Biz Nuggets #2! CLARITY AND STORYTELLING

How do your people know what you’re offering?

Think about all of the great businesses out there. They have a clear story, right?

You’re not confused about what Uber is selling, or what Staples sells are you? Their story is clear - we sell you office supplies, or we take you from point A to point B in a better way than taxis. You know instantly what they do, and they are able to tell a compelling story to get you to buy!

If you’re a music teacher, it’s super easy to say “I teach private saxophone lessons to middle school and high school students”. BAM! Easy. If you had to explain WHY you offer lessons, that’s probably also pretty easy.

Personally, I teach music because I feel it is my purpose to share with others knowledge that I have found has brought me happiness and success. Its no surprise that business coaching has become a passion of mine too, really.

To be able to tell your story with clarity and passion is truly one of the most powerful things you can do to support your business’ growth. Without a clear, compelling story, your customers will be confused. (And confusion leads to low sales numbers).

Its also super helpful when you're composing cover letters or reaching out to potential employers. 

A compelling story ensures that your voice is heard amongst the noise. It is what draws people to be curious about your work, and what leads them to "stick" to you. 

Your story is what makes you unique - and what helps you stand out from the crowd.

 

But how do you tell a compelling story?

 

Start with a message

Before you start telling your story, you need to be clear on who you're writing for and why.  Ask yourself two simple questions: 

  1. Who is my target audience?
  2. What am I trying to say to them? What message do I want them to hear?

Once you have this foundation, your story will have a clear trajectory and you can start to flesh it out. 

 

Write what you know

We've all heard it a thousand time - write what you know. And for your business or cover letter, or anything that is personal with your story, this is the best place to start. 

List some anecdotes from your life that fit into the context of your two questions above. Come up with as many as you can because you never know which direction your writing will take until you get started. 

Its often a great idea to start with one of these anecdotes at the beginning of your story, as they will personalize your writing and draw a reader in to what you have to say straight away. Depending on the purpose or message of your overall story, this could solidify your stance, outline your beliefs, show how you've overcome a challenge or built something from scratch. The idea is to be vulnerable and real with your audience. 

But don't be braggy

You don't need to paint yourself as a hero. You can achieve a great deal without being braggy or coming across as a self-proclaimed hero of humanity.

Its your story, so you can certainly be in it all, but try to focus on your readers and their experience of your writing. What did you learn, how did others feel through this, what did you witness? How are your words invoking an emotion within your reader? How can they relate to your story?

A touch of drama

Think back to your grade school story writing days. When you were learning to write, it was always important to have a conflict or drama of some kind. I remember enjoying the use of "...but suddenly...." to infuse some chaos into my narratives and allow the resolution of a conflict to take shape. 

Conflict is what makes the story interesting. 

Now, I'm not saying to go and create a HUGE drama where you were minding your own business on a school field trip, were bitten by a radioactive spider, became a superhero then saved humanity, but I AM saying to highlight a challenge you faced which also fits in with your story's who and why/what

Were you struggling to figure out how to write amazing copy for your website? Maybe you were super lame and boring and no one wanted to read your blogs? Maybe you kept breaking your reeds right before a performance, so you came up with an incredible reed storage device that prevented you from being able to be clumsy. Even a little bit of a story about how you faced a challenge then overcame it can entice the reader to listen more closely. 

Facing challenges makes you human, and at the end of the day, you're a human reaching out to other humans. So don't be afraid to show a little bit of what brought you to this place in your story -  why you're writing and how you believe your story and experiences can help others. 

 

Keep it simple

Finally, keep it simple. 

There's a reason TED talks have 18 minute time limits. Stories that are TOO long don't sell. They're tedious and can be full of unnecessary descriptors. Check this out - Chris Anderson (curator of TED) said "By forcing speakers who are used to going on for 45 minutes to bring it down to 18, you get them to think about what they really want to say.”

Make your point clear, easy to read and understandable. 

 

BONUS:  Practice makes perfect

Just like in music, the more you practice, the better you get.

Don't just write your story once. Practice it, change it, try it again.

