Here at Healthy Business Finances – we love numbers, we love accounting systems, we love spreadsheets and we love financial reports.
However we know that often this is not necessarily everyone else’s priority or love.
Throughout June, we will be profiling other business owners so that we can share their financial fears, story, journey and wisdom with us! Through sharing our story, I believe we can break through the financial fears and grow stronger as business owners.
I have met Jo at some networking events – and her creative side won me over straight away. Not to mention she was wearing one of her fabulous necklaces and they are uber cool. Here is Jo’s story.
- Firstly, tell us a bit about yourself and your fabulous business.
I started Milbo’s in 2011 whilst I was on maternity leave, as a way to independently earn money and at the same time set some goals to achieve. I found the transition from working full time to being a mum full time hard as there was none of the sales and marketing targets, business development achievements and financial independence I was used to.
- What do you love about your business? The clients, the work, the flexibility, the freedom ?
When I started Milbo’s I was at a really low point with post natal depression. But the satisfaction of physically making my products and the reward of challenging myself to build a business and meeting all the goals I set myself along the way gave me a sense of achievement and helped me reconnect with who I really am outside of being a mum.
My passion is problem solving. Milbo’s necklaces are jewelry that can be worn and not broken by little people and they are also great for soothing teething babies gums, Milbo’s bibs are bibs that have great coverage and can’t be pulled off or as babies like to do, worn as capes. My passion for solving problems is why now I am working with another Australian communications specialist to launch our new business Rumble & Co.
- What financial systems did you use when you first started your business (and it is OK to admit perhaps you didn’t use anything – business is a journey !)
I’ve always considered myself to be quite good with numbers and won a CPA prize for best accounting student at Uni and went on to manage many accounts in my professional career. You would think that when I started my own business I would be well placed to have all my financial systems in order from the start. Wrong. In all of the 100 hats that come along with starting a new business I left my accounts and recording keeping hat on the hook, it could wait until later I thought.
The first tax time came and went with a week of entering my sales and the box of receipts into a free accounting product called cashbooks. (here’s a screenshot of that tediousness).
I used cashbooks each year, costing me more and more time in entering every detail of every transaction. Every tax time I resolved that I would enter my transactions as they happened, I would make sure I keep all my receipts and put them into the receipt box so I could claim back everything I was entitled. Every year. Until this year.
- What systems do you now use to streamline the financial aspects of your business – programs, apps, resources?
This year I’m ready. In my annual leave this July I won’t be spending a week (yes literally a week) working through a mountain of paper. I will be spending time with my kids, maybe down the coast if the weather is nice enough.
There’s one reason for this – this year I have Xero– a swanky accounting package that means most of my transaction entries have been automatically downloaded from my account statements and categorized into the right section for tax with handy automated rules.
Teamed with the Xero app – which files away a photo of any receipt on the go – I’m confident I’m ready for my accountant this tax time.
- What pieces of wisdom can you share with other business owners about overcoming some of those financial fears?
I find it really hard to balance the value of my time and helping other people. If I had my way we would live in a world where everything is free, we had no bills and I could give away all my products and advice to anyone who needed them. But sadly we don’t and whilst my products were selling well with a great margin to cover all my costs, I hadn’t factored in enough value for my time.
After getting Xero up to date with all my data, it turned out that I was earning less than 50c per hour! In Xero I was able to analyse my financial information, look at where I was spending the most of my money and make my money work just as hard as I do. I tallied how much I spend with particular suppliers over the year and negotiated some long term contracts in exchange for better pricing and cheaper regular shipping on my raw materials. This extra margin gave me enough room to factor in a better dollar value for my time.
In bringing Xero into Milbo’s, I have also measured where is the most profitable for me to focus my efforts and I’ve changed the focus of my business to maximize my opportunities in that market.
- So you have a new business launching soon – are you more prepared this time around and how do you feel about your upcoming launch?
I cannot stress enough how important it is to properly value your time and build it into your pricing from the beginning. You can spend a lot of time being busy in a handmade business making lots of sales for little financial reward.
Setting up our new business Rumble & Co. in Xero is one of the critical things we have taken the time to set up before we even launch because we value not only the time we spend in our business, but also the time we are saving by having an efficient system that saves us from a paper receipt avalanche come tax time.
Thank you so much Jo for your honest and open story.
Sometimes facing numbers and financial obligations as a business owner can be daunting and intimidating. Our aim at Healthy Business Finances in our Financial Coaching Sessions is to reduce the fear, reduce the stress – and heck – we even want to have a few smiles and a bit of fun along the way.
If you need a baby friendly gift for yourself or perhaps a new mum to be – then these Milbo’s necklaces truly are divine. Follow Milbo’s and connect with Jo via facebook, website or via instagram. Jo’s new venture Rumble & Co is launching soon – so get on board !