Talk Freelance To Me

Wealth-Building Strategies for Solopreneurs with CFO Christina Gamache

November 02, 2023 Ashley Cisneros Mejia Season 1 Episode 18
Talk Freelance To Me
Wealth-Building Strategies for Solopreneurs with CFO Christina Gamache
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

During the pandemic's peak, outsourced CFO and wealth manager Christina Gamache had a front-row seat to the tough decisions small business owners faced with keeping the lights on. She watched many decide to close up shop only to realize they had nothing substantial saved for retirement. Christina knew she could help them and opened Audax Wealth Management in response. In this episode, Christina talks to us all about the many facets of freelance finance and how we can set ourselves up for a strong financial future. 

In our chat, we tackle the nuts and bolts of financial management for the solopreneur, from essential budgeting to savvy banking. This conversation is sprinkled with actionable advice, emotional intelligence, and insider knowledge that any freelancer or business owner will find invaluable. Don't miss it!

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • Essential principles of financial planning and management specifically tailored for business owners and how these practices can weather economic disruptions.
  • Strategies for maintaining a healthy work-life balance as a working parent.
  • How to navigate personal finance and money trauma to foster a healthier relationship with money, both personally and in business contexts.
  •  And MORE!

About Our Guest
Christina Gamache is an investment manager and outsourced CFO for small businesses. She is passionate about helping business owners increase profitability, pay themselves, and plan their exit strategy!  Christina knows that work is just a vehicle for people to take care of the things that really matter the most. She helps owners tell their stories through their numbers and take care of their employees, families, and futures.  Her new book PROFIT, Not Loss: The Financial Guide For Women Business Owners is available on Amazon at: https://a.co/d/bY8s1yc

Connect with Christina
Instagram
Facebook
LinkedIn

SOMETHING SPECIAL JUST FOR YOU
We released our “Niches Get Riches” Brainstorming Worksheet – and it’s absolutely free! This worksheet will help you identify the most profitable niches for your freelance writing business.

Simply download and go through the prompts to explore potential niches that will quickly set you apart in the marketplace! Grab your copy here!

LET'S BE SOCIAL!
Join our freelancer communities! We're where you love to hang out!
Instagram
LinkedIn
TikTok
Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest
YouTube
Website

SPECIAL SHOUT OUT
Our original show music was composed by the one and only Donna O. Raphael of World Instrumentals. Please visit her website and support her!

BUY ME A COFFEE

Ashley Mejia:

Hello, everyone and welcome to another episode of the talk freelance me podcast. I'm your host, Ashley Cisneros. mahiya. And today we have a power house guest who knows so much about business, entrepreneurship and money, which is why we do business, right? We're doing business because we want to generate income. Please welcome financial advisor, Christina, go mush. Welcome, Christina.

Unknown:

Oh, my gosh, what a great intro. Thank you. I'm, well, how are you doing?

Ashley Mejia:

I'm doing so good. You have been on my mind for a while, like we're talking on offline. Like, just the stuff that you put on LinkedIn is so helpful to women, business owners and men, business owners to have all different flavors from freelancers like my audience, to people that own bigger companies. With staffs. I just appreciate everything you're doing to share this financial brilliance that you have. I'm thrilled that you're here today.

Unknown:

Oh, thank you so much. I'm happy to be here. This is great. I was listening to some of your other podcasts. And you have some wonderful guests that come onto your podcast. So I think that's just a testament to you as a host,

Ashley Mejia:

thank you so much. I I've been wanting to have someone with your expertise, because I think, you know, there's so many people in this like post pandemic post great resignation era that we're in, that are wanting to tap into entrepreneurship, but the money, you know, they're worried about money, they're worried about leaving their full time job, how do they transition so that it makes sense and so much of what we do and the decisions we make as business owners, it really ties back into what everything that you know, that's the finances and looking at those reports. That's how we take the temperature right to see if this business is viable, healthy. So I think that people are gonna really benefit a lot from this conversation.

Unknown:

Yeah, I hope so. That there's so much we can talk about, but I know you have questions

Ashley Mejia:

I do. And before we dive in freelance, fam, you know, I always give you a little bio, just so you can know more about Christina. So I'll read a little bit from it here and then we'll dive into questions. So Christina Marsh owns audax wealth management, and works as an investment manager and outsourced CFO for small businesses. She's passionate about helping business owners increase profitability, pay themselves and plan their exit strategy. She's worked with tech entrepreneurs, sports celebrities, local businesses, and national enterprises. She regularly speaks to groups and organizations on topics ranging from women business owner trends, to understanding the financials and planning those exit strategies. She's got a master's degree in the entrepreneurship from the University of Florida, as well as a Master's certificate in personal financial education. She's also a certified Exit Planning advisor. And she previously earned a bachelor's degree in International Studies from the University of Regina currently lives in Alaska, with her husband and two daughters. Thank you so much, Christina. Again, I know that was your formal bio. But go ahead and say hello and introduce yourself to the audience.

Unknown:

Yeah, thank you. Yeah. So Christina Amash, kind of like chocolate ganache, but with an M, that's how I tell everyone and all the women understand that. So I'm a mom, I'm a military spouse and also a very mediocre cook off that

Ashley Mejia:

I love that I am a crappy cooks. I love mediocre you're better than me. And and you're better than me. And thank you really quick, thank you for your your spouse's service for your service to our nation, my brother in law's in the military, my sister's a military spouse. So that really means a lot to me, it tugs at my heart, because I understand that the family also serves the spouse also serves. So we appreciate you.

Unknown:

Thank you. Awesome.

Ashley Mejia:

So tell us more about audax wealth management, kind of what you do, what services that you offer to your clients.

