The new American dream is to be your own boss, working for yourself in the career of your choice. In fact, a survey from Bentley University found that a whopping 67% of millennials have a career goal that involves starting their own business.
However, despite the fact that two-thirds of millennials dream of being entrepreneurs, only 16% of start-up businesses are begun by those who are 35 years and younger. That’s not surprising since starting your own business can be a daunting task, due to the high startup costs and risks involved.
As an account and financial adviser, Casey McClurkin knows the risks better than most, but decided to start her own business anyway. As the founder of Evolve Money Coaching, she decided to follow her dream and become an entrepreneur.
“I had to temper my excitement,” she said. “I knew it was going to be a long hard road, but I thought I could do it.”
Starting Her Own Business
When it comes to starting a business, you need more than passion and a great idea. Besides all the hard work and long hours required, you also have to deal with financial insecurity. According to a U.S. Bank Study, 82% of small business fail due to cash flow problems.
When McClurkin wanted to start her own business as a money coach, she knew the odds would be difficult to overcome.
“It was kind of a calling,” McClurkin said. “My vision is that we live in a world where talking about money isn’t taboo; that there isn’t any shame around it.”
Besides her background in accounting, Casey has a passion to help people with their money. She became a licensed financial advisor, but it still didn’t give her the opportunity to connect with clients and help them develop the fundamental money habits and budgeting skills they needed in order to be successful.
By becoming a financial coach, Casey knew that she would be able to connect with her clients on a personal level and help them on the path to financial stability. And that’s when the idea for Evolve Money Coaching was born.
“When I worked for a Fortune 500 firm as a financial advisor, I still had to build my own business,” she said. “I knew I had the fundamentals, but I also knew that it was going to be a lot of hard work and it wouldn’t happen overnight.”
Funding Her Dream
She began by becoming certified as a behavioral financial advisor and began saving every dime she could in order to put it towards starting her business. Her next step was to secure a personal loan in July.
Since financial coaching is a relatively new field, she knew that it would be a hard sell for the bank to provide the loan. Plus, it would be extremely expensive. After figuring out her monthly expenses would only be about $400 a month, she knew didn’t need a substantial loan. So she looked into alternative solutions to securing her startup money.
“I was fortunate in that I had a family member who believed in me and was willing to give me a loan that was beneficial to both of us,” McClurkin said.
They signed a contract which included a payment plan and interest rate.
“He gave me an interest rate that was lower than I would pay to the bank, but it’s higher than what he would have earned in a savings account which is where the money would have been otherwise,” she said. “In a way, it worked out well for both of us!”
McClurkin said that she could have started Evolve Money Coaching with a smaller loan, but considers it an investment for the future of herself and the business.
“I didn’t want to feel like that the funds were so scarce that I couldn’t take advantage of big opportunities that presented themselves,” she said.
She uses her loan to attend seminars and further her education. She also invested in scheduling software and networking fees to continue building her client base.
It is a significant debt,” McClurkin said. “However I don’t look at it as something that’s holding me back. I look at it as a way to invest in myself and in my business.”
Having the right mindset is a key factor for McClurkin, as an entrepreneur and as a financial coach. When it comes to her business expenses and revenue, she puts profit first.
“I take the revenue that I’ve collected from my clients and I take out a percentage for profit, a percentage for my personal income on and then a percentage for expenses,” McClurkin said. “Quarterly I will be taking a bonus for our profits and I’ll use that to pay down the debt.”
McClurkin’s current focus is on growing her business. Only in operation for a few months, young professionals and couples are her biggest clientele.
“I started this business to be able to help folks who don’t have the training and the education in personal finance as I do,” she said. “Just because somebody doesn’t know how to do money doesn’t mean that they’re stupid or that they should be ashamed. Money is a skill just like learning how to draw or riding a bike. You can learn how to do it.”
Her goal is to teach as many people as she can.
“Money is something that affects every single one of us,” she said. “And the more you know, the better decisions you can make for yourself and the better for everyone. And I really want to empower people to be able to make those decisions and be confident about it.”
McClurkin believes in her business, and more importantly, in herself.
“I’ve set myself up so that my mindset is that I’m already a success,” she said. “I really believe in myself and I surround myself with people who believe in me. I have made it my unshakable truth that I’m going to succeed and I’m going to be okay.”
This article was written by Kat Tretina, a freelance writer based in Orlando. Focused on personal finance issues, she’s dedicated to helping people pay down debt and boost their income.