Why I keep going

Saturday, I was having a pretty rough day. I was frustrated with a lot of things in my life and just wanted to stop. I logged into Facebook to play a game check my notifications. Early that morning, I had posted the following on my personal Facebook page:

Close to 10,000 views on my YouTube videos…WOW! Even more impressive when you realize they are accounting videos! WOW!

Not long after that one of my nephews posted the following response:

That’s awesome, and just to think that more people have viewed your tutoring than you could have reached in 10 years in the classroom alone. Spread the knowledge around like a boss Aunt Kristin

Sometimes it takes a little perspective to get the motivation going again. I can’t tell you how much that comment changed my entire weekend. When I started to think of all the students all over the world (THE WORLD!!) who are watching my videos and leaving comments on them about how I was helping them, it confirmed my calling. Were there still some bumps in the road this weekend? Yup. But I approached things with an entirely different way of thinking.

By the way, I made seven more videos yesterday. Thanks, A.J.

In the land of learning

Last night, I finished reading Start by Jon Acuff. Mentally, I’m working through all that I have read but I had an “ah ha” moment.

For the past few years, I’ve been working to get into a PhD program. Last year, I finally built up the courage to apply to three programs and was rejected from all of them. This was a huge blow. I started to doubt if I could do the work required for a PhD program because of these rejections. Many of my colleagues told me to keep at it and try again. I contacted one of the schools regarding my application. The head of the program recommended two things: to get my GMAT score up and take Calculus.

Being me, I jumped in with two feet and started to go. I took Calculus I over the summer and did well. I enrolled in Calculus II and purchased an online course for the GMAT. This is where I got stuck. Calculus II is HARD. It is without a doubt the hardest class I have ever taken. I skated through my undergraduate and master’s degrees with very good GPA’s. I’ve never had to study the way I have to in Calculus II. The little voices in my head started to pipe in. Clearly, I cannot do Calculus II, they would say. Clearly, my dream is dead.

But the dream is not dead. I need to learn Calculus. It is not going to come easy. I need to put in the time to learn it. Facing my fears when it comes to trying to do something that doesn’t come easy and punching them in the face (as Jon would say), has helped to reinvigorate my efforts.

Last night, after I came to this realization, I heard myself give advise to one of my students. It’s actually from a conversation we had on Friday. My student was struggling with some of the material we were working on. When I asked her questions it was clear she was struggling with an aspect of chapter 1, but she was trying to do work from chapter 3. I told her she needed to go back to the beginning and solidify her knowledge of chapter 1, then chapters 2 and 3 would come easier. Today, I am going to apply that same advise to my own situation. Today, I’m going to go back to the basics and solidify those concepts before trying to move on.

As for the GMAT studying, I have got to set priorities. Because the Calculus studying is taking up more time than I thought it would, I need to find time elsewhere for GMAT preparation. One way I can do that is to cut out some other things. I’ve really cut back my social media and relaxation time. I’m going to use the blog as a journal on my journey. Some of the activities I participate in are going to be paired back.

At one point in the book, Jon asks the reader to answer a simple question, “If you died tomorrow, what would you regret not being able to do?” One of my items was not getting my PhD. He later asks us to look at what we are currently doing to see if it lines up with that goal. We are all pulling ourselves in 90 different directions but are all of those activities actually getting us to the important items in our lives?

Today, I start to prioritize. Today, I start doing those items that are most important to get me to my goal. What will you start today?

Becoming a morning person

When I started thinking about this post, I was going to call it “I’m not a morning person.” That sort of felt like the voices talking so I decided to be more positive. In Start, Jon Acuff talks about being selfish with your time at 5am. In most households, no one else is awake at that time so you can use 5:00 – 5:30 as your time to become awesome. When I read that line, the voices started going crazy!

“You aren’t a morning person! You are a night person! Who wants to get up at 5am? That’s just silly!”

