As you know I’ve written a few entries about how, as an entrepreneur, you sometimes have to give up things in the short term in order to hopefully get even better things in the long term. For example, I talked about how living in a smaller apartment can help you save money that you can invest into your business. Sure, you might be able to afford a bigger place, but do you need one? Probably not.
Sure, you could afford to go out to dinner more often, but do you really need to? Shouldn’t you be working, anyway? It’s cheaper to make something at home and eat it at your desk.
Well, I was recently reminded of this “save now for future benefit” thing again. A few of my friends are planning a surf camp vacation in Costa Rica this summer.
I will not be going.
And I am jealous.
I need to save money and as you may know, it’s hard to take a week off when you’re working on starting your own company. Once things are up and running, maybe, but not in the early phases. I’d be super behind if I did that. And course, I need to save the money that I would otherwise spend on that trip. Partying and learning to surf for a week definitely sounds like something I would be interested in, and was it ever hard to turn it down, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.
So I told my friends they better send me daily pictures and updates. I have a feeling that might just make me even more jealous, though. Here I am in my small apartment working and my friends are all out learning to surf in beautiful Costa Rica. Ok, now I’m getting depressed, because I’m basically just taking a break to write this entry and then I’m gonna get back to working.
It’s kind of weird, though. After a while you get used to saving money and being frugal and stuff and then it doesn’t really hurt that much to not do things because you really can justify that it wouldn’t be a good use of money. My old roommate and best friend is one of those people who impulse buys like crazy every time she goes shopping. You know how they put those impulse items in the checkout lines at the grocery stores? She’ll buy at least one or two things from each trip. I used to do the same. It’s like, “that [insert candy or magazine] looks so good!” And then you pick up the magazine to read the article you saw advertised on the cover (which almost always ends up not being what you expected) and realize that you’re about to spend $4.99 for a magazine.
Now I hate spending money. Do I want to spend $4.99 on that? No. That’s a lot of money. Who buys that stuff, anyway?
It’s empowering to feel that way.
I know I usually write about business type stuff but I’m just going to be a girl in this post!
I have always loved funky, unique pieces of clothing or jewelry. When I was in college, my outfits could be pretty wild and in-your-face! But now that I’m older, although I still love funky accessories or clothes, my taste is much more subdued and mature.
In fact, I prefer unique accessories over clothing itself—accessories are easily interchangeable and can be used or worn on a near-daily basis without making you seem like a hobo, like wearing the same clothes daily could do! I love searching out and purchasing one-of-a-kind or different accessories. In example, I found some hand-printed silk scarves made by an artisan last year—she only created a set number of each design. They were kind of pricey but completely worth the purchase! I also have all kinds of bags, for different occasions. If it looks unusual or really cool then chances are good that I will want it! Shoes are another love of mine—I have so many different pairs of shoes, each one of them unusual in some way that at home, they have overflowed from my closet to boxes beneath my bed. It drives my husband kind of crazy but to be fair, I don’t have that many clothes (well, relative to some women that I know, anyway). My clothing takes up maybe half my closet space and I will routinely go through my wardrobe to give away or toss outdated pieces.
Out of all accessories available to wear, however, I think that I love jewelry the most. I have countless pieces of jewelry! Some pieces are from my husband and friends, but most were purchased by me, for me, in my excursions around the World Wide Web. I especially like hand-made, one-of-a-kind pieces of jewelry, and also odd-looking jewelry. The weirder or more unusual the jewelry, the better!
The other day, I was looking around online during lunch at work and found something called a spoon ring. I had not heard of this before so I looked through several photos. It turns out that spoon rings are the handles of either authentic or re-created vintage spoon handles, curved into a circular shape (with the spoon head removed) so that one can wear it as a ring. The curved spoon handles are polished and smoothed down on the inside that they are comfortable to wear on the finger. I found several stunning, intricate designs that I would love to have in my jewelry collection. This weekend, when I have more time to browse, I plan to look online for more spoon rings and buy a few for both myself and friends!
One of the advantages of being an entrepreneur is that you basically set your own schedule for everything. Most people work 9-5 or so and that’s that. Now obviously as an entrepreneur you are probably going to be working more than 9-5, but the point is, its entirely up to you. If you want to take some time off, or even a few hours off, you can do so. You don’t have to get it approved by anyone, you don’t have to answer to anyone, you just go do whatever you want to do. Need to go to the post office in the middle of the day? No problem, just go!
