There are so many amazing things about being a creative entrepreneur, aren’t there?
You get to use your creative gifts every day, choose which clients you want to work with, who you want to market your creations to, when and where you want to work, the occasional afternoon nap…and so much more!
There are a few parts of work and life that become a little more challenging when you’re a creative business owner though, and one of those is your need to budget around an income that might be inconsistent (or maybe even non-existent at first).
Learning to balancing money management with your creative fulfillment is a must if you want to building the sustainable creative business of your dreams. But it absolutely can be done! Today I’m sharing 4 tips to get your budget on the right track.
#1 Determine your must-have monthly expenses.
These are the expenses that keep you up and running in your business and your life, and many of them will be recurring. We’re talking things like housing (rent or mortgage), gas, utilities, groceries, debts like credit card payments or student loans, savings, retirement…and don’t forget about taxes. (Taxes rates will vary based on where you’re located, and you’ll want to get an exact figure from an accountant or other tax professional.)
You might even take a look at some recent bank or credit card statements to get a good sense of what your budget for these essentials will look like.
As you determine how much you need each month to stay alive and keep your business running, you can also determine how much work you’ll need to take on or how many items you’ll need to sell each month to make ends meet.
#2 Have multiple streams of income.
Are there other ways you can generate income besides your current offerings? As a creative maker and shaker, your expertise can be packaged up and offered in so many ways!
- Create an ebook. You can sell it from your website or through Amazon. What would your ideal customers or clients love to hear about from you? If writing a book seems daunting, a great way to start is by compiling some old blog posts and editing them so they’ll flow together perfectly in an ebook format.
- Explore affiliate marketing. Do any other creative entrepreneurs have courses, events, products, or something else you know your followers would also love? You can launch an affiliate partnership with her, taking a cut for each of her products you sell. The reverse would work well, too – if you have an offering you’d like to market to a wider audience, look into launching an affiliate program of your own.
- Create an online course. As a creative business owner, you probably have some serious knowledge to share that people would be happy to pay for.
- Offer consulting or coaching services. Start marketing yourself as a mentor! Is there something you could offer to teach others in a one-on-one format?
- Create a membership site. If you create content that’s truly valuable, there might just be people willing to pay a monthly fee for membership.
#3 Keep track of your income and expenses
Tracking your income and expenses might not seem too fun at first, but once you get started it’s actually very freeing! Getting real about where your money goes each month is the first step to gaining control of your budget.
And don’t forget, keeping track of your spending and earnings also lets you appreciate your growth. Seeing your net worth increase can be the motivation you need to keep your good money habits going.
You can create a spreadsheet for tracking your earnings and expenses or use one of several smartphone apps. A popular example is Mint, an app that keeps track of your spending, creates budgets, and even gives you suggestions based on your spending habits. Let’s say you’re spending more than you budgeted this month on movies and entertainment – Mint will alert you to that so you can revise that part of your budget and balance it out with another category. It’s never been more convenient!
#4 Cut unnecessary expenses.
Now that everything you earn is from your very own business, you might find it easier to spend less money on things that really aren’t necessary. Why not reserve your hard-earned money for bigger priorities?
It’s time to go back through your budget and see how you can reduce costs, starting with any recurring monthly payments. Then it’s time to ask yourself questions like:
- Are you really using that gym membership? What if you started running instead or did workouts at home?
- Could you make it on a simpler, lower-cost cell phone plan?
- Are there any indulgences you could cut out of your grocery runs?
- Is your cable bill really worth it, or can you find a cheaper option?
Then set rules around what you will and won’t spend your money on – and stick to them. Let’s say a particular store is your favorite and you always spend a little too much each time you go. Ban yourself from shopping from there for six months to a year, or maybe make shopping there a very occasional treat for when you reach milestones in your life or business.
Start today and take it slow.
This is a great time to be realistic and take baby steps! If you start off with a complicated tracking system, you’re much less likely to stick to it. So keep it simple! The ups and downs of entrepreneur life make budgeting a little tougher at times, but use these tips to meet yourself where you are, and you’ll have a budget that works for you in no time.
What are your favorite money-saving tips? Let me know in the comments!