4 Entrepreneurs on How They Budget Time and Money

4 Entrepreneurs on how they budget time and money

Business owners share their tips on how to budget time and money

 

When starting a business, time and money are often the two things lacking. With not enough time to get everything you want done and not enough money to get more hands, you need to learn how to budget time and money.

 

As part of Budget Month, we asked 4 business owners – Warrick Kernes, Lara Mare, Carel Nolte and Cindy Nel – how they budget time and money and what tips they’ve learned along the way.

 

Whether or not you have your own business, these pearls of wisdom can help you budget your time and money, and prioritize the things important to you.

 

Warrick Kernes, co-founder of Action Gear

4 Entrepreneurs on how they budget time and money - Warrick Kernes

 

How do you balance your work and personal time?

It’s very easy to get carried away with staying late at work (or not stopping even when you get home) so I’ve become very strict with myself. I try to keep the same office hours as my staff which then allows me time with my wife, friends and to keep fit. Although, as a business owner just because you’re home or in bed doesn’t mean that you’re not thinking about work. Controlling your mind’s schedule is also super important.

 

What’s the best budget tip you’ve learned?

No tricks. Just make sure you keep an up to date budget and then pay attention to the variances. If you can do this well you’ll be set.

 

4 Entrepreneurs on how they budget time and money - Warrick Kernes

 

What was the hardest budgeting time/money experience you had when starting your business and what did it teach you?

We were the first company to import GoPros to SA and we only had enough money to order 4 cameras. When those 4 sold we had enough money to order 5 and then 7 and then 10 and then 20. Keeping overhead costs as low as possible allowed us to reinvest profits into income generating assets. Keeping super lean overheads is key to getting your business off the ground.

 

Lara Mare, co-founder of Rush Natural Nutrition

4 Entrepreneurs on how they budget time and money - Lara Mare

 

How do you balance your work and personal time?

Someone once said that you shouldn’t get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life. It’s really stuck with me as the pressure for more, more, more mounts in today’s society; especially in a world where resources are finite and ‘making a living’ always falls short. I find it ironic that one of the reasons people look to start their own businesses is to be more in control of their time and thus their lives.

 

This was definitely true for me, who as a single mother at the time we started Rush Natural Nutrition, yearned for the ability to build a life I felt more in control of. The truth is your new ‘baby’ controls way more time than you ever envision (between juggling jobs, cash flow and creative headspace you’re pretty much consumed 24/7).

 

What I’ve learned is that the only way to have it all is to get comfortable with the word ‘sufficiency’, which means being ‘good enough’- not perfect- but content with an adequate amount of what is essential.

 

My perfectionist personality rebelled against this originally where ‘only the best’ was acceptable, but I found that setting limits on what is essential – based on my values – made decisions simpler and more satisfying. It all comes down to deciding what you want. Otherwise, the world will decide this for you and you will always be chasing and never arriving.

 

So often we measure success by a financial yardstick; which is easier to do due to the immediacy of the results and its ease of comparability. We neglect to measure what’s really important for a successful life; and so we sacrifice our time on the altar of work and defer time spent in areas that are harder to measure like the long-term strength of family, friends, and health which study after study display as the real markers of a life well lived.

 

4 Entrepreneurs on how they budget time and money - Lara Mare

 

I’ve changed my life hugely this year by deciding on what essentials fall within the “Buckets” of Happiness (Enjoying), Achievement (Winning), Significance (Counting- to others) and Legacy (Extending) and then aligning my life to these essentials. I change what is not ‘good enough’ across each of the Buckets like work commitments at the expense of family and each week I check my diary against this and look to carve out the time or realign proactively across my essentials of family, friends, physical health, spiritual health and work if necessary.

 

In so doing have been able to additionally carve out margin in my life to BE, rather than just reactively DO. My To Do List has become my Bucket List instead.

 

What’s the best budget tip you’ve learned?

Be prudent. I’ve found this pretty tough as I tend to be rather optimistic and battle to regulate my outlook (Recession? What recession?;-)) If you have a new idea don’t dive head first into it, keep your day job, test it out on the side, learn the lessons while you have a supplementary income.

 

This approach used to be scorned by investors who saw it as a sign that the founders weren’t fully committed to the endeavor. What I’ve come to learn from books like “Originals” by Adam Grant is that it’s more a sign of hedging one’s overall portfolio and it shows that you are considered in your risk taking and this generally appeals to investors.

 

When budgeting, the well-known adage is that one should double the costs of a start-up and halve its revenue and I can attest to that. South Africa is a tough place to do business; you are up against big multinationals with deep pockets and the competition is fierce, budget prudently.

 

What was the hardest budgeting time/money experience you had when starting your business and what did it teach you?

