Posts Tagged ‘taxes’

Hat Tricks

January 30, 2014

Tuesday January 28th, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

As the first month of 2014 draws to a close, I have to make sure I maintain a steady rotation of change in the hat department. Anyone self employed has to play a number of roles, and there is a hat for each one of them. Some fit better than others, depending on the person wearing each one.

There’s one for sales and another for marketing. There’s one for product development and also one for customer relations. There’s one for taxes and accounting, and that’s one few like to wear. I never have, but it’s a part of the big picture so I want to make sure it stays in a prominent place.

Taxes and record keeping aren’t sexy, but too bad. Even the sexiest supermodels have to shave their pits. It’s much easier to tend to it once a week rather than let it grow wild for an entire year and deal with it then. That’s a pretty gross analogy, but I find it accurate. Taxes are gross to me.

I don’t enjoy doing any of it, and no matter how much I try to fool myself I know I never will. That doesn’t mean I’m not going to keep improving though. The more proficient I’m able to get, hopefully the less effort I’ll have to put in in the long run. It’s a hat I only wear when I have to.

In contrast, there are others I don’t like to take off. The creative hat that searches for ideas is an especially well fitting one, but I have to make sure I take it off once in a while so others can get a little top of head time. I spent all kinds of time wearing that hat the last few decades, and it was a big mistake. I let a lot of other duties lapse, and that’s why I find myself in my current position.

My sales and marketing hats laid around collecting dust, and I can’t afford to slip back into that old habit. I need to make sure they get some quality time, and plenty of it. It will be a major drain on the ideas and product maintenance hat time, but too bad. I need to produce different results. If I don’t make time to sell what I’ve already got, creating anything new is a futile waste of time.

Getting a newsletter out this month was nice, but that’s only the start. That’s going to be a BIG eater of time and energy, but it’s a must in my opinion. There are still some glitches that we need to work out, and almost half of our starting emails list either bounced back or were no good. That isn’t good, but it is a start. We did manage to have several hundred people open it so that’s a win.

There was quite a bit of positive feedback and that was encouraging, but it came from people I already know. The eventual purpose of the newsletter will be to develop relationships with those I haven’t met. There are more than seven BILLION possible recipients on the planet, so we have our work more than cut out. I’ve only got under 1000 in the fold so there’s big growth potential.

There’s also the hat of teacher. I really do enjoy the teaching and mentoring process, but that’s a lot of time and effort as well. Lining up classes is something I enjoy about as much as keeping tax records, but it’s also a necessary part of the process that needs to be done. I’ll gladly turn that hat over to someone else, but last time I did that guy stole money. For now, I am still wearing it.

And the biggest hat of all is the crown of the King of Uranus. I still believe there’s a gold mine under it, and with proper time, effort and input from business people it will be a home run. I have too many other hats to wear to give it the time it needs, but that’s how self employment works.

Everyone that is self employed has to wear a lot of hats - like it or not.

Everyone who chooses to be self employed has to wear a lot of hats – like it or not.

And then there's the royal crown worn by the King of Uranus.

And then there’s the royal crown worn by the King of Uranus.

The Cost Of Doing Business

March 3, 2013

Thursday February 28th, 2013 – Chicago, IL/Fox Lake, IL

   Ah, the good old “cost of doing business”. That’s the money that never really gets replaced, but always ends up finding a way to drain the wallet of the self employed entrepreneur. It’s always a chunk of change that comes due out of the blue, and no matter what anyone tries to do to weasel out there are only four words that are ever able to solve said problem – “Pay at the window.”

I’m talking about a legion of unfun expenses like licenses, taxes, insurances and other non sexy necessities that end up eating the majority of anyone’s profits. If I didn’t have to physically get to my gigs and could still get people to pay me I’d be sitting pretty right about now. Unfortunately, life doesn’t work that way. If I don’t show up, I don’t get paid – and it’s expensive to get there.

I remember reading a proverb years ago that said “An empty stable stays clean – but there is no income from an empty stable.” I don’t know why I’ve been able to remember that for years while important information flies through my brain like mosquitoes through a key hole, but I totally do.

These were the kinds of thoughts that were bouncing around in my head early this morning as I sat in my car waiting for the tow truck to pick me up after my show at Zanies in Chicago. I didn’t have anything to do but sit there with my education, wondering how in all of life I ended up here.

