You know with a name like the Money Moves Summit I was going to be going. When I saw that Create & Cultivate was going to be making their summit digital there was no way I could miss the opportunity to go and share with you the lessons learned.
There were a lot of round-tables, keynotes, firesides and workshops so I thought the best way to share the content would be to stick with themes because I noticed common threads throughout the whole day.
Given the season we currently find ourselves in, a lot of the advice given was geared around how to move through the times we are in but the advice is equally valuable no matter the season.
Theme #1 Cash-flow
Prioritize, Prioritize, Prioritize
This was Payal Kadakia, Founder & Executive Chariman of ClassPass‘s key money move. she said, the second your cash is gone you lose the opportunity to fix problems.
- Know what to spend on
- Know why your asking for money
- what are you trying to solve
- Make decisions quickly – don’t spend too much in any one direction
Personal Finances While Navigating Entrepreneurship
The advice in this section comes from a combination of all the different talks that happened as well as a few FinanciElle tips that I think are aligned with what came up. It’s important when making your financial decisions to talk with your trusted team of advisors as you and they know your business best.
You as a business owner
- Always keep business vs. personal separate
- your needs vs. your business needs are separate and require separate budgets
- The recommendation provided by the SoFi, CFP for money allocation was:
- 50% fixed costs (necessities – rent/mortgage, food…)
- 30% Discretionary (wants)
- 20% Savings
Given your situation, this may not be realistic. If you need more re-allocate from the discretionary bucket and keep your savings, as much as possible.
This is a tool to help you determine how much to pay yourself from the business – a personal budget will tell you how much you need to be paying yourself.
- Plan personal savings to combat business dips, where income from your business to pay yourself fluctuates
Being on Payroll:
In her Digital Deep Dive session Jenna Kutcher talked about the importance of putting yourself on payroll:
- It gives you structure
- Feels more professional
- Helps you see your money differently
- Gives you a sense of security/safety, which in turn allows you to be more creative and bring in more revenue
In Canada, when you pay yourself a salary you trigger Canada Pension Plan (CPP) contributions which is a government based retirement savings tool. Also, your salary is
- Foundational recommendations from the SoFi CFP were to:
- Establish a safety net in cash of 1 month of expenses
- Prioritize eliminating high interest debt – 7% + interest
- Fully fund an emergency fund, the amount depends on a number of variables including consistency of income, for self-employed 3-6 months or 6-months to 1 year were recommended, depended on your business
- After this, look at next best dollar – what is the next best place that your next dollar should go to?
- Retirement/long-term savings
- The SoFI CFP provided a list of common retirement vehicles, these are for the US:
- Traditional or ROTH IRA
- Solo 401K
- SEP IRA
- Simple IRA
- In Canada there are Registered and Non Registered Retirement Savings Plans, Tax Free Savings Accounts and Government benefits like the Canada Pension Plan, Old Age Security, and Guaranteed Income supplement
- There are many things to consider when it comes to retirement/long-term savings planning, so talking to a Financial Advisor/Accountant about all your options is a good idea:
- The SoFI CFP provided a list of common retirement vehicles, these are for the US:
- Savings Goals/Time Horizons suggested by the SoFI CFP:
- Short-term (liquid cash available) 3 years or less – no risk
- Mid-term beyond 3 years – conservative risk
- Long-term 7-10 years + – more aggressive
The professionals from Ally Invest and Ally Bank, talked about in terms of investing, to start where you are, start small and do what makes you feel safe. They recommended looking into an investment mix that was a combination of retirement vehicles, like the ones listed above, as well as your own investment accounts made up of self-directed investments and robo advisors, as there are penalties incurred for taking money out of retirement vehicles, there are some exceptions for certain things.
- In general, the frequency you monitor your cash-flow will depend on your type of business and the rhythms of your business and honestly how comfortable you are with where your financial position is – some general guidelines are
- If you’re in a business that has multiple daily transactions – restaurant/take-out/food delivery/retail store… – monitor daily
- If you’re in a services business where you have longer payment terms – weekly/monthly
- try to align payments with when money is coming in
- In crisis or survival mode – monitor cash flow daily (again, it’s whatever makes you feel safe/secure there’s no such thing as checking your cash flow too much)
- The professionals from Ally Invest and Ally Bank, talked about how under the current climate, you want to be asking yourself if we’re all still in this 6, 8, weeks +, what are you going to do? What do you need? How can you pivot. Understand your options and when you may need them.
- The professionals from Ally Invest and Ally Bank, talked about being very careful about taking on credit card debt, especially if it’s tied to you personally because it increases your utilization and can therefore impact your personal credit score. Credit Card Debt is a high-interest debt source that should be a last resort, and if you do use it, make sure you have a re-payment plan.
