with Mir Kamin
I'm a freelance writer and mother of two working from home, which theoretically means I can set my own schedule so as to best accommodate my family. In reality, "flexible hours" often equals "working too much." Yes, I'm my own boss; no, that doesn't mean life is easy. It's hard to leave the office when you live there. But I love what I do and feel very lucky. And not just because I get paid to work in my pajamas.
To learn more about Mir, check out her profile on Work It, Mom! or visit her blog at http://www.wouldashoulda.com/
Oh, the things I am learning.
Sometimes I look back and laugh at my prior naïveté. Hahaha! I thought all I needed to do was find some work and then write stuff! I thought that was going to be the hard part! Heehee. Oh, don’t you just want to go back in time and smack me? I sure do.
Whether or not you call it “running your own business,” I have news for the newbies out there: Freelancing is running your own business. And while I suppose that if you can’t accomplish the job for which you were hired, things like revenue tracking are greatly simplified (e.g., you have no revenue), as time goes on your skill set needs to expand into things that start to sound a lot like “office management,” whether you’re working from an office or not.
You may recall that I already steeled myself for a rude awakening when it came to figuring out my taxes, and I’ve since gotten some excellent advice, an estimate of what I owe, and several paper bags that I like to breathe into for extended periods of time. For 2008 and beyond I have a much better handle on how to go about handling my taxes as a sole proprietor, so I will not be caught out again in the future.
(That’s assuming that I don’t simply keel over from the grief when making my lump sum payment for 2007, of course. Details.)
You’d think that after going through that and meeting with an accountant and such, I would’ve gotten myself completely organized, and that all of my business matters are neatly squared away, now. But you would only think that if you’ve never met me. Dude, I’m a writer. I cannot be expected to be logical.
While meeting with the accountant I was asked to bring estimates of my earnings for the year, and I’d put that together as asked, but in doing so I realized that some of my estimates were more… errrr… estimate-y than others. And that’s because I’ve never updated my invoicing system.
Allow me to translate. “My invoicing system” = two and a half years ago when I got my first client, I made them an invoice in Microsoft Word. And sent it to them. And then when I got my second client, I also made them an invoice in Word. And then I decided that in order to “keep track” of everything, I would list my invoices in a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, and I very cleverly gave myself a column in which to mark off if payment had been received.
Isn’t that a great system I have? It really worked flawlessly when I just had those two clients, after all. But now I have over a dozen clients, as well as advertising revenue from several different sources, and direct deposits and monthly checks and one-off checks and most of these things happen without me sending an invoice. My Excel spreadsheet tells me next to nothing. A colleague asked me if I’d received payment from an employer we have in common and I wasn’t sure, because I hadn’t logged it anywhere and it might’ve been part of a recent deposit I’d made, but I couldn’t remember.
That’s sort of horrifying.
So! I am hip-deep in selecting a small business software that meets my three stringent requirements:
1) It should work on a Mac
2) It should not cost an arm and a leg
3) It should be easy to use.
I’m still investigating, primarily because QuickBooks (which, look! when I came to this page today, there was a QuickBooks ad right over there on the side, like a sign or something!) no longer makes a “cheap” version that works on Macs. Given the price of QuickBooks Pro, I’m also looking at iBiz 3 and Invoice 2 and some other things, trying to figure out if I can buy something cheaper or if I just need to shut up and buy QuickBooks already.
On the other hand, maybe all I need is a magical elf who lives under my desk and periodically writes down the information from my checks as they come in, pausing only to hide some of them so that when it’s time to pay my taxes it turns out that I have all the money I needed and I didn’t even know!
Do you think that’d cost more than QuickBooks…?
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