The more you work it, the better it will be!

 

Are you interested in getting ALL of my Biz-nuggets in one place? 

Secrets to success: Biz Nuggets #1

PURPOSE

“You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead, pursue the things you love doing, and do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off of you.” – MAYA ANGELOU

Want to know the secret to real success as an entrepreneur?

Having a strong, emotionally based purpose and mission. Nothing great can truly be created without a real and genuine purpose at its core.

When you start your business, or create a new project, before anything else, you have to figure out your purpose.

Your purpose or mission is the defining statement behind your business. Everything you create for the business will ultimately need to pass through your purpose before you release it into the world, so you need to figure this out first.

Ask yourself;

  • Why do you want to start the biz?
  • What are you trying to accomplish?

For most entrepreneurs, purpose stems from the desire to offer something useful to the world around them and to impact others in a meaningful way.

It’s not enough to just say that you want to make boatloads of money, there needs to be a deeper reason to keep you motivated and working hard.

Make no mistake, the biggest differences between those who create amazing things and those who don’t is a fierce commitment to doing whatever it takes to create success, and without an emotionally charged, passionate reason for you to create something and put it out into the world, your chances of success are significantly decreased.

 

“Many people fail in life, not for lack of ability or brains or even courage but simply because they have never organized their energies around a goal.” — ELBERT HUBBARD ______________________________________________________

Are you looking for ways to streamline and accelerate your journey to success? Get a copy of my Biz-Nuggets   E-guide by dropping your email address into the box below. 

Do you have an upper limit problem?

Today, I discovered something. 

I have an Upper Limit Problem. 

Not sure what this is? No worries! I'm going to fill you in and help you conquer your own. 

Not too long ago, I read an amazing book The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks. This book is INCREDIBLE if you're looking for ways to push yourself forward and to uncover hidden ways that you might be holding yourself back in your career and in life! 

Hendricks has coined this term of "Upper Limiting" as something we do to bring ourselves down when something good happens to us. Essentially, subconscious self-sabotage

For example; you get a promotion at work for being so productive and outstanding, then all of a sudden you get sick for a week. Or you have a really great interaction with a friend, and come home to fight with your significant other. 

You had been feeling so good that your mind reached a point of "maximum time allowed for good feelings" and worked to bring you back down to earth.  Its like you've reached your capacity for these good feelings and you have to do something to neutralize your feelings. 

This can show up in many different ways for different people. Gay talks about a client of his who got a new job and was super excited to take it. The issue was that he had also been asked to speak at an event for his current company to talk about how great the company was, but he hadn't yet told his boss he was leaving. He really didn't want to give the talk, but had no way out of it. On the morning of the presentation, he contracted laryngitis and couldn't speak. Problem solved right? 

Not so fast. 

After speaking with the client, Gay uncovered this man's upper limit problem. He had just had incredible news and was extremely happy, but didn't want to have to fake his way through a presentation and then tell his boss he was leaving. While they were talking(whispering) and working through these upper limits, the client's voice gradually returned! 

His laryngitis was a symptom of his upper limit problem! 

Upper Limit Problems (ULPS) can have a bunch of weird symptoms that seem unrelated, but a lot of the time, if you allow yourself to be aware of the situation and think about the things that have happened in the lead up to the ULP, you might find that you can work through the symptoms faster than if you just ignore them. 

A couple of examples of these ULP symptoms could be: getting sick, throwing your back out, getting into a car accident, breaking glasses and cutting yourself, spilling red wine on a white rug at a boss's house, etc. It can literally be anything, and doesn't have to be related to your success or your field. 

I had a BIG one recently.

I had a couple of HUGE breakthroughs in the same week and totally forgot to watch out for my ULP to appear. 

Sure enough though, it reared its ugly head in a way that was far more upsetting, obvious and dramatic than I'd ever experienced before. 

I went from feeling super great, to feeling like a total failure. 

It wasn't until my best friend said "It sounds like you're having one of those Upper Limit things you talk about" that I realized what had happened. 

