Financial life as a freelancer or solo business owner can be... unstable, to say the least.
In fact, one of the highest stressors reported by freelancers is ‘cashflow’, and with good reason.
There are some hard realities about freelancing which contribute to this—sometimes, the flow of clients and opportunities really does just dry up (even if you put in the same amount of effort), and sometimes luck is simply against you.
However, a large factor also comes down to financial planning. That’s not meant to be a jab at freelancers—I myself had absolutely no sense of financial planning when I was starting out (and for the first couple of years into freelancing, still, if I’m honest), and it led to real moments of panic, chronic anxiety and stress—all for little to no reason.
The truth is, if you have a skillset to offer, know where to find clients, and have set your freelance rates correctly—there’s no reason to chronically stress over money as a freelancer.
And for those of you high earners out there thinking, ‘Hey, I’m not stressed about my cashflow, I just want a cleaner system to manage my finances...’, stick around.
In this post, we’ll walk through a Notion Budgeting & Accounting template—though it’s really more of a ‘system’—to help you stay on top of:
- Cashflow management;
- Revenue & expenses tracking;
- Financial goals and targets;
- Statements and documents; and
- Even a CRM for your paying clients.
Let’s dive in.
Notion Budget Template
The first piece of this template system is the home dashboard. Here, you’ll see 5 charts in the right column and 2 statistics in the left-hand column.
These charts are generated from other sections and databases of the workspace, so we’ll be covering each later. The main focus here is to simply give you a quick one-glance overview of your current financial position.
In the left-hand column, you also have a menu of tabs that will help you navigate through the setup—let’s go to the first tab, ‘Cashflow’, now.
Cashflow is the lifeblood of any business—but it’s especially critical for solo businesses.
Why? Well, for one thing, because the financing options available to sole traders, freelancers and micro businesses are often far more limited to even the typical SME. Go to a bank looking for a loan as a freelancer and, well, good luck getting a response.
The cashflow setup of this workspace tracks:
- Cash in bank;
- Expenses; and
It does so as a projection into the next 30 days. So, ‘Day 0’ will always show today’s current cash in bank, expected expenses and expected revenue. And the same holds for each of the next 30 days—giving a chart to help you view the dips, the highs and any potential ‘$0 balance’ difficulties.
This 30-day cashflow chart is generated by a linked Google Sheet. You can go into the Google Sheet and adjust the expected values by day manually. Or, if you input your revenue and expenses with a date attached, the chart will pull those values automatically.
The revenue dashboard has 3 sections:
- Revenue by weeks;
- Revenue by categories; and
- Gross revenue inputs.
This is going to be where we keep track of the money coming into our business. This can be from client projects, product sales, affiliate commissions, retainers, grants—whatever the income source, simply be sure to list it in the ‘Category’ dropdown of the Notion table.
Before we get to inputting your revenue data, let’s first take a look at the charts.
Revenue By Weeks will provide a 52-week breakdown of revenue in your business. When you work to a given salary, this chart would be incredibly boring—but for freelancers and solo businesses, it can be helpful to get an idea of the ebbs and flows of your incoming revenue across the year.
Revenue By Category, on the other hand, helps you break down your income by various sources. This can help to better understand which areas of business are bringing in the most value—and which are not.
Revenue inputs can be made in the Notion table/database at the bottom of the page. You’ll notice a few fields for inputs:
- Project Value
Each revenue input should be given a ‘name’ to help you know what its referencing. It should also be given a ‘category’—by default, the categories in the dropdown include: ‘Services/Project’, ‘Retainer’, ‘Product’ and ‘Other’. Feel free to adjust these tags as best suits your business.
Giving each revenue item a ‘due’ date is important. For items that you’ve already received, simply input the date that it was received. For those that are based in the future, do your best to input the date you expect to receive the payment—this will be important for the Cashflow and other charts.
By default, the table is setup to list revenue items as a ‘quantity’ * ‘rate’. This lets you list all sorts of revenue sources, from product sales to high-value projects. Further, if you want to list the item by ‘hourly rate’, you can list your rate and the number of hours spent on a project—then the ‘amount’ column will automatically fill with the correct value.
The ‘Client/Owner’ field is a rollup property—you won’t be able to fill that directly. Instead, when you fill the ‘Project’ field, it will automatically lookup the owner of that project from the linked CRM. Same with the ‘Project Value’ amount.
More about Projects and the CRM later though...
The expenses dashboard is similar to the revenue dashboard, showing a few charts in the top section, then providing a table for inputs at the bottom.
The expense charts are:
Expenses by week;
Expenses by category; and
These work similarly to the revenue equivalents, providing an overview of your outgoing cash flow across the weeks and months, as well as giving some insight into which areas you’re spending the most money on.
Again, all expense inputs are made in the Notion table at the bottom of this dashboard.
Statements & Documents
The ‘Statements & Documents’ dashboard is designed to be a catch-all for any financial statements or documents that you want to keep track of in Notion.
This could include things like:
- Bank statements
- Tax returns
Notion Financials CRM
The final database to discuss in this template is the CRM, which stands for ‘Customer Relationship Management’.
This is designed to help you keep track of your clients—both current and potential—in one place, as well as linking them to relevant revenue (and/or expense) items.
Since Notion doesn't have a native chart integration, I've utilized a few Google Sheets embeds in order to achieve the charts you see across the various dashboards. If you'd like to implement the same charts, the video above is your best bet for guidance on how to achieve it.
Otherwise, feel free to simply use the tables and native Notion features of the Notion Budget Template, to help you track your revenue, expenses, and key financial documents in one place.
You can duplicate the template with a free Landmark account. Just hit 'unlock this template', or log in to your existing account and you'll see a 'Your Member template' button appear on this page.
And if you're interested in integrating this budgeting dashboard into other sections of your business like Project and Task Management, you can check out our all-in-one Notion Business OS (Clarity OS), here.