stages.
[Q] What are the main hurdles your clients face regarding their finances?
The most significant challenges my clients often encounter are not knowing where to begin and feeling overwhelmed by financial matters. Additionally, many struggle to prioritize financial management and allocate time for it. To address these challenges, I’ve introduced “money dates” in my program. These regular meetings provide dedicated time for them to input their financial data into the tool and ensure they’re considering all the essential aspects. I also guide them on what are the most important things to focus on and how to incorporate financial management into their routine. So, the two primary challenges are typically a lack of knowledge about where to start and difficulty in finding time for it.
[Q] Why do you think this problem is so widespread?
I believe the widespread issue arises from the lack of financial education, particularly among the professionals I work with in the health and wellness field. Most of them didn’t receive formal training in accounting or finance, so they often don’t know where to start. Additionally, there’s a shortage of accessible resources that cater to their specific needs. It’s a classic case of not knowing what they don’t know.
As they embark on their entrepreneurial journey, spending money, and earning income, they suddenly face the need to file taxes, make critical business investments, and understand their financial standing. However, they often lack the foundational knowledge to assess if they can afford these investments.
They grapple with questions about product profitability, resource allocation, and time management, areas not typically covered in their education unless they have a background in business or accounting. This educational gap can leave them feeling stuck and hinder their ability to sustain and grow their businesses, making it challenging to turn their side hustles into full-fledged ventures. In essence, I believe the absence of comprehensive financial education is a root cause of this widespread problem.
[Q] How do you set them up for success?
To set them up for success, the first and foremost step is getting them into the habit of tracking their financial numbers regularly. Without this data, it’s challenging to gauge how their business is performing and make informed decisions. With this information in hand, they can evaluate the sustainability and scalability of their programs and determine if they’re generating a profit. It’s crucial to assess whether pricing adjustments are necessary to ensure the business’s long-term viability.
Another critical aspect we address is paying themselves. Many new entrepreneurs tend to overlook this, as they’re often focused on getting their business off the ground. However, it’s essential to allocate funds for their own compensation to ensure the business remains sustainable. So, these steps help them begin analyzing their financial data, make informed decisions about pricing, and establish a steady income to fuel the growth of their businesses.
[Q] What are the primary benefits and results your clients experience after working with you?
The most significant benefits and outcomes my clients typically experience are a sense of relief, newfound clarity, increased confidence, and the presence of a clear plan.
- Relief: They no longer feel lost or overwhelmed, as they now have a clear understanding of what needs to be done.
- Clarity: With a well-defined plan in place, they approach their financial data with confidence, knowing precisely which steps to take.
- Confidence: Many of my clients start with self-doubt regarding their financial abilities, but as they grasp essential concepts, they become more confident in tracking and interpreting their financial information.
- A Clear Plan: Having a structured plan empowers them to make informed decisions about their businesses, enabling them to effectively utilize their financial data. These are the primary benefits and results I see after working with them.
[Q] Are there any common myths or misunderstandings you often need to address?
Absolutely, there are a few prevalent myths and misunderstandings that I frequently need to clarify:
- “Numbers Person” Myth: Many people believe you have to be naturally skilled with numbers to effectively manage your finances. The reality is that you don’t need an innate talent; you can learn the necessary financial concepts and skills.
- Outsourcing Misconception: Some individuals think they should immediately outsource financial management when starting their business. I emphasize the importance of understanding the basics before considering outsourcing.
- Scope of Services: There’s sometimes confusion about the services I offer. Clients may assume I handle bookkeeping tasks like data entry, but I currently do not provide such services.
- Bookkeeping vs. Accounting: It’s crucial to distinguish between bookkeeping (tracking and managing financial data) and accounting (which includes tax filing and more). I don’t offer tax accounting services, so those needing tax assistance should seek a tax accountant for that specific task.
[Q] How do you prepare your clients for success before they meet with a CPA?
I equip my clients for success by providing them with a user-friendly tool that simplifies the preparation of their financial information for their CPA or tax preparer. They can easily generate a printout from my tool, which they can then hand over to their accountant or tax professional. This tool proves especially handy when they need to complete Schedule C for their tax filings, whether they’re filing as a sole proprietor, LLC, or corporation.
