With all of the talk of quarantines, panic, and medical opinions flying faster than sports takes, there are so many unique, emotional temptations for us to give into these days.
First, there’s the fear. Clearly, I’m a tax accountant — not a doctor — so my advice here doesn’t mean much. Except that I AM a financial person … and I see what’s happening in the markets and across the media landscape, so I will say this:
Regardless of the severity of this COVID-19 outbreak, fear is not a useful emotion. If, in fact, the worst prophecies come true, it won’t be fear that helped you and your Chattanooga business get through the difficulties. And, alternatively, if we are able to quell this virus, then it WILL have been fear that caused the most damage.
We’re already seeing its insidious effects in the stock market, and likely in your business a little.
So be vigilant … but never fearful.
There’s so much more to say here, but I want to address a particular corollary to fear in the mind and heart of a business owner, and how it can cause disaster for you.
The allure of “going it alone”.
Here’s what I mean:
How to Stop Wasting Time in Your Chattanooga Business
“Things are never quite as scary when you’ve got a best friend.” -Bill Watterson
Perhaps the most epic image of American excellence is the picture of the “rugged individualist”. You know, Teddy Roosevelt, pull yourself up by your own bootstraps, etc. In many ways, this image formed many characteristics of the fabric of our nation that have led to great prosperity.
But here’s the problem: it is (and has always been) an illusion.
Or at least, our interpretation of it is. The rugged individualist who can solve his or her own problems (the opposite of an entitlement mentality) IS a great standard.
But in most parts of life, your business very much included, you simply can’t do it all yourself.
Or, if you do, you’re going to find that you sacrifice the things you’re very good at for the things you either are barely competent at or, worse yet, fail miserably at.
But because you’ve told yourself that you have to do it all, you continue to do it all … to ultimate failure.
Let’s get practical in my line of work.
I get this all the time: people want to know the “how”, but don’t consider the “why”. How do I set up a C Corp? I hear that question all the time.
Well, I can tell you that, but the much better question is this: “Do you NEED a C Corp?” Is that the best structure for you?
I’ve seen clients advised to set up their businesses as C Corporations … who then went to set up S Corporations. They thought it was a better choice.
Why is that?
Well, they talked to a banker or a financial planner or some friend who was “good at business” and got convinced that an S Corp was just … better.
And now they’re mad.
How come they didn’t get the best tax benefits? How come their taxes didn’t go down?
They used a hammer, when the project needed a wrench.
But, to further the metaphor, if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. They didn’t trust their tax advisor to give them the best tax advice and instead listened to someone who doesn’t specialize in tax. That someone didn’t know C Corps but knew S Corps, so that’s what they got.
So here’s my first point: Pick your advisors well. Make sure they have the experience, expertise and point of view to make the right choices for you. And then, most importantly, follow that advice!
If you second guess it, you’re going to upset your advisor (perhaps get fired as a client in the process) and not get the result you want.
If you don’t trust your advisor’s advice, what are you even doing?
And here’s the bigger point:
Stop trying to do things you aren’t trained for, don’t like to do, or aren’t very good at doing.
I’ve worked with clients who insisted on doing their own bookkeeping and who have no idea what they’re doing. And then when projections are off or tax planning doesn’t work because the numbers are wrong, they blame everyone else … but themselves.
Even if you are, in fact, very good at bookkeeping, is this really what you want to spend your time doing?
If it is … well, let’s talk and maybe I can hire you. Or you can start your own business doing that.
But if this isn’t what you love doing, stop wasting your time.
Hire an expert and quit driving everyone who works with you crazy. Focus on what you do best and stop wasting time.
That’s the way to make your business grow. Know what YOU are best at … and hire for the rest.
I’m grateful for our chance to serve you and your Chattanooga business — and we are dedicated to its success, in every measure.
Feel free to forward this article to a business associate or client you know who could benefit from our assistance. While these particular articles usually relate to business strategy, as you know, we specialize in tax preparation and planning for families and business owners.
Thomas Taylor, CPA