Unknown:

Sure. So I've got actually two different businesses. So audax wealth management, where we do the traditional investment management, portfolio services and financial planning. And then the other part is growth consulting firm. And that's where I do the consulting and outsourced CFO services for the small businesses. And really, it's, I try and take a lot of the same concepts in financial management, all these ratios. I mean, there's 1000s of ratios. And there could be a set of ratios that I look at within a company's financials that I had I say, Hey, this is a good investment or not a good investment. And here's why. And then kind of the same thing, but on a different scale for these small and medium sized business owners, when I'm like, This is what you're doing right? And your finances, this is what needs to be improved. So kind of the same thing, but very different applications.

Ashley Mejia:

I love that. And I love how you mentioned ratios, because a lot of times, you know, with finances, people have a lot of emotions about it. You know, a lot of feelings about it, a lot of some people are very, they embrace risk, some people are more risk averse. So anytime I hear ratio, or formulas, or anything to give that clarity, I think that makes me feel better, you know, as a business owner, and I can I love how you're taking some of those principles that apply, you know, to bigger organizations, and you know, they can still be relevant to those of us that run smaller businesses or solopreneurs. Like a lot of us in our audience. I love that.

Unknown:

Yeah, yeah, exactly. And why not? Right, a lot of freelancers, for example, you're maybe just one department of an overall big conglomerate, right. And so even the department needs to have their own financials that are separate from the rest of the business so that we know and understand how you're running it, and what needs to be streamlined or improved.

Ashley Mejia:

So good. So good. Freelance fam. I've actually known Christina for many years we were classmates of in 2007 2008. Right? Gosh, it's been a while we did a master's program and entrepreneurship at UF. Back then I know you were with Morgan Stanley, I believe. And I know later you worked for UBS, which I know is a big multinational investment bank. I feel like I know, I've heard the name for sure. So how did you decide to leave what I'm guessing was a very lucrative, promising career in financial services and decide I'm gonna go out on my own, I'm gonna have my own company and do my own thing. Can you share about that with us?

Unknown:

Do we have time? We will make time. Oh, okay. Let's take a trip back to the pandemic. And yeah, so I worked for those big banks. They're called wire houses or broker dealers, right? Where if you want to go buy a stock, you have to go through one of them. Right. So I had moved my family back to Alaska, and my husband was going to retire. He isn't, but that's a different story. And I was going to take over the books of these retiring advisors that I had previously worked for, okay. And then the pandemic hits. And two things were happening. I mean, a lot of things were happening right under the surface, but two major things. First was, I was now a working mom, and I was unable to control any of my work. So I had a kindergartener and a second grader at the time, and I was having to put my kindergartner on Zoom, which was not fun. Do you remember that? Or am I triggering bigs?

Ashley Mejia:

I do. I feel like a little triggered, I might need some chocolate. Where's the ganache you mentioned?

Unknown:

So I was figuring all that out. And my husband had to actually go into work because you can't defend a country from the computer. I mean, you can sometimes but anyway, so I was the one that was having to do everything. But I was the only one in the office. That was a working mom. Everyone else either didn't have kids, or they had grown kids, or they had a stay at home spouse stay at home wife. And so they didn't understand, like why I was demanding these flexible hours. Why when they called me I had kids screaming in the background, like they just didn't get it and my stress and my mental health was just like maxed out. So that was one. The second thing was when I was taking these calls in the laundry room with my clients, the door closed. I was talking to a lot of my business owner clients or small businesses, and I had a front row seat to their pain and their suffering. They didn't have their financials in order. They didn't know how to apply for the first round of PPP loans. They didn't have these resources available to them. And I watched them close one by one. And they were maybe in their 50s or 60s. They could have gone on longer, but they just didn't have the resources and working for the big banks. A lot of the times our hands are tied. Like I can't say certain things. I can't do certain things because as I say, like someone's peed in the pool before and so it ruins it for everybody. Right? So for good reason. There's all these rules or regulations, but I was getting really, I guess fresh traded in upsets that they were all having to just liquidate their assets, right? Like, who wants a printer? I have one for sale. And that's my retirement. So I left I thought, You know what, I'm gonna go do this thing on my own. And I did. And here we are, three years later, if you can believe it.

Ashley Mejia:

Oh, my gosh, I can't believe it's been three years since that time in our world's history. But that is incredible. What an incredible story that I think so many parents, especially women, moms can relate to, I feel like that's one of the reasons why I'm so passionate about entrepreneurship and freelance work. Because I feel like freelance is it's a first introduction, it's accessible to women to care givers who want to experiment with this entrepreneurship life and taking entrepreneurial principles and applying it to whatever it is they do for a living to create a work environment that actually works for them. Because even when you were speaking, you know, I can imagine that so much the stress that you felt just from being a mom and working and but then the global pandemic, but then also trying to shush the kids and an industry like that, where clients are giving you money, and you're helping them figure, you know, I can imagine that they're stressed out about that. So they're maybe not be so understanding, maybe they're not as forgiving, maybe, you know, that's a lot of stress. So, and then your story about about understanding the pain, like, Oh, that hurts my heart to hear of these business folks that have given their lives to their enterprises and have a printer or eat are liquid. Like the liquidation is the only option. They have to get something from this literally, their life's work. Gosh, that was such an incredible story, Christina incredible.

Unknown:

Oh, thank you. Well, I think it was Teddy Roosevelt said, Never let a good crisis go to waste. So yeah, you know, a lot of businesses have been born in these very fertile grounds of crisis, right from 2008. And the great depression even like, yeah, take advantage of what's out there.

