by Deborah A. Bailey
Recently I was at a writers’ conference where I attended a workshop about setting up your writing business. Most of the participants were working at jobs and building their writing careers.
A lot of people are juggling a job and business (or a “side-hustle” they hope to grow into a full-time thing). In that case, there’s a whole new world of information to absorb about financials and taxes. Here are a few tips that might be helpful.
#1 Start Tracking Your Financials Now
If you’re starting out you might think you’ll get to it once you’re making money. Trust me, you’ll have less stress later if you start now. There are lots of tools to help you get things done without a staff, and you’ll find that QuickBooks is a great solution.
It includes features for invoicing, managing cash flow, reports (always a good thing) and even better you can create 1099s for freelancers and contractors you hire along the way. You can use it on your desktop and mobile devices.
#2 Don’t Overlook Your Deductions
If you’re an employee you might not be aware that you have deductions for your business, such as mileage, supplies, conferences and training. When I was working as a W2 contractor and starting my writing business, it was a challenge to keep track of my travel to workshops and meetings. Guess what? QuickBooks to the rescue again. Their software for the self-employed has additional features (like mileage tracking). You’re welcome.
#3 Don’t Let Tax Day Stress You Out
If you’re used to being stressed out when that date rolls around, it’s time to relax. Yes, having a business does add a bit of complexity, but Turbo Tax has you covered. Years ago when I started two businesses (freelance writing and direct sales) while I was still in my corporate job, I filed a Schedule C (a form included with most versions) in addition to my 1040 forms. In fact, it was really a lot easier than I expected because I could walk through my tax preparation step by step.
#4 Track Your Time
Even if your work isn’t based on hours, it’s still a good idea to keep track of how much time you’re spending on activities. A tool like Toggl and TimeDoctor can help. It’s tough enough when you have limited time to work on your business because you’ve also got a job (and other obligations). Stay aware of how you’re spending your time and you’ll be more likely to get things done.
#5 Treat Your Business Like a Business
Whether you’re a blogger, running an Etsy shop, self-publishing your books, baking cupcakes, starting out as a virtual assistant — you’re also a business owner. Take it seriously. For more details about taxes, forms and things like EINs (an Employer ID Number which you might need before you open a business bank account) visit the IRS Small Business and Self-Employed Tax Center. They have lots of detailed information including online learning modules.
Technology makes it so much easier to balance your employee life with the entrepreneurial one. Take advantage of the tools and training so you can grow your business and keep things running smoothly.