REPLAY: Andi Smiles on Creatives’ #1 Money Mistake

finance founder interview Aug 24, 2021

A decade ago, Andi Smiles had a secret.

She was working as a bookkeeper, helping entrepreneurs and small businesses track and manage their finances.

But her own business accounts, she says, were “a hot financial mess.”

“I was undercharging, and just ignoring and leaving my taxes for the last minute,” says the Parsons Entrepreneur Academy instructor. “I used to get sick to my stomach filing my annual taxes. I was like, ‘Oh, my God, how much am going to owe?’"

So how did she get from there to becoming the financial educator, coach and all-round money badass she is today?

Andi will tell you that it had far less to do with numbers than with tackling her preconceptions, attitudes and mindset—an approach she brings to her no-judgements work with entrepreneurs today.

“Money is a relationship like any other,” she says. “If you have a friend and never call them, never text, never go out, how deep is that friendship going to be? And how reciprocal? On the other hand, if you engage, keep up, start asking questions, what you’ll learn will be valuable and enriching.”

Of course, in classes like How to Manage Your Money and Create a Budget or Quickbooks for Creatives, Andi does tackle the practicalities.

This stuff makes a difference.

“This class helped me create a stronger foundation for my LLC’s finances," said one of her students. “Thank you!”

We talked to Andi after her recent webinar, 5 Mistakes Creatives Make with their Self-Employed Finances. (Watch the replay below). 

Click here to download the list of Healthy Habits for Creatives that Andi mentions in the webinar replay. Use it as a checklist to audit your own relationship with money.

Why did you decide to do a webinar on money mistakes?

Well, mistake is a strong word. I like to call them ‘knowledge gaps,’ like things that people don't realize that they should be doing or that they're not doing in the best way. When you're self-employed, there's so much stuff you have to learn, like all the invisible, administrative, back-end work that goes into the business, right? And there aren’t a lot of avenues or channels to learn it. So it's important to have a lot of grace with ourselves, because quite honestly, how else would you know about the stuff if you didn’t take a class or something? Which, by the way, is tax-deductible.

Right. So what gaps do you see the most often?

The number one mistake that I see business owners make is not setting up a separate bank account for their business. Honestly, if you can only do one thing, this is really the one that I’d urge everybody to correct. But beyond that, you want to be able to make decisions from a values-aligned place, versus a place of scarcity, or of feeling unworthy, or all the other things that come up around money. Like, ‘I'm not good enough to charge this much,’ or ‘I have to say yes to everything because I feel scarcity.’ I mean, I've talked to people who have said that they don't want to follow their dream because they're scared of having to deal with money.

Is money fear something you experienced?

Yes. I blew off all the things you're supposed to do. And I was undercharging, under-billing, not billing correctly, letting scopes of projects get too big without increasing the price, things like that. It all came down to really understanding that I didn't feel financially worthy, which came from early childhood experiences. Once I identified that, and really saw how that was impacting my business, I was able to make changes. I remember I did a huge price increase, I almost doubled half of my clients' prices because I was like, "I can't work for this anymore." And honestly, that's also when my business really started to grow.

A lot of creatives think they’re ‘bad with money.’ Is that true?

I think that a lot of people are like, "I'm a left brain or a right brain, and I can only be one or the other." They're very creative and brilliant in their medium, but anything money- or business-related, they think they're not good at. But nobody is born bad with money. It's a knowledge gap, that's all. And it's not as hard as we all make it out to be.

Who is your perfect student?

I think the skill I've been blessed with is explaining complicated things in simple terms; that's really what all my courses are about. I hear, "I never understood this until now," all the time, and it’s the greatest compliments I can ever be given. So my perfect student is somebody who’s like, "I don't know if I'm really going to be able to do this thing, but I'm going to try. I'm going to give it my best go." Because as long as you have an open mind about who you are with money, and you're willing to let go of a little bit of what you believe about yourself so you can open up to trying to learn, then you're a perfect student. Because people get it. They do.

Want to:

Learn more about Andi? Click here.

Learn about her Instructor Led classes? Click here or here.

And see you soon with more great content!

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