Posts Tagged ‘Solopreneur’

At this time of year I always start to get into what I like to call ‘Clean Up and Get Organized for the New Year’ mode in my business.  Somehow, I always look forward to this process. For me it involves several steps which many of you may find it helpful to consider.

  1. Purging Paper & Electronic Information – like many of you I accumulate a lot of paper and electronic information throughout the year, some of which I never use. There’s no better feeling than going through all the paper files and shredding a bunch, going through my ‘My Documents’ folder and either archiving or deleting a bunch of files and finally going through all my email folders from this year and either archiving or deleting a bunch of that information.  Somehow this process always seems to shift the energy around a bit and make room for new and exciting projects each new year.
  2. Getting Ready for Canada Revenue – I have to say that all of us small business owners certainly do have to be well organized on the financial records side of our business in case our friends at CRA come calling.  I firmly believe that if I’m well organized and keep good records there is less likelihood that will happen but if it does I’ll be well prepared. I can pull any piece of   information they may require on a moment’s notice including invoices, expense receipts, HST returns, my calendar with all appointments,  monthly financial statements and the all important Automobile Mileage Log (to purchase yours go to http://www.janetheorganizer.com/productsforsale_automileagelog.html)  for the past 7 years.  The two things that they love to audit us home-based businesses for are ‘office-use-of-home’ expenses and ‘vehicle expenses’, so be sure to have those records in tip top shape and easily accessible.  In addition, HST audits are quite common so being able to produce your records in a timely fashion can make this process almost painless.
  3. Creating A New Budget – I always like to challenge myself to ‘stretch goals’ on the revenue side and then see how little I can get away with spending on the expense side while still growing the business.  This year I’m thinking about a few new budget items such as a Smartphone (yeah, yeah, I know I’m so behind on that one), a part-time Personal Assistant (too exciting), and maybe even my dream of a Training Video.  Having a monthly budget and reviewing it twice per month is one of the key success factors to any business, large or small.
  4. Annual Planning – in addition to creating a new budget, I schedule a yearly annual planning session for 1 or 2 days with my mastermind group(s) to brainstorm ideas for the next year or so.  This will involve both my personal and professional life and is a chance for some free thinking with no limitations.  A chance to review outstanding projects and think of new ones.  A chance to dream big and share those dreams with others.  And finally the time to put it all in writing, decide my priorities for the next year, and make a committment to others in my mastermind group to work on those priorities or, if I don’t, to have a good reason for changing them.

Whew, aren’t you exhausted just thinking about all this? Now we all have to go and book time in our calendar over the holiday season to get working on #1 to #3.  In my business #4 will be happening in two phases, one in January and the other in March.  However, you may decide to do something completely different like attend a workshop or hire someone to help you through the process.  Remember the adage, “Poor Prior Planning leads to P… Poor Performance”.


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Well, it seems that Conference season has kicked into high gear yet again this fall.   As usual I have had the good fortune of being booked by several associations to present workshops at their conferences and be a part of their professional development weeks which is always good fun.   I so enjoy being a small part of a much bigger educational opportunity and admire companies and associations who are true learning organizations.

The exciting news this week is that I get to go to my own professional development conference where I’ll be in the audience instead of in front of the room (for the most part).  Professional Organizers in Canada has been hosting their annual conference since 2000.  So exciting to be attending the 10th annual conference and this year we’re in Montreal – yeah! 

Not only will I be continuing my education as an organizer by attending sessions such as ‘Online Tools for Maximum Productivity’, ‘The Impact of Technology on Time Management’ (with time management guru Harold Taylor), and ‘Do I E-Shred This?’ but I will also hear two great keynote speakers.  In addition, I’ve got several one-on-one meetings scheduled with specific people I want to learn more from and I’m sitting on the ‘Ask a Senior Organizer’ panel.  There’s nothing like being grilled by other organizers about your business – yikes!

I know what you’re thinking, three days with a group of over 100 other organizers, you’ve got to be kidding me.  Believe it or not we’re not all Type A personalities (although I think the majority are) and we’re not all suffering from mild OCD (at least I don’t think we are?).  Many of our members have transformed their own lives from chaos to order and are now able to teach others how to do it.

