Something I've noticed about a lot of online resources for business owners, both current and aspiring, is that they don't talk about what you actually need to do to run your business properly.
Sure, determination, a positive mindset and knowing how to market your biz are all important aspects of starting your own business.
But there are certain things that are essential, non-negotiable, if-you-don't-do-this-you'll-be-in-trouble important, that really don't get discussed enough.
Maybe it's because it's not as fun to organise your books as it is to make a vision board, or it isn't as glamorous to know how to deal with tax as it is to come up with your social media strategy.
The thing is, running a business isn't always fun or glamorous. As with any job, there are parts which are less appealing than watching paint dry, but that need to be done, and done properly, regardless.
These are the four essential components of starting a business and keeping it running smoothly:
I talked about why every business needs a solid plan recently, but to reiterate: when you start a business, you need to know what you're going to be selling, who you're selling it to and how you're going to get yourself in front of your customers. Otherwise, you won't make any money (or at least, not for a while).
Most of us don't have the time or money to try lots of different things and see what sticks. We need clarity on what our business will do and proper goals to get to where we want to be.
A business plan is a necessity to give your biz the best chance of success.
The ability to get paid
I know, duh. Who starts a business and doesn't expect to get paid for their work?
But tell me, have you opened a business bank account yet? Do you know what to put in a contract for your clients? How about pricing; do you have set prices or do you pull a number out of the air and hope for the best?
So, it isn't as simple as having a bank account and waiting to get paid.
You need to set your prices at a point that works with the amount it costs you to provide your products or services, suits your target customer and gives you enough to pay rent and all that stuff.
If you don't use an effective contract of services with your clients, you run the risk of them not paying you.
And if you don't know how to invoice clients, um, you aren't going to get paid.
A bookkeeping system
Hey, you don't have to be an accountant to know how to do your bookkeeping properly.
It's just a case of recording your business transactions - the money you make and the money you spend - as well as keeping hold of any relevant evidence of these transactions.
And even if you use an accountant, I'd bet money that you still have to do most of your own bookkeeping.
The key is having a proper bookkeeping system and strategy, so you don't end up with a year's worth of bank statements and receipts to file just before your tax return is due.
A little tax knowledge
Speaking of tax returns, these are a huge source of stress for a lot of business owners.
And I get it.
The information out there does not make it easy to find out when you need to register for tax, which expenses you can claim back (because there are a heck of a lot of rules), or even how the heck you're supposed to understand what to put in each box on your tax return.
But honestly, you just need a little basic knowledge of how it all works. HMRC aren't trying to catch you out, I promise. They just want you to pay your tax properly.
I think a lot of it is mindset - you think tax is difficult and complicated, so you assume you don't have the capacity to understand and deal with it.
Trust me, my friend - you do.
You just need someone to explain the ins and outs of it to you in plain English rather than accountant speak (that's my job)!
So, we can agree that these are all really important things you need to keep your business running without running into problems, right?
And yet, there aren't really any guides to show you how to deal with these things.
Let me share something with you: I have an English degree. I would not consider myself a natural "maths" person.
I fell into accountancy because my boss asked me to do some accounting tasks for him one day and I found that I had a bit of a knack for it, started doing more of it, sat some exams and here we are today.
What I'm trying to say is, if I can understand this stuff, you can.
You just need someone to explain it properly and show you exactly what you need to be doing.
Something I've been asked for consistently since I started Easy As VAT is a guide to the "behind the scenes" of running a business - tutorials for things like filing your tax return, claiming expenses and making a proper business plan.
That's why I've created a course covering each of the four components I talked about earlier in detail: to show you exactly how to deal with each of those things.
You'll learn everything you need to know about the essentials of running a business, from what exactly to put in your business plan to how to fill in your tax return, as well as some solutions to help you spend less time on these admin tasks and more time on the work you enjoy.
The course is made up of straightforward, easy to understand video lessons which you can complete in any order and you'll have access to them for as long as the course is running.
You'll also get over 10 templates, checklists and printables to use in your business.
If you've found yourself on this website, it's probably because you want to understand the numbers in your business, whether that's tax, accounting or even dealing with late-paying clients.
That's why you need this course.
After completing the course you will:
Have an effective and detailed business plan which sets out your goals for the next few years as well as exactly what you do, who your ideal customer is and how you're going to get yourself in front of them.
Have professional, branded client contract and invoice templates ready to send to and impress your adoring customers and clients.
Know your way around bookkeeping and have a system to make sure you stay organised and can spend less time getting your records in order.
Find tax returns fun. Okay, you won't and will probably never find doing your tax return fun. Accountants don't even find doing tax returns fun. But you'll feel confident that you know what you're doing when it comes to dealing with tax and you'll be able to file your tax return quickly and with minimal pain.
Most importantly, you'll have the knowledge you need to make sure that your business runs smoothly while keeping it legal and compliant.
It’s time to swap money stress for financial empowerment.
The Independent Girls Collective is a members-only platform to help smart women like you to take control of their finances and feel good about money.
As a member, you’ll get new courses, resources, live masterclasses and 1:1 coaching every month to help you manage your finances and provide the support you need to build a successful, fulfilling business that allows you to live the life you desire, as well as access to our supportive community of creative female entrepreneurs.