Times like this are ideal for reflecting, even if the reflections aren’t always flattering. I’ve been struggling my entire life to catch a break in show business, and I might have caught one had I not been distracted by so many flaming darts that flew out of nowhere. Those tend to redirect focus.

I did what I did, and I am where I am, and tonight I wanted to be anywhere else. The tow truck finally showed up about 12:30am, and of course my AAA account expires at the end of February each year so that was $85 I’d love to be able to use for something else out the door immediately.

The tow truck driver was very pleasant actually, and he was fascinated by the fact that I was a comedian. I wouldn’t have told him my occupation, but he immediately noticed my ‘URANUS 2’ license plate and started asking questions. It always gets attention – even when I don’t want it.

He said he’d been driving a tow truck fifteen years and never encountered anyone even close to having celebrity status, so to him I was a big star. We talked about a lot of things on the way and that made the drive go faster, but it was still after 2am when he dropped me off at the fix it place.

I gave the guy a copy of my CD and DVD and his eyes popped out of his head like he’d won a new Cadillac. I don’t think he was faking, but even if he was it made me feel good after the long night I’d been through. At least SOMEONE treated me like I was important, and I was grateful.

I made the right call and it ended up being the alternator. With parts and labor, installed it cost $267 out the door and it’s running great again – for now. It was running great all the other times a major repair was needed, and I’m about tapped out of cash. Too bad for me, there’s no guarantee the transmission won’t seize up tomorrow. Welcome to the world of the cost of doing business.

Old Home Weak

August 15, 2010

Tuesday August 10th, 2010 – Chicago, IL

I have a new show business goal. I would like to be the first entertainer in history to get a reputation for having his income tax situation not only clean, but immaculate. For every Wesley Snipes, Willie Nelson, Redd Foxx, Joe Louis and so many others, I’ve personally never heard of anyone who’s on top of it year after year. I’m sure there must be, but who?

For me, it’s been a life long pain in the I.R.- ass. A flair for math has never been one of my talents and my organizational skills are even worse. Saving fifty cent toll road receipts for months in an envelope to add up in April has never crossed my mind as a fun activity.

I know it’s a necessity in life and especially in my own business as an entertainer so it’s to the point now there’s really no excuse at all. I’ve had a lifetime to master this but I feel no closer to having it aced now than I ever have. I was maybe halfway decent for a couple of years, and they weren’t even in a row. Depending on how goes my mood, so do taxes.

This year, I’ve really let it hit the skids. I thought I was ahead of the game and had a big head start, but now I can’t even find my files at all. I’m talking about for 2009, as the IRS is sending me multiple letters telling me they haven’t received my 2008 return, which is a mystery because I paid my accountant to do it as I do every year. Somehow, it’s been lost.

I really didn’t need another stop to make before heading out to sea, but I went to see my accountant to hopefully clear this all up. He showed me my return from 2008, and I don’t owe the government any money. He made a copy, I signed it, and he said he’d send it out.

He’s a very laid back soft spoken guy, and pretty typical of what one would think to be an accountant type. He’s very Jewish, but that’s a good thing. I don’t want an accountant who’s half Swedish and half Jamaican. Give me a Jewish guy to handle my tax situation. I’ve trusted him now for probably ten years or more, and he knows how flighty I can be.

He pointed his finger at me and said “NO false promises this year, Mr. Comedian. Get yourself a better system of keeping records. You know what you have to do – now DO it.” He’s so right. I just wish it was that easy. For some reason I seem to have a mental block. I always say I’m never going to let this happen again, and then it does. I’m embarrassed.

I fly out at 6:20am tomorrow, and I come back next Sunday for two days before doing it all over again. He told me to bring my paperwork in Monday or Tuesday and said it’s not doing anyone any good to keep filing extensions every year. He’s right, but I guess I feel I get a little reprieve from the government or something by doing it, so I do. It‘s a crutch.

Little does he know, when I got home I wasn’t able to find my paperwork for the life of me. I’ve moved everything around countless times recently as I’ve been clearing out all of my sports cards, sorting laundry, whatever. I obviously had to have put them somewhere, but I sure couldn’t find them today, no matter how hard I looked. I’ll find them when I get back, and take them in and get it done like I always do. But I really need a better system.