Ashley Mejia:

So true. Gotta make that lemonade. I love it. I love it. And when you talked about having that frustration, or those feelings about knowing what advice would help these business owners, but not being able to, because you worked in a very regulated industry, I was looking at your information. And I know you're a registered investment advisor, our our I A, this is something that I learned about way later in life. I think maybe it was in my 30s. This designation when I read about it, and what it means, I guess, I always thought that any financial person rather, should be telling you stuff that's in the best interest of you. Can you talk about this designation? Because I think this and combined to what you were sharing speaks to who you are, and your commitment to helping people and being good steward can you share about this ri designation and what it means in your industry?

Unknown:

Yeah, so Ra is not actually designation. It's more of a registration. So it just means that I am registered with FINRA, which is the financial industry regulator authority, right? So they're the ones that come in and they audit us every 123 years. And they say, What are you saying to your clients? Are you charging them? What you should be charging them? Are you putting them in any fraudulent kind of investment vehicles? Okay, so it's basically just, Hey, I am registered with the states that I'm registered in. Okay. It's kind of like for the SEC, the Securities and Exchange Commission. So really big firms will be registered with the SEC. Smaller firms just are registered with their state. But you kind of alluded to what's debated word in our industry. Its fiduciary. Yeah, yeah, that one? Yeah. No, that's good. I'm glad that you asked. So fiduciary means that we have this responsibility to do what's best for our clients. So I'm not ever going to recommend any kind of product or investment for a client that would not be in their best interest. Maybe it's putting more money in my pocket instead. And so there's a lot of back and forth on like, what is a good, responsible investment advisor? What's not? I'll give you an example. Like ESG. Have you heard of ESG?

Ashley Mejia:

I have, yes, no podcasts? Yeah.

Unknown:

environmental, social and governance, right. So can I go and invest in these companies that do good things for the earth, or have a diverse board of directors or what Have you, right? We want to put our money where our mouth is the problem with that, if you were a fiduciary, and I'm supposed to be taking care of your money, a lot of these ESG investments don't do that well, right? Yeah. So there's just so much debate out there. And we could have an entire conversation about fiduciary. But I would say, for anyone that's looking for a coach or a planner, you got to know the difference, there is someone who's registered with the state or with the SEC, they can tell you what to invest in. Okay, so like Ashley, you should go buy this mutual fund, or the CD, or crypto or whatever it is, if it's just a coach, they should not be telling you to invest your money. They can help you with your taxes, tax planning, or retirement planning or savings or anything like that. But they shouldn't be saying, Actually go by this or that. So it makes sense. It does. Yeah, so very different. But there are good people in both camps.

Ashley Mejia:

And now that we're talking about this, because I feel like I know you do a lot of great work on social media. And in the podcast space, there's a lot of personal finance podcasters, personal finance, Instagramers and tick talkers. And I've heard them use the word financial education financial educator. And I don't know, you know, I'm guessing from this conversation that maybe that's how they squeak by? What's your opinion of these personal finance, social media influencers that have popped up that you could say, are giving good information, but then also they don't, they're not having the certifications as you and they're not registered?

Unknown:

Yes. I think a lot of people learn by experience. I mean, that's why I started my business, or got into this business 20 plus years ago was because I was horrible with money. And my parents were horrible. Right. So I learned a lot, just from personal experience. And I think that probably a lot of these tick talkers or influencers do right, which is great. I would much rather have you learned from someone else's mistake than your own? Yeah, if you can, I would just worry that if they're starting to say things like, Hey, you could make 100% with your money if you do this, or go buy real estate, and then double your return on investment. That's where it starts to get a little. We should look into this more, and then see, like, what's really underneath their hood? What kind of credentials do they have? What experience do they have? I

Ashley Mejia:

love that. Thank you. Thank you for answering that. And when you talked about these mistakes, you know that so many people have made, gosh, that resonates with me, because I certainly made a ton of mistakes. I remember signing up for a credit card at UF for my Bachelor's when I was an undergrad, because they were given away the sunglasses, they were like the JLo sunglasses from fall 2001. And me like an idiot. Just thought, yeah, I'll sign these papers for American Express shoe. Yeah, I'm not gonna use this credit card. And then a couple months later, I realized I have all these fees do, those mistakes can make, some of us feel very sensitive, very emotional about money. There's a lot of women business owners that I talked to who shy away from talking about money in and it affects everything, it affects their ability to raise their rates, you know, they get the client and they do a great job. And then they feel shy about sending the invoice or for having to follow up on the invoice and then time goes by and then they're in a collections mess. I feel like there's a lot of feelings about that. What trends do you see with your clients about the feelings about money? And how do you help them overcome these challenges?

Unknown:

Yeah, that is such a good question. I have a lot of Kleenex in my office and in my conference rooms, because inevitably, people are going to cry. Men, women, it doesn't matter. Money is a very emotional thing. We put a lot of our feelings into this vehicle we call finances. So it could be joy and pride, or shame, regret. We put it all into this thing we call money. So if we look at it from like the trauma standpoint, so trauma with money is anything that's like, you get distressed, or your heart rate starts to rise or you start to sweat a little bit if you even think about all the things you have to do with your money. And then it's manifested in by like, avoidance, right? Like, I'm just going to avoid this. I don't want to deal with it. Or you're hoarding it, and like I'm just going to stash Get away and then not do anything with it. Or even like, compulsive spending or overspending. I mean, we would just go in college, like, go to happy hour, and then we would go spend on a shopping spree, not healthy. Don't do that. Please don't, with those credit cards, right? I got t shirts, that sunglasses I should have gotten out of us.

Ashley Mejia:

These companies, they know they know how to get you, that's for sure. It's. So it's just,

Unknown:

I think unraveling this feeling about money. And it comes out in so many different ways. It's even more complicated. When you have a business. It's even more complicated if you have a spouse or a partner. I mean, you tell me, I've heard it all.

Ashley Mejia:

I've heard it all. That is so interesting.

