Do you know anyone who looks forward to tax season? There's so many forms, receipts, numbers and headaches...and at the end of it all you have to pay out a chunk of cash. Sounds awesome.
We've found 13 things you can do to help you make it through this tax preparation season without losing your hair or your soul. Ready?
Define Your Purpose
Why? Why are you in business? Why does it matter that you get your taxes done and done well? How will it effect your employees, your team, and, ultimately, your customers? Remind yourself constantly that, yes, even taxes play a role in the success and growth of your business. This is just one more step in building your dreams, and helping everyone on the team succeed.
"The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it."
- Eckhart Tolle
Create a Daily Routine
Set aside time every day to work on tax prep. If you're starting today, you're ahead of the game--keep going! Set aside 30 - 60 minutes every day where you can start collecting receipts, organizing bills, updating your books, etc. Don't let anything disrupt this daily task until your taxes are finished. Put it on the calendar with warning signs to anyone who tries to interrupt. Stick to your daily routine. Nothing comes between you and a successful tax season, right?
Once you create a daily routine, start with small tasks--something that won't overwhelm you. What do you already know you need to do? Start there. You don't need to complete your tax prep in one day or in one week. If you start now, you can start small.
Set One Goal
Each day, give yourself just one goal. Again, don't overwhelm yourself. You could simply gather receipts. Then organize and record them the next day. You could simply do a search on IRS.gov to answer one question you have. Find the answer to just one question. Make it small. Just one thing at a time.
"A goal without a plan is just a wish."
- Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Identify & Deconstruct Your Fears
What's causing you so much anxiety about tax prep? Isolate the things that you don't know and schedule a day on your calendar to look for the answers. Remind yourself that you're a perfectly capable person, able to problem-solve and execute. You've got this.
Get the Right Tools
It's hard to get any kind of work done when you don't have the right tools. Depending on the size of your business, you'll need different kinds of tools when doing your tax prep.
PC Mag did a comprehensive review of some of the most popular tax prep websites out there. Read the full article here. Here's a list of products they reviewed:
If your business is behind with its books, growing, or too big for these websites' capabilities, it might be time to hire an accountant or a firm with the staff and qualifications you need to make sure your taxes are completed correctly and in a timely manner.
Go For 5
Having a hard time getting started on your tax prep routine every day? Some days it's just hard to get motivated to even start, right? Tell yourself to just start working for 5 minutes. You can do 5 minutes. Once you get started you'll be able to complete the full 30 - 60 minutes that you've set aside. You can do anything for 5 minutes. So start there.
Find Your Itch
What's keeping you from starting today? Are you tired? Overwhelmed? Distracted? Busy? Identify what's keeping you from actually working on your tax prep. Once you've identified it then you can remedy it. Tired? Take a walk around the office. If you work from home, take a 15 minute power nap. Are you overwhelmed? Remember, you don't have to do it all in one day. Find your itch, and solve it so you can get on with your tax prep task for the day.
Find the Next Step
Another trick to overcome a sense of overwhelm is to simply think about the next step--nothing beyond that. What has to happen next? Just do that, and then save the next step for the following day. Are you getting the idea? Baby steps certainly applies to tax season. If you start early enough, you'll have time for baby steps.
Think About the Alternatives If You Procrastinate
If you don't start today, then you will be overwhelmed as tax deadlines approach. Your procrastination will not only cause you stress, but the rest of your team (and your family!) will bear the brunt of your grumpiness. Part of being a good leader is doing things that aren't fun or bring awards--it's doing things that no one sees or hears about, but keep the gears turning. Procrastination is nothing to brag about. Just get started. It's that simple.
Think About the Benefits of Starting NOW
On the other hand, think about how good it will feel to have your taxes done on time--even early! I guarantee you'll be high-fiving everyone on your team the moment you finish those tax forms and send everything off in the mail. Work can go on with no distractions. If you get started today, you don't have to set aside an entire week before the deadline to finish. Get a little done everyday, and you can continue to do what you need to do to make sure business keeps rolling.
"Don’t wait until you’re thick in the midst of the holiday season to attend to your tax and financial matters. Do this now!"
- Barbara Weltman, Author, Tax & Business Attorney 5 Financial and Tax Planning Things to Do Right Now
Remember, Employees Are Relying On You
Tax prep is not just something for you to whine and complain about. It's essential to business, so do it. When you put off taxes, you are harming employees' well-being in one way or another. If you fall behind on taxes, it hurts your team. If you procrastinate, they feel your stress and anxiety. You're the leader. Act like one.
Focus on Learning
As an entrepreneur, you probably have multiple interests, hobbies and skills. Doing tax prep can actually be quite educational. Look at it as a way to help you better understand the costs of running a business, and how you can be smarter next year with your accounting. Doing your tax prep can help you understand more ways to make your business profitable.