Business Finance

6 Money Mistakes New Business Owners Make

Dec 16, 2019 • 5 min read
Male small business owner regretting a financial mistake
Table of Contents

      Money makes the world go ’round. That’s why it’s no surprise that 82% of small businesses that fail blame cash flow.

      A business can have the perfect product, a dream team, market demand—and still fail due to money mistakes. Not just big mistakes, either. Tiny, avoidable slips are just as deadly.

      There are the oh-so-obvious money mistakes and the unobtrusive errors. We want to help you avoid both. Avoid the following 6 money mishaps, and you’ll be well on your way to securing your business’s survival…or becoming the 18% that fail due to other causes (kidding, of course).

      1. Mixing Personal and Business Finances

      Sure, it may be easier to carry around just one piece of plastic, but it’s not easier come tax time. Trying to distinguish which expenses were personal and which were business can be a nightmare—especially 9–12 months later.

      Right from the get-go, open a separate business account and get a business credit card. This move will help you keep track of every dollar of expense and income for your business, making managing your finances easy peasy. Come tax time or surprise audit, you’ll have all of your business transactions in one convenient location.

      Plus, a business credit card will help you start building your business credit score. And a tip-top credit score will help you secure financing down the road.

      2. Forgetting to Build a Financial Cushion

      Grow, grow, grow. It’s important to keep building on your new business’s momentum, but don’t forget to put money away for a rainy day.

      Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day. It will take time to build your savings account. From the start, begin putting a percentage of your monthly sales into an emergency fund. Aim to grow your fund to the equivalent of 2–3 months of operating expenses. With sufficient money in the bank, come wind or rain, you’ll be prepared to weather the storm.

      3. Avoiding Debt Financing

      Many small business owners fear debt like the plague. Yes, debt can be scary, but the alternative is worse: slow growth, loss of business ownership, always in the red—it’s not pretty.

      Bootstrapping can be great, but it has its limits. And giving away equity is cheap—for now—but it’s almost always more expensive in the long run.

      Debt financing provides capital while letting you retain complete control of your business. You must pay back the borrowed money and a bit of interest, but then whatever you financed is entirely yours.

      Don’t fear debt financing—use it responsibly to grow your business. Start simple with a business line of credit or a credit card, then expand into larger loans when necessary.

      4. Failing Adequate Bookkeeping

      You don’t need to know all the ins and outs of bookkeeping—that’s for the pros. But you do need to know the basics so you can accurately track and record all of your business transactions.

      Business owners who don’t prioritize bookkeeping set their businesses up for failure. By following a few bookkeeping best practices, you’ll unlock invaluable benefits:

      • Accurate working knowledge of your cash flow, budgeting, payroll, and invoicing.
      • Prepared financial documents to apply for financing at a moment’s notice.
      • Documented transactions to make tax season a breeze.
      • Extra time due to invoicing and expense tracking automation.

      5. Refusing to Invest in Professional Services

      Small business owners wear enough hats: CEO, operations specialist, marketer, recruiter, designer, and the list goes on. Eventually, it becomes too demanding. You can only do so much, and when your duties continue growing, the quality of each responsibility drops. 

      The most successful entrepreneurs know when to do and when to delegate. Remember, your time has a cost, too. Just because you “save money” by doing everything yourself doesn’t mean you’re making the best financial decision.

      Consider which tasks you could hire a professional to do: bookkeeping, accounting, web development, content marketing, etc. Hand over the minutiae and spend your time doing what nobody else can do for you—growing the business.

      6. Overlooking Tax Obligations

      When you’re a full-time employee, your taxes are deducted from each paycheck automatically—no planning, no decision making, no hassle. As a small business owner, you have to take the initiative to stay on top of your tax obligations.

      The best way to stay on top of your tax responsibilities is to pay quarterly taxes on your income. By doing this, you ensure you’re not hit in the face come April—and it also gives you a clearer picture of your financial situation month-to-month.

      Tax obligations aren’t simple—that’s why accountants are paid the big bucks. But they’re well worth the cost. Consider hiring an accountant to help with your finances and tax responsibilities. An accountant will save you time, money, and countless headaches.

      Don’t Become a Statistic

      Losing money is easier than earning it.

      A hundred fantastic decisions can be overturned overnight by a single financial error. Fortunately, most mistakes are avoidable by taking a proactive approach to managing your business finances—like reading this post, for example.

      Don’t let money mismanagement destroy your business. By avoiding these beginner money mistakes, you’ll prevent catastrophe and set your business up for long-term financial success. 

      About the author
      Jesse Sumrak

      Jesse Sumrak is a Social Media Manager for SendGrid, a leading digital communication platform. He's created and managed content for startups, growth-stage companies, and publicly-traded businesses. Jesse has spent almost a decade writing about small business and entrepreneurship topics, having built and sold his own post-apocalyptic fitness bootstrapped startup. When he's not dabbling in digital marketing, you'll find him ultrarunning in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Jesse studied Public Relations at Brigham Young University.

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