Working at home certainly has its perks. There’s working in your pjs…having a flexible schedule…but all those benefits aside, you have to be über diligent about paying and filing your taxes correctly this time of year.
Here’s what you should know before tax time.
Get Your Deductions Straight
Another benefit of working from home is that you can write off many of your business expenses, including a portion of your home as your office. Here are other deductions you may qualify for:
■ Office supplies
■ Computers, printers, and hardware
■ Business trips
■ Taking clients out for a meal
■ Advertising or marketing
Knowing that you can write off these business expenses, you can confidently invest back into your company.
Charitable Donations Count Too
Donating money or items to local charities does more than give you that good feeling; you can also write off the expenses. If you itemize expenses on your tax return, you can claim any donation, but make sure you hang onto those receipts!
Start Planning Changes to Your Business Structure
Sole proprietorship is the most common business structure for home-based businesses (and all businesses, for that matter), but it might not be the best option for you. Consider incorporating or becoming an LLC for next year. Both of these business structures help you avoid double taxation and provide other tax benefits, as well as protect your personal assets.
Keep All Business Records
No one enjoys storing all those paper receipts, but you’ll need to save them if they relate to business expenses. Everything from a business dinner to your printer cartridges should be accounted for with receipts. We recommend Freshbooks or Outright (we now use Quickbooks for Small Business).
An important component of leadership is the willingness to be real—to admit not knowing, to admit fear, to admit doubt. I believe that a range of BOTH assuredness AND vulnerability is what makes a GREAT leader.
I write these words as much to remind myself of this as to remind you. In the process of birthing the WiRL Leadership Summit, I’ve been bumping up against a ton of fear, doubt and uncertainty! These feelings are nothing new.
I can think back to multiple occasions over the course of both my work and personal life that have provoked intense self-doubt—becoming a wilderness expedition leader (“I hope nobody dies on my watch”), getting married (“I hope my husband never falls out of love with me”), speaking in front of large groups of people (“Will they like me?”), coaching stellar executive leaders (“Will I be able to help them?”), becoming a mother for the first time (“Will I be good enough?”). All of these milestones have elicited a variety of conflicting feelings—from inspired to terrified, from unstoppable to uncertain.
Whenever I set myself a new challenge, I vacillate between confidence/inspiration/clarity and fear/doubt/insecurity. It usually takes a little time and some tangible results before I experience a level of ease and confidence. I’ve seen this exact same pattern play out for many of the business leaders I coach, too—it usually takes six to twelve months in a new role before my clients find their way to a place of greater assuredness and, dare I say it, poise.
And guess what? It’s perfectly normal. It’s totally natural. Realness is NOT weakness. These are the feelings that Women in Real Life experience…In fact, these are the feelings that people in real life experience, women and men.
I’d like to help re-write and reframe the definition of confidence! I’d like the new and improved definition to include “a willingness to be real—to admit not knowing, to admit fear, to admit uncertainty and doubt.”
I once heard an analogy about how men are able to compartmentalize different parts of their life (work, home, friends) like the pieces of an orange, and how women were more like a tomato: cut us open and all those parts of our lives mush together.
It wasn’t a pretty image, but it made its point to me. As an entrepreneur, I sometimes have trouble separating that whole work and life thing, making balance nearly impossible. Fortunately I’ve learned a few tips I’m happy to pass along to you! Here’s my life-taught tips on perfecting “me” time:
Start Acting Like You Deserve “Me” Time
For so many women, “me” time comes after “kid,” “husband,” and “work” time. There’s nothing left to take once we’ve given it all away! You’ve probably heard the adage, “take care of you first.” I absolutely agree.
Consider it an investment in all the other areas of your life that are important to you; if you’re better rested and less stressed, you can be a better partner, mother, and business owner.
So What Does “Me” Time Look Like?
If you’re envisioning eight hours at a spa and getting a little nervous about taking so much time for yourself when you have so much to do, relax. I’m not going to prescribe anything so complex. (Although if you have the time, I highly recommend a spa day!)