Unknown:

Well, we have to get to the root of the problem. We can't take any action, let's say until we figure out what the feelings are. So that's number one that we work on. And I'll know because I'll say Hey, Ashley, I need you to go and do x, y, z. And then we're going to meet next month, and you're going to report back to me on how that went. And I'll know there's something there because maybe you didn't do it last month, and then maybe you didn't do it the next month. And then maybe you didn't do that, right? So if I'm going to get you through any sort of progress, we have to talk about money. And any good coach or financial advisor out there should talk to you about that.

Ashley Mejia:

That's so good. So, so good. I was looking at your about section of your LinkedIn profile. And I love how you were sharing about profitability, and the ability, the fact that it gives you time. And I think about you know, you go from, I imagine from the feelings at the beginning about money and uncovering what's really under the hood for your clients like what's really happening. What's the real story here? What are the real issues, but that's the goal, right? Once you do all that work, especially with your business to get to a place where you have a healthy margin, and you have profitability, and you can verify, okay, I'm not just getting in sales, I have something at the end actually got some money at the end. And when you spoke about the profitability, rather, allowing you to get more time, that really resonated with me, because time is finite, right? There's no place where we can we can't go to Target and buy more time. We can buy more stuff, we can get loans for things, but we can't create more time, we just have to kind of manage it. Can you talk about how you help business owners kind of look through their finances to achieve this profitability and figure out ways to increase it?

Unknown:

Yeah, that's so good. So I wrote this down, because Ashley said that she teaches entrepreneurs how to make money on their own terms with their own gifts. I just loved to write. And if I read between the lines there, I think you're talking about time, too, right? Yeah. So tired, we can't get it back. We're sad when it's gone. Kids are growing? How in the world does money fit into all of that? I really believe that we waste a lot of our time doing things that don't matter all the time, right? Like how many hours do we scroll and on social media, or just? Yeah, like, we just do so many things, right? If I can teach a business owner how to make their wasted efforts within their finances more meaningful and more efficient, all of a sudden, they're going to be able to grow their business, they have the numbers in the back of their mind that they're using to make these forward decisions. So we're no longer wasting time. We're driving the business forward. And now we have the ultimate luxury, which I believe is flexibility. So now you have the choice to retire early. Or to go spend more time with your kids, or to go on a yoga retreat, or whatever it is that you want to do on your time. But if you're sitting there thinking about oh my gosh, these are all the things that I have to do with my money that I should do. Should I do? Should I not do? I don't know. Let me just streamline it for you. Because it's ABCD. And then you can go and make your own time. Beautiful.

Ashley Mejia:

I love that. I love that. And that time piece, you know, when I was learning about investing, and I'm still learning so much of what I was learning is that time is also your best friend when it comes to investments in that and I just wish I could shake my 20 year old self my 22 year olds and just say just invest even a little bit like even if you you know you have 100 bucks here or 50 bucks here you know just that time matters. That compound interest you know that matters so much. So I love your message about time and how you help business owners really optimize it and and create more create, you know or allocate more for protect more of their time for what they really want. That's so good. I know you work with all different kinds of businesses from those. So can you share the biggest challenges that solopreneurs might have when it comes to their business? Finances?

Unknown:

Yes. So when it comes to business, finances, I think that freelancers solopreneurs, they think they're different. And I want to say that you are not different. We fall into a trap, when we think that we're special that rules don't apply to us. And even if you're so low, the same rules apply to you, you are still a steward of all of this money that's coming your way. So you still need to have systems and policies in place just for yourself. So one thing that I help a lot of companies do is write a finance manual, or sometimes they have an investment policy statement. And these are just guidelines. They're like, what are those the bumpers on the bowling alley for the kids, right? Like, they just keep you going in the right direction, so you don't fall in the cutter. So you should have your own guidelines, you should say, like, Hey, I'm going to keep this much money in the savings account for emergencies. I'm working towards buying my own building. So I'm going to start putting this much money away so that I can have 20% down when it's time. Or I'm not going to invest in anything that is too risky. So maybe I'm not going to say cryptocurrency right now. Right? So you should have these things. And they should be written down for your solo business. And it's just going to keep you on that path going forward. Very cool.

Ashley Mejia:

I love that. And I love that too. Because I think there's two lessons there. It's like, yes, you're still accountable for everything that the big businesses are accountable for, you know, with the IRS, we don't get a pass just because we're a little business. But then also, I think the empowering part is that we can take the same principles, the same ratios, the same best practices, like you're sharing with a manual and treat ourselves with that dignity and respect that we would. So not saying I'm a small business, or I'm a solo, maybe just saying I have a business. Here's the way that I'm going to run it. I can see definitely two sides of that. And that's great. I love it. Yeah, so good. So freelancers, by nature, we tend to like to do stuff by ourselves and kind of go our own way. Why is it important for freelancers to get professional assistance from someone like you when it comes to our business finances?

Unknown:

So I would say not just finances? Okay, here's another pitfall that many freelancers fall into. They end up talking to themselves all the time. Yeah, I know, because I've been there. Like, hey, Christina, I think this is a good idea. Yeah, I think you're

Ashley Mejia:

just having a staff meeting over here. Talking to myself.

Unknown:

Yeah, we're okay. But I think it's so important to get other perspectives out there, right. And that's why you have this podcast is because you're bringing these minds together to feed your audience, like, here's a new idea. Don't be stuck in your own head. So whether it's if you're not good at sales and marketing, you should go find someone that is good at sales, marketing, right? They've already weeded through all of that noise out there. They know exactly what to do, right? So that you don't have to waste more time weeding through that information yourself. Right? So if you Google something like How should I save money, you have 1000s and 1000s, and 1000s of hits, right? You can click on so many things, you can get lost in cyberspace. How do you know what's right for you? You go to an expert in financial services or in operation management, if you need to write down your operation manuals, I don't know, whatever it is, if you're not the expert in it, why are you trying to be the expert? Unless you have like that passion for it, but like social media, I hate social media. So the very first thing that I outsourced was Amanda, my social media person because I said, I don't like this. I don't understand what all this stuff means. Like, what's the difference between a reel and a story? I still don't know.

