Spring Reset Part 3: The numbers game!
2013 Shay Cochrane

It’s that time again!  Time to pay your quarterly taxes!!  If you are a small business owner then this time of year may add a little extra stress to your life, but that doesn’t have to be the case!  Now that you are 3 months into the year its time to look at whether your system is working and, best case scenario, it may even be time to give yourself a raise!  I just sat down to take a look at my numbers and the budget that I put into place in January and I had set a conservative monthly salary for myself which ended up being too conservative now that we are a few months in. Happy raise day to me!!!  For the last post in this Spring Reset series I will give you a peak at my (simple) accounting system and the way that I manage the money that comes into my business!  Its not fancy but it works for me!  Here are a few tips for a financial reset that hopefully will be of help to you.

My basic financial refresh looked like this:

  1. Income tracking: Is my system working for tracking all of the money coming in from ALL sources on a monthly basis?  My business is a fairly simple one so I am able to do this with a basic spreadsheet in Google drive.  For me this includes tracking custom client work, mentor sessions and SC Stockshop sales.  I made sure that there was nothing slipping through the cracks.  While my system is fairly simple (and a bit archaic. haha) there are programs like Outright.com which can seamlessly track and manage income from a variety of sources all in one place.
  2. Tracking business expenses:  Is my system working for tracking all of my business expenses?  Am I entering and keeping necessary receipts or are things falling through the cracks.  Am I accounting for ALL ongoing business costs (web hosting, subscriptions, reoccurring fees for software etc etc)  as well as all one time purchases that should be claimed (props, equipment upgrades etc)?  This is also fairly straightforward for my business so I keep track of this in the same Google Drive spreadsheet as my income.  The important thing is that you have a system for making sure that EVERYTHING gets accounted for!
  3. Establishing a working business budget: The best part about doing this business finance reset was taking a look at my current working business budget and make sure that it is actually accurate and working for me!  Again, I have a simple budget but it works for me!  The biggest change that I made this year was that for the first time in 8 YEARS of owning a business, I started paying myself a set monthly salary.  This was really scary since I am in a whole new line of photography work and am still figuring out what the financial ebb and flow will be!  For this reason, I set my salary VERY low in January to be sure that it was an amount that was realistic.  Now 3 months into the year I was able to reassess based on first quarter averages and was able to give myself a 150% raise!!!

Before I talk about my business budget I have to tell you the banking tool that makes it all possible.  Capital One’s online banking system called Capital One 360 allows you to have as many individual savings accounts as you want for free.  So I have my primary business checking account, where all income and expenses flow through, and then I have “separate” saving accounts (linked to my checking account) which are individually nick named according to my budget.  So I have savings accounts with names like “taxes,” “childcare,” “props,” “business savings,” “tithing” etc.  This helps me to make sure that I do not spend the money allotted for these line items in my budget and allows me to accumulate money in certain accounts from month to month.  I could not operate my system without this helpful online banking tool and I think it was completely free to set up!  I pay my salary monthly into a completely different account (to a completely different bank) with a completely different check card so that I know exactly how much I am making and there is no personal/business overlap in spending.

2013 Shay Cochrane

Within my basic monthly budget I set aside a predetermined amount for each of the following:

  • Known monthly business costs: Regular monthly expenses
  • Estimated additional business costs:  Specifically I set aside a certain amount for props each month. If I use it all, great. If I don’t, any extra goes into a specific “props” account in Capital One 360 for future use
  • Taxes: (I immediately set aside a conservative 20% of all income each month into another CO360 account to stock pile until taxes are due each quarter so that I am never scrambling to pull together that money at the last minute.)
  • Tithe: It is my personal conviction to tithe a set amount to my local church that is at least 10% of the total gross amount of money that comes into my business (pretax).  My business is only a success if God allows it to be a success and so I view all of the money as God’s anyway and I give back to him a portion as a way of worshipping and thanking him for his blessing and as a way of putting myself in a constant state of trust and dependence on him to sustain my business and my family.
  • Salary I pay myself 50% of the remaining profit. Since I wanted this number to be a fixed reliable amount I calculated my average monthly income based on the past 4 months (or longer if you want)  and then drop it a little bit lower to be conservative.  For me with my particular budget and cost of doing business this ends up being about 25% of my average total monthly intake.
  • Business Savings The remaining 50% of my total profit ends up going to business savings for new gear, workshops, general office needs and unforeseen business expenses.  So I pay both myself and my business the same amount of predetermined money each month.  There are a lot of gear upgrades that I need to make this year and so for now this amount is a little bit higher then it might be in the future.

