6 Steps to Get Your Finances in Order for Tax Time

How to get your finances in order for tax time with Janet LeBlanc

Psst . . . I’m going to let an actual accountant and super smart person take the reins on this one . . . meet Janet, of Paper + Spark.


Janet LeBlank Paper and SparkHi! I’m Janet and I’m an accountant, serial-entrepreneur, and mama of two living in Texas. My passion is helping creative entrepreneurs feel more confident and empowered when it comes to their money. After a winding journey of selling jewelry, stationery, and spreadsheets (oh yeah!) online for the past five years, I’ve noticed that creatives tend to avoid the financial side of their biz. I’m here to help with bookkeeping templates, tips, and tools that are both pretty and in-plain-English.


It’s the most wonderful time of the year . . . time to finally total up all those numbers and see how your business really did this year. If you’re like many creative entrepreneurs and you don’t look forward to this process, you might’ve fallen a little (or a lot) behind on your bookkeeping work over the course of 2016. No guilt trips here; instead, I’ve got six steps to help you get your finances in order. Start taking action now and avoid the stress and overwhelm before taxes are due!

1. Come up with a plan and write it out.

Be honest with yourself—figure out just how behind you are and craft a plan. How much work is it going to take to compile all the data you’ll need before taxes are due? Do you need to get started like, yesterday? Or is it not as bad as you thought?

Examine your calendar from now ’til the tax deadline (2016 taxes are due April 18th, 2017) and sketch out how much work you’ll need to do each week in order to get caught up in time. Actually putting it down in writing in your planner will increase your chances of really doing the work.

Here is a very high level view of what you may need to know for your tax return:

  • Total sales and refunds
  • Total business expenses (sorted by expense category)
  • A year-end inventory count if you deal with physical inventory
  • Expenses related to your car if you used it for business purposes
  • Expenses related to your home office if you have one
  • Info on any business assets (think like big equipment) you bought or used during the year

2. Set yourself up to succeed.

That means 1) holding yourself accountable and 2) figuring out how you’ll stay motivated. To prevent yourself from saving all this *boring* accounting work til the last minute (and creating more stress), you need to figure out the best way to hold yourself accountable.

You know yourself best—whether that means sharing your accounting “to do list” with your mastermind group or promising yourself a big reward upon completion. In order to complete any task I really don’t like doing, I’ve got to stay motivated. I personally like to treat myself with a small reward each week after I’ve made progress; this way I keep working on the goal in small, manageable chunks until the deadline. {Note from Regina: Ditto! I like to get myself vegan brownies, yoga gear, new notebooks, or other “school supplies.” Find your “thing” to reward yourself.}

3. Gather all that paperwork.

Just start by getting all your junk together! It’s time to scrounge up all those receipts you’ve been (hopefully) hoarding throughout the year. Don’t forget to organize your digital receipts and documentation as well. Go through your email and “star” any business expense receipts, take screenshots, or print to PDF and save in an easily accessible folder on your desktop.

You can also physically or digitally print your bank statements, PayPal reports, etc. if you want to have these on hand for easier data entry later. Having all your documentation sorted and organized will make life easier when it comes time to record all these transactions.

4. Do the grunt work in pieces.

First—do you have a bookkeeping system, or at least a place to record your sales and expenses? If not, I suggest you set something up and quick. You don’t necessarily have to scramble to research accounting systems or apps right now; a simple spreadsheet can suffice.

Second—it’s time to play catch up. That means entering ALL your transactions for 2016—sales, refunds, shipping, expenses . . . everything. Entering transactions is probably going to be the majority of your bookkeeping time, so try to break it up into small, manageable time chunks.

Remember that plan you made? If you start early enough, you can give yourself a timeline that is actually doable for playing catch up. I’d suggest making it a goal to enter one month’s worth of transactions every week, and go one week at a time. If you start in December, you’ll be done before the April deadline with a few weeks to spare.

Be consistent and small. That’s how you win at business.

Be consistent and small. That's how you win at business. You'll see what I mean and it's simple.

These are the words I will pass on to my daughter or son (if I have a child in the future) should they ask me about how to be successful, or start a meaningful business, or build a purposeful life.

