Archive for April, 2009
Are you living a simple life where you have know what you want and only focus on those things? If you are, this book isn’t for you. But if you are like most of us who are overwhelmed with e-mails, information massive to-do lists, cluttered desks, offices and minds then The Power of Less, the fine art of limiting yourself to the essential…in business and life is for you.
Written by full-time blogger and writer Leo Babauta, The Power of Less will show you how to:
• Break any goal down into manageable tasks
• Focus on only a few tasks at a time
• Create new and productive habits
• Hone your focus
• Increase your efficiency
Leo shares is own story of being an overweight smoker who was in debt who worked all of the time having little time for his family, friends and the things that he likes to do. Then, he made the choice to simplify his life.
First, he quit smoking by focusing all of his energy on that one goal. Then, he went on to work on other goals, one at a time, like becoming a runner, eating healthier, starting a successful blog, and getting out of debt. To date, Leo has doubled his home, decluttered his home (he works from home), run two marathons, became a vegetarian, and lost 45 pounds all one step at a time.
The book is divided into two parts. Part I covers the six principles of simple productivity:
1. Set limitations – at some point we need to stop saying “more, more, more” and set limits on what we have and want.
2. Choose the essential – Leo says, once you know the essentials you’ll be in a position to eliminate the chaos of incoming information, commitments, and clutter.
3. Simplify – once you know what the essential is then you must simply – get rid of everything else.
4. Focus – Leo says focus is most important tool in becoming more effective. Instead of being scattered in out thoughts and directions, through focus we can be less stress and achieve more.
5. Create habits – details why habits are important for lasting change and how to go about creating them.
6. Start small – When we find something new, we get excited about it and we want to go all out. The problem with this strategy is that we run out of steam. Leo touts starting small and gradually increase your momentum for longer lasting success.
Part II details practical strategies for implementing the six principles in key areas including e-mail, time management, filing, Internet, decluttering your work space and health.
Although the principles are simple, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re easy to implement. But after reading this book, you will have the tools and hopefully the motivation to simply your life (and business) to the essential – one step at a time.
Welcome to Motivation Mondays. Here is your quote for the week.
“Don’t fear difficult moments. The best comes from them.” –Rita Levi Montalcini
I just read an article that Rita Level Montalcini is still working at the age of 100!
Mother’s Day is May 10th this year. With less than three weeks to go, it is not too late to promote Mother’s Day.
Here are some ideas:
1. Hold a Mother’s Day Contest. Celebrate Mother’s Day by holding a Mother’s Day Contest. You can design it however you wish giving away whatever prize you wish as well. Once you have decided, publicize your contest via in-office poster, email to client base, Newsletters (print and digital), Facebook, Twitter and other social networking tools that you happen to use. If there is time, you can also send a Press Release to the local media – both print and television.
At MassageWorks, Inc., we held a Mother’s Day contest in 2002. We put the announcement in our e-Newsletter.
Mother’s Day Contest
Enter your mother or the mother of your children in
MassageWorks Mother’s Day Contest. Simply write in
500 words or less why your mom (or mother of your
children) is the best and deserves to be pampered.
She will be treated to the “My Pick Me Up” package
which includes a one-hour massage, a corrective facial
and a pedicure on the morning of Saturday, May 11th.
Also in your entry, please include the following information:
Your mother’s name, your name, your age, your address
(also your mom’s address if different from yours) and your
telephone number. Entries must be received by May 1st.
Winner will be notified week of May 6th. Mail your entry to
Mother’s Day Contest, MassageWorks, 450 W. Broad Street,
Suite 412, Falls Church, VA 22046 or E-mail
All entries become the property of MassageWorks, Inc. and
can not be returned.
We had 30 entries – which at a time when social networking was unheard of I think it was a pretty good turn out.
All of the entries were beautifully written and it was hard to choose which one to pick. So I put all of the entries into a bowl and drew the winner’s name that way. Since I didn’t specifically state how judging would be conducted, I felt that this was reasonable to do.
Here is how I announced the winner to the MassageWorks community in the next month’s e-Newsletter.
Mother’s Day Contest
The results are in…
We had so many wonderful letters telling us why their
mom was the best and deserved to be pampered. It was
hard to pick, but the mother winning the “My Pick Me Up”
package is Sarah Riley of Manassas.
2. Packages. You can create packages for this special occasion or take one of your existing packages and spruce it up with special pricing. A 10-15% discount is usually the standard.
Here are sample packages and copy.
“Show Mom just how much you love her and appreciate all she’s done for you and her family is by giving her the gift of massage (or spa).”
Just for Mom:
Mom’s Delight Package (4 hours) includes Facial, Massage, Siddha Body Detox, Spa Lunch and to take home to keep your skin soft and emollient is our Rooibos Soap and Dry Brush.