I pay myself and my business one time at the beginning of the month with the money that came in last month. So I paid myself on April 1 for the month of April with the money that came in from March.  My system is a fairly simple one and may not work for you. I am just not a Quickbooks kind of girl.  I would have a pencil and an old school ledger if it were up to me!  The important thing is that whatever you are doing, it needs to be actually working for you!  This tax season is the perfect time to take a look at whether or not your current business budget and system is working the way that you wanted it to in January, so that at the end of the year you aren’t left wondering where all of that money went!  I hope that this was helpful and inspired you to do a little spring cleaning of your business finances!  You may even get a wake up call that your cost of doing business is simply too high and your salary too low for all of your hard work ;)

If you missed the first two parts of this series its not too late!

Spring Rest: Part 1 Office hours

Spring Reset: Part 2 Social Media

Have a beautiful day friends!

Shay

 

 

 

In the studio: C Jayne Teach

To this day I still very clearly remember my kindergarden and first grade teachers.  My kindergarden teacher was Ms. Carey, one of the nicest women I had ever met in my little 5 year old life. I was equally smitten with my first grade teacher, Ms. Nicolas.  I remember walking into my new big elementary school with my mom for orientation and being so nervous about meeting my new teacher.  Was she going to be nice or mean? Was she going to like kids? Was she going to be pretty? (Pretty = nice and ugly = mean according to my Disney movie education) We were walking down the long scary hall of classrooms and at the end of the hall was the most beautiful lady I had ever seen, her fresh 90s hair perm blowing in the stale air conditioner air , a floor length floral dress (probably complete with shoulder pads) and ballerina flats with bows on them (which I would later learn that she had in every color!).  ”Oh Jesus pleeeeease let her be my teacher” I remember saying to myself as I held my breath and walked to my fate.  Sure enough, Ms. Nicolas was to be my first grade teacher!  She was everything you could want in a first grade teacher (I guess?) and there was one point of each day that she made me want to grow up to be a teacher…the 30 minute block of time that we had to put our heads down on our desks with the lights off to rest while she sat at her desk and drank a Coke and ate a snickers bar. So. Not. Fair.

This is little Shay at 5 and 6 years old…

photo1

Anyway, in all of the craziness that was preparing to launch a new brand and website I had to put blogging new work almost completely on the back burner (and lets me honest…my old blog was starting to make me cringe!) In the midst of that I never got to share one of my favorite recent shoots for C Jayne Teach!! Chandra is a teacher-turned-designer who has managed to perfectly combine her skill and passion in both professions into an incredible and intentionally purposed line of teacher products and gifts.

There are many things that I love about Chandra and her amazing brand but I think she says it best on her site…

“C. Jayne Teach is a place to give a fresh perspective to our seasoned profession by encouraging all teachers to work hard, organize their plans and processes and focus on making the most out of their time in the classroom. I want to inspire teachers to concentrate on the passion that called them to teach in the first place and use that fuel to inspire their students and the future young minds of the world. The mission is simple: C. Jayne Teach is here to offer simple classroom solutions so you can focus more on what matters most to you and make each day count.”

When Chandra contacted me about styling this particular Hero image for her site the emphasis was on creating an image that was true to her well-developed brand and directing her readers to her shop which contains a variety of amazing teacher products and gifts! In the end I think that we successfully achieved both goals.  The image meshes flawlessly with her branding and site design and the image draws you in and makes you want to check out her shop goodies!  I have a few favorite elements of this styling.  The little yellow school bus which I searched high and low for, the pencil shavings and my favorite element of all, the spilled glue.  I think that any time you can add a bit of unexpected authenticity to an image you really charm the viewer and draw them in.  Love love love it. I gave her two variations of this image, one with more negative space then the other which she needed for her site but I will show you the full styling here!

2013 Shay Cochrane

 

CJayneTeach 2013 Shay Cochrane 2013 Shay Cochrane 2013 Shay Cochrane 2013 Shay Cochrane 2013 Shay Cochrane 2013 Shay Cochrane

Make sure that you visit her site and purchase a meaningful gift for one of the hard working teachers in your life!  Happy Thursday friends. I hope that you have a beautiful day!

 

New additions to the SC Stockshop!

In between clients I have been adding some fun new images to the SC Stockshop that I am excited to share.  The Stockshop is full of styled flats for creatives and small business owners who may not be ready to work with a photographer for custom styled images just yet.  SC Stockshop clients are using them on websites as beautiful banner images with overlaid text, on Facebook as eye catching cover photos and in Etsy shops  as backgrounds for overlaid notecard and print designs! You can follow @scstockshop on Instagram to see new work added to the shop right in your feed and check out the #scstockshop hashtag to see how other creatives are using their images from the shop!

This fun little set features succulents, seeds, vintage floral stamps, mini craft paper envelopes, precious wooden thumb tacks and the most adorable little alphabet stamps!  You can find them in the shop here.

Did you know that the SC Stockshop has a mailing list as well?  That where the magic happens!  Mailing list subscribers get all kinds of free stock images sent out periodically from me as well as exclusive shop discounts!  For real ya’ll ! In fact, you get a free stock image instantly just for signing up!  Because I love you!

