financial tools business owners can’t live without
Four finance-savvy business owners tell us about the tools they use to sort out their money.
Getting on top of the money side of your business can be tricky – especially if numbers just aren’t your thing (we see you, creative types). Luckily, there are a bunch of resources, programs and software out there that can make the task a little easier. Below, we chat with some lovely business owners to find out what tools they use to manage their moolah.
Vanessa Low – freelance writer, photographer, graphic designer and candlemaker.
What are the financial tools you can’t live without?
Vanessa: I have to admit that I didn’t prioritise finances and a business-mindset until recently, so my most valuable financial tools have actually been education resources. Books such as Fiona Killackey’s Passion. Purpose. Profit. have helped me change my approach from a fever dream of passion and burnout to a strategic plan for longevity.
I previously worked with Google Drive for spreadsheets and receipts (I was very flattered when my tax agent told me how organised it was!) but at the start of this financial year, I gifted myself a subscription to an online financial management website and I’m kicking myself that I didn’t do it sooner.
Stef: Airwallex is the latest discovery we're obsessed with. We started using them to access foreign currencies, so if we needed to pay our factory for a shoe order in USD, we would go through them for better rates. They have all these other amazing features, too, so now we use their platform for a lot of things, like keeping track of all our subscriptions and company cards for our employees.
Jess: The standard analytics Shopify offers are super extensive, and we'll hop on pretty much every day to see how sales are tracking compared to previous periods. It keeps us across what is selling where and helps us make decisions on everything, from when to up our digital marketing to what products we should be reordering.
Britt: I can’t live without good online accounting software that keeps everything in one place. Clae Studio is a one-woman show which means I’m running all aspects of my business solo. Anything that makes life easier is my friend. I use it for both invoicing and recording all my expenses from the financial year, which makes tax time so much easier. The system automatically follows up invoices which saves time and ensures I don’t forget about anything. It’s also really important for me to have a separate bank account and card for Clae Studio, so that business finances are clearly separate from my personal account.Vanessa and her candles
How did you come across these tools?
Jess: We work with LUNA, which is an awesome company that helps start-ups with legal, accounting and strategic advice. Through them we have a VCFO (virtual CFO) who we meet with monthly, and he's the one who's always sharing these new tools with us. Honestly, we don't know where we'd be without them and we highly recommend any start-up to seek them out for a chat.
Vanessa: Following other businesses on social media has been incredibly eye-opening for me. There’s a huge range of people sharing their business experiences, especially on #smallbusiness TikTok; the medium fosters a community of sharing rather than gatekeeping.
I also picked the brains of my friends, some of whom work as freelancers and others who are just clever people. Don’t be shy to ask around; there are granules of wisdom and inspiration everywhere.
Britt: I had been thinking about ways to streamline the financial side of my business for a while so I spoke to a financial adviser – best decision ever! She suggested the online accounting platform she thought would work best for Clae Studio and answered all my random money and tax questions. Having the knowledge and peace of mind in this area was so freeing.Jess and Stef wearing TWOOBS
Any other financial tips for someone who wants to start a business?
Stef: If the financial stuff is trickier for you, surround yourself with people and tools that can help you. As women, it's so common for us to feel less confident around financial lingo and like we're out of our depth, so don't be embarrassed to say “I don't understand”, or to ask for help. The only way to learn is to jump right in. You've got this!
Vanessa: As a freelancer or a shop owner, I would encourage people to have a think about their finances from the start. You don’t need to have it completely figured out, but as a fellow passionate creative, I know it can be tempting to throw yourself head first into the parts of the project that you love and neglect the business side. Having a think about finances from the start can set you up for success so you can spend less time on hunting for receipts and more time doing what you love.
My second tip would be to work out the true cost of your time. Decide if something is a hobby or a business (hint: a business needs to turn a profit). For freelance work, research your rates thoroughly. For a shop, don’t neglect to include all your extra costs into your budget – websites, G suite, packaging, labels, shipping, transaction fees etc all add up.
Britt: Keep things simple and efficient. Once everything is under control on the money side of things, you can get back to the fun part: creating and growing your business! Most importantly, ask for help if you need it. This stuff can be confusing and talking to other business owners or an accountant is so helpful.