Let the Rain Come, You’re Unsinkable!

Music speaks to me. Some days it soothes my soul and other days it gets me moving. Nerd Alert….in high school I lettered in choir while my friends lettered in sports. In fact, I was in 3 different choirs. That being said, it will come as no surprise that I love musicals and concerts.

Singin in the RainOne of my favorite musicals is Singin’ in the Rain. Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds, oh yes, an oldie but a goodie in the entertainment category. I didn’t fully appreciate it from a work or career aspect until recently. In Unsinkable: A Memoir, the late Debbie Reynolds speaks to how the “Rain” was instrumental in helping her reach her potential. See, Debbie did not have any dance experience prior to Singin’ in the Rain. This experience came as quite a challenge, however, she remarked in her book…

“My father had raised me to never start a job unless I planned on finishing it, and I was determined to do my damnedest. The word ‘quit’ was not in my vocabulary.” 

“When I look at Singin’ in the Rain now, I realize something that I didn’t understand at the time but must have known somehow. Mr. Mayer said I could do it. Gene Kelly said I had to do it. I didn’t know that I couldn’t do it. So I did it. And I was terrific.”

Finding the joy in the rain is not always easy. More often than not, you have to plan for a rainy day.

Grab Your Umbrella and Take a Walk with Me

Like many communities these days, the Village of Hoffman Estates,  where I devote the majority of my professional and personal time, offers a lovely summer concert series on our village green.

I love it… not just for the relaxation and entertainment value, but for the friends and acquaintances I’ve made as well as the opportunity to get a candid glimpse at how our community is thriving. It’s barometer that has no statistics, charts, or guerilla marketing sales pitches. The inherent value for me is an enjoyable status check presented in a work life balanced way…and it’s a good excuse to enjoy a beer or a glass of wine with friends…just sayin’.

Last week’s concert, Cadillac Groove, was interrupted by passing storms. It was the last in this summer’s series and one I wouldn’t have missed for the world. Only the heartiest of us (or craziest, as the case may be) showed up and were willing to sit it out under umbrellas. It struck me (no pun intended) that it is much the same way in business. Only the hearty are willing to risk showing up and working through some short-term discomfort to enjoy the long-term rewards and benefits.

During those brief rainy pauses in the entertainment, we huddled together, sheltered those less prepared, and found joy in the moments of camaraderie. Chatter and laughter filled the air for some, as others complained, packed up and trudged out disgruntled; soaked in disbelief.

It is in those less than comfortable moments (and they are many over the course of life) that we find out what we are made of and who is willing to huddle with us.

Storm Advisory

As entrepreneurs, we are no strangers to taking risks and making decisions that create situations (both positive and negative) for ourselves. If we are truly business savvy, the situations we create are devoted to “the next big thing”. With the swell of activity that surrounds us at any given time, it is often impossible to conceive that there will be rainy days; moments when even the crickets aren’t humming; moments when we stare out the window willing the sun to shine.

Moments, and I promise you they are just moments, when you have released a product or service that isn’t gaining any traction, the economy is sluggish, or you’re going through a personal crisis…you name it, the storms come in all forms…there is this need to react.

Human nature dictates that you create a situation. Do you run out into the rain shaking your umbrella in your clenched fist to challenge the thunder? Board up the windows and call it a day? Or, put on your rain gear and step out to appreciate the momentary pause and fresh perspective the cleansing rain brings?

If Benjamin Franklin were here he would probably tell you, unless you’re conducting a life changing experiment, shaking your umbrella like a lightning rod at an angry sky is not the most productive way to spend your time.

General_BenjaminFranklinCartoon_Lightinening_2016
Image Courtesy of Rick Adams

If you’re prepared to take the jolt, and all that comes with it, then by all means, we won’t stop you from exercising your right to experience the hair-raising exhilaration of needlessly being knocked on your butt.

Funny as it sounds, this approach actually works for some of us. These acts of defiance start in childhood and sound something like, “Hey! Don’t touch the …..” One emergency room visit later we feel like the learning experience, although painful, was a net gain.