“Me” time can be in tiny increments you fit in around your work and home responsibilities:
- Reading a magazine for 15 minutes
- Walking around the neighborhood, alone or with family
- Taking a long, hot bath
- Coming in to work late after a leisurely breakfast with your significant other
Working from home gives you a whole lot of options. You can make work fit in with your life rather than the other way around. The flexibility can be a two-edged sword though. There are health risks with working from home.
Folks working outside of the home get to turn the light off and pack their bags and go home, often leaving work at work.
If your work site is only a few steps away, or even worse, on the kitchen counter, you may clock in insane work hours without realizing it because you are in semi-work mode all the time.
There are 5 health issues the telecommuter or work-at-home woman should be mindful of.
How Working from Home Could Hurt Your Health (And What You Can Do About It)
1. Weight Gain
All those steps to the water cooler at the office all count for something. You get to burn some calories. The structure of leaving work behind when you work outside of the home also helps you to stay better organized to fit in exercise time. The refrigerator and pantry are also not as close by as is the case if working from home.
Set your work hours and clock out as you would do if working outside the home. You need to have time in your day that is not work focused. Schedule time for lunch, walks or exercise in your work day. Take advantage of the flexibility you have.
2. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Chances are that the work you do from home entails copious amount of time on the keyboard. The constant hammering on the keyboard could lead to compression of the median nerve in the wrist, otherwise known as carpal tunnel syndrome.
Outfit yourself with gel padding for your wrist to rest on while you punch the keyboard. Take regular breaks from the keyboard in the course of your work day.
3. Back Pain
You do some work on the kitchen counter and then move your laptop to the couch for a bit and you get in some work in bed. The settings of the aforementioned locations were not set up for work on the computer. The positions you assume to make them work for you could lead to back pain.
I can still remember the day in 2007 when I told my mother about my idea for this site.
She and I were chatting on the phone, and I said, “I get so many emails from moms who are looking for advice about bringing a product to market. I think I’m going to start a website, and call it ‘The Mogul Mom’.”
“The Mobile Mom?”, she asked? (which was maybe a little foreshadowing…)
“No, The Mogul Mom“, I said.
So it began…six years ago.
The site that I lovingly created to show mom entrepreneurs that they CAN run a business, raise a family, and rock both turned into a magical, wonderful, fulfilling part of my life’s work.
Over the years, I’ve had the honor of playing hostess to thousands of amazing mompreneurs from all over the world, and have been blessed to become friends with so many of you.
And then I read a book called App Empire, and felt that old, familiar entrepreneurial itch to start something new, a new business as an iOS app developer. As an entrepreneur to the core, I felt a strong pull to go in that new direction.
I realized that sometimes, you have to say farewell to something, to say hello to something else.
So, I began thinking of selling The Mogul Mom, and last summer, put it on the market with a friend of mine from college who is a business broker. I worked very closely with him to make sure we found just the right buyer.
After all, I couldn’t hand her over to just anyone.
It’s Time to Say Farewell and Hello
I’m pleased to say that I found the perfect new owner for The Mogul Mom, and today, I’d like to introduce you to her.
Her name is Megan Barnes, and she has a beautiful vision for The Mogul Mom’s future. Her energy, enthusiasm, and fresh perspective are exactly what I was looking for in my successor, and I am so thrilled for her…and The Mogul Mom.
Before turning things over to Megan, I’d like to finish by saying thank you to all of you who have made this site what it is today. Each and every one of you has played an important role in the success of The Mogul Mom. Readers, customers, members, contributors, guest writers, family, friends, and service and support folks.
I never could have accomplished any of this without you. I am so grateful for you.
First, a huge thank you to Heather, for all of her support in this transition, for entrusting The Mogul Mom to my charge, and for the lovely and generous introduction.