Speaking of freedom throughout the day, one of the things I want to learn more about is financial trading. To me, that seems like it would be the ultimate job (assuming you were profitable, of course). The market is only open from 9 to 4 (Eastern time), and that seems like a pretty short workday to me. Plus, nothing even says you would have to trade every day, so if you wanted to take a day off it would probably not be a problem. And from what I understand, some people don’t even trade every day (maybe the particular market formation that day doesn’t look favorable?). Seems like ultimate flexibility. No bosses to answer to, not even any clients to answer to. Of course, the main risk with something like that is that every day you face the possible risk of losing your money. As a normal business owner you can still lose money, but it must be different for a trader. They have to put their own capital at risk in order to make money. Sounds scary. I don’t know if I’d have the nerve to do that. I spent some time recently reading the site of Financial Trading School so I’ve kind of got that stuff on the brain right now.
Speaking of money, today is April 1st and that means that tax time is just around the corner. I’ve got most of my stuff ready, I just need to take it to my accountant. I usually get all my stuff prepared ahead of time but then I kind of procrastinate actually bringing it in. I don’t know why. I’m naturally a procrastinator although that is something I’ve been working on recently, but that is a topic for another post in the future (no irony intended… get it… cuz I’m procrastinating writing a post about procrastinating… never mind).
As you work to build your business, you may occasionally find yourself daydreaming. It could be about a delicious meal (since you are living frugally while focusing on your business, right?), or maybe the car you want to buy when you sell your business, or maybe you’ve just been up working all day and are daydreaming about how comfortable your bed is going to be.
I’ve been daydreaming about traveling. I want to go somewhere far away, somewhere exotic. I want go somewhere where they don’t speak English and the food is delicious and every day is an adventure and there’s a bunch of fun stuff to do and the scenery is beautiful and I can meet cool people and not have to worry about work or anything like that. There should be a beach where I can just relax and drink fruity drinks and watch the waves and the people and forget about everything that’s on my mind. Somewhere like Indonesia. It’s on the other side of the planet, everyone is supposedly super friendly, they have a bunch of (presumably delicious) spicy food, they have world-class snorkeling and beaches, and they speak Indonesian. I’d visit the major islands, take in the sites, relax on the beach, eat some food, stay at a hotel Bandung, and just chill out for a while.
The problem, though, is that I’d probably either get a little too relaxed and end up staying there too long or wanting to move there and letting my business suffer, or I wouldn’t be able to relax enough because I’d keep thinking about work the whole time and be sitting there on the beach like “yeah, this is cool, I wonder how many emails I’ve gotten today. I wonder if any of them are urgent enough that I should be responding to them now. I wonder if anyone is trying to get a hold of me,” etc. I’ve always been kind of high strung like that, so as you can see, I really need a vacation!
Of course once it’s over you come back to reality. I’m not sure how I’d deal with that, and that’s part of the reason I have trouble relaxing in the first place; I always know that “real life” is waiting for me when I get back, so I have trouble getting lost in the moment.
That’s actually something I want to work on. I’ve heard meditation can be helpful with that so maybe it’s something I should look into.
My old roommate sent me this email and this pic of her new living room. Look how big it is! I’m kinda jealous of the whole living in a nice townhouse thing since I’m trying to save money living in a studio.
“Next month at this time I will be living in my new townhouse.
This will be the first time I have owned my own residence as I have been a renter all my life. I honestly thought I would be married by now and living in a house with a kid or two but that hasn’t happened yet. I figured a townhouse was a good choice for somebody in my position and found a great deal on one that is super close to my job so I got it. I was a little worried that I wouldn’t get approved for the mortgage but passed that test with flying colors.
This morning I started the moving preparations by ordering a bunch of plastic bins from this place I found that sells them. I have used cardboard boxes in the past but didn’t feel like going through the trouble of getting them this time. I figure with the bins I can use them for something else after I am done moving.
I am a little worried about how my cat Pebbles is going to adjust to the new place. She has only ever known my current apartment as home and she is real skittish. My friend Jane was here the other night and as soon as she got here Pebbles was in my bedroom not to be seen again. Jane is a frequent visitor too so I don’t know. I am going to move her last though because I figure that will be for the best. I wouldn’t want her there during the whole process as that would surely freak her out.
The nice thing about this is that my mortgage payment is actually going to be cheaper than what I pay in rent now. That will be nice because I’ll no doubt need the extra money for repairs and stuff. There will be no more calling the landlord to come and fix it for free. Hopefully with it being a new unit I won’t run into too many issues while I’m there. I would like to stay there at least 3 years but by year 5 I want to move on to something better. I hope by then I will have met somebody but I’m not getting my hopes up for that.
Well I’m going to wrap this up because I actually have to take Pebbles to the vet for a routine checkup. I am going to ask the vet what else I can do to make it easier on her. I hope she gives me some good advice.”
Happy Valentines Day, btw!