Mama Mia – It’s a Hottie Package (3 hours) Hot Lava Buff, HotStone Massage, and Steaming Oxygen Facial
Lavish Thy Mother (2 hours) Champagne, Chocolate Covered Strawberries, 10% off all products purchased that day, Spa Gift, $25 gift card toward any future Spa Treatment, Choice of one Spa Treatment.
A Double Delight for Two (2 hours) includes Mother/Daughter Massages and Facials
Tea For Two & Pampering Too! (2 1/2 hours) Hot Lava Stone Massage, Revitalizing Facial with Green Tea, Tea for Two.
3. Gift Certificates. Don’t forget those Gift Certificates. In Decemeber, I wrote a post about Gift Certificate Promotions, you can read it here.
I started this blog on January 1, 2009 as one of my goals for the year. My plan was to update the blog twice a week — one entry with a motivational quote and the other with a post related to the various aspects of starting a successful massage practice.
I didn’t know what to expect because I hadn’t done a blog before, but I am very excited to announce that I have had 1000 hits as of today, April 20, 2009 at 8:43 p.m. (E.S.T.) – that took me 3 month and 20 days. Whoohoo!
I’m sure that other blogs have received more hits in a shorter period of time, but I am very happy with my results so far. I want to thank all of my readers. I appreciate the comments made thus far and look forward to receiving more.
Now can I make it to 2000 hits in the next two months?
Welcome to Motivation Mondays. Here is your quote for the week.
“The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.” –Oprah Winfrey
Are you celebrating enough?
OK, we’ve got April 15th behind us and our tax returns are properly filed. What do we do with all those old income tax return copies and records that we have? The definitive answer is – it depends. The biggest fear is that as soon as you throw any of your records out, you will be required to provide them to the IRS. The good news is that there are certain protective rules that will guard you against an old assessment or an untimely audit by the IRS. These rules are known as the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations limits the number of years during which the IRS can audit your tax returns or require you to provide records. Once the statute of limitations expires for a certain year the IRS can’t go after you for additional taxes. Of course you can’t go after them for refunds either.
For audits and assessments the general rule is that there is a three year statute of limitations. The time runs from the date you file your return. If you file prior to the due date the time runs from the due date. For refund claims it’s the later of three years or two years from the date you paid the tax.
There are some exceptions to the statute of limitations. If you don’t report all of your income and the amount is understated by more than 25% of the amount shown on the return filed, the statute is extended to six years. If you claim a loss for a worthless security the time frame for identifying the loss is stretched to seven years during which you can claim the loss.
However, you can’t hide behind this protection if you are not following the rules. If you file a fraudulent return or fail to file at all the statute of limitations period never starts to run; the IRS can get you at any time.
There are other statute of limitation periods, too. For example, there is a ten year statute for collections of taxes assessed, and payroll tax returns have their own rule. For payroll tax returns the rule is three years from the April 15th of the year after they are due or the received date, whichever is later.
Property records included in your tax returns should be maintained for the statute of limitations period following the disposal of the asset for tax purposes. If there is an exchange of property that period would include the disposition of the exchanged property.
When it comes to records showing nondeductible IRA contributions you’ve made, you’ll want to keep them indefinitely. When you begin making IRA withdrawals in retirement, you’ll have them in case you need to prove that you’ve already paid tax on the money.
Keep your monthly retirement and savings account statements throughout the year until you receive your year-end statement. If your year-end statement matches the monthly statements, you can get rid of the monthly statements and simply keep the year-end version.
Also keep your records of stock and mutual fund purchases until you sell because you’ll need them to calculate your capital gain or loss.
What Can You Toss?
Even though there’s quite a bit of financial paperwork that you should keep, you don’t have to become a pack rat. So, you ask, “what does all that mean?” There are some things you can happily toss. For the average taxpayer seven years should be a sufficient holding period for keeping income tax records. In addition, you can get rid of your pay stubs each year after checking that they match what appears on your W-2. You can also purge credit card statements, utility bills, and phone bills after you’ve paid them and they don’t contain deductible expenses.
But, before you throw any records out, you should consider other needs such as insurance requirements or proof to creditors in addition to the IRS requirements. When you finally decide that you can get rid of those financial papers you no longer need, shred them – it’s the safest way to go.
Welcome to Motivation Monday — Here is your quote for the week.
“The only place where your dream becomes impossible is in your own thinking.” – Robert H. Schuller
Are you preventing your dreams from coming true?
It’s is that time again. April 15th is just around the corner. Are you having feelings of stress, anxiety or frustration because you are not prepared?
Just in case you are not as prepared as you would like, here is some suggestions for keeping business records, preparing receipts, understanding allowable deductions, and knowing options for tax preparation.