I had allowed myself to sabotage my good feelings. I had reached the limit for my current state, and my mind had self-corrected. I had indeed Upper Limited!

The thing with upper limiting is that the bigger the win, the bigger the ULP. So, as I was seeing HUGE wins, subconsciously I was telling myself things like; You're not ready for this. You're not qualified to do this. You need to slow down. You need to get back to that safe place. 

Anytime you're pushing yourself into new experiences, there’s a good chance you’ll hit an ULP. 

So what can we do about this upper limit problem?

Well, the great thing is that once you understand this Upper Limit Problem thing, you're already ahead of the game. Sometimes we blame ourselves and call ourselves "stupid" or "flawed" or "not good enough", but the truth could simply be that you have Upper Limited. 

So, 

Steps to conquering your ULP

STEP ONE: Identify the ULP (and realise that you're not alone)

Everyone is going to hit an ULP at some point, and the more success you have, and the harder you work to push into new experiences, the bigger the ULPS will be. 

They're not always easy to deal with, and they're usually fairly unpleasant, but once you can identify them, you're already on your way to moving past them. 

This is not something you can do once and cure all of your future ULPS. As long as you live, these will keep coming up, so remember to stay vigilant!

STEP TWO: Increase your happiness tolerance!

You have to work at this happiness thing! We aren't programmed to sustain happiness forever, but it is definitely something we can train and increase over time. 

Things like meditation, spending time with loved ones and feeling in to the things that make you happy will help you increase your capacity. I know it sounds a little weird, but its vital if you want to conquer your ULPS. 

Hendricks recommends you repeat his mantra regularly to help you increase this happiness quota. The mantra is "I expand in abundance, success and love everyday, as I inspire others to do the same"

STEP 3 - Stay vigilant!

When you have something great happening in your life, keep an eye out for symptoms or clues to your upper limit problem. Do you have a tendency to get sick after you do something great, or perhaps you get into a fight with a loved one? 

Its not always the same thing each time either. 

 

If you run into your ULP, you might want to flee from the feelings. After all, no one likes to feel this way, but let me challenge you not to run and hide, but stay and think. If you're about to make a really bad choice...stop. Think. Call someone you really trust to talk it through. 

Observe why this happened, find the trigger, recognise the feelings. 

While it might really suck at the time, there is actually a silver lining to an ULP. 

Perhaps the coolest thing about an ULP event is that they are, in and of themselves, signs that you've increased your capacity for happiness in some way. 

If you weren't pushing your limits, an ULP wouldn't appear. (You might just actually be sick, which happens too. Not all sicknesses or problems are ULPS)

If you can move through your ULP and find the reason for your limiting behaviour, you have the ability to expand and grow. 

So, the next time you hit a barrier, ask yourself, is this my Upper Limit Problem today? You just might be on to something big!

 

Interested in Gay Hendrick's book? You can find it below! I highly recommend it!

40 quotes to inspire you!

As musicians, we know that others often have the answers to our problems. 

We take private music lessons, go to school, read and learn from the people who have come before us. 

Your business life is no different! 

Whether you're in need of some inspiration to get the creative juices flowing, or you just need to know that others have faced similar challenges in their lives, reading some good, old fashioned quotes will get you up and moving in no time!

Below are 40 of my favourite business and creativity related quotes which I have collected over the last few years. 

This is just a selection of my favourites, and I have SO MANY more that I love to read over from time to time, but I hope they resonate for you as much as they do for me!

