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As many couples are dealing with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, finances have had to understandably shift.

Many states and localities have stay at home orders going on and that has meant jobs and businesses have been affected.

During this pandemic, I'm adjusting the schedule here and taking your questions on how to reduce financial stress and weather these tough times.

Thank you to everyone who's chimed in and shared their questions! If you want to join in, please send your money question here.

I read all of them. Besides digging in and answering as many as I can, I'm also reaching out to my network to find experts who can help. Today was one of those situations.

Keeping Your Small Business Afloat During This Coronavirus Crisis

One group that's been especially hit are small business owners. Many are trying to keep their business afloat while they're dealing with a decline in income.

I asked Sylvia Inks, a small business consultant and author to address a question someone in the community had.

We've had our finances dropped drastically with the stay at home orders going out. We own a small company and not only has it slowed down income but it's our only source of income.

It's so hard for me to get my paperwork or documents done with two kiddos.

If possible maybe if you have any side gigs from home that can bring in a little something better than nothing I'd appreciate it!

Sylvia took the time to discuss with me:

  • ways business owners can adjust their budget
  • ideas on expanding their income streams
  • connecting with current and potential clients during the crisis

You can watch the video here or catch the edited transcript below.

Small Business Coaching with Sylvia Inks

Sylvia Inks has built a career on helping companies identify and address the financial fundamentals to building a profitable business.

During her ten years with one of the world's largest consulting firms, she worked with Fortune 500 organizations in financial services, insurance, healthcare and technology to improve processes, performance, and profitability.

Sylvia now brings that success, experience, and expertise to help small business owners identify, implement, and manage practical, low-stress financial solutions that enable business growth.

Viewing her as an invaluable business partner and resource, her clients credit her for giving them hope and a clear path forward. With this book, Sylvia brings her wisdom and expertise to a wider audience.

If you'd like to get the budget template that Sylvia's clients have used to find over $1,000 per year in their business, get your free copy here!

Managing Your Small Business during Uncertain Times

Elle Martinez: Sylvia, thank you for joining me this morning. I appreciate you taking time.

Guys, I've had Sylvia on the podcast before. If you don't know her, she is the business small business coach to help with finances and a best selling author.

With all these uncertain times, we have a lot of business owners with questions. So thank you so much, Sylvia, for coming back on and answering this specific question.

Sylvia Inks: Thank you so much for asking me. I am looking forward to this.

Elle Martinez: Sylvia, I know we have a lot of things up in the air. One of the things that are affecting a lot of business owners is this stay at home order.

We've seen some businesses not be able to perform their services or get their products out. And we've seen others have it drastically reduced.

I do have a question from someone in the community that is affected by this. And I thought you would be the perfect person to kind of go through what they can do now, but then also kind of maybe take a step back and what businesses and small business owners can do to shore things up.

So I'm just gonna read it right over here.

We've had our finances dropped drastically with the stay at home. Orders have gone out.

We own a small company. And to keep the privacy, I'm not going to identify it, but it's a renovation installation business. Not only has the income slowed down because they can't take on new clients right now, but this is a family-owned business and this is the family's, pretty much their only source of income.

And in addition to that, you know, we've talked about the relief programs that are out here in an early episode.

She's having some difficulty because it's getting the paperwork done, getting the documents ready when you're trying to run a business and you got kids running in the background.

She wanted to know, is there any way they can kind of shore up their finances, any kind of income streams that they can bring in because something's better than nothing.

So, Sylvia, I think a lot of business owners are in the situation where how do we keep things alive or some income coming in to keep the business running until hopefully, we get through this sooner rather than later?

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Revamping Your Small Business' Budget

Sylvia Inks: Yes, absolutely. So number one, the biggest thing is I recommend all small business owners to just go through and get their budget together, like go through get a line item of all their expenses that there's basically on the hook to pay for. Right.

There are lots of subscriptions or tools or things that a lot of business owners we tend to just pay more on either on a monthly basis or yearly basis, but we might forget about those.

So I would say step number one, absolute critical go through, get those budgets, get all those expenses on paper, on an Excel spreadsheet and then basically categorize them or categorize them by priority.