Ashley Mejia:

But you go do it. Exactly.

Unknown:

Yeah. Yeah. So it takes a village, I think to raise a child right as the saying, and your business. Even your solo freelance business is your baby. Right? So get the help that you need.

Ashley Mejia:

Awesome. Thank you so much. The nature of freelance when we're looking at finances, one of the biggest things that I hear is that challenge with cashflow, because it's feast or famine. There's a lot of unpredictability. Can you give us some tips about budgeting for your business? As a freelancer?

Unknown:

Yeah, that's a good question. And so let's go back, like you're not any different than a big business, okay? When it comes to budgeting, you should be setting your budget every fall for the next year. So this is perfect timing, Ashley, everybody should be out there, like a big CEO, and having the budget discussion, even if it is with yourself in the quarter, right? So you need to look at all of your expenses. So I tell everyone go do this, you're gonna hate me for it, but you're gonna love me at the end, okay, go and download all of your expenses from the last 12 months, the lot. And if you have different accounts, it's going to be a lot, right. So credit card checking savings, wherever you pay money for your business, I really hope that they are separate accounts, have a separate account just for your business. And you're going to go through it and you're going to categorize into three buckets. First one is needed, like I need this money to run my business. Without it, I would be dead in the water. Okay, I'm not talking about the Starbucks coffee run, that's not needed, right. The second one is your nice to haves, right? I took Ashley up for coffee, it wasn't needed. But it was really nice to have, I really want to be able to do that. Okay, that becomes all your discretionary spending. And then the rest of it, I want you to take a big red marker, or whatever it is, and just get rid of it. That is all the stuff that you just don't need in your life, you should be a lean mean, money machine. So operate with less, and I'm sure we'll hear about it soon. There's always companies laying people off, there's always employees that are having to do more with less. And I want you as the CEO of your solopreneur company to do the same thing. How can you do more with less, force yourself to innovate, and to think of creative ways to accomplish the same thing. So that's my budget tip. I call them financial burpees. And everybody hates me for it. And the reason I do is because, okay, burpees are like the ultimate full body workout, right? Or they're efficient. They are so you burn so many calories by going down and doing just one burpee, right? It yields great results. You may not like it in the moment, but you are stronger, and your heart is healthier because of it. And so these are financial burpees because you might not like doing it, but it's only once a year, you do it and you will be healthier for it. But so

Ashley Mejia:

good freelance fam, I hope you're taking notes. We've got some homework, we got to work in our budget for 24. I love it. And I think it's so there's so many expenses like subscriptions, little apps that we may not even need. But by going through this process, we might be able to uncover Oh, my goodness, I forgot I still had that I need to go cancel that service. So definitely essential work. Can you share with us some tips along those lines with in regards to forecasting? When again, freelance is a little bit more unpredictable than other types of businesses? How can we do some forecasting to help us plan for the future?

Unknown:

Yeah, okay. So it kind of depends on how long you've been in business. If you've been in business for three years or more. That's the ideal kind of frame to do this analysis. If you've been in business less than that, then we're going to have to do a little bit more work. But let's say you've been in business for three years, you can go back and look. Every month, what is your revenue coming in? And you're going to look for the dip. Okay? Everyone has natural dips, right? Slow seasons, for example, my slow season is in the summer, because here in Alaska, everyone disappears. I disappear. We go camping fishing, we just like do all the fun things, right? So my slow seasons, like two to three months. So I look and say, Okay, this is the minimum threshold that I tend to make in the summer months. And it lasts, let's say three months. So I go and I establish a capital reserve or savings account for those months, anticipating that it's going to be slow, and I'm not going to have to stress, I can still go and enjoy my summer. And I know that I don't have to put it on a credit card or get a loan. I could just dip into my savings and then replenish I could still pay myself. I can still pay my bills. Everything's gonna be okay. And then when the revenue continues back up in the fall, or in the winter then that's when I know I just go and replenish that savings account. Okay, so look at your past performance for future trends when you're doing forecasting, which is not what you do when you're investing. Okay, but this is what I want you to do for your business.

Ashley Mejia:

So good. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Yeah. When we're talking about looking in the past, it reminds me of these financial reports. Some freelancers might use, like a QuickBooks or a fresh books, maybe some of them actually have an accountant or, you know, financial person to help them. I feel like there's a lot of reports, there's a lot of financial reports that you can pull is there one, that's the most important, like if you had to think about, you know, cash flow statement, and your profit and loss and all of these things? What's the most important one that freelancers should understand and be pulling regularly or reviewing regularly?

Unknown:

Yeah, so that's not one, I would say three hits the holy trinity of financial statements.

Ashley Mejia:

Perfect.

Unknown:

So the first one you should look at is your cash flow statement, or statement of cash flows, depends what system, okay, it's same thing. And that's really showing you what money is coming in, and what's coming out the different accounts that it's coming and going from, okay, that one's a little hard to understand, though. So make sure you watch some YouTube videos on it, or whatever you need to do. And you can't have that just by itself. None of these statements should be looked at by themselves. The second one that you need to look at is the profit and loss statement, or income statement. All right, so that one will show you whether it's like the year to date, or the month, I mean, you can add all these different dates. It's money that you've earned, maybe not quite received, and then money that you have spent, but maybe not quite paid. So I say that because sometimes I say the profit and loss statement can lie. And that's why you got to look at the cash flow statement. Because at the end of the p&l, you'd be like, I don't have$10,000 in my bank account, and what where's that. So that's why I say you can't look at them separately, it won't make sense. So put them together. And then the third one is the balance sheet. And specifically, I want to know what the equity statement says at the very bottom, because that tells me if over time, you've been profitable or not. So if you have negative equity in your business, then we have a big problem. And we have a lot of work to do, which is fine. All of these things are fixable, guys, it's okay. You can work on it and get better.

