Find an accounting system that works for you
Your net worth corresponds to your financial pulse. It shows you where you are today and is an important metric to keep an eye on. Likewise, your income statement and cash flow are your company’s financial impetus.
When I started Just Start Investing in January 2019, I didn’t have a strict bookkeeping or bookkeeping process in place. In all honesty, I didn’t have to because I didn’t really make or spend any money. I had a simple Excel spreadsheet and that did the trick.
However, as Just Start Investing grew beyond 1 to 2 transactions per month, I also needed a better accounting system. In late 2020, I revised the Excel spreadsheet that recorded my expenses and income, including line items for hosting fees, freelance design costs, display ad income, and affiliate income. I also signed up for Wave, which is free accounting software, to check my math.
In hindsight, I wish I had set up this more robust system from day 1. Bookkeeping is an important aspect of your business, regardless of your size.
Video by Stephen Parkhurst
Establish a mission or vision for your company
It might sound a bit clichéd, but having a mission or vision for your business will help you focus on what matters most. For Just Start Investing, my mission is to “make personal finance easier”. That’s why I started the site and why I keep it going. I want everyone to have the basics to make smart financial decisions and improve their lives.
I seldom move away from this vision, but when I do it is a conscious choice. And the vast majority of my content is related to my mission. For example, I recently wrote an article on Dave Ramsey’s baby steps where I analyzed the pros and cons of this particular personal finance strategy.
I believe my comment on the steps helps provide information and insights so that readers can be better informed without complicating things. In addition to prioritizing content, a mission also helps me prioritize the types of work that I do first.
When you have a mission or vision for your company, you can focus on the most important tasks.
Sometimes it’s better to outsource
I wear lots of hats while walking a solo side hustle. I’m a writer, accountant, social media strategist, email marketing manager, and CEO of Just Start Investing. If there’s a good opportunity to outsource and ease my life, I’ll take it.
For example, setting up an LLC wasn’t an easy or straightforward process for me. When I found a company that would do it for me for a small fee, I jumped in for it.
If you’re not sure what to outsource, ask yourself two questions.
- Does the benefit of the time saved outweigh the cost of hiring someone to do the job for you?
- Would hiring someone for the job dilute the business in any way?
If I were to outsource most of the articles on the site, I would potentially alienate my readers. So when I write, I still try to do most of it myself. But when it comes to backend tasks like setting up an LLC, I aim to free up my time and outsource it.
Having a mission and vision also makes it easier to outsource decisions.
Have a great support system
Even though I’m a 1 person company, I have a lot of support when it comes to running my business. Some people will have mentors. Others, possibly a business coach. To me, it’s a “mastermind group” of other like-minded personal finance website owners.
Our group is called The Money Mix Insiders and I joined when Michael from Your Money Geek reached out to me on Twitter DMs. In the year and a half that I’ve been a member, being part of this team has been invaluable. I get advice from seasoned website owners and experts, discounted enterprise software prices, and a place to vent if something goes wrong.
I couldn’t have made it to where I am today without this group cheering me on and holding me accountable. For the same reason that the Y Combinator startup accelerator doesn’t accept founders from sole proprietorships, I wouldn’t recommend running your own business without a support system.
I wouldn’t recommend running your own business without a support system.
Invest back in your company
This can be a difficult lesson for founders: Investing in your business is critical. Just Start Investing didn’t really pick up until I started putting some money into the business.
It’s a classic chicken or egg puzzle. You don’t want to invest in the business again until you generate income, but you cannot generate income without investing money to kick things off.
The first significant purchase I made for Just Start Investing was purchasing a premium theme for my website design. Not only did it offer practical benefits like improving the website’s speed and how users interacted with the website, but seeing the premium theme also made me feel proud of the website and encouraged me to keep working on it.
When starting a sideline, your time is one of your most precious resources. If you take your business seriously and believe it can succeed, you must have the confidence and the courage to invest what is needed from day one.
Kevin Panitch is a veteran personal finance writer and founder of Just Start Investing, a personal finance website that makes managing your money easy. Just Start Investing has been featured in Business Insider, Forbes, and US News & World Report, among others, for its easy-to-understand written and informative articles. You can follow Kevin and Just Start Investing on Twitter at @juststartinvest.
The item “My Online Side Business Makes Over $ 1,000 Every Month: Here’s My Best Advice” Originally) released on Grow + acorns.