I haven’t done a blog and I haven’t done much of anything with my business over the last couple of months. I have ordered a few new books on some topics of interest, trading some esoteric markets, “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” and some Buddhist teachings. Here I am on a hot summer afternoon in Atlanta trying to figure out just what it is I am doing.
Why am I in this state of “doing nothingness?” I love Carol Roth’s book and her work. I follow her work and look forward to new insights that she has that can help me improve my business and my life. After all, isn’t that the purpose of personal (and professional) development?
The main premise of Carol’s book is a very hard lesson to swallow. I have heard Brian Tracy mention it in the past to view yourself as a publicly traded stock. Would you invest in yourself based on your current track record? However I wasn’t quite ready for the delve into my personal finances and to look at myself from the perspective of an investment banker who is looking for reasons to take you public. That is a completely different concept. It’s one thing to have a plan and actually work on that plan. To decide if that plan is executable from the entrepreneur’s perspective is something I wish I had learned years ago. Taking a crucial step back and looking at my business from a different perspective, did I have a business, a job-business or a “jobby?”
I bought a “micro-franchise” for a company that I think (and know) offers a great product that I think everyone should have. I thought I had a business. Everyone told me I had a business. My mentors in this business had actually left this business and moved on to another business and at least one of them was making (and is still making) great money (>$250K per year).
My second source of this new insight comes from the IRS’ hobby law when it comes to business loss reporting for consecutive years. The law roughly states that you can only claim a loss on your individual tax return for three out of four consecutive years (or five out of seven years)as a sole proprietorship. My last business and all of my “businesses” have been sole proprietorships (another blog topic for another time). As I was doing four consecutive years of tax returns (do not do this) for one reason or another (I was drunk for a really long time-not an excuse, just sayin’). I consulted my attorney for this and discovered that what would also come into account if I got audited would be questions like
1) Do you really have a business?
2) How much time do you have to operate your business?
3) What are your chances of becoming profitable and when?
These are some of the same questions that “The Entrepreneur Equation” posed to me. Rightfully so, because when you are posting a business loss, essentially it is Uncle Sam that is “investing” in your business. They want you to grow your business, incorporate it, become hugely successful so they can tax the hell out of you and your business and get those write-offs back (not cynical-realistic).
So I recently did what has been called the Benjamin Franklin method of decision-making with regards to my business. I take a sheet of paper and draw a line down the middle. On one side I list the reasons I should continue operating this business at this time. I also write on the other side of this page reasons I should stop pursuing this business at this time.
What will I do with my “career” now? Who knows? I have come to some new and interesting conclusions about business and particularly my “business” from the standpoint of an investor and an aspiring and failed entrepreneur.
I encourage you to continue with me as I take this walk back to the drawing board.