Ashley Mejia:

I love it. That feels better. Yeah, good thing about the you mentioned the statement of cash flows or the cash flow statement. That's such a thing that I it's such an issue that I feel a lot of freelancers have, just because you know, the nature of freelance is unpredictable. But then also certain clients pay, you know, net 30. Some magazines like for some of our freelance writers in the audience, if they're writing for consumer publications, they're looking at net 90 From when they turn in the work and actually do the work right to when they get the money. So how can freelancers kind of work to create this healthy cash flow in their business? And if they need capital? Because we're not big businesses? And a lot of us are service space, we're not making widgets? What are some ways that we can get capital to help with this cash flow issue?

Unknown:

Yeah, yeah. Oh, my gosh, this is such a hot topic. Okay, let's break it up. So the first question, I think centers around just accounts receivable in general, people owe you money. So going back to that finance manual, what is your policy regarding how you get paid? So do you require a deposit upfront? I would say, Look, don't let anybody pay you more than 30 days out? No, and oh, Apple, they have such a great policy at their company, you have to pay within seven business days. So if you look at their accounts receivable, any company that does business with them, has to pay them within seven days. Now. The reality is that a lot of us won't get paid with Sure. But the reality is also that sometimes our accounts receivable days go out to 90 123 65 days. Okay, so there's another report that you can pull on QuickBooks, and probably in fresh books too. It's called the aging report, accounts receivable aging report. Okay. So it should show you all of your customers and whether they're one to 30 days out 30 to six He's exceeded 90 or beyond, okay? If it's beyond 90 days, just write it off. It's not worth your time. But don't make it to 90. If possible, that should be like a special one off weird cases anyway. So make people pay you. So that means that you, the freelancer, you have to be on top of your invoicing. So as soon as you get that client, you set up that invoice and you you get it ready to send out and you send it out early. So that's the first thing. Second thing, the question about capital, right? Ideally, I want you to be your own bank, I want you to go to yourself, if you need capital, which means we're going to have to re arrange our feelings with money. And we're gonna have to save a little bit. So just start saving as much as you can. So that if you do need capital, you can just tap into your own bank. Now, if we're at the point, like we don't have that option, right now, I would say, go to your bank, usually local banks, that you have a relationship with, talk to your banker, because there's so many different products out there that I don't even know all the nuances of because they change all the time to write and talk to your banker before you need money. So just say, Hey, can I just sit down with you make an appointment? And can we just talk about like, I might need a loan in the future? Is it one that you can give me based on my accounts receivables? Do I have to put up my house as collateral? What are the different options here? And just establish that relationship? From the beginning? If you can, but that's going to be one source, you can also look for angel investors, depending on what it is they have a really hefty return requirement, usually, that they're gonna say, Well, I want to see XYZ return in my pockets. But there's other options that are just depends also what you're trying to do. What are you trying to do with this money?

Ashley Mejia:

So good. You know, as you were speaking, I had more questions that just because I feel Do you know of any banks or types of banks that might be more friendly to businesses that work at our scale? Because I feel like early early in my entrepreneurial ventures, I had an account with, you know, a massive bank, right, a household name bank, and they pretty much laugh to me, office. And I know, you know, there might be more banks, I have a credit union now, because the fees are a lot better that I keep my business checking and my business savings account, and I haven't approached them about loans. But do you know of any or any institutions that might be more friendly to businesses that are structured like ours? And then my second question, when you were talking about accounts receivables, there's a lot of folks in our community that make things maybe they're their creators, and they create things and sell them on Etsy. They've talked a lot about chargebacks. Like, especially as we're approaching, like, holiday season and Black Friday, and people who will buy things, even Downloadables. There's a lot of influencers and that listen, and content creators who maybe will create like little templates and downloadable pieces. But then they'll get people who will buy them and then they'll call their company. And do chargeback. Do you have any comments on either of those topics?

Unknown:

Yeah. Okay, so let's talk first about the bank, I would say, go to like your local chamber of commerce, and look at the banks that have been very active in the chamber activities, right. So if they've had like monthly meetings, or they sponsor certain events, or that kind of thing, go and approach those companies. First, those banks. And just because you get a know from one bank doesn't mean that you'll get a no from another bank necessarily. Okay. I would say typically, not always, but typically the smaller local banks, like the credit unions and stuff like that, they tend to be more community oriented, right. So you might get more of a friendly face with them, I guess you could say, right. So even if they said no, they could do a little bit more education. So start there with the local banks, or with the banks that you already have a relationship with, I think really do have this responsibility to make the economy run. But we should do it with the most respect and high standards. And you know, we should just be good people. Come on people God. I would say look, if you see a person pattern in your business, that this is happening a lot than we should take a look at why it's happening to you. Now, I'm not saying what ever happened to people, hopefully, this was just a one off for you. But if we see a pattern, and let's say, we get another person like this, were there any red flags that maybe you you saw before the transaction ended that you could then include into your discovery process? Right? So could you say, Hey, are you going to be one of those clients that disputes my charge? They're gonna say, no, what are you talking about? But maybe you could ask some other questions that hit them at their core, find out what kind of person that they really are, or what they really value, so that this doesn't happen. Or if you sell these digital files, maybe we don't sell digital files, or maybe we have a different processor, or a different platform, or maybe like you have to send me verification that you're, you know, real person or that you're going to how are you going to use this in your life? Right? That one's tough. I'm fraud is definitely on the rise. And everybody's taking advantage of that. So I really hope that doesn't happen to you. But if it does, but sit down in and workshop it,

