Welcome to The Money Diaries with Sage, where we dive into the finances of business owners and discover how they deal with money matters on a daily basis.
We’re asking entrepreneurs how they’re managing their finances over a seven-day period, to give you a picture of what incomes and outgoings really look like from their perspective.
Today is the turn of a personal safety entrepreneur who previously had a career working as a nurse.
Here’s what we cover in this article:
Meet our entrepreneur and check out their Money Diary
- Industry: I work in the personal safety industry. I sell safety items, such as GPS safety alarms, criminal marker sprays, car safety tools and other pieces of equipment.
- How long you have been an entrepreneur? I have been doing this for eight months full time (Monday to Friday).
- Location: Bristol.
- Salary: My salary varies depending on how much work I take on. An estimated average is £50k to £80k annually (I am yet to complete my first year of business, so this is an estimate based upon what I have earned so far).
- Household: I have a little helper at home who goes by the name of Theodore. He’s seven years old and we share our home with our little hedgehog, Finnegan. Yes, believe it or not he really is a hedgehog that lives inside our house.
My business works on a weekly basis currently, as I am selling out of my restocks quite quickly.
I restock on the Monday, then once all my products have sold—generally in a couple of hours—I then use that money to place another order of equipment for the following week’s restock on the Tuesday.
I do this on a weekly rota basis.
(I do my ordering and pay the bills on a weekly basis, so I just withdraw whatever I have left at the end of each week to pay myself and start the next week all over again.)
Day 1 – Monday
Opening balance at the start of the week: £0
Monday is the day I usually count my stock and double check quantities to ensure I’m listing the correct amounts on my website. I don’t want to end up overselling.
This can be a really tedious process, so I always treat myself to a little McDonalds for lunch to get me through the day.
Once this is completed, I close my website for a couple of hours (around 4pm), and I stock the website ready for the restock at 6pm.
So Mondays are usually very chilled compared to the rest of the week.
I take full advantage of my spare time on these days, and I make up packaging boxes and so on. If I have time to get myself ahead for the rest of the week, I will, because it makes my life so much easier.
I send out emails to everyone who is signed up to my restock alerts, and I do this just before 6pm.
All my products sold out again within a couple of hours. Now I can use this incoming money to purchase items for the following week’s restock.
I sold 150 units of an item that costs £35, which gives me £5,250.
Today my only outgoings were my weekly McDonalds treat, and childcare for my little one.
Money earned: £5,250
Money spent: £16.75
Day 2 – Tuesday
Today is always a crazy busy day for me.
I have to package up the orders from yesterday and order the new stock for the restock next week.
This always proves difficult, as there is a time difference between myself and my suppliers.
Sometimes it can be a couple of hours between messages, so I tend to do this first thing in the morning to waste as little time as I can, and make sure the items for the restock get shipped as quickly as possible.
I have seven different suppliers for all the items in my store.
Some items are custom printed, which means I have to buy these in high quantities. I only place this order once a month because I usually have one to one-and-half months’ worth of the materials at a given time.
So, that means I didn’t need to place the order for the customised items today as I have enough stock, so I just ordered the equipment and not the materials for this week.
The total for my order of equipment is $2,568. That’s 150 of each of the items that goes into my product, and this amounts to £1,894.50.
This is my most expensive purchase of the restocks, so that is the biggest part out of the way.
The Money Diaries with Sage
In our financial series, anonymous entrepreneurs offer a no-holds-barred look at their salaries, expenses and daily spending habits. Ready to take a peek?
Once the ordering is complete, I make a start on preparing my orders.
I print of all the invoices, I pay for all the shipping labels, (150 labels priced at £4.68 per label via Royal Mail = total of £702), and PayPal fees for the transactions from yesterday totalled at £257.55.
To get me through the day, I always have to have a can of Red Bull. I’m not a tea or coffee drinker. This was £1.75.
Money earned: £0
Money spent: £2,855
Day 3 – Wednesday
This is a pretty much a spending-free time for me, I just focus on my orders by making and preparing them ready to ship out tomorrow and Friday.