Don’t get me wrong, there are times when it becomes necessary to cut your losses and call it a day. Lightning, for instance, would have been a far riskier dynamic at the concert than the gentle rain we endured.

How do you know when the storm is worth enduring and the risk is worth taking? Honestly, “no” thing is a “sure” thing. Worse yet, emotion and a phenomenon called entrepreneurial terror can take over. Being prepared can help.

I have experienced many rainy days in my 11 years as a business owner. Business maturity has certainly come with its fair share of “character building opportunities” and there will no doubt be more.

In these moments that tested my fortitude, and sometimes my sanity, I discovered that I am exceptionally resilient and have a low tolerance for unnecessary suffering.   I learned long ago that the rain is necessary for beautiful things to bloom and singin’ and dancing my way through it, although not always easy, has been a productive part of my strategy.

Planning for a Rainy Day

So, let the rain come. You ARE unsinkable!

Sing

Find the good in each day. This is easy to do when things are going according to plan. It can take effort when things feel off-track. You might have to dig down a bit if you’re struggling, but you can always find something positive to keep you motivated.

Dance

Keep moving forward. It’s okay and very healthy to take a breather, but make it meaningful.

Have a Plan

Forecasting rain comes with time and experience, however, it is never a perfect science. Planning activities to engage in during the storm can begin immediately.

Entrepreneurs know there is always something that needs attention. Turn on your favorite tunes and let the music move you to create a situation that continues to propel you forward in a positive way. If you plan well you won’t be bothered by the rain. In fact, you may come to welcome the opportunities that blossom as a result of it. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Business

  • Assess your goals or strategy and redefine if necessary
  • Address something that has been idle for a while
  • Sketch out some plans for the future
  • Learn something new
  • Start something new
  • Network

Personal

  • Spend time with family members and friends
  • Do something for yourself
  • Take a vacation or a staycation
  • Clean out a closet
  • Paint a room
  • Volunteer

Take These Key Success Factors Into Consideration:

  • Be in tune with yourself – Assess your personality, leverage your core strengths and allow others to help bring balance to the rest. Take mental health breaks.
  • Maintain strong bonds with, and appreciation for, those who huddle with you.
  • Be in tune with your market – Who are they and what do they want?
  • Be in tune with your budget – Establish financing, break-even points, and ROI
  • Plan a strategy that includes a fall-back position – What is Plan B?
  • Be willing to adapt when needed.
  • Understand that value is not always monetary. Value can arrive in the form of knowledge, expertise, opportunity, and experience.
  • Acknowledge and celebrate all accomplishments.

 


Author: Vickie Andersen, Managing Partner at Admin and Beyond, LLC

Tax Preparers, CPAs, and Tax Attorneys…Oh My!

As I helped my son to do his taxes last night I smiled thinking, how responsible a young man he has become, and how much I miss the days of the 1040EZ form.

Dependents, homes, investments and school loans are challenging enough to account for. Business ownership brings another whole level of complexity. It’s important to know who you can, and should, depend on.

The IRS defines the different options, as follows:

Tax Preparers (Enrolled Agents)

Licensed by the IRS. Enrolled agents are subject to a suitability check and must pass a three-part Special Enrollment Examination, which is a comprehensive exam that requires them to demonstrate proficiency in federal tax planning, individual and business tax return preparation, and representation. They must complete 72 hours of continuing education every 3 years.

CPAs

Licensed by state boards of accountancy, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories. Certified public accountants have passed the Uniform CPA Examination. They have completed a study in accounting at a college or university and also met experience and good character requirements established by their respective boards of accountancy. In addition, CPAs must comply with ethical requirements and complete specified levels of continuing education in order to maintain an active CPA license. CPAs may offer a range of services; some CPAs specialize in tax preparation and planning.

Tax Attorneys

Licensed by state courts, the District of Columbia or their designees, such as the state bar. Generally, they have earned a degree in law and passed a bar exam. Attorneys generally have on-going continuing education and professional character standards. Attorneys may offer a range of services; some attorneys specialize in tax preparation and planning.