Ashley Mejia:

love that, thank you so much. I know the listeners will be because a lot of times there are red flags, and even just that first intake conversation, that first consultation, and just that the person, maybe they're not serious, or they don't seem serious, or they're not committed to the process, or they'll say things like I was talking to a graphic design friend. And she was saying, you know, whenever she gets a would be client, and they say, I can't find a graphic designer who's worth their salt, I've gone through 10. And usually, that's if they've gone through 10, you're probably going to be number 11 is going to have issues because sometimes it's not just these 10 incompetent providers, sometimes it's the client. So

Unknown:

what's the common denominator,

Ashley Mejia:

right? I appreciate that so much. I think that we need to listen to our intuition and put those safeguards in our process and our contract, whatever our systems are to protect ourselves. That's great. So we talked, I know you're a mom of two, I'm a mom of three. A lot of our listeners are caregivers, some are moms, some might not be moms, but they care for aging parents or relatives, what things have helped you manage your business and motherhood at the same time,

Unknown:

I'm still learning about a year and a half ago, two years ago, I really started to look at myself, and my husband, I both we started to do a lot of introspection, and then focus on ourselves. So we went and we each got therapists, we started going back to the gym, we, you know, started eating healthier. And that has made such a difference in the way that I talk to my clients and in the way that I talk to my kids. And I am a firm believer that you have to take care of yourself, especially if you're a solopreneur. Because if you are sick, if you are disabled out there, like something happens to you, then the business dies. So go and take care of yourself. Don't feel guilty about it. Because you can call it work if you need to go to a spa day and say I'm working

Ashley Mejia:

today, right?

Unknown:

Take care of yourself first, which is hard. I admit I just really hard when I'm like, oh, when I've got all these things to do. And the kids need to be dropped off here and there. And then we gotta go. Yeah, it's hard. I get it. And that's why you can call it work.

Ashley Mejia:

My appointment, we're having a retreat by appointment. Yes. That's so good. I was reading something in relation to you know how hard it is, especially with kids. And it was saying that we're also modeling for them, especially our daughters. It's important for them to see us not only kick butt in our business and in our entrepreneurial endeavors to show what can be done, but also that we that we have that self care that we make that self love a priority, because then it enables them to do the same. When they get to be women, they'll understand they'll remember oh, you know, Mommy made sure she worked out even if you know other things were pressing to that that was a commitment. So I love that. That's really good. So we have lots of writers in our audience. We've got freelancers of all types, but a lot of writers, many people who want to write a book, and I know you've just released your first Is it your first book? Well,

Unknown:

yeah, I mean, I wrote a children's book Uh, before with my cousin. Oh, cool. I didn't know. Yeah, first real book. Oh, my goodness. So this is your second book.

Ashley Mejia:

But your new book profit not loss is now on Amazon and I saw that you had like an unboxing. Congratulations. This is a goal of so many people have so many writers who write for other clients, and they feel like they have a book in them themselves, but they just, they don't make the time for it. There's a lot of business people who want to write books to paint a little bit about your writing process, and also what readers can look forward to in profit, not loss.

Unknown:

Thank you. Well, you can look forward to more financial burpees. But I tried to make it relatable. So there's a lot of stories in there. There's a lot of quick worksheets and things that you can do on your lunch break. I really wanted it to be digestible, because ultimately you should be carrying on these habits without me. So available on Amazon, thank you for that. It took me a year and a half to write, it would have taken me longer if I hadn't found my publisher, Suzanne Doyle Ingram. She has a process like ABCDEFG, right in that order, don't skip, don't jump ahead. Which I like math too. So that made sense to me. Right, it would have taken me, I think, less time if I had focused on it more, because I am kind of like a squirrel and like, oh, shiny object. But all things come in their time. So it is available. Now. One thing that I did have to do was locked myself in a hotel downtown for a weekend, which was the most amazing thing. And I think everybody should do that, especially if you are a caregiver and have your own business. But it had one window, and I would wake up and I would go maybe do some yoga, and then I would just sit down and type and type. And then I would order DoorDash. And then what type of

Ashley Mejia:

freight.

Unknown:

And it was, so I had to pull myself out of the daily. I tried at night, you know, after the kids go to sleep and everything, and I was brain dead. And I know people can do that. I don't know how they do it. Some people do whatever works for you. But set aside that time and just work through it. Because once it's done, then the easy stuff happens like the editing and the typesetting. The cover was probably just as difficult for me. But I'm also not a graphic person. So I didn't know like does this look good? I don't know. But yeah, set aside that time, and just get it out. And you'll feel so much better when it's just out on paper.

Ashley Mejia:

I love it. I love that you mentioned that so much. I had a conversation with another guest. She'll be out her podcasts will also be out soon. And she was talking about these writer retreats and these writer residences, and they're a real thing. She also has kids like we do. And she was joking about when she got COVID. It was kind of like a built in residents because she had to be by herself. And then she made her own. She's from New York. So she went to her grandmother's home and kind of worked out of there and made kind of her own writer retreat. Sounds like you did the same thing. But it works. And I think about that because writing, it's something for me anyway, it takes a little bit to kind of get into you know, I start credit creating and then I kind of hit a flow. I tell my husband is called riding the wave. And I'm like, Don't bother me. I'm riding the wave, and I'm surfing and riding the wave. So I think you need you need that time to just have kind of like this solo focus. Because otherwise, I mean with the emails and meetings and oh, yeah, yeah, I could totally see how a writer's retreat, even if it's your own, you just go to a hotel, get an Airbnb, where have you? How about would be really helpful.