 

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1. "The essential question is not, 'How busy are you?' but 'What are you busy at?” - Oprah Winfrey

2. "There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all." - Peter Drucker

3. "Begin somewhere; you cannot build a reputation on what you intend to do." - Liz Smith 

4. "Dig your well before you're thirsty." - Seth Godin

5. "Nothing is a waste of time if you use the experience wisely." - Auguste Rodin

6. "Either you run the day or the day runs you." - Jim Rohn

7. "Well done is better than well said." - Benjamin Franklin

8. “It’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen.” - Scott Belsky

9. An essential aspect of creativity is not being afraid to fail.” - Edwin Land

10. If you make art, you'll have critics. It's easier to critique a thing than it is to make a thing." - Marie Forleo

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11. "If I would have asked people what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse.” - Henry Ford

12. “Build your own dreams, or someone else will hire you to build theirs.” – Farrah Gray

13. “The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.” – Steve Jobs

14. "Don't tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results." - George S. Patton

15. "No person will make a great business who wants to do it all himself or get all the credit." - Andrew Carnegie

16. "You must either modify your dreams or magnify your skills." Jim Rohn

17. "Be stubborn on the long-term vision but flexible on the details." - Jeff Bezos

18. “Leadership is doing what is right when no one is watching.” – George Van Valkenburg

19. "The secret of success is to do the common thing uncommonly well." - John D. Rockefeller Jr.

20. “Do not call procrastination laziness. Call it fear.” – Julia Cameron

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21. "Success is not final; failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts." - Winston S. Churchill

22. “Don’t worry about failure; you only have to be right once.” - Drew Houston

23. “Diligence is the mother of good luck.” - Benjamin Franklin

24. "If you really want to do something, you'll find a way. If you don't, you'll find an excuse." - Jim Rohn

25. “The start is what stops most people.” – Don Shula

26. “Failure defeats losers, failure inspires winners.” – Robert T. Kiyosaki

 27. "I didn't fail the test. I just found 100 ways to do it wrong." Benjamin Franklin

28. "Don't be afraid to give up the good to go for the great." John D. Rockefeller

29. "The value of an idea lies in the using of it." Thomas Edison

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30. "Successful people do what unsuccessful people are not willing to do. Don't wish it were easier; wish you were better." - Jim Rohn

31. "Any idea is only as valuable as its ability to solve a problem." Sally Hogshead

32. "The challenge with being an initiator of projects is that you are never, ever done." Seth Godin

33. "Entrepreneurs are willing to work 80 hours a week to avoid working 40 hours per week." Lori Greiner

34. "A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new." Albert Einstein

35. "Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." Thomas Edison

36. "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough." Albert Einstein

 37. "If you're looking for the next best thing, and you're looking where everyone else is, you're looking in the wrong place." Mark Cuban

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 38. "An artist is someone who uses bravery, insight, creativity, and boldness to challenge the status quo. And an artist takes it personally." Seth Godin

 39. "The paradox is the more info you give away, the more people will buy what you have to give." Brian Clark

40. “The competitive mind is not the creative one.” Wallace D. Wattles
 

Do you have any favourite quotes? Share them in the comments below!

 

- JVP

 

Choose Yourself

November is almost here! Can you believe it?

Its been 10 weeks of the semester already! Holy Buckets how did that happen?

As we start to wind down on another semester (seriously, didn't school only JUST start?), I am seeing students and friends feeling tired, burned out and just lacking in motivation. 

I mean, I feel it too. Life can be SO busy sometimes!

But you know whats important to focus on when you feel like this? The fact that you can choose to do ANYTHING you want to do in life, and that you have chosen to be right here, today. 

You might be thinking "but Jess, I didn't choose to be exhausted and unmotivated", and of course I know that, but you DID choose to impact the world around you in this specific way (however that looks), and what you're feeling right now is just a side effect of that choice. 

Think of all of the decisions you've made to get you to this point right now, today. Think of all of the wonderful things you have set out to achieve and bring into the world through the course you're on right now. 

Sure, you might be tired, and ready to curl up in a ball and snuggle under the covers (and maybe you should actually do that this weekend - take that time to recharge), but right now, you're exactly where you are meant to be according to the decisions you've made in the past, and whatever that looks like, thats pretty cool!

You have the choice to be where you are, or not. 

You have the choice to change your future right now, or not. 

If you're looking for something new, choose something new. If you want to change something about the way you're living, choose to change it. 

By not choosing TO DO something, you're choosing everything else. Inability to choose is a choice in and of itself. By not making a decision, you're choosing not to decide.

Did anyone else just have to read that a few times over?

