Spill It: Confessions of a Solo-Preneur

By Tiffany • Updated on 03/18/2013

say what now?

After ten ‘Secrets to Success’ posts, it seems only right for you to spill a few secrets of your own. Only we’re not sharing success secrets today – in fact, it’s quite the opposite. Tiffany will explain…

This contributor post was written by Tiffany Han.

There is a tendency on the internets to make everything glossy. Sometimes it seems like we’re all having a shouting contest to see whose “LOOK HOW AWESOME MY LIFE IS” can be the loudest.

While this tactic seems to be great for branding and marketing, it often results in the budding solo-preneur (me + you) feeling terrible, like we’ll never make it, like everything we are doing is doomed to failure.

So, for today, instead of seeing who can be the loudest in the bunch, what if we take a moment today to confess our deepest, darkest business secrets.

What could be possible if we all shared this out loud with each other?

I’ll start: I have zero money organizing systems set up for my business. I’ve tried mint.com. I’ve signed up for shoeboxed.com, but the bulk of my financial information is stored in my paypal account and in a drawer full of random receipts. I will be attempting to get my tax information together before heading down to Craftcation (say hi if you’ll be there!) and am panicked at the thought.

Panicked. (Which is why I’ve been putting it off for so long.)

While I know this is a problem (I’m going to be reaching out to bookkeepers when I get home), saying it in a public forum all of a sudden makes it seems less looming. It’s smaller and more manageable now. Just like that.

What is your little business secret, the thing you’re most afraid to say to the world? What dirty laundry do you have hiding in your shame closet?

(I suspect that none of us are alone here.)

Tiffany Han, CPCC is a life & business coach for highly-creative people who arent living the highly-creative lives they want. Just yet. With provocative questions & hard-edged encouragement, Tiffany helps skittish someday-ers become fiercely focused creators “” and proves that dreams do come true. But only when you demand it.

(image credit: Brittni Mehlhoff for Paper & Stitch)

21 comments | Click here to reply

Great tips and confessions all.
My documents and accounts are all over the place. I have about 4 random notebooks with details of what I drop off for my consignments which I never look at. Honestly, she could be giving away half the stuff and I wouldn’t notice! ( not that she ever would of course)
My worst confession is, I have, at times, a paralysing jealously for others in the local crafting community who seem to do well with little effort or individuality. I say ‘seem’ because honestly, what do I know about the effort they put in. They could be up all night, marketing and organising. It’s my issue, not theirs. I can rationalise but I still end up feeling hard done by. Once when applying for a craft fair, one which I had really enjoyed previously and sold exceptionally well at, I was told that a local craft syndicate which I had at one time been a member of, had now taken an interest in this fair and block booked most of the tables – I actually cried, like a spoilt child, and I gave up on my business for about 3 months. I am always happy for crafters to do well of course, but sometimes when I feel like I’m not getting anywhere, I implode. Too much honesty?


My bookkeeping and inventory tracking system is a giant mess, too. It’s torture for a creative, I don’t think we usually have the mind set to force our way through it. I tried to sit down in my merchandise room and force myself to document and measure it but I gave in and did writing instead.


Spill It: Confessions of a Solo-Preneur | Paper & Stitch http://t.co/dQsllfmhSY

Francine Clouden (@FrancineClouden)

WOW! So, I’m not alone! you all make me feel so much better. On a topic like this, how on earth can that be possible. haha

Taxes is biggest fear I have-not being able to do them correctly.
and all the business stuff that entitles.

and did somebody say missed out- passed up- opportunities. I never would have thought I would be doing something like that, but it happens. Oh my goodness it happens. Sometimes I am so afraid to reply to someone, because it’s been over a month. How late is to late? that question goes through my head more and more these days.
Well to say the least, I have a feeling I’ll be checking these comments out more than usual just for selfish reasons. I think that’s part another problem, I need to become a little more selfish, and little less.. “yep, sure i can” kind of person. Which brings up my third fear, saying no, and not being selfish. I always think.. “but what if…” or i’ll do my stuff later, let me just help you first..

I second the clean slate Laura!


When I started my business, I was doing something else and didn’t really need any liability protection. So I registered with my county as a sole proprietor and was required to put it on my taxes if I made more than a certain amount of money. I didn’t. So I didn’t put anything about my business on my taxes.

Then I moved. And I didn’t know how to update my business info with the government. So out of confusion and fear about messing it up, I just didn’t do it. So I’m still registered to the county I lived in almost 2 years ago.

Then I switched business trajectories and really need to have some protection from liability, so I need to become an LLC. But somewhere in there I got an EIN and now I can’t find it! So I can’t make myself an LLC until I figure out my EIN and so I just gave up.

When I go to do taxes next month, I have no idea how I’m supposed to file and definitely didn’t keep great records of what I made and spent.

Wish I had a clean slate!


I have no idea how to market my items so I have a neglected little Etsy store and piles of things in my home.


Okay, I have two suggestions and then, of course, I will bare my secret.

For email (and other) organization, check out Evernote. Just watching their videos gives tons of ideas but using the system is painless and clears the clutter. If only it would do closets.

For bookkeeping, years ago my accountant told me never to file bills, etc. in separate file folders. It is a waste of time. Get a three-ring notebook and 12 clear vinyl pockets – one for each month. One sheet of paper per month, either a blank one or one with sections for income and expenses. When you get a receipt or pay a bill, drop it in the pocket. Make monthly notes on the paper so you don’t forget a donation or obscure detail for tax time.-. Checkmark the receipts you have recorded in your bookkeeping program and you will know which ones aren’t recorded at a glance. If you ever need the receipt it will take a minute to find. Much less time than filing and then purging files at the end of the year. And, really, just how often do you go back to a receipt?