I will be working closely with Heather in the coming months, and as the visionary and founder of The Mogul Mom, hers will remain an enduring presence on the site. I know we all look forward to seeing where her journey takes her.
When I was trying to think what to share with you all in this introduction I remembered a greeting card I saw some time ago with a quote from a third-grader that said,
“When I grow up I want to be a heart surgeon. Or Elmo.”
And the Elmo part just killed me. I guess because I, like most grown-ups, tend to think that heart surgeons are very important people, and that Elmo….well, Elmo is just silly.
You see, I was on my way to being a heart surgeon, or some similarly qualified medical professional, when my life took an unexpected turn.
My four years in university were fraught with challenges (I got married, spent six months living in Africa, miscarried three pregnancies, and came down with spinal meningitis, five bouts of shingles, and countless other undiagnosed ailments), but I finished.
And then about one week after graduation and three days into my chemistry internship, I collapsed in the lab. I didn’t know it then, but that was the end of a season, the end of a cherished vision that I had held for my life.
That was two years ago. I have been leading a much slower, smaller, nesting sort of life in a lovely home in Jackson, MS. My days have been spent snuggling puppies, cooking healing foods, and engaging in a fearsome war with self, that sometimes took the form of introspection, other times despair, and finally a fragile acceptance of what is.
And the really cool part is, as I grew in acceptance I started to understand that this was going to be my best season yet. This was a chance to choose my life’s work, not based on its importance but on my passion.
This was my Elmo season.
Elmo and The Mogul Mom
I understand now that Elmo isn’t silly. Elmo is all about being happy, connected, fulfilled, laughing.
Elmo gives hope. I think that Elmo is meant to touch that place in each of us, that place that was capable of such intensity of feeling about our lives when we were small, that place that seems to dull in the storms of life.
Remember those afternoon daydreams? The ones where you were gonna grow up and do the most important thing you could think of? Where you were gonna remember the excitement of a sleepover with friends even when you were old (like 30!)? When you were gonna make the world a better place through your singular contribution?
I’ve been remembering those daydreams a lot lately, and I’ve made a series of decisions that I think would be kid-me approved. The first is to quit with all the excuses and face my fears of writing fiction. A desire to write creatively was one of the unexpected discoveries of this new season of my life, and it’s been the scariest thing I’ve ever tried to do.
The other, was The Mogul Mom.
For me, The Mogul Mom represents an opportunity to become the architect of my own future, after a long season of wondering if I would ever even have one. It presents an opportunity to grow and challenge myself, to help support my family, to cast a career vision and execute it–all within the flexible comfort of my own home, in spite of the limitations two chronic illnesses put upon me.
What’s more I get to be part of a process of empowering moms to cast and execute visions in their own lives…visions that have felt out of reach, visions that felt obscured by the busyness of motherhood and running a household. I get to stand with moms in the pursuit of a life where they can be a mom, run a business, and rock both!
My business, the business Heather dreamed and birthed and grew for six years, the business which has just been put in my charge, is a business of empowering, providing support, and bringing hope. I think Elmo would be proud.
So it is with great humility and gratitude (and a great big lap o’ puppy – my dog Gus, who has been severely ill with an ear infection for two days, has taken up a seemingly permanent residence on my lap, and Fergi is here too, supporting her big brother), that I take the reigns from Heather and join this circle of strong and amazing women, moms, entrepreneurs, and visionaries.
If you are reading this post, it means you are on your way or have taken steps to live your dreams, and for that I applaud you. It is my honor to be here and take part in The Mogul Mom community. I look forward to getting to know all of you and working alongside you.
Finally, I’d like to introduce my husband, Terrence, who is my rock and without whose support I could not possibly do something as big as this. T and I will be working closely together on The Mogul Mom, and he has a wealth of passion, entrepreneurial experience, technological knowledge, and vision to bring to the table.
We are both so eager to meet all of you and to go on this entrepreneurial journey together.
It’s your turn to say farewell and hello. We’d love to hear from you in the comments.