Everything you do is a choice, and there are consequences for every choice (or non-choice) that you make. Choose wisely and you can set yourself up to do and be anyone you want. 

Even if you're feeling tired, stuck or unmotivated, choose yourself and choose a future that allows you to really be the awesome person doing incredible things that you know you can be!

 

"While we may not always have control over our options, we always have control over how we choose among them" - Greg McKeown

 

 

Are you interested in a couple of great reads in this topic that will also get you super motivated?!

Here are two of my favourites!

Don't sweat the small stuff - I promise the world isn't on fire.

Hey Abundant Musicians!

Do you ever have those days where you just feel like EVERYTHING is too much?

This semester, as I've started a new job, juggled my old job, and have a list of things I want to accomplish that is absolutely as long as my arms if you lined 5 of them up hand-to-shoulder in a row, i've definitely hit overwhelm a few times.

Some days, no matter how much careful planning you do, you can feel like this little guy below.

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Sometimes, I'm this guy ^ and I sip that delicious cup of hot coffee and spend a moment with my head in the sand, ignoring the chaos around me. For those few glorious moments, i'm toasty, comfy and happy in my fake bliss.

But then, after that cup of coffee is gone, and you take a moment to look around, you realise that LITERALLY EVERYTHING IS ON FIRE!

The table? On fire

Floor? Fire

Roof? Yep. Fire

You get it.

So how do you escape this burning world of pain and find your safe route outside?

Don't sweat the small stuff.

Don't bring everything with you as you flee!

When you're on a plane and the flight attendant is talking you through the evacuation procedures, do they tell you to take everything you own with you? Why not? I hope the answer is obvious - it'll slow you down and get in the way. You'd have to climb over people's bags, maybe your bag strap got caught on a chair as you passed by, or you have to wait for someone to pull their massive roller bag from the overhead compartment and then they accidentally put a hole in the inflatable exit ramp on the way out with their stilettos.

It's madness when you try to bring everything with you as you save yourself. 

But what does this mean for every day things?

Well, when you're facing an overwhelming feeling of THE WORLD IS ON FIRE and you just cant see the way around it, start off by identifying the things that aren't necessary. 

1. Make a list of all of the things you THINK you need to do.

2. Identify the items in your list that are ABSOLUTELY necessary

3. Identify the things on your list you can delay for a few days

4. Identify the things you really don't NEED to do.

Most of the items in step 3 and 4 will be small, annoying and feel like busy work. This will also be where you have projects that you might not yet be ready to take on, but that are weighing on your mind. 

Here's the thing. A lot of the items on your list will be small - regardless of if they're necessary or not. Are you worried your student won't get ALL of their 32 lessons this year and you're terrified you wont be able to make it up to them? Just me? 

When things are on fire, focus on the #necessary. What do you need to do to get out of immediate danger? 

Get these things DONE, and move forward. 

Don't allow yourself to get bogged down by the optional and unnecessary things on your list. Even though these items might be more fun, they'll only slow you down and keep you stuck. 

Being busy is totally normal, but staying busy WITHOUT progress will wear you down. 

So take a moment. Breathe. Make a list.  

Then, just do it!

(and don't sweat the small stuff!)

 

 

 

 

 

TAX TIPS FOR A NEW SCHOOL YEAR!

Welcome to the start of the new school year my AMP friends!

If you're anything like me, the start of the new school year feels like the start of a WHOLE new world of possibility - with new students, new schools, new families, new policies, new clients, new fee rates and new jobs. Its a lot to think about at once, and there are so many moving parts, you might feel like nothing is ever under control! 

Let me start out by saying "I HEAR YOU!" 

There are so many things to juggle at the start of the year (whether you're in the Northern hemisphere and the new school year is now, or in the Southern hemisphere and you've just begun a new fiscal year), sometimes its easy to let things fall through the cracks. 

But there is one thing that is especially important for you to get on top of - and that is your TAXES! 

I know, its not the most fun (funnest?) of subjects to talk about, but today I wanted to give you a list of some basic tax write offs that could save you money at the end of the financial year. 

