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Why Connection is Important for Business Growth

Before Spire Business grew to be a team, it was just me running things. For years I was a solo-preneur and for years it was fulfilling. Until I began to notice that I wasn’t excited anymore and I couldn’t wrap my head around why.

I felt like I was in a slump and it didn’t make any sense. My clients were great, I was making money, I had built the business I envisioned…so where was the eagerness I used to feel? It began to dawn on me that connection was missing, that I was feeling isolated – I likened it to finding myself on a deserted island.

I had gotten so caught up in the “doingness” – building my business, volunteering at my kid’s school, sitting in meetings, driving to after school activities – that I sacrificed “beingness” somewhere along the way. I wasnt being fulfilled or inspired anymore. From the outside in, my life was perfect. But something felt so off to me, and I was not going to back off until I figured out what it was.

Over the next several weeks, I began to restructure my business. I believed that if I moved my business to the next level, these feelings would dissipate. I signed up for a business conference hoping it would support me in reclaiming my excitement and vision.

My first night at the conference, I was walking to dinner along a pier when a woman asked if I was attending the conference. “Yes, are you?” I replied. This fateful exchange became a powerful conversation that would shift everything for me. We agreed to have dinner together and we spent over two hours connecting over our lives and businesses. We discovered that we had so much in common, it was like she was feeling everything that I was.

Over the next several days, I kept running into Dina in between workshops and breaks. We’d excitedly pick back up where we’d left off and share what we’d learned and what we’d gained. I was gaining so much from this friendship and the excitement and understanding that we were creating together.

I finally realized that while I may work alone in my office every day, that was no reason to be on a deserted island. I get that many of the people I work with are solo-preneurs doing, enjoying, and struggling with the same things that I did. It is not the education we have, or the size of our business, it is about our willingness to put ourselves out there to share thoughts and ideas and connect.

As you journey through your life and business, I invite you to lean into community and connection, especially if you’re feeling like you’re in a rut. Community can be with folks in your town or halfway around the world (Dina lived 1,800 miles away from my hometown and yet – we remain connected even now, years after that conference). There is no “one way” to make connections – it can happen over coffee, at conferences or through Internet groups. If you take the time to connect and step outside of your comfort bubble, you too may find that you receive inspiring ideas, share your knowledge with others, receive assistance when you need it, and your energy level may go up. All of these were true for me and it completely revolutionized my business. Now I have designed my business to include connection and community and it keeps me fulfilled and recharged.

If you’re looking to connect with like-minded visionaries and entrepreneurs, I invite you to join our Facebook group @SpireBusinessInc! Wishing you success as you continue your path as entrepreneurs and conscious business owners.

With love,
Linda Brown

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How to Grow Your Business

Can we all agree that it’s been an intense year? This year has brought many shifts, breakdowns, and certainly plenty of breakthroughs. In the midst of so much movement and transformation, it’s important to reflect on your business goals and check in. Ask yourself:

In these last 6 months, what worked? What didn’t work? What do I get to add?

Rather than beating yourself up for what you didn’t do, acknowledge yourself for what you did do. Reflect from a neutral perspective and see everything as an opportunity to improve or learn. Grow from your past, allow it to foster your future.

Here are 5 empowering resolutions to consider as you keep building your business:

  • Learn how to delegate and do it accordingly.

Being an entrepreneur can be exhausting and time-consuming. It’s easy to get caught in the belief that, “I have to do it all by myself.” Delegation is the key to a healthy work-life balance. Consider outsourcing the tasks you don’t desire to do. Whether you bring on an intern from a local university or you hire an employee – make sure they are trained enough, to the point where they can take over some of your tasks. The next step is to clearly communicate the objectives and deadlines, so that you don’t end up micromanaging.

  • Manage your cash flow more efficiently.

This is a great resolution for small business owners who have drastic ebbs and flows in their cash flow. Learn to understand your cash flow and manage it. What are your busy months and your slow months? Budget accordingly and ahead of time. Strategize around the ebbs and flow of your business.

  • Take steps to improve your digital presence.

If you haven’t taken action to make your online presence mobile-friendly or if digital isn’t part of your marketing strategy at all, it’s time to add this to your business resolutions. Your online presence is how you begin to connect with potential clients and audiences. This is an effective way to build your client base and grow your business. 

  • Schedule weekly time for business strategizing.

Planning is vital if you want to foster a growing business. But running a small business can be chaotic and it’s easy to get sucked into the day-to-day humdrum. Business strategizing allows you to take a step back and highlight what worked and what didn’t work. It also allows you to adjust  goals and set new ones. Set aside time each week to review your strategies. This will help you stay on track and allow you to have a clear hold on your business. 

  • Promote your business regularly and consistently.