Starting today

I recently purchased a copy of Jon Acuff’s Start. I heard him a few times on Dave Ramsey’s radio show and thought he was a pretty amusing guy. I was reluctant to get the book because the last thing I needed to do was start something else. I am currently teaching full-time at one university, taking calculus at another, running my accounting firm and studying for the GMAT. On top of all that, we are working on home improvements, have a full house of people and I’m serving on the Board of Education in town. What the hell else was I going to start? 

The most important tool for the small business owner

So you might think this is your computer or your cell phone. Maybe it’s your email or your social networking sites. I would say that none of these is correct. The most important tool for any small business owner is:

41xn6ak7n8l_sl160_Your day planner.

In an age of technology, many people have gotten rid of the day planner, instead using some type of electronic calendar. As a small business owner, you need a paper day planner for a number of reasons.

1. If you run a business where you are billing clients after the fact, a day planner can help you keep track of your billable time so you won’t forget later.

2. If you use your phone as your calendar, it’s much easier to talk to a client and write in a day planner at the same time than trying to talk to a client and type things into your phone.

3. Most small business owners keep terrible mileage records and mileage is one of your best tax deductions. At a little over 50 cents a mile, those miles really can add up to a serious tax deduction. Having a day planner helps you keep track of everywhere you’ve been each day. If you are really good, you’ll remember to track your miles in the car. If not, you can always google your  mileage when you get home.

4. Day planners are great for jotting down small expenses. Many times if I go to lunch with a colleague or client, I’ll write it down in my day planner along with the amount. For many expenses, like meals, you need to have a record of who, what, where, why and when to take a deduction. All of that can be put into your day planner.

5. Unlike a computer or cell phone, your day planner will not crash on you or run out of battery life. You can keep it with your tax records in case you are ever audited and you’ll look like a pro.

The key to running a small business is record keeping. The key to good record keeping is the right day planner. That can differ depending on your type of small business.

If you travel a lot or see many clients each day, make sure you purchase a planner that has enough space to write everything in. I like the planners that have a monthly display and then two pages for each week. This allows me to schedule appointments in the monthly view and put notes in the weekly view.

Make sure the planner is a good size that is convenient to carry around with you. Mine is small so it can fit in my purse. That way, I know I always have it with me.

Make sure you always carry it with you. If you don’t have it, it’s not very useful.

Since the end of the year is quickly approaching, start looking around for a new planner. Look  at lots of different options. Many stores will start discounting them soon. Amazon already has some pretty good day planner deals. Avoid the office supply stores. Their prices are not  very good on these things.

Starting a small business

A friend of mine asked me a question relating to starting a small side business via Facebook last week. I thought that this might be a good weekly series. Many people have small side businesses or have thought about starting a small business, but just aren’t sure where to start or how to maintain their records. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be addressing some of the things to think about when starting and running a small business. If you have questions regarding small businesses, feel free to ask them in this post or send me an email.

My first rule in small business is start it with cash. If you can not start a business without going into debt, this might not be the right direction for you to go into. 80% of small businesses fail. That doesn’t mean that your small business will fail, but I don’t want you getting into debt over it. Do your research, see how much start up money you need and start saving. You may not be able to go all out when you start your business, but starting slow and growing with cash will leave you in a much better financial situation.

My friend had asked me about getting a credit card to start her business because the representative she was working with said she could get miles or points for her purchases. Plus, it would help her keep all of her expenses seperate. You can do all this without paying any annual fees or interest charges. Open a free small business checking account. I work with Webster Bank in Connecticut. I get free checking, plus my debit card earns rewards points. Just open a checking account in the business’ name and get a debit card if you need one.

Here is my pet peeve with small business owners. Your business account is only for business transactions. Your personal account is only for personal transactions. Keep them seperate. If you want to take money out of your business because you have profit, write yourself a check and deposit that check into your personal account. If your business is low on cash, write a personal check to the business and deposit the money into your business account. Once you start mingling your funds, it becomes very difficult to keep everything straight for tax purposes. Keep the business stuff in the business account and that’s it.

When you keep your business finances separate, it makes doing business a lot easier, especially when tax time comes around.