I do need to state that I am not an attorney, accountant or financial advisor, nor am I holding myself out to be. The information contained in this Website is not intended to be a substitute for legal or financial advice that can be provided by your own attorney, accountant, and/or financial advisor. Although care has been taken in preparing the information provided to you, I cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions, and I accept no liability whatsoever for any loss or damage you may incur. 

If you have questions about the information below, please speak to your own accountant or CPA to ensure you're following the laws and rules of your state and country. 

Ok, so now to the fun stuff!!

Of course, before you deduct any of the items below, be sure to check with your CPA or accountant to make sure they're related to your work. The IRS are not afraid to be in touch if there are issues, so be sure to have proof of everything, well maintained records, and don't claim anything that isn't business related. (I.e. if you follow the law, you'll be fine at tax time!)

THINGS YOU CAN WRITE OFF ON YOUR TAXES!!!

(So start keeping track of them. Make copies, track them online, use an app... AND update regularly. Tax time SUCKS when you're filing all of your receipts for the year!)

 

  1. Music books, sheet music, sheet music downloads
    Keep ALL receipts of your sheet music and book purchases (audiobooks too!) and claim them all on your taxes - again, provided they relate to your job.  These can all be claimed as necessary materials for your work, so even if its just a $2 sheet music download, it can help to offset your income at the end of the year!
     
  2. Home office deduction
    If you have an office at home which you work from - teachers, consultants, home recording studios etc, you can claim your home office space on your taxes each year. This is great because you can not only claim a percentage of your residence as work space (think, a percentage of your mortgage or rent, electricity, water and utilities) however you must be VERY careful with this and ensure your home office is used for business purposes only. The kitchen counter is not a home office, neither is the sofa - although, lets be real, you can totally put a sofa in your home office, as long as its a biz-sofa.  The IRS loves to check in on home office people as it is a very commonly misused deduction, but if you really do have a home office, its very helpful. 
     
  3. Mileage deduction
    If you have a home office, you can also claim the mileage deduction! Every time you travel to a clients home, or to an event which requires you to leave your office, you can deduct the mileage. There are two ways to do this - using the standard IRS mileage calculator, or with your receipts. The standard deduction is usually the simplest and easiest deduction, but there are some limits on this. Check the IRS website for more details on this https://www.irs.gov/credits-deductions/individuals/standard-mileage-rates-glance
    Keep track of ALL business related and personal mileage so you can know exactly how much of your annual mileage is business related and how much is personal.  (Don't just track business alone!)
     
  4. Conference attendance and travel costs
    If you attend conferences, professional events or programs for professional development, CLAIM IT ALL! Did you travel? Did you have to pay registration? Did you eat? These can all be claimed at various rates on your taxes.  KEEP ALL RECEIPTS and track this information. These can be large deductions at the end of the year!

    Food purchases can be claimed if they relate to your travel, and will be deducted based on the IRS rate. - At time of publishing, this was a 50% limit.- https://www.irs.gov/publications/p463/ch02.html
     
  5. Instrument purchases
    Did you buy a new instrument this year? This should be an easy one, but GET A RECEIPT and claim it on your taxes! Your accountant can help you figure out the best way to claim this (in one hit, or depreciated over time), but
     
  6. Business purchases (Hello new macbook Pro!)
    I recently bought a new computer, because my old one was dying and I had a really hard time doing ANYTHING on it. It was the start of the year, I needed to be emailing hundreds of people a week, and my computer would decide to shut itself off just for funsies. Purchases for your business can be claimed like the musical instruments above. Keep your receipts, know that you can offset your income, but also dont just buy things because they can offset your taxes. I bought the best computer I could afford, not the best computer on the market, because I don't get all of the money back at the end of the year and I have to actually pay for it! Be smart about it. 
     
  7. CD's and DVD's
    Much like sheet music and books, CD's and DVD's can be business related expenses. As with pretty much everything else though, make sure its relevant. As much as I'd like to claim that buying the box set of "Games of Thrones" will enhance my teaching, the IRS really wont see it that way if they look into it. The newest recording by the London Symphony however would be a different story. 
     