I have to admit I’m glad to be picking up a few more CE credits for my certification, but I have to say that my favourite part of the conference is always seeing my organizing friends from across the country and meeting new friends.  I do love to socialize and being a ‘solopreneur’ can be tough at times. There’s nothing like sharing business ideas and challenges with a group of your peers who really get it.

Speaking of sharing with peers who really get it, upon my return from Montreal I’m heading to the Centre for Women in Business Conference the next week.   This time I’ll be learning about growing my business and sharing with women from all walks of life for one day. 

I think I’m going to be all ‘conferenced’ out by that time and ready to get back to work on my business and working with my clients equipped with all the tools to provide even better service than ever.

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So there you have it.  I spent the last two weekends getting all the numbers ready for my accountant so he can file my return by June 15th.  Thank goodness us self-employed people have an extra six weeks before we have to file our return.  The bad news is, of course, if you owe money you will get charged interest back to April 30th.

Hmmm…. being someone who hates working close to deadlines I don’t quite get what my problem is here.  Why did I wait until a couple of weeks before the deadline to do this, thereby causing me to give up my weekend?  I think I have found one of the few things that I procrastinate on and I know that the reason is I don’t want to give the tax man my hard earned money, darn it!

I have now decided that I should prepare all of this in January and hold onto it for the filing deadline  instead of waiting.  Imagine following the advice I give to my clients everyday!  “Be proactive”, I say to them.  “You’ll feel so great when you complete the task with time to spare.” It really is true, honest. 

Here are a few tips for us self-employed individuals:

  1. Keep on top of your income and expenses on a monthly basis.  Either have your bookkeeper enter this information monthly or do it yourself faithfully.
  2. Be sure to balance things like inventory, credit card statements and bank statements every month.  As soon as you get out of balance, it becomes more and more difficult to find your mistakes as time goes by.
  3. Keep the requirements for tax filing in mind throughout the year.  For example, this year we had the Home Renovation Tax Credit so we had to carefully keep all our receipts. 
  4. Don’t forget if you work from home that you may be able to write-off a percentage of your house repairs, utilities, insurance, etc. so be sure to keep good records.
  5. If you use your vehicle for business purposes keep all your gas, repair, insurance receipts. Be sure to complete a mileage log on a daily basis as you’ll need to have this information to calculate the number of km you drove for business. And, you’ll need this log if you’re ever audited.  If you need to purchase a mileage log Click Here.
  6. Keep any documentation that pertains to your tax filing for the required number of years depending on your country of residence.  If you’re not sure, check with your accountant.

Whew, I think that’s all I can think of for today. Oh, and if you follow this advice it will save you time  in the long run.  How cool is that.

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This week I have been thinking about how thankful I am for the many people in my business life who help me maintain my sanity and are there to take some of the tasks off my plate that I wouldn’t have to deal with if I had an assistant.

The problem with having an assistant on staff is that I actually have to pay this phantom assistant every week or two and I have to commit to giving he or she regular hours – employees seem to like that sort of thing even if it’s only part time.  Darn them!  I started my own business so that I could have freedom and flexibility and somehow even adding one part-time person on staff takes that away.  If I don’t want to work for a week I don’t have to but that also hampers my ability to pay staff!

So here’s where the concept of having a virtual assistant (or two) out there ready and willing anytime you think of something that perhaps you shouldn’t do yourself is so great.  I have two VA’s that I like to work with – one is an expert at social media so she (Time on Task)  can take care of anything related to Linked In, Facebook, and  Twitter.  Then the other VA (Daley Progress) likes to do research and organize contacts and fill out applications for grants and so many more things I’m sure we haven’t even thought of yet?

The other person I’m bringing into my life this coming week is a friend of mine who is a very talented writer and PR person.  Gail has agreed to have a go at writing a really great biography for me.  It’s so darn difficult to write about yourself without it seeming either like your bragging or, on the other hand, boring people to death.

Just writing this post is giving me ideas for more ways I can get help with the stuff I’m not good at and stick to what I do best, helping my clients take back control of their lives by getting rid of clutter and managing their time effectively.

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