In terms of are these mission-critical for your business right now? So, you know, go through and fly the ones that are high priority.

You know, these are must-have these are essential to running your business regardless of the being a stay at home order. It's like the ones that are medium priority. Right.

The ones that you do want pass still have because it saves you time and money. Men fly. The ones that are low like these are nice to have. Let's look to either delete these or pauses for right now until things get back on track.

Just doing this exercise right here. I've had business owners and clients of mine during my private coaching that have found anywhere from three hundred to 400 to upwards of a thousand dollars per month of subscriptions that they were able to cancel.

You know, that's multiplied those savings per month times 12 months. Like that's a lot of cash right there that you could save if you just do that one exercise to figure out again, just flag them which ones are mission-critical? Which ones are high, medium and then cut those low. Nice to have.

When this business was good, you know, it was it made sense to do this. But right now it doesn't make sense. And go ahead and paused or go ahead and cancel those subscriptions.

Negotiate and Optimize Your Business' Expenses

Elle Martinez: Yes. And it might seem like, oh, my goodness, this is like a lot to chew on, but I've seen significant help. So, like, I read your book. I loved it.

Just to guys, give you an idea. I last year went through it. I decided that Fridays were going to be my day because you're saying weekly. Just don't wait till the quarterly to, you know, go over your numbers and stuff, but weekly.

I was reviewing the expenses and I'm so glad. Especially now with this downturn that I've cut, my expenses were everything that I need to run. The business is there. But the subscriptions….

I was surprised, Sylvia, how easy it is to forget when you say you're doing a campaign with social media, then you sign up for this and then, you know, months go by. You're not really using it.

Why was I haven't that subscription I was able to cut down there. I was able to negotiate some rates with some of my subscriptions as well.

Don't discount going over your finances because you can have some significant savings, and especially now during the time of a lot of questions in the air.

Money saved can be used in other ways or at least, lower your necessary expenses going forward.

Shoring Up Your Business' Finances to Weather Through Tough Times

Elle Martinez: Yeah, that was that tip alone was so helpful and your book had so many different tips there. Is there anything else?

Maybe for this business owner or other business owners that they could do to kind of shore up their finances?

Sylvia Inks: Yeah, absolutely. So kind of tying into if business owners are able to find the most cash savings, go ahead and make sure you have separate business savings account for your emergency fund.

That's where I'm seeing, you know, a lot of small business owners didn't have maybe enough emergency fund or maybe didn't even have one.

Go ahead, make sure that you've got separate business savings account so that you can start having that cushion.

Any savings that you're able to have, go ahead and just move that over so that you've got, you know, just basically peace of mind, right.

You can sleep at night and know that you're going to have a little bit of a cushion if things are slower or go on longer, that you've got some cash to help you get through those months.

And then specifically for the question of this business owner that you talked about. Definitely. You know, I always coach my clients to have multiple streams of income, like never, never rely on just one client to be your more than 50 percent of your business's income.

The same goes for your income streams. You know, if you let's say you have a product that you have like don't let that one product be more than 50 percent of your business income because you know what happens if that you can't sell that product anymore.

Build Up Multiple Income Streams

Sylvia Inks: So I definitely encourage people to have multiple streams of income and products, as you know, maybe not as easy to short as quickly if it's a physical product. But there are other products that are that don't require a lot of lead time like online courses.

There is a lot of people that are a home right now that don't have the expertise on, you know, whether it's home renovations or even maven thinking, you know, people there's lots of people stuck and can't get haircuts.

I'm wondering where I'll be a hair salon people are. I would love a YouTube video to walk me through how to give my sons a haircut.

There [are] things like that where people are home and they don't have the skill sets. But now also they need those skill sets, right? Either for their personal life or for their business.

I think putting together an online course could be great to get your expertise out there. It really just requires you to have [an] Internet connection, your laptop and maybe a good microphone. People are looking for those experts to kind of coach them or walk them through how to gain certain skills.

I think an online course would be a great thing to figure out. Do you have knowledge that your clients or customer potential customers need?