KEEPING ACCURATE RECORDS
Keeping accurate and detailed records of your income and expenses is an important key to building a successful massage therapy business. Accurate and up-to-date records will also make it easier to prepare you tax return and will give you a realistic view of your net profit. This is the number that you will ultimately be taxed on.
Figuring your net income for the year is an easy process if you are prepared. Ideally, the easiest way to keep income and expenses is on the computer with an accounting software package such as QuickBooks or Quicken. If you don’t have a computer you will have to do this process by hand.
First, you’ll need to figure your gross receipts by adding up the total fees earned including tips. Next, you will want to figure out your business expenses – what it costs you to run your business for the year. These business expenses will be deducted from your gross receipts to give you your net profit.
The easiest way to keep track of your business expenses is to save all of your receipts for goods and services in a file folder. It might be helpful to keep a running log of each expense with the date, company, description and the cost. By keeping your receipts this way, it will be easy for you add everything up at tax time.
If you didn’t keep organized tax records this year, it may take you a little longer to prepare your taxes because you will have to gather all of the necessary documentation.
WHAT EXPENSES ARE DEDUCTIBLE?
In order to deduct an expense for business, it must be “ordinary and necessary” according to the IRS. An ordinary expense is one that is common and accepted in your trade or business. A necessary expense is one that is helpful and appropriate for your trade or business. So what is ordinary and necessary for Massage Therapists: advertising and marketing (i.e. newspaper ad, brochures and business cards), banking fees, books and magazine subscriptions, business licenses and permits, continuing education, equipment and supplies, health insurance and other insurances required to run your business, mileage, office furnishings, printing, postage, professional fees such as accountant or lawyer, professional dues, rent, utilities, laundry expenses, meals and travel expenses associated with continuing education, client gifts and business use of your vehicle. See IRS Publication 334, Tax Guide for Small Business for more information.
You may be able to deduct expenses associated with a home office such as mortgage interest, insurance, utilities, repairs and depreciation. These expenses would be a percentage of the portion of the space used for the home office compared to the total square footage of the dwelling. For instance, if the total square footage of your house is 1000 square feet and your home office is 200 square feet then you can deduct 20% of the expenses (200 divided by 1000). In order to deduct a home office you must use that part of your home for “exclusive and regular use for your business and must be the principal place for your business”. For more information, see IRS Publication 587, Business Use of Your Home.
PREPARING YOUR TAXES AND FILING FORMS
If you are in business for yourself, as a sole proprietor or independent contractor, the IRS requires you to file a Schedule C with your 1040. Also, you are required to pay self-employment taxes by filing a Schedule SE. According to IRS regulations, all businesses must pay quarterly estimates of profits. If quarterly payments are not made, a penalty and interest may be assessed. Tax estimates are due April 15, June 15, September 15 and January 15. See IRS Publication 505, Tax Withholding and Estimated Tax, for more details. To make things a little easier, you can set up automated payments by going to www.eftps.gov.
At this point, you will need to decide how you will file. Will you file the return on your own either manually or with a software program such as TurboTax? Will you have a tax professional do your return for you? There are advantages to both. By having a professional do your tax return, you are getting just that a “professional” whose job it is to know the tax laws and know what is deductible and what is not. If you are ever audited, the tax professional will go with you to answer the audit. Although the fee is usually higher than buying on of the software programs, the tax professional’s fee is deductible on the next year’s taxes. By doing the taxes on your own, you save a little money up front as most of these programs are less than $100. These programs are fairly user-friendly with a Q&A session and then the computer program fills in the necessary forms and walks you through the filing process. The cost of the software program is also deductible on your next year’s taxes.
Don’t let filing taxes get you frustrated or stress you out. Get prepared and you will make the experience less painful.
“Forget past mistakes. Forget failures. Forget everything except what you’re going to do now, and do it.” — William Durant, founder of General Motors
I recently had a HotStone pedicure. I have had this treatment several times before at this particular Spa but not by this nail tech. Although the technique what correct, I didn’t come out of there feeling marvelous and relaxed as I have in the past.
When I go to the spa, I want to get pampered. I want to be the center of attention. I want my stress and aches and pains to melt away. This time my usually luxurious treatment kept getting interrupted by the nail tech stopping what she was doing to drink her coffee. This was almost as bad as the time, I had a massage therapist answer the phone, not once but twice during my massage.
When our clients come to us for massage, or any other treatment, they are paying for a service. They want to know for that one hour they are the center of attention as they may not get any other attention in their daily lives.
I never went back to the massage therapist who thought answering the phone was more important that I was. I have yet to decide whether I will continue to patronize the Spa and make sure I never get “Ms. Coffe” again or move on. There is no lack of massage therapists, so doesn’t it make good business sense to keep the clients you have.
Where is your focus as you are working on your clients? Are you giving them your all?