When I started my art therapy private practice in 2020, I did everything I could to ensure my business got off to a solid financial start. I made a budget, I did my own internal work to release unhelpful beliefs and patterns around money, and I sought financial guidance.
I had heard horror stories of other business owners getting hit with huge tax bills, so I acted proactively and hired an accountant to do quarterly tax estimates that I faithfully paid.
The year went smoothly and I enjoyed financial security. I paid off my car loan and teeth debt (root canals aren’t cheap). I bought my own health insurance. I made monthly investments in my Roth IRA. I felt like a grown ass woman.
Then I was informed by my accountant in 2021 that his quarterly estimates were off and I owed $5000 in taxes.
My security was gone. My trust was gone.
I had intentionally met with a recommended accountant and paid in advance to AVOID a big tax bill.
It was unsettling and unnerving. It felt like the financial peace I had built for myself was eroding.
I found a new accountant who was considerably more expensive and recommended by a financial advisor. The accountant met with me for a consultation, and I was overwhelmed by all of the information and his method of explanation. With taxes due soon, I stuffed my concerns aside and hired him, hoping the high price meant he was reliable.
My hopes did not turn out to be true. He forgot to file some of the key forms I had included. After the mistakes were corrected, my taxes were submitted. Even after this correction, the IRS later informed me that my taxes were off by $2,000.
Again, I was frustrated.
I fell into victimhood for a while, ranting about my bad luck with two accountants and how I had “done everything right” to avoid tax problems.
Three things here.
First, accountability does rest with the accountants. They made errors and that it is their responsibility.
Second, my gut was telling me something was off and I didn’t listen.
With my first accountant, I didn’t feel he fully listened to me. Instead of addressing this concern, I placed the blame on myself. I thought maybe I didn’t explain myself well enough or maybe I didn’t know enough about accounting. If I had honored my gut, I would have found a different accountant.
With the second accountant, I was overwhelmed by the information provided in the consultation. I also felt rushed in the meeting. I hate feeling rushed. If I had listened to my gut, I would have declined working with him and continued to look for someone who was a better fit. In the moment though, I just wanted the hunt for an accountant to be over and to have the peace of mind that my taxes were taken care of.
The lesson I finally learned is that I need to listen to my feelings and honor what I need. In an accountant, I need someone who can clearly and calmly communicate financial concepts. I also need someone who is organized, punctual, and reliable.
As I’ve looked for a third accountant, I’ve honored these needs. I’ve paid attention to how I feel in a meeting. I’ve asked deeper questions. I’ve directly addressed concerns that arise. I’ve asked for trial periods instead of jumping into a commitment.
Does this guarantee it will go well? No.
And that is the third important lesson here. Sometimes, despite my best intentions and action, things happen outside of my control. There is no way I can possibly plan for every problem. Instead, I have to trust that if things go sideways, I’ll figure it out.
Because I did figure it out, and I’ll figure it out again if I have to.
This is a huge part of running a business. We cannot foresee and plan for every problem. If we operate from that space, we will be in a constant state of anxiety, micromanagement, and exhaustion.
Instead, we can do the best we can with the information we have, listen to our guts, and trust the we will handle problems that arise.
I started a private practice from the ground up.
I now provide consultation for other therapists wanting to do the same.