Money Matters: Shannon McLay, Founder of The Financial Gym


In this month’s installment of our monthly Money Matters series, we’re sitting down with ShannonMcLay, the founder of The Financial Gym, a financial training program that offers one-on-one advice to help you reach your money goals. We got down to business, asking Shannon the nitty-gritty about her business, including how she saves, spends, and invests in her company’s future. Read on to see why Shannon should be your new BFF (best financial friend).

Where do you think is the most important area for a business owner to focus their financial energy?

I think the most important area for a business owner to focus on is expenses. It doesn’t matter how much money your business is making, if you’re not retaining most of the revenue because your expenses are under control, then it’s not a healthy business. I have a client whose business generates $1.2MM per year, but she’s only taking home $20,000 and she can barely afford the expenses around her business.

What was your first big expense as a business owner?

The first things I invested in was legal advice on how to set up my business properly and a designer to help me set up my first website.

How did you decide what to pay yourself?

Before I had any investor money, I didn’t pay myself anything, especially since the business was operating on losses. After I raised my first round of money, I paid myself $5,000 a month. It wasn’t enough to sustain my personal expenses, but it was a balance between what I could use personally and what I needed to leave in the business account to survive.

Every step, no matter how painful, presented an opportunity to learn, grow, get smarter and improve the business.

How did you decide what to pay employees?

I offered my first employee $50,000 per year salary and she negotiated back with $70,000, but I told her I couldn’t pay her more than I was paying myself, so we settled on $60,000 and we both made $60,000 for the first year she worked for me.

What are your top three largest expenses every month?

Payroll, Rent, Office Supplies

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How much do you spend on office space?

We have two gym locations, our HQ and our initial gym space and the two combined rents cost us $30,000 per month.

How much do you spend on employee salaries?

Our current payroll runs around $130,000 a month for full-time staff and $15,000 in contractors.

How much are you saving? When did you start being able to save some of your income?

We are not in a position to save money each month since we are actively growing our business and spending extra money on marketing to fuel our growth.

What apps or software are you using for finances? How did you decide when to hire a financial advisor (if you have one)?

We like using Quickbooks for our business and we wouldn’t hire a financial advisor since that’s what we do for a living.

Do you wish you’d done anything differently in your financial journey as a business owner?

I have certainly made some large financial mistakes where the business is concerned, but I wouldn’t change a single thing about my journey. Every step, no matter how painful, presented an opportunity to learn, grow, get smarter and improve the business.

Why should women talk about money?

Money is our lifeblood. Whether we feel connected to our money or not, we need it to operate in this world and more importantly, we need it to have power and authority and I truly believe that our financial situation prevents us from being and making the changes we want to see in the world.