Since small business owners wear a lot of hats, you might not always have “marketing” at the top of your to-do list. To attract new clients, though, you have to make promotion a priority. Take the time to create a marketing plan or, even your funds allow it, hire a marketing expert to help you set it up. 

Wherever you’re at in your business, begin practicing some of these resolutions and see what impact they have on your business. If they’re effective, keep practicing them. Find what works for you and remain committed. 

Happy reflecting, everyone! And, as always, if you need any added support or guidance, we are always here to help. You can reach us at hello@spirebusiness.com.

In Gratitude,

Lin Brown, Founder of Spire Business

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3 Ways to Consolidate Credit Card Debt

Credit card debt. There, I said it. For many, these three words create immediate anxiety. But it doesn’t have to anymore. Consolidating credit card debt can help you to simplify or reduce your monthly credit card payments and save money each month. There are multiple ways to consolidate debt so take a breath. The first step is to decide what’s going to work the best for you based on how much you want to pay off, what your current financial situation looks like, and how strong your credit history is.

Simply put: consolidating credit card debt is when you combine multiple credit card balances into a single monthly payment that ideally has a lower interest rate than what you’re currently paying. To help you decide if credit card consolidation is right for you, here are several methods to consider:

 

Apply for a personal loan

A personal loan is one way to consolidate debt. The funds from a debt-consolidation loan can be used to pay off your credit card balances. Some of the benefits are that instead of making multiple credit card payments each month, you make one payment for the personal loan. 

If you have good credit, it can also lowers the hefty interest rates that big banks can rack onto your credit cards. Personal loans offer flexible repayment terms, so you can select the one that’s right for your budget. Many lenders offer the option of applying for pre-qualification, so you can shop around to see what your potential options are without impacting your credit scores. Remember not to rush or pressure your process, shop around until you find something that’s right for you. This is all about relieving the stress, not adding to it!

Use a balance transfer credit card

A balance transfer lets you move balances from one or more credit card accounts to a different card. Balance transfer credit cards often offer an introductory 0% APR on balances you transfer within a certain amount of time. That means that you’ll have a set amount of time – sometimes up to a year! – to pay off the balance without paying any interest at all. You might find that you’re able to pay off the balances you transfer before the introductory period expires and avoid paying interest charges on the transferred balance altogether.

One thing to keep an eye out for is the balance transfer fees. Some cards charge a fee when you balance your transfers from one bank to another, which will add to the debt you must repay. Also, the amount you transfer — including any fees charged — can’t be higher than your credit limit, which may not be high enough for you to pay off all your debt. That said, the fees are often minimal compared to what you’d be paying in interest rates.

Keep in mind that you may not be allowed to transfer balances between cards issued by the same lender. And if you opt for a balance transfer, it’s especially important to pay on time because late payments may cancel the introductory APR offer.

 

Ask a friend or family member for help

Depending on how much money you owe and what your overall financial picture looks like, it may make sense to ask a friend of family member to lend you the money. I know, that might not feel very comfortable, but it may be your best bet. And there’s no shame in it. We all need support at one point or another.

If you opt for this method, it’s important to be sure the loan terms and repayment plan are clearly outlined, just as they would be if you were getting a loan from a financial institution. Consider writing out a loan repayment so both parties are on the same page and there’s no room for miscommunication.

What’s the benefit? Well, when you borrow money from somebody you know, you don’t have to meet minimum eligibility requirements to qualify for the loan, and you may be able to get a lower interest rate than you would from a bank or credit union.

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Consolidating your credit card debt into a single payment may seem like the solution to your financial troubles, especially if you can get a lower rate. But paying off existing debt won’t do you much good if you continue to rack up new debt. So take your time when making these decisions. Sit down and visit your budget – see what’s realistic for you before you commit to a new credit card or loan.

Before consolidating your credit cards, come up with a plan that will allow you to live within your means and help you avoid going into debt again. Then you can choose the credit card consolidation method that’s right for you. If you’d like a little more support with this, know that we’re always here to walk you through your options. Shoot us an email at hello@spirebusiness.com to set up a free consult call.

With Love,

Linda Brown

 

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5 Finance Tips No Entrepreneur Should Live Without

When it comes to finances, there is no doubt that entrepreneurs have their work cut out for them. Not only do they need to manage their business’s finances, but they also have to manage their personal finances. It can feel incredibly daunting and disorienting at times. 

But as a small business owner, you can’t lose sight of your personal finances. Here are a few of my top finance tips to help you keep a tab on your own money while you manage your business’s.

  • Set Up a Retirement Fund

You read that correctly. It’s really never too early to set up a retirement fund. Trust me on this one.  When it comes to personal finance tips for small business owners, this first tip is an absolute basic. 