- In the Digital Deep Dive session with Jenna Kutcher, she talked about differentiating between being resourceful and having resources. Right now you may be tight on resources but it’s the time to be resourceful.
- In the round-table discussion on how to respond, recover, and reset to emerge stronger through the COVID-19 crisis, Jeni Britton Bauer of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream about being creative in how you cut costs and bring in revenue, she said to get as lean as possible and prioritize and when it comes to negotiating expenses like with landlords that everything is on the table – just ask
- In the morning keynote, Payal Kadakia of ClassPass, talked about how people invest in lines, not dots. Keep making progress and pivoting during this time.
- In the round-table discussion on how to respond, recover, and reset to emerge stronger through the COVID-19 crisis,Sarah Kunst, Managing Director of Cleo Capital gave the following advice:
- If you haven’t started raising, don’t start now
- Angel investors, investing their own money are not as likely to be investing right now
- Look more at accelerators or incubators because their funds to invest come from other sources
- Assume a discount on what your offering investors, once we move through this – don’t be tone deaf
Theme #2 Diversify Revenue Streams
This was Jenna Kutcher’s advice from her Digital Deep Dive:
- Start simply
- People are so focused on the business piece as in a specific product, service offer, or solution; but, they forget about the brand – the person behind the business
- A brand is multi-faceted, it allows you to pivot
- Never create a source of income sole reliant on you
- Think about how you can automate your gifts, how you can bring in revenue without having to show up
- Your brand shouldn’t be tied to a specific space or thing, this gives you the ability to evolve and pivot and not be a single service
- If you start as a single service, think of new ways to add, different ways to sustain business
In the C-Suite Round-table on coping with COVID-19 and what the strategy is moving forward, Rebecca Minkoff talked about how prior to the pandemic 70% of her business was wholesale vs. 30% being direct to consumer, she’d been wanting to change that but the pandemic forced her, because now her supply partners were all shut down. Now, going forward, she plans on dealing with any partners in a way that best serves her businesses interests.
I like how Jenna and Cyndi talked about brand as a foundation for diversifying that allows you to pivot and scale.
Theme #3 Pivot
This was possibly one of the most talked about concepts, it had to have come up at least once in almost every discussion.
The consensus was that, what’s happened with the pandemic has caused a significant increase and acceleration in the use of E-commerce and digital, and this is something that’s going to be sticking around after the pandemic, not necessarily at the level it is now, but much more than it was. Major consumer groups that had previously never used e-commerce have been forced into having to, and the new learned behaviors will likely stick around.
In the morning keynote Payal Kadakia, said that if you’re struggling with pivoting to go back to your why because that’s the constant, the how is going to be different right now and for who knows how long; but, you can pivot skills, processes, and methods of serving your customers to give them what they need right now. There were so many examples of this so I’m just going to share the stories:
Create & Cultivate – they are in the business of events with a focus on In Real Life (IRL), that can’t happen right now. They had a digital presence and community and built things like a membership community, podcast, and book around that community but these areas weren’t their main focus – now, they were able to pivot to create completely digital events – the why is serving the community, the how’s changed but in making the pivot they were able to make the event accessible to more people than they would have been able to otherwise. (I’m very glad they did!)
ClassPass – dealt with memberships to gyms, studios, other facilities to get people moving. Again, that can’t happen right now. They asked themselves questions like – how do we get people to stay active during this time (the why)? and how do they help keep studio owners paid? Now they do live stream classes and memberships. Again, this allows people who to connect with instructors they might not ever would have had the opportunity to before.
Chillhouse – a physical place for modern self-care, with an e-commerce store piece. Their business again based on creating a physical lifestyle and self-care hub, pivots to Chillhome – how to bring the self-care home.
Shake Shack – hundreds of dine in locations all over the globe, pivots from dine in to To Go model with curbside pick up and drive through, working with more delivery service partners, Shake Shack burger kits so people can bring the Shack home. Again, accessing people that normally wouldn’t have been able to enjoy a Shake Shack burger.
Tender Greens – Casual dine in farm to table restaurants, pivots from dine in to:
- 5 types of grocery boxes
- Wine and beer boxes
- Meal kit boxes
Keeping farmers employed and serving people healthy foods.
Now with this change in behaviour also comes an increase in fraudsters who target behaviour change which means bigger risk around cyber related attacks and identify theft. With more digital comes more risk.
The current season we are in has also lead to a difference in how companies relate to and reach out to their customers, with more of a focus on creating communities and finding ways to interact with those communities in an authentic way by listening, having empathy, being transparent and being flexible. Especially during these times, brands don’t want to be tone deaf to what people are experiencing.
It is my hope that you can take some of these lessons learned and incorporate them into what you’re going through now to help you weather the storm and come out stronger.