I have actual tears in my eyes as I begin to write these words. Partially because I was humbled and unable to speak after reading your comments on yesterday’s post (thank you, forever), and partially because I am overwhelmed with the simple, powerful truth I’m about to share.

These words probably won’t be new to you. No words really can be. But it’s the decision to embrace and apply them that matters.

Raise your hand if you are like I am when it comes to ideas—you have 1.3 million of them . . . every single time you blink or inhale.

They crowd your mind, excite you, drive you, wake you up, prevent you from sleeping, and honestly . . . eventually overwhelm you.

Your ideas are great. And any one of them CAN work. Any one of them CAN be the thing that helps you create a lifestyle where you’re able to breathe, take breaks, provide for your family in new ways, actually go on a vacation, etc. ANY single one of your ideas can do that.

But they’re likely all missing the thing that all of my ideas were missing a few years ago before I started this brand.

Consistency and smallness.

“Mom, what can I do to be great? Even when all the odds are against me?” asks my fictional child. Let’s name him Emmanuel—obviously we can all refer to him as Manny. Or, “The Man.”

“Son,” I reply slowly. “Be consistent, and be small. Every single day.”


Be consistent.

Show up. Consistently.
Keep creating content.
Speak passionately to a crowd of 0.
Until you’re speaking passionately to a crowd of 3. That’s 3 whole people, with whole lifetimes of experience and memories, who have chosen to tune into your words. That’s an honor.

Create. Consistently.
When everyone else has gone to bed.
When everyone else has stopped paying attention to your dreams.
When absolutely no one seems to care.
When someone has recommended to you that you stop or that you move onto something more logical (to them—major eyeroll emoji).

Love. Consistently.
Until your love finds the community of people it’s most needed by.
Until people can’t help but take your concern for them seriously.
Until someone, somewhere believes in themselves again.

Listen. Consistently.
Not just until you hear the one thing you choose to respond to.
Not just until it gets uncomfortable.
Not only for the sake of appearances.
Not only to focus on how someone else’s words make you feel. But also to focus on how they feel.
But also to understand what people need from you.
But also to know what to create consistently, where to show up consistently, and how to love consistently.

Be small, son.

In the way you approach an important goal.
Because if you focus only on the grand dream . . .
And if you focus only on the one outcome you’re hoping for . . .
And if you care most about the final destination . . .
Then you miss the opportunity to take the steps to get there.
Then you miss the stops along the way that were meaningful and beautiful for you and for others.
Then you miss the signs that were pointing another direction—where more purpose and greatness were hiding.

My Top 8 Business Mistakes of 2016

My Top 8 Business Mistakes of 2016 and My Favorite Prescription for Work Stress

Oohey. This one is going to be a whole load of honesty, with a side of realness, and a smidgen of TMI for dessert. But hey. My goal is to present the behind-the-scenes truth, so that, if applicable, you can make decisions and take action based on a realistic picture. Not a world full of staged images (which I take sometimes too—so I’m not judging), embellished income reports, and all that jazz.

My Top 8 Business Mistakes of 2016

1. Not choosing the right path during the ultimate debacle and disaster that consisted of offering services and accidentally selling more spots than I intended.

All my close friends and family know of something we affectionately call #Project50. Which was a time when my sales software was supposed to limit registrants to under 20 people (for a custom content plan I was putting together for each person), but it didn’t shut down until I noticed the error and did it manually . . . when over 55 people had registered.

Cue panic music and nervous laughter.

You see. I really hate to disappoint people. There are some parts of me that want to be “so above” caring what other people think, but at the core of who I am, I just do. I don’t like hurting people’s feelings (which makes me the worst and most confusing girlfriend ever when I’m trying to break up with someone), and I don’t like the feeling of letting someone down.

So, instead of refunding the last 30 or 40 people and potentially disappointing them because they wouldn’t be able to take advantage of the crazy price I was selling the package at, I decided to just clear my schedule (which meant not creating as much content), let people know the delivery time would be a little longer (and also offer them a refund if they understandably didn’t want to wait), then get to work trying to finish each plan—but still give each one the attention it deserved.

It was a disaster. Some people got their plans on time, other people kept getting offers to either (1) get a refund and accept a free eBook as my apology, or (2) wait a little longer and accept a free eBook as my apology. It drug on and on. I kept hoping people would just ask for a refund. And in the end I had to “force” refund a few people because I just couldn’t finish each plan.