Many of my clients also leverage this tool to file their taxes independently using platforms like TurboTax. It offers a straightforward approach to ensuring their business numbers are well-organized and ready for input when it’s time to file taxes at the end of the year. This process minimizes stress and last-minute scrambling, providing them with the essential financial data they need for a smooth tax-filing experience.
[Q] What do you believe holds people back from seeking the kind of assistance you provide?
I think one significant factor that holds people back is the feeling of overwhelm. When individuals explore financial management, they often encounter complex systems like QuickBooks or consider hiring a bookkeeper, which can be financially daunting. If they’re not aware of more accessible options like my program, this uncertainty about high costs and who to hire can deter them from seeking help.
Moreover, the confusion about whether to engage a bookkeeper, a CPA, or another professional adds to the hesitation in seeking assistance in this area. This uncertainty can act as a barrier to taking that next important step toward improving their financial management.
[Q] Could you share a success story where someone faced these challenges, and you helped them find a solution?
Certainly, let me tell you about Lisa, one of my clients. Lisa operates two thriving wellness practices—a midwifery and a health coaching business. However, she encountered a significant hurdle when it came to managing her finances. She had attempted to use accounting software but found it overwhelming and couldn’t extract the insights she needed, ultimately abandoning it.
When Lisa reached out to me, we transitioned her to my program. I provided her with guidance and coaching to set up her financial system, transferring her existing data and teaching her how to maintain it effectively. She has been using my tool for approximately three years now.
During this period, Lisa’s businesses flourished. She even successfully secured a grant, thanks to the readily available financial data at her disposal. Lisa now feels confident about tracking her income, expenses, and preparing for taxes each year, without the last-minute stress or all-nighters to organize her financials.
Beyond the technical aspect of her financial system, our focus shifted to helping her understand the key numbers to track and interpret. We delved into profit and loss statements, enabling her to assess whether her programs were generating enough revenue to cover expenses and compensate herself adequately.
Furthermore, we demystified accounting jargon and clarified financial terminology, boosting her confidence and dispelling the belief that she needed to be a financial expert to effectively manage her business finances.
Lisa’s success story highlights the transformation that can occur with the right guidance and tools. She overcame overwhelm, gained clarity, and developed the confidence needed to manage her finances successfully, ultimately contributing to the growth of her businesses.
[Q] Do you have any advice or strategies for coping with financial overwhelm?
Absolutely, here are some practical tips and strategies to help you deal with financial overwhelm:
- Identify Knowledge Gaps: Start by pinpointing what you don’t know or understand about your finances. Recognizing areas of uncertainty is the first step to addressing them.
- Continuous Learning: Invest time in learning about financial management. There are plenty of resources available, from courses and books to online tutorials and webinars. Expand your financial knowledge at your own pace.
- Regular Tracking: Don’t wait until tax season to tackle your finances. Commit to tracking and reviewing your financial data on a regular basis. This habit can prevent stress and help you stay on top of your numbers.
- Use Financial Tools: Explore financial tracking tools or software that streamline the process. Spreadsheets and accounting software can simplify financial organization and management. Choose a tool that suits your needs and stick with it.
- Seek Professional Help: If you still feel overwhelmed, consider consulting a financial professional or coach. They can offer personalized guidance, answer your questions, and boost your confidence in handling your finances.
- Educate Yourself: Take the time to understand fundamental financial terminology, concepts, and industry-specific metrics. The more informed you are, the better equipped you’ll be to make informed decisions.
- Schedule Dedicated Time: Set aside specific time slots in your schedule to focus solely on your finances. Treat these appointments as non-negotiable commitments to your business. Consistency can help you stay organized and reduce overwhelm.
- Ask Questions: Don’t hesitate to ask questions when you encounter something you don’t understand. Whether it’s seeking clarification on financial terms or discussing your financial goals with an expert, asking questions is a valuable part of your financial journey.
By following these strategies and making a conscious effort to manage your finances, you can alleviate overwhelm and gain greater control over your business finances, setting the stage for increased success.
[Q] Where can people discover more about you and your services?
You can learn more about me and the services I offer by visiting my website at sarafins.com. I’m also active on social media, particularly Instagram and Facebook, where you can find me under the handle “easy business bookkeeping,” the name of my course. Additionally, you can connect with me on LinkedIn under my name – Sara Fins. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you’d like to explore how I can help you with your business finances.