But I did get a unexpected customs charge, which was £126.96!
Other than that and my daily Red Bull in hand, I haven’t spent much.
I got all my orders completed and bagged up ready for tomorrow, and I treated myself to a little takeaway for dinner, as I skipped lunch (oops).
Red Bull: £1.75
Customs charge: £126.96
Money earned: £0
Money spent: £138.47
Day 4 – Thursday
Today is shipping day.
I tend to order all my stationery bits/shipping supplies in big quantities. In order to do this, I figured out the costs for the items I use.
- The boxes I use to ship my orders are roughly £76 for 150 boxes.
- I fill my boxes with crinkle paper, which is roughly £82 for 150 packets.
- Organza bags to place the items in are £35 for 150 bags.
- Shipping labels are £19 for 500, but I only use around 300. On each order, I need one for the shipping label and one for a warning label, as my products contain aerosol cans, so I need to make this known on the outside of the box with a special label. So let’s say I used £13 worth of labels.
- ‘Thank you’ cards for the personal touch. Which are £17 for 150 cards.
I don’t use ink as I have a thermal printer, so I don’t need to worry about ink costs. And of course, can’t forget my Red Bull (£1.75).
Money earned: £0
Money spent: £224.75
Day 5 – Friday
Friday is my finishing day as I don’t work at the weekends.
I finish up the last orders I haven’t shipped, and then I go to my supplier for one last order, before my restock next week.
Fuel to my supplier is on average £15 there and back and I make this journey once a week.
My total spending for the equipment was £535 for 150 units.
One other business-related bill was due today, which was my website subscription (£39), and I also pay an additional £19 for email campaigns, as this is something I use quite regularly to help bring customers to my store.
And of course, my last Red Bull for the week, so another £1.75.
Money earned: £0
Money spent: £609.75
Closing balance at the end of the week: £978.70
To sum up, I made £1,404.48 this week.
I then pay £321.41 in income tax and £104.37 in National Insurance.
This leaves me with a grand total take-home of £978.70 for the week.
Final thoughts on the week
Reflecting on my weekly outgoings, it has taught me that over the months that I’ve run my business, it’s important to remember that you shouldn’t just splurge the money you have coming in or lunches out or unnecessary items.
Although you see that £978.70 coming in, you never know what might pop up, and you don’t want to find yourself out of pocket.
It’s so easy to spend money on things like lunches out because they are convenient and running a business can be really hard at times.
It’s important to find that balance of managing your time because it will help you save money in the long run.
It’s easy to slump into that ‘spending pit’ because you know you have that money coming in.
Initially, at the start of my business, I was living this way.
I went from earning a flat rate weekly wage when I was nursing, to earning a much higher wage, and it’s easy to get carried away because you think “Oh, I have more money now”.
But sometimes things happen and I soon learned that when you are running a business, it’s really important to save where you can in case of unexpected costs, such as my customs charge.
It was a hard lesson to find that place between essential spending and non-essential spending.
Now what I tend to do is, if I’m thinking of investing in something that’s going to make my life easier but not necessarily essential for the business, I carry on working for a week, I write down on a scale of 1-10 how beneficial for the business it would be, compared to how much it would just make my life easier.
If the score is over seven, I purchase that item.
I was surprised at how many of those things I didn’t end up purchasing, and instead I invested the money to release a new product or something similar, which will directly benefit the business and bring more money in eventually.
You will go through a lot of trial and error, but be consistent.
Don’t be hard on yourself and the results will come.
And to wrap up… what are Carl Reader’s thoughts on the financial habits of our nurse turned safety entrepreneur?
Check out the video below to find out…
Recommended Next Read
10 money-raising tips to help you scale your business
How to boss your small business banking
From choosing a business bank account to managing bank reconciliation and using bank feeds, this guide will help you to stay on top of your finances.
Subscribe to the Sage Advice newsletter
Join more than 500,000 UK readers and get the best business admin strategies and tactics, as well as actionable advice to help your company thrive, in your inbox every month.