My old roommate sent me this email earlier today. She said I could share it here:
“I am never in my life going to get behind the wheel even after one drink. I say that because last weekend I got my first and only DUI. I went out after work with some guys that I work with and only had 3 drinks but that was all it took. I had a light lunch so I guess that is why but it wasn’t like I was sloppy drunk or even close to it. I got pulled over because I was on my phone like an idiot and forgot to put my turn signal when I changed lanes on the highway. I didn’t even see the cop behind me but he was in an unmarked car so I don’t know if I would have noticed even if I wasn’t on my phone. I did the whole field sobriety test and thought I passed but I thought wrong. The cop said I failed and then gave me an on-spot breathalyzer which I failed. I was then handcuffed and taken to the police station where I had to blow again on the big machine. I got processed and everything and after about two hours I was able to leave but a cab had to pick me up. I had to go the next day to get my car from the tow lot which was not cheap by anyone’s standards.
My next step is to contact one of the best DUI attorneys in Sarasota that I can and see what my options are. I am pretty sure that I am going to lose my license but I don’t know for how long. I am lucky because my coworker Jeff already said he would pick me up and drop me off if needed. He was out with me that night and he said it could have easily happened to him as he goes home the same way. I’m not glad this happened by any means but I am glad that it wasn’t worse. I didn’t cause an accident or anything like that. I know when that happens the court tends to come down harder on you. My ex-roommate John got busted for one years ago and he rear ended somebody and things did not go well for him. I forgot how much it ended up costing him but I know he had to move out and back into his parent’s house because of it.”
When you become hyper-focused on your business, it’s easy to let some of your old healthy habits fall by the wayside. As I’ve mentioned before, sometimes you end up skipping your workouts because you’re too busy. That 15 minutes to drive to the gym, 30 minutes to work out, and 15 minutes to drive back home is more than you can spare. Sometimes you feel like you can’t even take 20 minutes to go for a run outside. Let me tell you, though, that you should take a break at least every few hours and do some stretches, especially if you’ve been sitting down the whole time. There was recently a study done that basically said the longer amount of time you spend sitting each day, the earlier you are going to die.
So get up and stretch. Learn a few yoga poses to do throughout the day.
You’ll also find that you dietary habits may change as you become busier and busier. Let me give you some examples:
Do you drink caffeine? I never used to. But then one morning I was just dragging and didn’t feel like I had enough energy to be productive, so I made a small cup of coffee. And let me tell you, as someone who doesn’t drink caffeine, I had no tolerance built up at all, and that small cup was enough to get me energized. I didn’t want to make a habit out of it, but you know how it goes; you’re tired the next day and so you decide you’ll just have one more cup. And then another one the next day. And so on.
And now I’m a coffee drinker.
Speaking of coffee, I’ve also been looking at green coffee bean extract to help me lose a few pounds that I’ve put on from not going to the gym. Unlike the coffee I’ve come to drink, this is made from unroasted beans (so they’re still green). It’s one of those things where I know it’s happening (me missing my workouts) but I can’t really afford to not be focused on my work at this point, and I can tell and feel a difference from not going to the gym as much as I used to. I know it’s just for a short period of time (“short” is relative), but I don’t want to get to the point in the meantime where I gain too much weight and then have to start from an even worse place when I finally get back to the gym.
Why do you want to be successful?
The first thing most people will say when answering that question will have something to do with money.
“I want to be rich!”
“I want a million dollars!”
Or they’ll say something that is somehow related to having a lot of money, like they want a maid, or a Lamborghini, or their own private island, etc. They want to live like a baller.
Running your own business often requires you to do the opposite of living like a baller, though. Especially at the beginning, you often need to be as frugal as possible for two reason:
1) much of your money will be getting put into the business, which means you might not have that much money to spend, anyway.
2) you aren’t going to be getting a regular paycheck, so you cannot count on getting a specific amount on a certain day in the future, so you have to try and make the money you do have last as long as possible.
Let’s talk a bit more about these for a bit. Nearly any venture you undertake will require startup capital. Maybe you’re franchising a restaurant. That costs money. Maybe you’re printing t-shirts for a clothing line. That costs money. Even if you’re doing something that doesn’t require any supplies, you’ll still need to spend money on advertising. The less money you have because you’ve spent it on cool stuff for yourself, the less money you’ll have to put into your business. Sure, maybe you could buy a BMW, but buying a used Honda Civic would give you a lot more cash to work with (the exception to this being if your company image somehow relies on the vehicle you drive, for example if you’re a real estate agent).