My challenge is procrastination and the resulting missed opportunities. I could cry at the things I have missed out on. I strive to keep on track but there are just so many hours in the day. I chip away at things and am always so pleased with myself when something put off gets done in mere minutes. So why do I procrastinate? So perverse!


I gave up on Quickbooks after a frustrating morning, I just did Outright and hired an accountant at the beginning of the year. Hopefully as my business grows I will be able to keep up with it!

My two big secrets are: 1) My supplies are a huge mess….beads, tools, and jump rings all over the house! and 2) I really really want to guest post on other blogs, but I’m fearful of taking that initial leap and putting myself out there!


Mine is that I have to accept that I do not have a gorgeous 2000 sq. ft. loft style studio space with a giant work table and loads of creative storage solutions. My projects, pile of things to be photographed, paperwork, materials, and supplies are spread around my dining room and in bins and baskets everywhere I can put one. To do the simplest thing requires hunting, retrieving things from multiple rooms, etc. Those glamourous studio spaces that I see all over the internet do make me feel like a less-than!


I am yet another one to add to the list of not so hot organizational skills for my finances. I’ve definitely been trying to get organized and just today spent the entire day inputting information into what I hope will be a system that will remedy the problem.
My dirty secret would also have to be similar to Stacey’s. I never thought it would be true but my time management skills have gotten away from me. Working from home with a toddler and being 6 months pregnant while running two businesses demands too much on my time and quite frankly, there are too many interruptions during the day. I decided to turn off all email notifications so I don’t even hear them come in and can focus on a task. That has definitely helped a bit and I want to come up with a couple more little tricks to get some solid, uninterrupted time to really work!


I’ve got two confessions: the first is my bookkeeping is a mess. So much so that I still have no idea what my income/expenses were for 2012. And it’s tax time… yay! And at least half of my receipts are packed in boxes 300 km away… yay, again!

The second is because of my rampant procrastination, I’ve let a lot – and I mean A LOT – of opportunities pass me by. And yet, I haven’t done anything to stop procrastinating. I’ve tried different time management schemes and done the whole ‘turn off the internet’ thing, but no, gotta see what’s new on Twitter and Facebook and BuzzFeed… ugh.

Well. That felt good to release all of that. Thanks 🙂


RT @papernstitch: Spill It: Confessions of a Solo-Preneur: After ten ‘Secrets to Success’ posts, it seems only… http://t.co/AIo56PTwOw


RT @papernstitch: Spill It: Confessions of a Solo-Preneur: After ten ‘Secrets to Success’ posts, it seems only… http://t.co/aFnDlddvP3

Create Hype (@CreateHype)

Oy! I am terrible at organizing receipts and keeping track of the financial parts. I hate it! But I’m regretting not being organized about it, now that’s time to do taxes! 🙁


It’s so true that everyone on the Internet is shouting out how wonderful their lives are!

My confession is that I still am nowhere near close to finishing my Ebook that I promised to my readers over a year ago. It’s a book on how to sew Japanese sewing patterns. My excuse is that I did have a DIY wedding and moved from Australia to the US in the last 12 months. Still, it’s about time for metro get my act together…



I love reading through everyone’s secrets. Mine is related to bookkeeping / taxes (I’m sensing a theme developing here)…I still have not turned in my end of year numbers to my CPA. They were due in January. I’m usually on top of it, but things just haven’t slowed down enough yet this year for me to want to make time to do it. Eek.


I’m looking forward to seeing what everyone’s tips are! What a great idea for a post, Thanks 🙂


Ahhh I was in the exact same boat with bookkeeping a few months ago. I finally sucked it up and bought Quickbooks, and hired an accountant. They walked me through the best way to use QB for my business, and man, all I can say is I wish I would have done it sooner! So much easier than I thought it would be. Plus, I can just give them a backup of my QB file and they take it from there for tax season. So, I totally feel you, and I know you’ll be enjoying some relief very, very soon!

For me… I cannot for the life of me narrow down what I want my business to be. I can sew just about anything, but that doesn’t mean I should sell just about everything! I’ve literally spent months pained over the decisions of what I should specialize in, and in turn, haven’t specialized in much of anything at all. Time to buckle down and just make some decisions already!


I just started using Quickbooks in January to keep all my sales and spending in one place. Up until last year, I would wait until December to calculate everything and just get so frustrated. Now, I don’t know how I did it without Quickbooks. It is so easy to input all of your invoices and receive payments and it just keeps everything so neatly in one place.

The thing with PayPal is that I always forgot what I spent the money on or received payment for, so it really wasn’t a big help.

My confession would have to be that I purchase items for craft projects and they sit around for a long time before I get to use them. I go on these mini spending binges thinking I can get so much done in a short time, but it never turns out that way.

Meghan Haskell

This is a fun post. I am about to jump into a book keeping program too! I heard of one the other day that syncs with paypal but oddly that isn’t my shame. Mine is that I have 17, 600 emails in my mailbox. Only 769 unopened. I read them and then close them again if I need to go back and re-read them. This is simply NOT going to cut it anymore. I am paralyzed on how to get it under control! Erin Loechner says to just abandon it but…argh!! It is like one big messy filing cabinet!

Monica Lee

Spill It: Confessions of a Solo-Preneur: After ten ‘Secrets to Success’ posts, it seems only… http://t.co/AIo56PTwOw

Brittni Mehlhoff (@papernstitch)
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