You, like all other workers, need to be prepared for retirement—and setting up a retirement fund will help you get there. 

Take a breath and don’t freak out. This doesn’t have to be pressured or overwhelming. Meaning: you don’t have to funnel a ton of money towards the fund, but what’s saved now will help curb your tax bill and grow tax-deferred until you decide to use the funds for retirement. 

There are a few different retirement plan options for small businesses: a SEP-IRA, a SIMPLE IRA, a Solo 401(k) and a SIMPLE 401(k). All but the SEP-IRAs work for sole proprietorships, partnerships, LLCs, or corporations. 

Before choosing any one of these retirement plans, do your research on what each offers and how that plan can help you meet your retirement goals.

  • Plan for the Off-Season With an Emergency Fund

We’ve all been told at one point or another to keep an emergency fund for rainy days. Then this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to you: this is a finance golden rule that small business owners should follow, too. 

Odds are, business won’t be booming month after month. As a business owner, you’ll likely have to deal with irregular income earnings throughout the year. It’s normal. You’ll begin to notice what those seasons are. Instead of resisting them, work with them!

As a small business owner (especially as one of a seasonal business), it’s important to budget for those down months. Make sure that you have enough “emergency” savings on hand so you can weather any down months of business. 

  • Keep Your Business and Personal Finances Separate

As a small business owner or startup entrepreneur, this next personal finance tip is especially hard. You are so invested and interwoven with your business that it might feel like you are your personal and your business finances are one and the same.

Well, they’re not.

Keeping your business and personal finances separate is important for a lot of reasons, including:

  • Saving you from headache during tax season when you’re deducting your business expenses. 
  • Giving your business more credibility as a business
  • Making sure you’re not putting the burden of your business’s financials on your personal accounts!! 

When you start your business, open a business banking account and apply for a business credit card to use for your business expenses. This is a great start towards separating your business and personal accounts. 

  • Keep Your Expenses Low and Stick to a Budget

Do not let managing your own money fall through the cracks while you focus on growing your business. Having a monthly budget is essential to running your finances and your business smoothly. Plus, it helps keep you mentally at ease rather than anxious or overwhelmed.

You can set up your own budget based on your monthly expenses, or make it even easier on yourself and use a budgeting app. Mint is one of the most popular budgeting apps out there, but You Need a Budget and Wally are also good options. 

  • Check Your Interest Rates

If you’re a savvy business owner, you’re probably super aware of the interest rates you’re paying on all your small business financing. Checking your interest rates is a financial tip entrepreneurs need to do for their own money, too. 

If you have student loans or personal loans, consider your refinancing options. Or, think about which loan you should pay off first based on how steep the interest rates are. The same goes for credit card balances: pay off the balances that come with the highest interest rates first. 

The bottom line: paying attention to each account’s interest rates will help you pay off debt and managing your personal finances smartly. 

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There you have it—5 personal finances tips that every small business owner should live by. 

As a busy entrepreneur, you might have to put in a little more work towards getting a hand on your personal and business finances. If you need further support with creating budgets, setting tangible financial goals, or consolidating your credit, reach out! We’re happy to connect and guide you in the right direction for your financial vision and freedom. You can reach us at hello@spirebusiness.com!

Love,

Linda Brown

 

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How to Create Long-Term Success in the Short-Term

“Transformation doesn’t happen overnight.” How many times have we heard that? We often have the vision clear in mind, but when it comes to getting there – well, it can be easy to get discouraged and return to old habits. It can be challenging to start or stop habits, especially when we have big visions! “How do I get there?” you might wonder, “Am I capable of creating that?” If you have the vision, I believe you have everything it takes to create that vision. Full stop.

The trick is to start taking small steps. One goal at a time. Think about it: you don’t eat a burger in one gulp. You eat it one bite at a time. As simple as that may sound, it’s a pretty powerful truth. One step at a time. 

My resolution this year was to exercise more; I felt that I was spending too much time sitting at my desk. I committed to taking the daily recommended 10,000 steps.I remember beginning at about 1,083 steps a day! I’d reflect at the end of the day and I was adamant about not giving in to guilt or upset for not being at my goal yet.  I broke down my big goal of completing 10,000 steps each day into smaller goals that were achievable. Each day, my actionable goal was to achieve 100 more steps than the day before. And it worked!

The likelihood of reaching your goals increases significantly when you take tiny, baby steps, according to BJ Fogg, a psychologist who studies human motivation and behavior at Stanford University. Fogg developed the Tiny Habits® program. The idea, in part, is to start with a small, and what might seem like an insignificant step, and then build on that day-by-day to reach your overall goal.