Happy Tuesday friends!

 

2014 Shay Cochrane

 

 

2014 Shay Cochrane

 

2014 Shay Cochrane

 

2014 Shay Cochrane

 

2013 Shay Cochrane

 

2013 Shay Cochrane
Spring Reset: Part 2
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Happy first week of Spring!  I was so happy to see that the 1st Spring Reset was a blessing to so many hearts and I’m glad to know that I am not alone in feeling like I have to do something to keep my pace of life from spiraling out of control right now!  If you are just now reading about the Spring Reset for the first time then start here and go at your own pace! The point is just to take baby steps to hit the reset button on the year now that we find ourselves close to April with things maybe not going quite the way that we had hoped when we envisioned the new year (anyone? anyone?).

This week’s Spring Reset is a simple but profoundly helpful one and is something that I make a habit of doing every few months.  We’re going to call it your Instagram assessment and there are two parts to it!

Spring Reset #2: Instagram (social media) assessment.  Who are you allowing to be an influence and interruption in your day?

Step 1: The Instagram purge.  

If you are like me then you set out to be selective about who you follow on Instagram.  But over the course of a few months and with the help of enticing giveaways and “follow me” promos your feed gets a bit, well, diluted.  Each person that you are following on Instagram is someone that you are allowing to speak into your life.  Don’t believe me? Pay close attention to your internal monologue while scrolling innocently through your feed. “Ooo thats pretty. I wish I had that. I would never let my kid do that. Look at how many people “like” her? Ugh, I wish I were on that vacation. Her house is so clean. Ew, her house is so messy. She always looks so perfect. I need that new ______.  I wish my husband would do that for me! Yea, if I didn’t have kids I would have that body too. She is so much better then me at ________ .  She is so successful. I could never cook like that. Design like that, photograph like that. Dress like that. Travel like that. They never seem to fight. I wish we could go on a date night…”

Maybe its just me, but Instagram breeds jealousy and discontentment in my heart if I am not very careful about who I follow. Who I allow to “speak” into my day.  So here is what I do every few months and what I am going to do again today. An Instagram purge.

My general and intentional criteria for who I follow goes something like this:

1. Do they inspire me creatively, spiritually, emotionally, physically (as opposed to making me feel not good enough). If so, keep following!

2. Does following them tend to cause discontent in my heart. (Not necessarily their fault – its my own heart issue.) If so, its time to unfollow!

3. Do I tend to constantly compare myself to them in a negative way? If so, I should probably unfollow!

4. Are they a close friend or family that I want to be actively involved in their life and maintain a friendship? If so, keep following!

5. Does following them encourage/challenge me to grow (spiritually, emotionally, as a mom, as a wife. as a friend)? If so, keep following!

6. Are they someone in  my same industry who I find myself trying to one-up, or compete with? If so, I’m going to do myself a favor and unfollow! As a general rule, I don’t usually follow other people in my industry. This helps me to create from a place of authenticity and not from a reactionary position as it related to the work that I see them creating.

7. If I see them in my feed and I don’t immediately know who they are or why I specifically follow them then I unfollow them. haha I want to be able to go through my entire feed and verbalize exactly why I follow them.

This may all sound a little but intense to you but it has worked wonders for helping me to be fully present where I am, create from a place of authenticity, and grow as an artist and person.  I fight to guard my heart.

“Above all else, guard your heart. For everything you do flows from it.” – Proverbs 4:23

 

Step 2: Enough already with those darn push notifications!!

Seriously, don’t even get me started here!!  My mental space is too precious and limited and my heart already too divided every minute of the day to allow others to constantly and freely insert themselves into my day.  I probably sound mean but just hear out me on this. We (ok , just me maybe?) crave constant validation and approval and getting Instagram pushes (or any pushes at all) to my phone only feed that beast and I want my heart to be as far away from that as possible. “Are people liking my pic? Did anyone comment? How many people commented? What does that e-mail say?”  How many times have I been in the middle of work, or playing with my kids, or talking to my husband and I allow some e-mail push, Facebook push, Instagram push, Twitter push to barge right into the middle?  I don’t care if you don’t open it up. It takes probably .0002 seconds to glance over and read it and BAM you have just allowed something else to take precedence over your priority in that moment.  In general it might seem harmless but how many times have you gotten a frustrating e-mail or comment pushed to your phone and it has derailed your evening at home with the family.  Like I said before…there is no perfect work/life “balance” where each gets equal but separate attention.  There is only a minute by minute choosing of priorities.  Not having ANY pushes to my phone helps me to be fully present and intentionally maintaining my priorities.  If you don’t believe that the world will not stop if you turn off your push notifications then I dare you to just try it for a week and let us know how it goes!

