Financial Success for Your Online Business: 10 Money Rules to Protect Your LLC
Starting and growing an online business is both exciting and challenging. You’ve taken the important step of setting up your Limited Liability Company (LLC), and now you want to confirm that you’re doing everything right when it comes to managing your LLC finances.
Here are 10 financial rules for LLCs to follow:
Rule 1: Separate Personal and Business Finances
One of the fundamental principles of managing your LLC is to keep your personal and business finances entirely separate. This means having separate bank accounts, credit cards, and financial records for your business. If you’re co-mingling your funds (paying for business expenses personally or using your business funds for personal expenses), you don’t have the clear separation that an LLC requires.
By maintaining this separation, you protect your limited liability status (the legal reason you set up the LLC in the first place). It’s also a good business practice that makes it easier to keep good records and track your business’s income and expenses. This clarity and separation helps you have a clear overview of your company’s financial health.
Rule 2: Maintain Accurate Records
Accurate record-keeping is the bedrock of sound online business financial management. Keeping track of all your income, expenses, and financial transactions is vital for managing your LLC finances, and you need to do it more frequently than just at tax time. There are numerous accounting software options available (I recommend QuickBooks Online or Wave), you can keep track of your income and expenses in a worksheet, or you can hire a professional to assist you. The benefits of keeping your income and expenses up to date go beyond putting them together to file your tax return; it also lets you see at a glance, how your business is doing and provides you with valuable insights into your business’s financial health.
Knowing your numbers and where your business stands empowers you to make informed decisions, identify ways to save money, and be well-prepared for tax season. It’s an investment in the financial health of your business. Don’t put this off.
Rule 3: Understand Tax Obligations
Taxes are an integral part of running any business. Making sure that you’re in compliance with taxes is not just a legal requirement; it can also help you save money by taking advantage of tax deductions for small businesses. Understanding your tax obligations for your business is crucial, and it’s especially important for LLCs. Depending on your business structure and industry, there may be specific requirements that you need to be aware of. Deductions, credits, and deadlines vary, so it’s essential to stay informed and consult with a CPA if you’re unsure of what you need to know. You can start by checking out this Ultimate Tax Resource Guide that is specifically designed for online businesses.
Rule 4: Plan for Estimated Taxes
Online businesses do not have taxes withheld from their income, which means you’ll need to make estimated tax payments throughout the year. Estimated taxes are your way of essentially pre-paying the tax you think you’ll owe at the end of the year and these payments help you avoid a substantial tax bill at the end of the year, along with potential penalties. The estimated tax payments are due quarterly, typical on April 15th, June 15th, September 15th and January 15th.
Having a strategy for managing your estimated taxes can make a significant difference in your financial stability. To make this process smoother, use calendar reminders each quarter and budget specifically for these estimated taxes. The Ultimate Tax Resource Guide goes into more detail on how to save for taxes and make those payments.
Rule 5: Create a Budget
Business budgeting is a valuable tool for managing your LLC finances. It provides you with a roadmap for allocating your resources in line with your business goals. A budget can illuminate where your money is going, highlight areas where you can cut costs, and help make sure that you’re making the most of your financial resources.
Creating and sticking to a budget isn’t just for startups. It’s an ongoing process that can help you make informed financial decisions at any stage of your business.
Rule 6: Pay Yourself a Reasonable Salary
As the owner of an LLC, you have flexibility in how much you pay yourself. While it can be tempting to take all of your profit, it’s a good idea to also consider how much you need to keep in your business account to cover upcoming expenses and how much you’ll need for taxes.
Striking the right balance between what you take as an owner salary and what you reinvest back into your business is essential for the long-term financial health of your LLC.
Rule 7: Build an Emergency Fund
Every business, no matter how well-established, faces unexpected expenses or economic downturns. Having an emergency fund can be a financial lifesaver. Aim to set aside at least three to six months’ worth of expenses to cover unforeseen circumstances. If that seems like too much right now, work on building a balance up of $1,000 and then increase it when you can.
This financial safety net can help your business make it through unexpected challenges without resorting to debt or jeopardizing its financial stability. An emergency fund for business is a smart, proactive strategy for protecting your LLC and managing your LLC finances.
Rule 8: Invest in Professional Help
Running a business involves numerous moving parts, especially when it comes to finances. Don’t hesitate to invest in hiring a CPA and/or accountant for small business when needed.
Expert guidance can save you time, money, and headaches in the long run. These professionals can help you navigate complex financial regulations, reduce your tax liability, and offer strategic financial advice tailored to your unique situation. If you want to chat with me, here’s how we can work together.
Rule 9: Understand Your Financial Statements
Managing your LLC finances is more than data entry, it’s also understanding what’s happening with your money. Financial statements, such as the income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statement, provide crucial insights into your business’s financial health. Learning to read and understand these statements is essential for making informed financial decisions. It may seem daunting at first, but the more you practice, the easier it gets.
Regularly reviewing your financial statements for your LLC can help you see trends, make adjustments in your business strategy, and keep you on track to meet your financial goals.
Rule 10: Stay Informed and Adapt
The financial world is continually evolving, and so is your business. Stay informed about changes in small business tax strategy, regulations, and market trends. Be prepared to adapt your financial strategies as needed to keep your LLC on solid ground.
Proactive adaptation is a key to financial success for online entrepreneurs. It ensures that you can pivot when necessary and remain financially resilient, no matter what challenges come your way.
Congratulations, you’ve made it through the 10 rules for protecting your LLC’s financial health! By following these guidelines and staying informed about best practices, you’re well on your way to supporting the longevity and financial success for online businesses.
Remember, these rules are not set in stone. They should be adapted to your unique situation and business goals. So, take them to heart, customize them as needed, and keep your business finances in tip-top shape. Here’s to your success!