Planning to accomplish a larger goal by breaking it down into bite-size chunks does not have to be difficult. Here are some helpful  ways to plan for a larger goal by breaking it down into bite-size chunks:

  • Reverse engineer the goal. Think of an important goal and the intended outcomes. Then carefully break down the goal into simple steps. When the goal is entirely split into achievable steps, map out a daily plan of action to complete one step at a time. Document where you are, where you want to be, and the steps necessary to get there. Check off each level as you progress.
  • Don’t reinvent the wheel. Take what someone else has already created and customize it based on your needs.
  • Take a few moments, think about where you want to be, personally and professionally, in the next 6-months and next year. Write down the end goals. What steps need to be taken to get to your goal? Write these down. How long should each step take? You guessed it, write it down.

 

As you set yourself up to win, also get clear on your vision. It’s important to connect with “why” you’re doing this, that your purpose is. This is what will keep you committed long-term. It’s about having a vision-based commitment rather than a feeling-based one. When you hold tight to your vision, you show up even when you don’t feel like it. If you base your commitment on how you’re feeling, chances are you’ll stop showing up somewhere along the way.

My best wishes for all your goals and dreams to come true!

Always in Gratitude,

Lin Brown

 

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Improve your Credit Score with these Quick-and-Easy Steps

As small business owners and entrepreneurs, our credit scores are quintessential to our survival. An excellent score can help you qualify for premium rewards credit cards and low-interest loans, which can be incredibly helpful when growing your business. That said, this is going to be a process, which means it will take time. Patience and focus are key here.

The journey to improving your credit score is a marathon, not a sprint. You can get started by checking your credit score to see where you currently stand. Most credit scores – including the FICO score – operate within the range of 300 to 850. The credit tiers generally look like this:

  • Excellent Credit: 750+
  • Good Credit: 700-749
  • Fair Credit: 650-699
  • Poor Credit: 600-649
  • Bad Credit: below 600

Once you have an idea of how much room you have to grow, use these tips to begin building better credit:

Stay on top of payments

Keeping track of your debts and keeping them in the green is important – it shows lenders you’re responsible with credit. According to Experian, payment history is the most influential factor for both FICO and VantageScore, which are the most common scoring systems today.

Your credit score is essentially a reflection of your ability to pay back debts effectively. From a lender’s perspective, an established history of timely payments is a good indicator you’ll handle future debts responsibly, too.

Pay your bills on time: delinquent payments, even if only a few days late, and collections can have a significantly negative impact on your FICO Scores. Set reminders on your phone to keep you on track with monthly bill payments. You may also want to consider enrolling in automatic payments through your credit card and loan providers to have payments automatically debited from your bank account.

If you have missed payments, get current and stay current: poor credit performance won’t haunt you forever. The longer you pay your bills on time after being late, the more your FICO Scores should increase. The impact of past credit problems on your FICO Scores fades as time passes and as recent good payment patterns show up on your credit report.

 

Reduce the amount of debt you owe
Your credit utilization, or the balance of your debt to available credit, contributes 30% to a FICO Score’s calculation. It can be easier to clean up than payment history, but it requires financial discipline and understanding the tips below:

    • Keep balances low on credit cards and other revolving credit: high outstanding debt can negatively affect a credit score.
    • Pay off debt rather than moving it around: the most effective way to improve your credit scores in this area is by paying down your credit card debt. In fact, owing the same amount but having fewer open accounts may lower your scores. Come up with a payment plan that puts most of your payment budget towards the highest interest cards first, while maintaining minimum payments on your other accounts.
    • Don’t close unused credit cards as a short-term strategy to raise your scores.
    • Don’t open several new credit cards you don’t need to increase your available credit: this approach could backfire and actually lower your credit scores.

Build a Strong Credit Age

If you have a short credit history, there’s not much you can do quickly here to improve your credit. A good average age of credit history would be five years and up. The longer your positive credit history is, the better the credit scores may be. For example, a person with an average credit history of only one year may only have a reflective credit score in the lower 600’s while someone with over five years of good history will be much higher.

Keep in mind that if you have no history at all, it will take an estimated three to six months from the beginning date to see any kind of activity being reported on your credit reports. If you have recently acquired a credit card, you should make small purchases you will be able to pay off by the due date to begin to establish credit and show that you can manage a monthly payment.

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Following these tips will not only save you money but also teach you the valuable skills necessary to maintain a good credit score in your future. If you have bad credit, don’t give up on credit entirely. Instead, be responsible and stay educated about your accounts and scores so you can successfully handle your own finances and find a credit repair plan that works well for your situation.

If you’d like to learn more, shoot us an email at hello@spirebusiness.com! We’d love to connect and see how we can support you.

 

Always in Service,

Linda Brown

 

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