Business Tip: Running a Profitable Business

Women go into business for a number of humanistic reasons but realistically we also need to make money to keep the business solvent. Not acknowledging that or being wishy-washy where financial matters are involved is the surest route to bankruptcy.  Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way:

  • Don’t barter your services. Trading services with others often has all sorts of unintended and undesired outcomes. With the exception of Atticus Finch and a few other fictional characters, lawyers and doctors don’t barter and neither should other professionals.


  • Always take a deposit on a project even when you think you know the client really well. Make no exceptions because human nature will never cease to amaze you. Also be sure that your clients clearly understand that the remaining balance is due immediately on completion of the project.


  • Don’t worry that you’ll lose clients by doing this or that people won’t like you. If you are polite and businesslike, rather than guilt-ridden and vacillating, then there shouldn’t be any problem.


  • Invoice immediately. Don’t wait three months to bill clients. If they see you taking your time, they may feel that you don’t need the money so they can pay “whenever…” Follow up on outstanding invoices on a regular basis, becoming firmer if the situation dictates it.


  • Keep your finances up-to-date. Once bookkeeping tasks start piling up to “do later when I have time” it’s all over. You’ll never have more time and the bigger the pile the more you’ll want to avoid dealing with it. It’s a vicious cycle! Much easier is just setting aside some time each day or once a week, whatever fits in your schedule and doing your accounting.

The financial part of running a successful business will never be as exciting or fun as the creative part. But without it, unless you’re independently wealthy, you’ll soon be out of work. So-as they say at Nike, “Just do it!”


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