Definitions courtesy of IRS.GOV: Understanding Tax Return Preparer Credentials and Qualifications 

 

Tax season is rapidly approaching! If you’re still collecting receipts in an old shoe box, it’s time to let our accounting crew organize them for you! Give us a call!

Business Coaches and Consultants

If it keeps you up at night, it’s worth having someone take an objective look at it. Sometimes, the biggest issues have the simplest answers. Finding yourself in unfamiliar territory can be frustrating. Before you give up and move to a deserted island, consider getting some professional help… I mean that in the nicest way.

Coaches

Interested in working with a coach? You should know that coaching is a widely varied field. You can find everything from personal coaches who will help you identify your personal strengths and weaknesses…to business professionals who go over your business with a fine-toothed comb to help you identify your business strengths and weaknesses.

Consultants

It is possible to find business consultants with a generalized business knowledge, but most often you will find individuals with specific expertise in areas such as: marketing, accounting, branding, and more.

Admin and Beyond can assist with organizing aspects of your business, improving workflow, and automating some of your most tedious processes.

Upon occasion, we work hand-in-hand with a client’s coach, or business consultant, to support ongoing processes, as well as, implement new processes.

Need a referral? We can help.

It’s Our 10-Year Anniversary!

Starting a new business is always exciting, and the journey has been incredible. I have to admit, there were definitely times when it was more guts than glory. It took courage to persist through some pretty rough economic conditions, life changes, and moments of over-whelming growth. Yes, we faced them all; sometimes with grace, sometimes with knee-jerk reactions. We learned as many valuable lessons about ourselves as we did about running a business.

Follow us this year to learn our story.

Portion Control – The Business Diet Plan

You’re ready to take on all that 2016 has to offer. You’ve made a list of goals, engaged the help of those who can provide guidance and support along the way. You’re confident in your direction. The worst is behind you…right?

Real, or perceived, you will encounter an occasional obstacle on the road to success. The biggest road blocks we face are those mountains that stand in our way; often of our own making. If achieving all you envision for yourself, and your business, seems like it will take a Herculean effort, a few minor adjustments may do the trick..

Break your goals down into bite-sized chunks. Develop a plan to make it happen. Make it measurable and memorable, by that I mean, keep track of everything. It is easy to forget, or gloss over, all the little things that are achieved. We often make the tasks so large we can’t achieve them because, somehow, we feel if we don’t make the goal large the win isn’t as big and meaningful. Make them small and make rewarding yourself a priority. You’ve heard it all before. Easier said than done.

Consider this analogy: You’re really looking forward to dinner you have planned. You’ve put a lot of thought into the menu, selected only the finest ingredients, prepared each item with care…then, instead of enjoying each tender bite, you stuff every morsel into your mouth and attempt to chew. Not only do you not enjoy the meal, the indigestion that awaits you is going to be epic.

The proverbial, “biting off more that you can chew,” it’s human nature. But nowhere in our daily activities is it more prevalent than in the pressure we put on ourselves to perform, especially for small business owners.

It’s really okay and, actually, more productive to cut your objectives up into smaller pieces that are easier to digest. It’s not necessary to finish everything on your plate. Put left-overs away to chew on later…or serve them up in a to-go container for someone else to take. Seeking feedback and support from someone who is not emotionally attached can be one of your most valuable strategies.

Top priority for 2016…avoid goal bloat with portion control!

Not sure where to begin? Download our handy Priority Sorting Worksheet.

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Not Another Fruitcake!

The holidays are over… but the gratitude goes on! If you’re looking for creative, yet practical, ways to thank customers for their business… or networking buddies for their generous referrals, consider giving the gift of Amazon Prime!

If you shop Amazon, you already know the benefits:

  • Shop at home in your PJs, any time, day or night.
  • Items shipped right to your door
  • New and used purchasing options
  • Customer feedback (priceless these days)

Amazon Prime adds:

We reaped the rewards a few months ago when we upgraded our technology. Computers, a printer, and a scanner, as well as, all the little odds and ends we needed. We did it all using our Amazon Prime account. Everything arrived at the front door, as expected, and we never paid a penny for shipping!

If you haven’t tried it yet, it’s a budget- and schedule-friendly business decision…and you can try it free for 30 days!