Maggie Germano started her financial coaching business as a hobby at first, giving advice to friends and family, but soon found a passion for helping others was driving her to take it to the next level.
“Financial stability can propel people forward in so many ways that can help them, especially women,” said Germano, founder of Maggie Germano Financial Coaching. Germano combined her passion for personal finance and empowering women to build her business, which provides women with one-on-one financial coaching to help them take control of their money and reach their goals without being held back by debt or anxiety around money. She also does speaking engagements and is working to design online courses.
We asked Germano to share why she’s been making the leap to entrepreneurship, what inspires her to push forward and how she’s managed the transition financially.
Deciding to Become an Entrepreneur
I studied political science in college and moved to D.C. after I graduated. I started working at a nonprofit doing environmental advocacy. From there, I went to a different larger nonprofit where I’ve been working on strategic planning and evaluation of advocacy campaigns within the organization, helping those programs move forward in a thoughtful way.
Over the past couple of years I had been feeling kind of lost and not motivated by the work I was doing. I felt really disconnected from the actual issues I cared about, but I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do moving forward. I had started getting involved in women’s rights and empowerment organizations. I found that I really enjoyed being around other women, helping each other reach our goals and lifting each other up. I realized that as part of these different groups, something that kept coming up was financial insecurity and debt. I’ve always enjoyed personal finance as a hobby. I would offer budget support to friends and family. Then, I started offering support to others on a sort of freelance level. The more I started doing those sessions, the more I realized I was really passionate about that because I was making a difference in someone’s life immediately. I was looking for other organizations that were doing this and I couldn’t find one, so I decided to do it myself.
Managing Business Finances
I’ve been solely funding the business myself. I’ve been working a full-time day job to finance most of it and to become prepared to go full time as a business owner. I’m moving money aside from my paycheck to my business account to pay for things like coaching training, going to conferences and general overhead.
I’m still trying to figure out the best way to manage cash flow. I feel like an expert in terms of personal finances, but business finance is something that I’m still learning. I use PayPal to invoice my clients. I use QuickBooks to track what’s coming in and going out and to track the income verses expenses, which also helps me in terms of doing my taxes.
Business Challenges & Rewards
Getting consistent sources of income has been a challenge for me. I haven’t left my full-time job yet because I’m still working on getting a reliable stream of income. Also, related to that, selling myself is a challenge. It’s really important to me to be myself and to be authentic and not to be a salesperson all the time. I really want to get to know the people who need my help, rather than just trying to get them to hire me all the time. At the same time, you need to actually market and promote yourself to get business, so it’s a tough balance.
The most rewarding thing is that I can do whatever I want in terms of creativity and who I want to help. I have my blog and my newsletter and I can write about any topic I’m interested in, rather than at a day job where someone is typically telling you what is due and what you should be working on.
Also, the outcomes of the coaching are very rewarding. For example, seeing my clients pay off their credit card or seeing them feel more confident and worthy of what they have has been the most rewarding part.
Business Lessons Learned
I was really hesitant to market myself as a coach and put myself out there to try to get clients. My confidence level was low because I was new and didn’t really feel like I knew what I was doing. I held myself back and didn’t offer my services as much. I didn’t think that I was good enough to create courses and workshops. Over the past year and a half, I’ve realized that I have a lot more information than I thought I did, so I wish I had put myself out there more upfront so I could have gotten a faster head start.
Being careful with keeping my expenses low in the beginning was really smart. I didn’t pay for things that were unnecessary. Now, I have a good buffer in my savings in case money’s not coming in or if there’s a conference I want to go to.
I think connecting with other individuals and organizations that are like-minded was also smart. Partnering with these groups has helped me get speaking engagements and workshop opportunities and connections. Connecting with those like-minded people has been really helpful for my business.
Advice for New Entrepreneurs
It’s scary to take this kind of step. It’s definitely not for the faint of heart. But, just push through the fear and don’t let it stop you from doing something you really want to do. I always thought that if you are scared of something, you must not actually want it, but I’ve found now that it’s the opposite.
Ask for support as you need it. Connect with other people who are possibly going through the same things as you. Ask for advice from people who have gone through it.
What’s Next for Maggie Germano Financial Coaching?
I’m teaching my first live workshop this week. It’s about identifying your values, setting goals around your values, and creating a budget around your goals and values instead of generally spending less. It’s easier to stick to those kinds of goals when you have a real, deep reason why you’re doing it.
I hope by the end of the year to go full time with my business. The timeline is a little unclear right now, but that’s my goal. Hopefully, I can serve more clients and build more workshops and online courses.
Image contributed by Maggie Germano
This article was originally written on August 1, 2017.