Number 2. When most people transition from working for the man to being the man (or woman!), one of the most shocking realities is the lack of a constant paycheck. People tend to base their spending around that regular paycheck. Their budgeting revolves around it. They’ll say things like “I’ll get that next week after I get paid on Friday.” When you’re starting your own business, that doesn’t exist anymore. You might go a period of weeks or months without any income. Are you prepared to face the realities of that? In order to survive during this time you may need to take some steps to become more frugal. Eat ramen. Move into a smaller apartment. Sell your furniture. Sleep on a futon. Find the lowest car insurance rates you can find, or better yet, sell your car (if you live in a downtown city; I wouldn’t sell my car if I lived in the suburbs). Cook food in bulk and eat leftovers. Cancel your cable (TV, not internet). Why are you watching TV, anyway? You have a business to run. Go to the $2 theater that shows old movies. That’s your life while you’re getting started.
Is it worth it?
This is kind of one of those things that everyone knows they should do, but few people actually take the time to do consistently.
Always. Make. Backups.
Now, I’m not even talking about how important this is for your home computer with all your person files on it. It’s one thing if your hard drive crashes or whatever and you lose all your music and videos and pictures and papers that you wrote back in high school and whatever else you had saved on there for sentimental reasons. And indeed, it’s a tragic thing.
But it’s something entirely different if you lose a hard drive with business stuff on it: client information, proprietary information, financial records, etc. You are quite screwed if you lose that. What if the notes for the project you’re working on for a client disappeared? How would you feel if you had to call them and say “btw, we need to have that meeting again because I lost our notes”? Or what if your expense record vanished? Have fun doing your taxes when you no longer have a record of how much you paid for what things.
Always back everything up with multiple redundancies. External hard drives. Thumb drives. Email things to yourself. Online (cloud) storage.
Actually, that last one is the one area I want get into. Right now, my backup process involves copying everything onto an external hard drive, and copying the important files onto a thumb drive. I also email myself a copy of all the important files every so often so I have a copy of them sitting on my email server as well. But I want to learn more about cloud storage. If you’re not quite up to date like me, the “cloud” is just another term for “online.” Storing something “on the cloud” means “on the internet.” I don’t know why they came up with another word for it, but they did. Anyway, what it means is you keep a backup of your files on a server so you can access them from anywhere. Not only is this useful in case you need to recover your files, but you can also access them from wherever you have internet access, which can make business trips easier since you don’t have to worry about bringing the files with you. But like with anything, there are a few different providers offering that type of service, so I’ve been reading some cloud storage reviews to try and figure out which one will be best for me.
I know, I already have 3 layers of backup, but since we’re talking business data that I really don’t want to lose, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with taking extra precautions.
Not to mention, I don’t want to lose all my music, either!
One of the things you don’t expect when you go into business for yourself is just how different your taxes are going to be. For the most part, taxes as an employee are pretty easy and straightforward. There are even free computer programs that will do them for you. You just enter your income, your amount withheld, your dependents, any interest paid, if you had any investment sales or dividends, and you’re done. Click the button and submit them online and do it again next year.
But when you’re self-employed? Ha. It’s not even close to that.
I remember the first year I had self-employed taxes. Since I was doing everything myself, I decided that I was going to do my own taxes by myself as well to save money. After all, I had done my taxes every year prior and I certainly didn’t see a need to pay someone to do them for me. How hard could it be?
I sat down and got to work. What were all these new forms I had never seen before? How much of this stuff can I claim as expenses? What am I doing?
I finally finished, or rather, I thought I finished. It said I owed quite a bit of money. Since I didn’t make very much money my first year anyway, I was pretty surprised to see that I might actually owe as much as I had worked out.
After deciding that this couldn’t be right, I decided it would be worth the money to hire an accountant to help me out. Tax accountant Five Dock? I need your help!
Fortunately for them, I did manage to keep really good records of everything. I had all my receipts for business expenses in an envelope so everything was clear and easy to find, and I could show exactly how much I paid for everything.
Fortunately for me, my accountant knew what he was doing, and it turns out I was actually going to get money back rather than owing money like I had figured on my own. So this alone more than made up for the cost of working with him, but it also gave me the security of knowing that everything was done correctly (as opposed to all the mistakes I made when I tried to do it myself).
So the best advice I can give for someone who is newly self-employed is to keep track of all your income and business expenses, and remember that every country has its own laws about what can be expensed, but you may be able to deduct supplies that you purchase for work, part of your rent or mortgage (if your office is part of your home), and part of your internet bill (assuming you work online). Basically, if you are spending money and it is related to your business, make sure you save the receipt for tax time. Your accountant will know exactly what you can and can’t expense, but to do so you will need the receipts, so save them!
Also, be aware of estimated taxes, but that’s another topic for another day.