Having worked as a strategy consultant for so long I have a really unhealthy relationship with time as we had to account for every single hour spent as part of client billing, so time is literally money for me. I, therefore, multitask to the max to optimize every hour and battle to sit still, relax and not be ‘productive’. This has led me to be efficient but probably not as effective; transactional rather than relational as I push to get everything I say I’m going to do, done.

 

It’s also made me super impatient with people and processes that are not in my mind ‘optimal’. My lesson here has been to let go of what I can’t control and the ‘perfect’ plan in my head of what it’s supposed to be like and lean into the actual plan life has for you.

 

In so doing I have learned to be gentler with myself and others, to trust the process and lean into being good enough not perfect. As a business that tries to inspire adventure and taking the time to fully embrace life, we have had to look long and hard at ourselves because we’ll be the first to admit that we don’t get the budgeting of time right.  Alignment to what is essential has been key and has kept us humble and real. In a society of hyper-organized, highly efficient supermen and women; our goal should rather be to spend most of our time on what we value most and to become proper human BEINGS rather than human DOINGS.

 

Carel Nolte, Founder of CN&CO

4 Entrepreneurs on how they budget time and money - Carel Nolte

How do you balance your work and personal time?

1. Philosophy: I view life as one, the whole aspect, so work and personal/family/friend time is not separate for me. Life=work=life. As such, I am happy to see my friends on a Wednesday at 10 am and work on a Saturday at 2 pm. It all depends on when outputs are due and I don’t believe in outdated concepts of 9-5, Monday-Friday or 2 weeks leave a year.

 

My company CN&CO is made up of individuals of varying ages, experiences, race and gender who follow the same philosophy. Agree which outputs are important in your life and then make them happen.

 

2.  Plan: I plan time for exercise, travel, important birthdays and anniversaries, reading, doing nothing, writing and more. And I plan a year in advance and then refine – checking each week what lies ahead. Obviously, I tweak the plan as life happens (planes get delayed, people die, mates get engaged) but I largely stick to my framework. Having this structure, paradoxically, helps with flexibility. I don’t get it 100% right, but I try!

 

4 Entrepreneurs on how they budget time and money - Carel Nolte

 

3. Be open to giving and receiving help. In other words, have a great, diverse support structure and be part of others’ support structures. And thank those who contribute to your life and make balance/budgeting possible.

 

4. Keep perspective. Life’s a journey and your to do list is never done, your page never clear. That’s ok!

 

What’s the best budget tip you’ve learned?

Read, listen, ask, investigate and then go with your gut. You know more than you think you do!

 

What was the hardest budgeting time/money experience you had when starting your business and what did it teach you?

On time – there is never enough and so don’t get flustered when you can’t complete everything. Keep perspective, take a breath and start again. I recently heard – and fully agree – everything works better when you unplug it and start again, including you!

 

On budgeting money – counter-intuitively for many people, be generous. If you are generous and have an abundance mentality, you are rewarded. And so give to charity and help others, even when you have little.

 

Cindy Nel, former Miss South Africa and co-owner of Cosmetix

4 Entrepreneurs on how they budget time and money - Cindy Nel

How do you balance your work and personal time?

There is no perfect science to it but practice makes perfect. Ideally, life would just naturally happen and one would strike a balance naturally but in the modern day and age, it actually does require planning and conscious effort.

 

When I work I throw myself completely into it and remind myself not to feel guilty and stay focused. It’s important that you do something that you enjoy or inspires and drives you.

 

When I am with family I try to switch off entirely and focus on family. When I get home at night I put my phone in a box at the door, and then l spend quality time having quality discussions and giving affection to my children.

 

Quality is more important than quantity for me. An hour on the floor playing Lego with my children, chatting and bathing them with nothing to rush to or no phone or electronics to interfere or distract me is far more valuable and effective than spending the whole afternoon together living past one another doing mundane things and being irritated because they want my attention and I also have to get work done.

 

On the other end, I get more work done when I’m focused on it and I always make time to spend alone time with my husband and friends and also to go out and let my hair down and have fun.

 

Exercise is also very important to me; it releases stress and focuses my mind.

 

What’s the best budget tip you’ve learned?

Save – have a separate account for this.

Give yourself an allowance every month from your earnings and stick to it.  Understand your money and how it all works, from tax to investments.

 

I actually studied financial management online through a UCT course to make sure I have a 360% understanding of finance and all its different aspects.

 

4 Entrepreneurs on how they budget time and money - Cindy Nel

 

What was the hardest budgeting time/money experience you had when starting your business and what did it teach you?

Cash flow is always challenging in the beginning and learning that time is money, so be selective what you spend your time on. Always ask. What benefit does this have for me or my business?

 

Individual images supplied by each person interviewed

Main image graphic by Feige Lewin

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Zissy Lewin

Zissy Lewin

Zissy is the co-founder of Nutreats. She likes to make things, do things and wear things.
Zissy Lewin

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