I’ve encountered some scary situations in adult life, but none have been as daunting as filing corporate taxes for my small business. It’s our first official calendar year, and we handed over our beloved binder of taped and scanned receipts, expenses, and hand written notes to our CPA. We do all of our own accounting, but since we’ve never filed corporate year-end, we hired an affordable CPA willing to help guide a small business through this hurdle of terror.
As we walked away from his office, we found ourselves relieved. Little fear, no anxiety – just general curiosity about what we’d hear back from the IRS. We’d budgeted and prepared for this every day for the last year, and kept meticulous records of every penny we spent and earned. We knew this was coming, and we were as ready as we could be.
Ironically, many people in both our personal and professional lives had warned us about his moment. They told us that we would never be able to handle our own accounting; we weren’t disciplined, experienced, or possibly capable of running our own show. It was too difficult (it wasn’t), a CPA would be way too expensive (he wasn’t) and the business itself would be too confusing (it wasn’t).
We had people we both respected and trusted tell us firmly, even aggressively, that we’d never make it out alive. Yet, here we are – moving along into the next year with year-end taxes being a small financial and clerical blip on the radar. I wasn’t sure if I felt lied to, or misguided. Why had people discouraged us so vehemently?
I realized that when you have an idea or new business, you have to be very careful who you listen to. We’ve always been open to advice – in fact, we still are – but this journey has taught me that people can be very defensive of the path they’ve chosen. When they’ve spent 15 years climbing the corporate ladder and you decide to deviate from the status quo and build a set of stairs, a few feathers can easily be ruffled.
Keep in mind that how people meet your idea or new business says more about them than it does about you. Maybe they are terrified of accounting and taxes, and that has deterred them from starting their own business. Or they’ve even had a bad (or terrible) experience with a CPA or the IRS, and are dutifully passing that information on to you to help you escape a similar fate. Or, they might be upset that you’ve chosen to reject the status quo when that status quo is their life – their past, their future, their choices.
Whether you’ve been building your own business for years or considering starting, there’s two things I’ve learned in this first year:
- anything is possible with enough research and phone calls
- No one – literally no one – really knows what they’re doing.
So, you might as well pursue your dreams – taxes and all.