Elle Martinez: Yeah, absolutely. I think you bring up some really good points. I'm just thinking this business, they work within homes and everything connecting with the clients.

You really have let them know, especially important if you haven't already. Is getting your email list a way to communicate? Let them know.

So we can't provide the service now. But let me show you what you can do in the meantime to maintain this. You know, build that relationship.

Hopefully when things get back to normal, as we kind of shift back to the new normal, you know, you've solidified that relationship.

You can get that repeat business. I remember reading Paul Jarvis like focus on serving your current customers well.

You do have your clients. You do have nurture that relationship. You know, don't disconnect. just because we can't meet in person.

When you communicate with your clients, a lot of times you may see an opportunity to present you like you were mentioned online courses.

What a great way. If you survey your clients or you know your customers that you're serving and you ask him what's on your mind now, you know, you can create a course that is directly in line with what they're looking for versus trying to guess. So I think that's fantastic advice.

Why Your Email List Matters

Sylvia Inks: Thank you. Yes and speaking to that, the email list. I'm glad that you mentioned that.

I would say if you don't have an email list, if you're not emailing your customers or your prospects at least once a month, I will say out of sight, out of mind. Right.

Especially in this time of communication, you know, even over-communicate.

Let people know what you are able to provide. I know for myself, even earlier this week, I wanted I wasn't even sure which businesses were open.

And I was like, oh, well, I wanted to order takeout from a local business owner. And I had to jump through hoops to find out whether or not they were open.

So I think it's making sure your email and your folks, you don't rely 100 percent on social media because, you know, there are all kinds of algorithms, whether or not your information shows up.

But if you have that email list, I use a tool called Convert Kit; super Easy and email your clients. Prospects are people that agreed to hear from you and you just email them and give them helpful tips or hey, I could offer this during this time.

I think it's the way I think I even bought something last week from someone I didn't realize they were open. When I got that email from them on Thursday, I immediately called them. I was like, oh, I didn't realize that you could do X, Y, Z during this time. I actually do need your services.

So I think that's the prompting. People, you know, in communicating and doing those emails is really, really critical right now.

Partnering Up with Brands for supplemental income

Elle Martinez: You've mentioned, you know, creating a course, but is there another way a business owner could diversify their income stream right now?

Sylvia Inks: Absolutely. One of my favorite ways to add another income stream is through affiliate marketing.

What that means that affiliate marketing is looking at what other software tools or what other companies out there are basically giving a commission if you're, you know, or their products and services at your ideal clients or your customers on your e-mail list are meeting those tools.

If you talk about those tools, share them how it could benefit them and they purchase through what they call an affiliate link, which basically tells a company that they got this customer through you. Then you can earn a small commission.

There are lots of companies out there. I think I talked about, you know, converted, which is really important for email marketing. And they've got a great affiliate program.

So if you are using their tool and you like it and you recommend it to your other colleagues or customers, if your colleagues and customers use that affiliate link, then you get a commission when they sign up.

And so I've earned probably over four hundred five hundred dollars just in, you know, just having a quick five-minute conversation with a colleague and said, hey, here, these great tools that I'm using, you know, you might want to use this, too. And again, no, it didn't take a lot of time. It was something that I already like and I use.

Elle Martinez: And it benefited the people that I shared it with. And I was able to earn a commission there. And it's very, very passive.

Yeah. And using that email list, you can communicate it and you can set up even a page on your Web site, you know, for your business where you recommend the tools that you actually use and enjoy. And that's kind of somewhat automated. You know, still got to be in contact with your customers and clients.

That could be a side income or some income stream that you can again, put towards your business, reinvested or use it in whatever way you need to right now to kind of ride out these financially tough times.

I think those are fantastic tips. Sylvia, I know we're just doing a quick check-in with everyone, letting them know that if you have any questions, you can always submit to me at couple money on social media or if you're already on the list. Just hit reply on that email and send that right in.

This episode was originally released in April 2020. Show notes have been updated December 2021.

About Elle Martinez

Elle Martinez helps families at Couple Money achieve financial freedom by sharing tips for reducing debt, increase income, and building net worth. Learn how to live on one income and have fun with the second..