Ok, I’m stepping off my soapbox.  I LOVE Instagram. Like…LOVE it and I think that it has enhanced my family’s life in a lot of ways.  But like everything, you can have too much of a good thing and in the fight to win back focus and presence and clarity in my life, Instagram is one of the first places that changes must me made for me.

I hope that you have a wonderful week! Please share your thoughts below and let us know about how your Spring Reset is going with the #SpringReset password (yes, the irony is not lost on me). I’m off to purge my Instagram feed and shut off those push notifications right now!

xoxo,

Shay

Beach

Its a rough life here in FL ;)

 

 

Spring Reset: Part 1

march

(Beautiful printable desk calendar  from Ashlee Proffitt)

 

So, we are already 2/3 of the way through March and I would swear to you that we just toasted to the new year YESTERDAY. I’m still thinking up my New Years resolutions for goodness sake!  I set out at the beginning of the year with the very best of intentions about intentionality in business and family and how this was going to be my “best year yet” (that phrase applies no pressure whatsoever right!?) and the only problem is that on January 1st REAL LIFE continued. 

And not in the clean, scheduled, refreshed, predictable, tied-with-a-bow way that other people seem to be experiencing life (at least if we take Instagram’s word for it) but real life. Messy life.  Full, wonderful, crazy, I need to nap (for a week straight) life.  The kind of life where 50% of the time the kids are fighting and I’ve taken on more work then I have work days for, and the bathrooms haven’t been cleaned in weeks…okay maybe months (It’s ok you can gag if you need to.  It’s gross.) I’m on my phone texting, e-mailing, Instagramming when I should be looking my family in the eyes, blur of multitasking, something is on the schedule most nights kind of life.  Life as messy as that run on sentence just was. Anybody with me?

Vera and Mommy

 

Mommy and Chloe

There has been a vacuum in the middle of my master bathroom since Friday.  Let me explain. I cleaned out our horrendous master closet and was going to suck up all of the hair on my bathroom floor (Instagram THAT ladies) and I ran out of time that day to finish the job and so now it just sits there. Literally half of the hair on my head (I’m not even kidding you that I have googled “normal amount of hair loss”) and the vacuum. And we step over it. And it stares at me as I put my makeup on in the morning.

On a certain level I am ok with this.  My identity is not in how clean my house is or how organized my week is.  I don’t need this to be my “best year yet” and actually, I have NO idea what this year will hold and it is only by God’s grace that I will make it through another “awesome”, “awful” or “mediocre” year at all.  I am however, more distracted and mentally busy then I set out to be when I color coordinated (ok not really but some of you do.  You know who you are.) those new years resolutions. I do think that there is so much value in intentionality and for that reason I think that it is time for a little Spring reset, and I hope that you will join me.

Over the coming weeks I am going to be making a few small changes to life. One at a time. Baby steps. Little wins to reorient the ship that is threatening to keep charging forward whether I am on board or trying to keep my head above water in its wake. I will post one change a week here on the blog so that you can hold me accountable and cheer me on or just to entertain you with how not “insta-perfect” my life is. I hope that these little changes will open up the windows and let the fresh air back in to your life too if you choose to come along with me.

Here goes.

Reset #1: Go back to my set office hours

Starting tomorrow, I will go back to my regular office hours. Tuesday and Thursday from 9:30-3:30pm. Outside of those office hours I will not check or respond to work e-mail. I will not fit in little bits of work while the kids nap or play on the other days.  I will instead use that time outside of work the way it was intended – doing something for myself or taking care of my mom/wife/homemaker responsibilities. I LOVE my job and that is why it has started to grow like a vine out of the planter box I created and up the walls of my life.  It may not seem like a problem at first until the vines cover and suffocate the house.  I feel them creeping up. I sense it when I am trying to listen to my husband tell me about his day and find my mind wandering back to my own endeavors.   I feel it when I glance through my e-mail while at the playground with my kids.  I don’t want to be that mom.  I want to be fully present wherever I am.

I love my business but my business exists to serve my life and not the other way around.

MeandGirls

My office looks like this 2% of the time.

office

 

My office looks like this 98% of the time.

messy office

So there you have it.  One of the biggest questions that I hear from stay-at-home moms and small business owners is “How do you balance it all?”  The answer to that question is unique to everyone but I would strongly argue that balance cannot happen unless you set specific intentional child-free office hours and stick to them.  So for you the first step in this Reset may be to set office hours. You can do it!  It is positively freeing!!  Work on nailing them down this week and start on Monday if you have to.

You have to CHOOSE to let life and family win out over work. Especially when you love your job.  There is no illusive “balance”…only day by day and minute by minute choosing of priorities.  And I need to get back to mine…

Family

Follow along on Instagram @shaycochrane and share your Spring Reset with #SpringReset

 

 

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