For the first time this year, I paid self-employment taxes and submitted a business profit and loss statement along with my 1040s. While I’ve earned money from various side hustles in the past, this is the first time I’ve filed as a sole proprietor.
This stuff used to scare the shit out of me. I put off getting serious about my self-employment income because I imagined the bureaucratic steps involved required an army of attorneys, an arsenal of accounting tricks, and a little hoodoo magic.
I’m not going to pretend to be a business tax expert. I couldn’t tell you whether or not you should deduct windshield wiper fluid or that giant inflatable squid.
Rather, I want to share one simple point:
Don’t let something simple stand in the way of working on your microbusiness (or your creative project, or whatever)
Not earning self-employment income because you don’t want to file self-employment taxes is like not eating because you don’t want to chew.
Filing self-employment and business taxes might appear intimidating, but that’s only because it’s a new and unfamiliar experience. Now that I’ve done this, I can happily report that the challenge level falls somewhere between partially shaving your cat (don’t ask) and writing a breakup letter to someone you only kind of sort of care about.
Stuff I used to find intimidating
Think about something you once dreaded doing but, after you did it, looked back and said ‘that wasn’t so bad.’ Here are a few that come to mind for me.
- Getting married seems scary, but it turns out the horror stories about your life ending are just that: stories, full of sound and fury and usually told by idiots.
- Traveling abroad for the first time seems intimidating, but after a few trips, you begin to look forward to handing over your immigration paperwork and the occasional petty bribe.
- Classroom teaching is scary, but after you learn some classroom management it becomes an enjoyable exercise in communication.
- Changing a car’s master cylinder seems intimidating but, after you do it, you realize the hardest part is not dripping brake fluid on the paint.
- Recording your business income and expenses is intimidating, but it turns out to be just an exercise in accurate data entry.
Why does that which appeared challenging in foresight prove itself easy in hindsight?
Because jumping right in and learning through direct experience is the fastest way to remove the uncertainty from any venture.
The unknown will always be intimidating. That’s just the nature of the game.
Waiting until you’re better equipped to face the unknown is a classic catch-22. Experience is useful and necessary, but the only way to gain experience is to actually do something.
Information is overrated. Reading about a topic will only take you so far. Waiting until you have more information is usually just an elaborate exercise in advanced procrastination.
The fastest way to turn a mountain into a molehill is to do that which intimidates you.
Talk to me
What mountains have you turned into molehills? What molehills have your turned into mountains?
Photo credit: ZachDischner