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Money / Financial management

Financial mistakes: How I blew $30k when I launched my business

Since it’s the season for new budgets and counting future dollars, Amanda Westphal thought it would be a fun time to share the biggest financial mistakes she made at the start of her business.

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I’m an impatient person. Combined with the fact that I suffer from mild anxiety, this is actually quite handy when it comes to building a business.

I have a relentless need to complete tasks immediately, leave no ideas untested, and I never fail to write systems and processes where needed.


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So my impatience has allowed me to build a business whip quick.

"You know how we sometimes do things because that's how they've always been done? "

But it’s also meant I tend to rush and end up making bad financial decisions without thinking them through. Here are some of my financial mistakes . Hopefully my confessions will help you keep your piggy bank fuller than mine!

I decided only the best would do

Some CRM’s are incredibly powerful, and have an impossible number of features that are dazzling and seductive. When I was ready to launch my business my theory was to launch with the best of everything so I would never have to change systems. Unfortunately, we had heaps of trouble connecting the ‘only the best will do’ CRM system I’d chosen to my custom website. (I should have researched the custom capabilities a little further before plunging in.)

With the benefit of hindsight I can see it would have been better to start with something simpler like MailChimp. Since I had neither the right website plugins, nor the time to take advantage of all the CRM’s many bells and whistles, system I chose was wasted on me unfortunately.

Piggy Bank Bust $5,400

I thought I needed fancy digs and staff

I had this incredible fantasy that when I had a business I would have a cool office with a killer playlist, awesome staff and a receptionist. So I immediately started working from a co-working space with one staff member. Very soon, however, that became a hassle. I couldn’t work the hours I dreamed and it just felt like I was back in corporate again.

So I moved my office to home and outsourced any help I needed. Now, things are so much smoother.

Piggy Bank Bust $16,840

It might also interest you to know that last year I caught myself wondering if I should look at a junior staff member again. I wrote out a list of everything I would have them do and then, out of interest, I gave it to my web developer. It turned out he could build all that functionality into my website. Much easier! And cheaper!

I didn’t ask myself WHY I was doing something

You know how we sometimes do things because that’s how they’ve always been done? I’m still shaking off that attitude from my time in the corporate world, clearly.

When I was at a PR company, we sent prizes on behalf of clients to the media outlets. So, when I launched my business I did the same thing. I turned my little home garage into a warehouse, (with custom shelving even!) and I was forever driving to the post office to ship prizes, not to mention chasing tracking numbers online. It took someone else to point out how counter-intuitive, counter-productive and expensive the whole system was:

“Why don’t the clients send them to the media themselves, instead of to you?” they asked.

It was like being hit with a stick in the face.

Now that I don’t have to go to the post office every day, everyone’s a winner.

My advice for this is to do a task audit and review EVERYTHING you do, and ask yourself, is this really necessary?

Piggy Bank Bust $2,500 not including my time in line!

I thought there was a magic bullet

Skim quickly through your Facebook feed and I’m sure you will find yourself bombarded with ads targeting small business owners. Teasers promising you first page on Google, courses to learn how someone with great hair earns $250k a month, downloads of sales funnels that will increase your sales by thousands, and other brash promises.

In the beginning, I said ‘Yes’ to them all!

I wasted thousands on SEO before I knew what it was and how it should be done. I had an inbox full of one-pager lead magnets and people with beautiful headshots assuring me that their course would be the one to nail my business objectives. Of course, none of them were. I got there eventually with steady, organic growth and a strategic marketing mix. Realising that there isn’t a silver bullet that will launch my business into the sky was a valuable lesson.

Piggy Bank Bust $7,000

So there you go. $30,000 that could have been spent much better in my business. The above were hard lessons to learn and I’m hoping that in sharing my financial mistakes with you, I can save you from having to learn the hard way too!

Have you made any expensive financial mistakes?

Amanda Westphal

created Prize Pig, an online platform busting with media competitions that any small business can access to get major media space without the media spend. Connect with her on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter

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