financial foundation2Is your foundation feeling a little shaky these days? Craving a little stability? Hey, I’m the first person who will agree that it’s a bit tough out there running your own show, but that’s no reason you can’t find a stable ground to plant your financial feet on.

The biggest question is: How do you find your financial foundation?

First, you’ve got to look at your bread and butter clients.

• Who can you count on day in, day out? These are your clients that cover your basic expenses – business and personal. This is how you know what you can count on and who is going to reliably pay for your services. Financially, you can closely approximate what to count on from them each month, and that’s a good thing.

Second, get yourself a savings cushion.

• I know sometimes it seems like a cushion is just a luxury you can’t afford. It isn’t. You’ve got to pay yourself first or you’ll never be ready to navigate choppy waters. It’s not about setting aside a big chunk all at once. It’s about making small, reliable payments. If you’ve figured out who your bread and butter clients are, then you can estimate what they bring in every month.

• Put a small amount on auto transfer each month into savings. Your goal here is to set aside enough to pay for one month of expenses (though financial guru, Suze Orman recommends 8 months – we’ll start with a bite size goal). After that, keep going with regular transfers. You’ll be surprised how much you can squirrel away.

Third, come up with an emergency plan.

• I live in the Bay Area – earthquake country. We need emergency plans. Think of your financial emergency plan with just as much careful consideration. What is the worst-case scenario? It really could be anything: a natural disaster that stops operations for a month, an injury or illness that keeps you from working even longer than that, or two weeks notice from your biggest client. The more you can plan for, the more you’re covered. A plan can’t keep disasters from happening, but it sure can reduce the damage.

It’s tempting to grow as fast as you can. Sadly, unless you have a legitimate plan in place to find some stable ground and secure your financial foundation, it’s all shaky. Until that plan is in place, until these three pieces come together, you have to say no to growth.