  8. Health Insurance
    If you are a sole proprietor, you will most likely be able to claim your health insurance on your taxes. There are a few caveats, but info can be found here - https://www.irs.gov/uac/newsroom/dont-miss-the-health-insurance-deduction-if-youre-self-employed
     
  9. Office supplies
    STATIONARY FOR WORK CAN BE DEDUCTED! Yep. You need it, you claim it. I love stationary shopping and knowing that the new pens, highlighters, notebooks and paper I buy can go toward offsetting my taxes makes the process even more fun!
     
  10. Phone and Internet
    If you use a phone or the internet for your work, you can deduct these! The simplest way to do this is to have a separate line for your phone and internet, but if this isn't possible, you can claim a percentage of your bills. Please don't claim 100% of your personal cell plan on your taxes - no one will believe that you dont check facebook, or text your friends, or call your family, so make a realistic claim based on your use of these services. Check with your CPA to figure out what your percentage should be. 
     
  11. Professional memberships
    This should be an easy one - but claim all professional memberships you are part of. The music society you just registered for? Claim it. The instrumental organization? Yep! These are legit expenses for you, so include these at tax time.
     
  12. Educational programs
    Have you pursued professional education beyond school designed to enhance your career or current business? Did you take a business course, or attend a summer intensive? These can be claimed on your taxes too. Check this page out for more info - https://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc513.html

 

 Some things you can't deduct 

(this is not an exhaustive list)

  1. Work clothing (unless a specific uniform)
    The IRS allows you to claim your work clothing if it can only be worn for work and not elsewhere. Think about nurses and doctors and their scrubs. Scrubs can be claimed, but the white sneakers worn with the scrubs cannot be. Why? Because you can use those white sneakers outside of work (even if you don't want to). The performance suit or ballgown? Nope. You could wear that off the stage (to a wedding for example), so you cannot claim it. I WISH I could claim all of my clothes, because I only buy clothes that I can wear to work, but because I can also wear these outside of work, no deduction allowed. 
     
  2. Mileage - if you don't have a home studio
    You must be travelling from your work base and back again to claim the allowance on deduction. 
     
  3. Lunch expenses at your job if you're close to home.
    Just like a classroom teacher cant claim lunch as a work expense, you cant claim it as a sole proprietor. If you have a business meeting, you can claim 50% of the lunch, but it must be a business meeting. 

 

I have one other SUPER IMPORTANT TIP for you with your taxes. 

As a self-employed business owner (of any kind), you MUST pay taxes on a quarterly basis. The IRS will penalise you for not doing this, and its super easy to work out through your accountant or CPA. 

It makes taxes hurt less at the end of the year too - and BONUS... your accountant's fees are tax deductible too!!!
 

Want more info? Head over to the IRS' website - https://www.irs.gov/individuals/self-employed

Life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it.

Hey AMPers!

Today, we’re going to be talking about how your attitude impacts the work you do, and the impact you have on the world around you. 

When I first start working with musicians, I ask them to fill me in on what they’ve been doing, how their work is proceeding and to tell me what it is they want to achieve in their career and life. Almost everyone starts by telling me what they want to do in the world, (yay!) how they believe they can do it (awesome!), but then they often take a turn into how they have been limited in what they can do by their location, their time, their finances, friends, family etc. There are so many reasons why your plans and ideal goals get derailed, with the most common being “life happened”. 

While its totally normal for things to pop up that can distract us from our larger goals and it’s necessary for us to make sure we are taking care of the things that are truly important in our lives, for most of us, these “life happened” moments are nothing more than an excuse we give ourselves to make us feel better about the fact that we took our foot off the gas. 

Everyday, every single one of has things happen to us that are out of our control. These things range from unexpected emails, to being stuck in traffic, planes being delayed all the way to family members and friends being hit by tragedy. Most of the time, there is nothing we can do to about these things, but if we allow them to, they can really distract us from our own lives and goals. 

