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How thinking like a business can help boost your personal finances

Business owners tend to understand the importance of keeping overhead low, profits high, and doing what they can to stay ahead of the curve. As individuals, we might be able to draw a few lessons from how successful businesses are run that can be applied in our own lives. 

Monitor your expenses 

Many businesses rely on accounting software to keep tabs on spending, measure profitability, and identify opportunities to save money. 

Similarly, you might turn to a spreadsheet or budgeting app (there may even be a budgeting feature included with your banking app), to glean insights about your own spending habits. 

Consider tracking your expenses for a month — you might find that you’re spending far more than you realised on things you don’t need. It might also be wise to look at the expenses you consider fixed (such as your mortgage and utility bills), as they might be subject to more control than you think. 

For example, you might be able to refinance to a lower mortgage rate than the one you’re currently paying. And energy costs could potentially be reduced by being more mindful with your electricity usage at home or shopping for a cheaper plan.

Take calculated risks

Deciding to start a business is a risk in itself, but there are countless more that business owners will take. Very often, these risks will go hand in hand with some opportunity to grow the business — think expanding into another location, launching a new product, or simply taking out a loan to pay for more staff and inventory.

These sorts of ‘strategic risks’ are often considered necessary and beneficial, but an astute entrepreneur will still understand there’s a chance things might go awry. That’s why they’ll usually weigh up pros and cons to determine whether the anticipated benefits are worth it, and take steps to mitigate whatever risk is involved. 

You might encounter opportunities to make a financial gain in your own life (such as investing in property or shares). Before making any decisions, make sure to do your due diligence and try to fully understand the associated risks. Investment decisions in particular always carry some risk, so it’s rarely a good idea to roll the dice on something you know little about.

Work to increase profits

For business owners, consistently generating profit is one of the main criteria for success. Not only is it helpful for getting in lenders’ and investors’ good books, but it can play a big role in fuelling growth and make it easier to ride out periods of reduced cash flow. 

In the world of personal finance, the money left over once total expenses have been subtracted from total income goes by a different name: savings. You might be able to increase your savings by cutting expenses or finding ways to increase your income (such as by negotiating a raise at work, finding a higher paying job, or starting a side hustle).

This might leave you with more money to invest, pay down debt, or simply to act as a buffer in case any emergency expenses pop up. However you choose to use it, having surplus cash can strengthen your financial position and leave you more confident to face future challenges.

Be adaptable to change

If the last few years have taught us anything, it’s that it’s very hard to predict what’s around the corner. Many businesses struggle during times of rapid change or economic turmoil, but the ones that make it through often do so because they embrace an ethos of adaptability.

Whether you’re managing a business or your personal finances, resilience and agility are important assets to have when navigating market fluctuations, regulatory changes, new developments in technology, and seismic events like the COVID-19 pandemic.

For example, periods of disruption might require you to modify your spending habits (to build up your emergency fund or accommodate a reduced salary). And if you’re concerned about market fluctuations, you might decide to spread your investments across different asset classes to mitigate risk. A financial adviser could also help you with a contingency plan, e.g. by establishing a suitable amount and type of personal insurance in case of death, critical illness or disability.

Have a team of experts on your side

It’s easy to think of successful business people as lone trailblazers, but chances are they had a team of talented people working alongside them, helping to drive their company’s success. In the same way, individuals might benefit by turning to experts for guidance on matters relating to their finances.

For example, many Australians run their plans by a financial adviser or turn to an accountant for help doing their taxes. And when it comes to estate planning, it’s generally good practice to get a solicitor involved to make sure your Will is properly drawn up and valid. Whatever the situation you’re facing, consider whether you’d benefit from seeking professional help.


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