How to Really Use Asana to Organize Your Clients and Projects

How to use Asana as a freelancer

Yes, my friend. I have a treat for you today. A serious expert (in the form of trial and error and success at getting organized and making her projects flow well) is giving us the behind-the-scenes, no skimpiness version of how to really use Asana (a tool the whole byRegina.com team uses) to manage your clients and projects. She’s even taking us through specific actions we’ll want to take in Asana and giving us some screen examples. Check it out.


Nesha WooleryHi, I’m Nesha! I design brands and websites for lady entrepreneurs + teach other brand & web designers how to build profitable and sustainable businesses.

Let’s jump into organizing your clients and projects.

Have you ever tried to manage your projects through emails? You end up with hundreds of emails between you and the client, making it impossible to find the feedback they sent you last week or the attachment they sent you the week before.

To make matters even worse, your client seems to think it’s best to start a new thread instead of hitting reply on your emails, so your conversations are now broken into dozens of threads.

If that doesn’t sound familiar, how about this: have you ever gone to start a project and then realized your client hasn’t completed their pre-project homework or handed over the files you need? It halts the project right in its tracks and adds days (sometimes weeks!!) on to your deadline.

If you’re a freelance designer, photographer, writer or any kind of service-based business owner, you’ve experienced this before. It kiiiinda makes you want to pull your hair out with frustration.

When this kind of project disorganization happens, I’m guessing some of these thoughts fly through your head:

Why is my client always starting new threads even though I’ve told her not to?!

Why do my clients NEVER remember to hand in their files on time?

How come my clients NEVER remember to make their payments on time?

Why do I constantly have to remind my clients to send me their feedback on the work I’ve done?

Spot the common thought here? We like to blame our project disorganization on our client’s forgetfulness. But the reality is this: WE should be the ones making sure our clients remember to send us feedback on time or hand in files on time. WE should be the ones making sure our clients make their payments on time. WE should be the ones organizing the project management; we should’t rely on our clients to handle it.

So how can you finally get these problems solved? By using a project management tool.

A project management tool is a private space online where you and your clients can organize everything that needs to get done in your projects. You can communicate, create to-do lists, attach files, set deadlines, set reminders and tons more.

Each time you take on a new client, you simply create a new project in your PM tool of choice, name the project and invite your client! Then you can both discuss things in one neat, organized spaced.

10 Morning Writing Activities for Entrepreneurs

Morning Writing Activities for Entrepreneurs
So basically, I instituted a practice a while back that completely altered the amount and quality of work I was able to get done. It’s a practice I’ve recently picked back up here in Mexico, where I live now . . . and it is doing wonders for my productivity, mental clarity, sanity, and content. Wonders.

I want to share this magical, mystical practice.

In a short blog post. And if you know me, that like . . . never happens. So let’s hop straight into this cool method/thing.

It’s called making content creation the first thing you do in the morning. Before Twitter, before getting fully ready for the day, before investing time in your day job, before all of it.

And yes, I do understand that you have a crazy, busy life. I promise I really do get it. But it’s just like working out. We all know we need to do it, but if we never prioritize it and try to leave it as the last thing we do for the day, it never gets done.

So, even if you just wake up 30 minutes earlier, or alter your routine to fit in an extra 15 minutes or so in the morning for yourself, I hope you can find a way to make this work.

Prioritizing content in the morning means that:

  • You haven’t been influenced by any outside sources yet that day. Your mind is fresh. It’s more focused on who you really are . . . it hasn’t had time to take on the other personalities and crazy thoughts that hop in our heads each day as emotional creatives.
  • You’re less likely to create content that’s an accidental copy of something you’ve seen. Especially if you follow the #1 rule of this practice: Don’t consume any content at all, other than your own, before you get started for the day.
  • Your emails and responsibilities haven’t taken over yet.
  • You will feel more productive that day to have gotten in an early win.
  • Your quality of life will likely increase if you’re able to create more amazing content and feel better about your progress toward your goals.

Here are the 10 most epic suggestions ever (#humblebrag) of what you can create or do during your morning time:

1. Write a letter to yourself.
And by “letter,” I of course mean “email to the future.” You can use a tool like FutureMe.org if you’re like me . . . in denial about the validity of journaling each day.

