This week, Will Gee, Hubber and financial wellness trainer, continues our occasional series on financial wellness for social entrepreneurs. Today, Will answers the question of how to manage an unpredictable income in the early stages of a venture.
How to manage the ups and downs of entrepreneurial income is a valid and complicated question. This is by far a tougher one to solve than getting a mortgage or car loan. When in this type of professional situation, ask yourself: what are the tradeoffs? Becoming an entrepreneur sounds sexy and exciting but living the life of one, struggling with growing your business, with no financial backing (I assume that you are beginning the journey and not already super-successful), and perhaps not making money on a consistent basis is a totally different ball game. Does this sound like you?
That certainly describes me to a “T”. I would like to add some perspective to this question.
First things first, before you start your entrepreneurial journey, if you a still employed, building your emergency fund is critical. An adequate amount to save would be 9-12 months of your expenses. Typical corporate workers would need 3-6 months, but since you are an entrepreneur, you need more time to build your business to sustainable levels.
Second, if you already started your journey, then, when you do get an assignment that pays, save every cent of that until the next client/customer comes around. This goes without saying that need to have a pipeline of clients/customers.
You can also cultivate multiple streams of income, which can buffer the ups and downs of the early-stage endeavor.
Here are two examples that based on actual entrepreneurs’ journeys:
One friend, let’s call him Bob, owns a house. His house has 4 bedrooms. He “Airbnbs” all his rooms to collect income. Bob improvises and sleeps wherever he can. A little extreme for my taste but as a struggling entrepreneur, Bob does everything he can to survive while growing his business.
Another friend, let’s call her Joan, decides to get a part-time job and sacrifices one weekday and the weekend to gain some active income. Joan, too, has not given up on her dream. She works on a commission basis but that incentivizes her to make as much during those active hours and her efforts are under her control. Joan is still building her fortune on a full-time basis while making a living part-time.
I will be answering more questions in upcoming posts, so stay tuned! Hit me up if you have finance questions in mind and I can help address them in the very near future!