How many times have you allowed these types of things get in the way of your practice for example? Do you ever get so busy with life that you just don’t have time to practice? 

 Or, on the flip side, when you’re super committed to your practice, how many other things do you put on hold to make sure you get your practice sessions in? 

When people tell me they got too busy to complete a goal or a task, or that something happened to them and it meant they couldn’t do what they had planned, most of the time its not about the things that happened to them, its about the fact that they’re playing victim to their circumstances. Of course there are times when its necessary to allow these things to take priority, but for most of us, most of the time, if you check yourself, you’ll find that everything is ok. 

When we buy into the idea of things “happening” to us, we’re really buying in to a victim mentality. This mentality is based on the idea that things happen TO you, and that the world is preventing you from doing the things you really want to do. And I need to tell you that this victim mentality is doing nothing for you except preventing you from achieving you own goals, and making you look like you’re always making excuses for yourself.

We’re going to delve into other ways you might be keeping yourself small over our time together, but if you’re finding the happenings of “life” are preventing you from completing tasks, take a moment to think about if life is “happening” to you. 

Check out this quote from Chuck Swindoll.  

"Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, the education, the money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. 

It will make or break a company, a home, an organization. 

The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past...we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. 

The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude….Life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it... We are in charge of our attitudes.”

 

Guys, did you catch it? " life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it.”

 

If life is constantly happening to you and you find yourself constantly making excuses, perhaps its time to have a look at how you’re reacting to life. 

Life is always going to be throwing things your way, and as you embark on your journey in entrepreneurship, I promise you, you will have challenges thrown at you from all directions, all at once and it can get totally overwhelming. 

You can't control these things. 

You can’t control other people.

You can only control how you react to these challenges. 

If you’re having a hard time handling something, take a step back and observe HOW you’re reacting to it. Take some time to really think about it before you react.

I know that if I react instantly to a challenge and allow myself to react with the emotion of the initial shock, I make mistakes. By stepping back and checking myself, I can be sure my reactions are reasonable, true and useful. 

Ask yourself: 

Am I ok in this moment?

Is there anything I can do to resolve this challenge right now?

Do I really need to make an excuse for why I can’t complete this? 

What if I take a new approach and take control of my side of things to make the project successful? 

What If this challenge/obstacle is only 10% of the story? How can I make the other 90% effective?

For now, I want you to spend time and notice the things that “happen” to you this week. Are they really HAPPENING to you, or are they things you can react more positively toward? How can you limit the amount of time you spend as the victim this week?

Your thoughts and words create your reality, so use what you know from your life as a practicing musician, and take ownership of your reactions. 

Above all remember, attitude is everything and "Life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it"

 

 

 

The one thing to ask yourself

Hey AMP readers! 

Can you believe its August?! Holy wow! Where did the summer go?

Its coming up on go time for back to school here, and this year looks to be the busiest one for me yet! How about you? 

When you look to December, what do you see? What have you done, what will you have created in your life? How will you have impacted others?

I'm not asking this to get all deep and meaningful on you today, but rather to give you a focus on an attainable goal.  What is it that you REALLY want to do for the next few months? By Dec 31, 2017, what big goal will you have accomplished?  

Make it crystal clear in your mind, see it, know what it feels like and just for a moment, live in that place. 

You got it? Awesome!

Now, you have to keep this image FIRMLY in your mind UNTIL you make it real. And Always, ALWAYS come back to it.

Actually, this reminds me of a Game of Thrones scene in which Petyr Baelish tells Sansa Stark his vision, then says "Before every decision I make I ask myself if it will bring me closer to this reality". While I think Baelish is super creepy (and will never actually sit on the Iron Throne), he has certainly played a good game to reach his goals. 

How?

Because he has held every decision against the future he has planned in front of him. 

This isn't to say things wont get in your way, because they totally will. And they happen to each one of us, but at the end of the day, its your purpose and you vision that will keep you on task and moving forward. 

So, be like Peytr (minus the creepy part) and ask yourself "Will this decision bring me closer to this reality"?

Then pursue it relentlessly!