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From Florida to Sydney to Los Angeles, Square sellers worldwide are using learnings from 2023 to approach 2024 in a new way. What are some of the strategies that allowed them to adapt and improve this year?
1. Invest in personal development.
Amanda Tua of Sydney’s Amanda Tua Hair said that weekly therapy sessions significantly impacted her work. “[They] have helped me build self-awareness of where I can improve as a business owner and when I need to rest and take time for myself,” she said. Investing in personal development also involves building a circle of advisors, including business mentors. Tua adds, “Having a coach I can trust has helped me focus on where the business can evolve and grow — and when to pull back and enjoy the process!”
Eloïse Eonnet, owner of communication coaching service Eloquence, works with entrepreneurs to help them grow their businesses through strategic storytelling and communication. She has been a career and communication coach for over ten years and runs The Muse’s career coaching platform, managing over 80 coaches. Business owners often wear a lot of hats, especially when first growing a business. “Giving yourselves a chance to work with [a professional] allows you to find clarity on what you do well — and then build a plan to get that help or outsource the rest,” she said. Beyond that, Eonnet explains that a coach can help business owners thrive by keeping them accountable to those next steps needed to develop a business.
2. Prioritize your work-life balance.
“The best thing I did for my business in 2023 was spend more time with [my daughter] Milo,” says Caroline Rodrigues, owner of Portland- and Los Angeles-based toy shop MERCI MILO. “She was the one who originally inspired me to begin Merci Milo!”
Although running a boutique store is never-ending work, Rodrigues ensures that parenting did not take a back seat. “Understanding her needs [and] being present for her meant being present for the business,” she adds. “I was more inspired.”
“If things aren’t going well in your personal life, you’re going to bring that to work — and vice versa,” Eonnet said. “That’s incredibly difficult to manage as a business owner because you bring your full self to work.” The Eloquence coach suggests setting clear boundaries between work and play by stepping back from day-to-day tasks to get a pulse on your performance. “What’s causing friction? What’s working and not working?”
Recognizing your relationship with money is one part of taking a pulse. Aja Evans, a licensed mental health counselor who specializes in financial therapy, suggests listing your core beliefs about money to gain insight into business plans that can affect your goals, hopes, and dreams. By recognizing the connection between personal and professional fulfillment, business owners can solve problems, identify ways to move forward, and foster a positive and motivated environment at home and at work.
3. Lean into challenges.
Consider tackling challenges head-on and using them as opportunities for growth and innovation. That’s what Renan Martins, owner of Sfiha’s in Orlando, Florida, did.
Martins made the move from Brazil to Florida, leveraged a loan from Square to buy a food truck, and started to sell sfihas, a flatbread cooked with minced meat toppings, to locals.
Year in Money 2023Square extended 446,868 loans to businesses in 2023.
Was it worth it? “The restaurant business is always trouble,” Martins said. But the self-avowed trouble-finder describes the food truck as a welcome challenge: “If something is not a challenge, it doesn’t make me happy or excited to do it, you know?”
“When a challenge arises, that usually means there’s an opportunity around it,” says Eonnet. “By working through the challenge, you recognize that something good could occur.”
4. Build and communicate strategically.
Eonnet says that the first thing she does with her clients is clarify what they bring to the table so they can effectively communicate what they’re good at to investors, employees, and customers. “Self-awareness and the ability to communicate help build strong relationships and resiliency within the organization to create a strong business,” she said.
Recognizing and assessing your business needs — whether it’s new infrastructure, product offerings, or competitive analysis — can improve the quality and appeal of your products or services.
That’s what Fumio Tashiro of Mirror Tea & Sake House in Brooklyn, New York, did in 2023: “The best thing I did for my business was investing in renovations and menu upgrades that successfully enhanced our product value.”
Did you know?Square sellers earned a total of $3,025,073.63 in interest from Square Savings in 2023. Create a Savings Folder in Square and automatically put aside a little cash to save for your goals this year.
Finance in focus: overcoming your fear of debt
Aja Evans is a licensed mental health counselor who specializes in financial therapy. She owns and operates a private practice in New York City.
Financial therapist Aja Evans reflects on real money memories and stories shared by Square business owners.
I was raised by immigrant parents who had a tough time making ends meet, so the concept of credit was something scary. They thought if you had debt on your hands, the anxiety around it would make it tough to go about your day.
– Daniel, sandwich shop, Los Angeles, California
Messages we receive about money may be meant to shield us from financial mistakes, but when applied to all aspects of our lives, what was meant to protect us can hinder us. It sounds like some of these money narratives may have been around fear and/or mistrust of financial systems, as well as anxiety about not being able to keep up with debt accrued. For your parents the feeling of having debt plus the anticipation of someone coming after them when money is tight adds to an already financially-stressed situation.
Yes, there are positives to a healthy fear of debt: making sure you don’t overspend or overextend yourself with payments, and being mindful of what is a need versus a want.
When debt gets out of control it can leave you feeling burdened, ashamed, and fearful. However, when used appropriately, credit can be a helpful tool to build your business. It may allow you access to capital to scale your business, to be innovative, or to pour into systems that help your business’s stability. Without credit, the challenge is on you to find the cash flow to invest in the business.
A few options to aid in feeling less fearful about debt:
- Start small with a low credit limit that won’t overwhelm you or create anxiety
- Learn about business credit, how it works, and how to manage it responsibly
Ultimately, taking small steps toward building credit can help shift the money narrative from one of anxiety to one of empowerment.
Good with numbers: “We overpaid almost $10,000 in quarterly taxes for nearly two years.”
Keila Hill-Trawick is founder and CEO of Little Fish Accounting, a boutique CPA firm dedicated to serving micro-businesses through accounting and tax support.
CPA Keila responds to real-life “Oh, sh*t” tax moments submitted by Square business owners.
It’s almost embarrassing looking back at the mistakes we’ve made. After a year and a half, we realized we were overpaying our quarterly sales tax. We were calculating our tax rate based on total sales, instead of taxable item sales. We were stunned to see how much we overpaid for almost two years — close to $10,000. Dealing with the Department of Revenue was a back-and-forth battle to get a credit applied for the overpaid amount, but it finally got taken care of. We now have a third-party business tax expert who has taken over.
— Anthony, weight-loss clinic, Glendale, Arizona
In its simplest definition, sales tax isn’t income or an expense — it’s money you receive from customers and then remit to the state. The small-business charging sales tax is just a go-between. When you collect sales tax, you’re essentially a placeholder until it’s time to send it to the state on a monthly or quarterly basis, depending on your requirements.
Where sales tax gets complex is determining what’s taxable, as this varies across states. Various factors like the amount of sales in the state, type of sales being made, and where the customer lives all play a part in determining what and how much sales tax is due. Be sure to contact an expert or use software that makes the appropriate calculations for you to avoid any penalties and interest from incorrect or late payments.
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