Like all business owners and self-employed people, I have the annual task of doing my tax self-assessment. I’ve been receiving polite requests for this from HMRC each year since 2014, and before this year I’ve always been in the habit of getting it done straight away. It isn’t a difficult job, as my financial affairs are straightforward.
This year, though, I’ve been busy and kept putting it off “till I have time”. And that’s fatal, because of course I never actually have time without making it. If I carry on like this, I’ll end up desperately trying to beat the midnight deadline on 31st January.
Definitely without a paddle.
The Importance of Steering
A boat will go without being steered. Whether it’s driven by a motor, the wind or simply the current, it’ll carry on fine, until it meets a rock that happens to be in the way.
A business is no different, and it’s very easy to fall into letting it steer itself. After all, we’re all very busy doing the actual work that earns the money, aren’t we?
This is one of several challenges I’ve begun to acknowledge as needing to meet. I’ve been busy over recent months with the work that’s been coming in and the need to get more. Well and good, but there’s more to running a business than that. I’m now making an effort to put time aside each day for the tasks that don’t have a non-negotiable deadline, because they’re vital too.
Consulting the Chart
If you’re setting sail in your ship on unknown waters, it would be madness to do so without consulting a chart and navigating a course. The same is true of a business.
Like most of us, I still need more customers, and that means knowing how many I need, who they should be, where to find them. All marketing 101, really, but it’s very easy to ignore all that and carry on doing it on instinct.
That’s not good enough. So I’m currently busy plotting a course as well as sailing it, and most importantly recognising the need to build this into my schedule, along with the blog that’s needed by tomorrow or the ten webpages that have to be ready in a few days. They’re all important.
And yes, that includes the tax return.
Image by William Murphy, used under Creative Commons licence