Chances are, if you’re a small business owner, you’re spending even more time than usual at the end of the year and in March/April of the following year hunched over your desk, crunching numbers. That’s because one of the most dreaded days of the year is approaching-- Tax Day. If you’re starting to feel overwhelmed (or just need a break from staring at expense reports!), here are a few tips to help you reduce stress when it’s time to mail in your return:
Find help that fits your needs. “Small business” is an umbrella term that can include many different types of organizations. A small business might have 10-30 employees or more and multiple brick and mortar locations or it might be one person working out of their home office.
And just as there are many varieties of small businesses, there are many different types of tax help. Think carefully about your situation when deciding who to ask for help on your business. If you have employees, chances are you’ll definitely need a CPA and specialized W2 software that will help you prepare and distribute those forms. If you’re a one-person show and you’re savvy enough, you might be able to get away with doing your taxes yourself with help from finance apps that prepare expense and deduction info for you. Whatever you do, keep solid records so you’ll know what did and didn’t work for you the following year.
Plan for the future. When you do your taxes for the year, you’re looking at the past. If you had a good year, that look back can be encouraging and inspiring, but if you didn’t, it can take the wind out of your sails when you need it most.
Whatever you find as you gather the year’s tax prep documents, use the information to make positive changes in the future. If a particular product sold really well, make plans to run a special promotion. If you find that a certain client stays consistently behind on their payments, set up a call with them so that you can discuss (and hopefully) resolve the matter. Because so much goes into getting your tax return ready to drop in the mail, it can be easy to get swallowed up by the minutia. Don’t let that happen. Instead, make a conscious effort to keep an eye on the big picture for your business.
Resist the urge to fib. Whatever you do, don’t try to slip a few inflated deductions past the IRS. It’s natural to want to set yourself up for a healthy refund, but you must get there legitimately. Lying your way to a refund could result in a very costly audit, and that’s the last thing you want. If you’re concerned that you might make a mistake when preparing your return, then absolutely get the help of a professional. They’ll help you make sure the right info gets included in the correct spots on your return, and they may even be able to help you set up a better organization system so that calculating your deductions will be easier next year.
Get some fresh air. When you’re gathering all the documents needed for your taxes, chances are you’ll end up spending more time in your office than usual. You may opt for lunch at your desk, for example, rather than going out. Don’t forget to get some fresh air. Too much time in your office is only going to add to your stress. Take breaks and head outdoors for some Vitamin D. A quick break spent walking around your office building or taking your dog to the dog park will help you return to sifting through expense receipts with renewed focus.
The nature of tax preparation means it will be difficult to make the process completely stress free. But these tips will help keep you sane, and hopefully, when the time comes, you’ll have a big refund to look forward to!
Julie Morris is a life and career coach who strives to help others live the best lives that they can. She believes she can relate to clients who feel run over by life because of her own experiences. Ms. Morris spent years in an unfulfilling career in finance before deciding to help people in other ways.
Photo by jarmoluk via Pixabay.
Heike Heemann, business coach and advisor, brings over 20 years of business experience to her blog.