Unknown:

Oh, helpful. Yeah, yeah. Are you working on a book too?

Ashley Mejia:

I'm working on something related to freelance. Yeah. And creation. And you know, but I think it's time to do the writer's retreat. And I told my my best girlfriend, she's actually a business attorney. And so she's got some ideas for her own stuff. And I told her I was like, Let's go have these. Let's get Airbnb. Let's go do this, because that's the only way that we're going to make some progress and put a dent in it is if we

Unknown:

Yes. Oh, I can't wait. Ashley. Yeah.

Ashley Mejia:

Now this is how to make good on it. So

Unknown:

that's right. I know you've told the world. Yeah, I

Ashley Mejia:

love I can tell you the book is great. I'm your book. Not lost. I've been reading it at night on my Kindle app. I love that because I can just, you know, read a couple pages as I'm going when you're talking about the holidays and celebrating the Lunar New Year and getting the money in the red envelopes and how meaningful and how beautiful. Gosh, I just loved that. I loved that. How you explain that. It was very beautiful. Till I could see it, and it just sets the book, it just makes me feel positive. I think like we talked about all the money and all the baggage people can have about money. What a great illustration from your own memories, your culture, about, about how joyful money can be, and I just loved it. So awesome. So you've done a lot. You've had the successful corporate career, you've started your own business, you've written a book, you're a military spouse, and a mommy of two. What's the biggest lesson that you've learned in your professional experience that can help some of our listeners?

Unknown:

Oh, you know, it's true that the older I get, the more I realize, I don't know, as much as I thought I did. The truth, I think it's just that continual learning and trying to improve on things. Right, just like when the kids are growing up, like you think you master a certain stage of their life, and then they grow up overnight. And you're like, that I have to learn how to be a parent all over again. Same thing with your business, right? Every stage of the business cycle, you're going to learn new things. So put yourself out there, I think and don't be afraid to fail. So there's Sara Blakely, the Sphinx lady, right. She's, she is amazing. And one of the things that she has said in several interviews that I've seen her do, her dad at the dinner table would always ask, how did I fail today? How did you fail today? Because we wanted to turn that failure conversation around into a learning experience, right? So not like, what did you do today? Or oh, I got an A on a paper Oh, good job. Like, how did you fail? What did you try to do? That you did not succeed at? And then what did you learn from that? And I swear, that's my day, like, I tried this. Now that didn't work. Okay? Pick yourself up and try something else. Or try the same thing again. Because maybe you just need to get better at it.

Ashley Mejia:

I love it. And I can see that strengthening that muscle, being willing to try things that resilience and getting back up and trying again, I see that it's such an asset to what we do is as business owners, because every day is another opportunity to learn to try and it requires that of us, we requires us we are the ones as leaders of our businesses, it's our job to push. It's our job to innovate, to try new things. So I love that. I think that's a great practice. So what's next for you? Christina, you've achieved a lot. What's What's your dream? Are you working on other things? What can people look for next from you?

Unknown:

Thank you. Yeah, so I have turned my book profit, not loss into a couple of courses. So at growth consulting firm.com. There's now the tax course for business owners, if you want to know all the things about taxes and how it relates to you, whether you should be an S corp, or just an LLC, or C Corp, we also have the financial foundations course. So what do I need to know all the A through G stuff? How do I actually get a grip on my finances? I hear that a lot. Like what does that mean? It means something different to everybody. But I want to get a grip on my finances like, well, I made a course go forth and do right. So I've got that more to come. I'm hoping that I spend some good time with the family over the holidays. I'm really looking forward to that. And then just start January, just rollin, ready to go. I imagine Christina,

Ashley Mejia:

I'm definitely gonna put those links to your courses in the show notes, and a link to your website and a link to the book so that people find you online. Can you tell me your handles because I know people are going to love your message and want to learn more. Oh,

Unknown:

thank you. Yeah. So on LinkedIn, I believe it's Sega Mosh. Christina Tomash. And then you can follow me on Instagram at audax wealth AUD a x wealth. So that's it for now.

Ashley Mejia:

Thank you so much, Christina, thank you so much for your time today, your insights, your way of explaining this world of finances. It makes it easy to understand it feels very reassuring. It feels very optimistic. It feels like you're taking something that could be scary, and making it feel safe. And so I just took my hat to you. Thank you for everything that you're doing for us entrepreneurs, and I appreciate you being on the show. Thank you.

Unknown:

Thank you for having me on the show. This was a lot of fun. We could have gone on for hours but we could have.

Ashley Mejia:

We'll have to come back want to come back maybe in 2024 and do an update. I love it. It'd be fun.

Unknown:

Thank you so much for having me.

Ashley Mejia:

Thank you. And with that we You've come to the end of another episode. Please make sure you hit subscribe if you haven't already done so, and give me a five star review on Apple. This will help out a lot and getting the word out about this brand new podcast. I invite you to check out the show notes and also grab my free niches get riches, freelance writing worksheet, to brainstorm the best niches for your writing business. If you're not a writer, you can still use it to get business ideas. And until next time, this is actually a talk freelance to me. Don't forget, we all get this one precious life. Don't constrain yourself to a box that you were never meant to fit in. It is your right to profit from your own creative gifts. This podcast was created by Ashley Cisneros. mahiya our music was composed by Donna Rafael of world instrumentals talk freelance to me is a product of Phoenix creative studio

How Christina Gamache transitioned from a corporate career to starting her own business
Fiduciary designation and giving financial advice
How Christina's experience during the pandemic led her to start her own business
Importance of understanding financial reports as a business owner
Challenges solopreneurs face with finances
Most important financial reports for freelancers to understand
Tips for budgeting as a freelancer
Getting capital to help with cash flow issues