What’s the take-away?
Before I opened Radiant Om Yoga, I started saving money. All the income I earned teaching private yoga lessons in my house and teaching community classes in the back of a church sanctuary and on the beautiful but hard cement floor of a local events center went into a savings account earmarked for the studio. As my vision of the studio b
ecame clearer, I enrolled in an online accounting class.
I never imagined that I would do my own accounting, but I wanted to be sure I understood enough so I’d be able to understand my accountant. I worked through double entry accounting 101 online in good time and I remember this: whatever figure is on the debit side of the accounting square has to equal a figure on the credit side.
At the studio we keep a hand-written ledger of sales broken into categories—class sales, merchandise and sales tax—on a fairly regular basis I enter all of the data into QuickBooks, which balances the columns for me. If I’m off, once a quarter the lovely and talented Trisha arrives at the studio for our two-hour accounting appointment and she deftly repairs any errors or oversights I may have created. The system works.
At tax time Trisha provides me with a tax planner, and all I have to do is fill in the numbers and organize my data. However, I too often find myself behind in my data entry, so taxes require a marathon of QuickBooks work, invoice corralling, and mileage calculations. To my delight, prepping for 2013 taxes was easier than 2012, and it’s no surprise that I determined 2014 would be better still.
When I mentioned this to my business confident, the lovely and talented Susan—a photographer with whom
I meet regularly to discuss small business life—she commiserated. She, too, has tons of financial upkeep with her business and she, too, often lets it slide in favor of just about anything else. We decided that we can support each other by setting aside time to meet at her house and do our financial duties together.
It is one of the truths of a small business owner that there’s a heap of work that needs to get done and usually it’s all accomplished alone. In owning a yoga studio, teaching classes, and writing and editing, I’m holding others accountable, but who’s keeping me in line? Sometimes it’s really hard to be my best self, to remember why I do what I do and to find the joy in it when all I see is a list of things to do. Sometimes that list looks not like work but like drudgery, a one-way energy drain. When I’m feeling that way, like it’s really hard to be the boss, to be in charge all the time, and to feel like there’s no one who’s looking over my shoulder, I tend to long for the days of being a student when my work was assigned, due, delivered and evaluated. My teachers were my authorities, giving me opportunities to learn with the comfortable rubric of the classroom setting. In the various jobs I had with bosses, whether or not I agreed with company policy, someone else was making the rules. And there’s a comfort in that—a place in the natural order of things.
At our first meeting, sitting with Susan another company CEO (chief everything officer) and doing our bookkeeping together, drinking lovingly frothed chai in her pleasant open kitchen, the entire experience was painless. We could quip to one another about the things that we were discovering, the systems we have or don’t have in place, and the way the numbers make our eyes blur. In spite of the chatter, we marched through a significant amount of work in two hours’ time. We have another date for more of the same next week.
Self-employed for fifteen years, I’ve come to live with the morass on some level. I’ve also learned that I’m not an island and I continue to rely on compatible authority figures. My authority figures may not be directly above me in the traditional sense, but seeking out and putting people into positions of authority is essential. I have not always understood that there are two sides to that equation—that the person in the position of authority is gaining as much as giving. But every healthy relationship has give and take on both sides, energy exchanging from one person to another. Susan shapes time and hosts me in her kitchen where we both can work, and Trisha literally hold me accountable to my bookkeeping. In return, I hold space and time for Susan and I pay Trisha monthly. The debits and credits are balanced.
Wishing you many lovely May flowers and balanced books in this full flower moon. Thanks, as ever, for reading, Rxo