FutureMe.org even has an app. You can open it up (or use the desktop version) and write yourself a quick note that will be delivered at some time in the future that you get to specify (1 month, 1 year, 5 years, etc.).

What happened yesterday? What milestones have you met in your business? What are you hoping to launch or do in the near future? Why does it matter? Who is important in your life right now and why?

Remind yourself to be patient, mindful, forgiving, and kind to yourself and others.

No lie. Every single email from the past me to the future me has made me cry. Has made me stop in my tracks. Has refocused me. Has delighted me. Has reminded me of what’s important.

2. Create an outline for an epic piece of content.
Whether you want to outline an epic article, blog post, or guide using this resource planning post as a guide, or you want to start planning how to change one of your blog posts into a book, or you want to start planning your first workshop . . . take 15 – 45 minutes in the morning to create a detailed outline of your content.

3. Draft an email to your email list.
When your mind is more raw, real, and fresh, take the time to draft an email to your list. Something real, something that includes a story, something that communicates your heart and passion for what you do.

If the email isn’t complete by the time you finish writing that morning, keep it in a special Google Doc in the cloud (or a folder somewhere that makes sense for you) so that you can write more when you feel like it or come pull from this doc when you have a thought that relates and can complete your email.

4. Write part of a book.
Legit. This is the only way I was able to write and publish my first book when I had other full-time responsibilities. It was the hardest, most rewarding thing ever. EVER.

5. Write out one activity you’re going to do that day for yourself on top of your daily goals or in your day planner.
Is it working out and building toward your summer six pack? Is it getting a pedicure? Is it going out with a girl you have a crush on? Is it going to bed early enough to read two chapters of your current book?

Prioritize something, even if it’s small, that replenishes you or gives you a moment of peace in a long day.

6. Create a blog post.
Take one of the outlines you created on a separate morning and fill it in with your epic morning mind.

7. Write a video script.
Whether you are creating a video tutorial that you’ll have to narrate, or you want to create a cool new video series with quick tips and solid information, your video probably needs some sort of a script . . . even if it’s only bullet points for you to follow as you talk.

Having your script pre-written will make it THAT much more likely that you actually get those video ideas you’ve planned out done.

8. Write part of your course materials or part of your sales page.
Most of the time, you can’t build a quality course in a day. So, instead, break up its creation over as many mornings/days as you need to.

If you already have a course or another product you sell, write or tweak your sales page or a cool bonus that you can use to generate interest in your product.

9. Re-assess and write down your top 3 work goals and top 3 life goals (plus their “why”—the reason they matter) as they occur to you that morning.
I know. I know. You are already super clear on all your goals, ever. But, just in case you want to constantly audit and check yourself (so you don’t get sucked in to an online cult), write down what’s important to you as of that moment. Make sure all of your goals have a real reason/purpose that you can identify, and then verify that your immediate goals (of the day/week/month) line up with your purpose statements.

10. Write some fiction.
Yeah. Give your mind something creative to work on outside of your business. Something you don’t have to monetize. (So, if you’re a professional fiction writer, you’re going to want to do something outside of your normal work. Something that doesn’t have pressure associated with it. A poem? An article? Some travel tips? Whatever pops in your head.)


Pssssst. You can totally create content other than written content in the mornings. Sometimes I simply:

  • design a graphic
  • record a screen tutorial
  • record an audio file
  • continue my morning project from the day before
  • etc. {translation: get creative with your “Morning Milestones”}

If you’re not already doing this with your mornings, I really do think you will enjoy it, because no matter how crazy your day gets afterward, you will have gotten some business and personal growth stuff done.

10 Epic Writing Activities for Entrepreneurs

I hope you enjoyed these quick ideas for what you can do in the morning to feel + be epic and productive.

I re-started doing this because as lovely as it is to have a coworking office (when I’m in Austin or when I’m here in México), if I show up there first thing in the morning, the convo, or the structure of the facility, or my general responsibilities take over . . . and then I get frustrated with myself for not accomplishing as much as I wanted to.

I’m probably not the only one, right? Tell me. What do you do in the mornings? How do you achieve the level of productivity you’re shooting for?

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