My CPA would always give me that look. “I don’t know why you try and use that software…why don’t you just use Quickbooks? I could help you with Quickbooks. LOOK! I can’t even click on this … in Quickbooks I could click on this thing.”
I love my CPA, she’s brilliant, she’s also great at telling me how it is. Her information is great, she really cares to do things right for her clients, but she doesn’t care to employ much of a filter, and I appreciate it. Despite her pressure and everyone else seeming to use Quickbooks, I avoided it. Like I avoided it for years, over a decade.
Bookkeeping is important for your Dog Breeding Business
Recently it’s become more and more apparent that dog breeders need help with bookkeeping. Expenses will make or break your breeding program, and understanding how to properly track and record those expenses will help you understand where those expenses are coming from. If you knew you made $80,000 in dog sales and had $50,000 in expenses, that’s helpful…but if that’s all you knew, it’s not super helpful. Wouldn’t it be better to know what those $50,000 in expenses were?
Wouldn’t it be nice to know that there was so much in dog food, so much in puppy packs, so much in breeding fees between stud service and artificial insemination? Wouldn’t it be nice to track how quickly your dogs are breaking things and they need replacing? Imagine knowing that you could spend twice as much on better pens and you’d have it last three times longer?
Unfortunately, without good expense tracking, it’s really hard to know these things. It’s hard to reflect on the numbers in your business if you don’t have those numbers. It would be a lot like trying to know how a broken bone needs to be fixed, but without having the radiograph to tell you what’s broken. I don’t care how great your intentions of fixing the bone are … without the correct data, it’s impossible to fix it.
What was holding me back
It brings me back to Quickbooks. Why was it that I felt so much resistance to the idea of using Quickbooks? I have a brilliant uncle who is very successful with his business. I called him nearly a decade ago and asked what he used, and he said Quickbooks; and his tone suggested, “uh duh, why would you use anything else? Don’t reinvent the wheel, Julie, just do the thing.” I have loads of respect for him, so I bought the software–back then it was a disc–and installed it. Immediately I was confused, frustrated. There were so many things to click. Now here’s the thing: I had already completed my Business Bachelor’s Degree at this point, meaning I’d already taken the accounting courses and the finance courses. I knew what was supposed to happen more or less. Yet I was still overwhelmed.
I talked to the guy who ran the feed store where we first rented space for our gun shop, and asked him what he used. With no surprise, he said Quickbooks. I told him it was confusing for me, so he offered for me to pay his bookkeeper to come over and show me how to use it. So I did.
She came over. She spent an hour with me showing me things. I can’t remember any of it. I just knew it looked like a whole bunch of “I don’t need all this stuff.” I wrote it off, never entered anything, never fussed with it again. When we had our construction business, I opted to use a different software that was supposed to be prettier and simplified; but, well, you know how my accountant felt about that. Even I was frustrated with that software because it couldn’t do all the things I needed it to do. Although, if you asked me, my ego would tell you that I thought it was wonderful.
Why it was time to let that old belief go
Then you came along. You, the wonderful honest breeder, listening to my podcast, the one learning about my trials and failures, my challenges and how I surmounted them. Talking with my coaching clients, breeders inside the Society, and people across social media, a theme started to emerge. Everyone wanted to know how to track expenses and income, how to keep their books, and, as would of course come about, what software to use.
I tried hard to see if the other software I’d used for construction would be enough, easy, pretty adequate…but it wasn’t. In all truth, I’ve used spreadsheets and folders of receipts most of my years of breeding, but even I was frustrated with all of this. I wanted software, too! Knowing that the software I was using for construction would not work meant that, no matter what I chose to use, it would require me to learn a new software.
I caught myself sighing, breathing out in a sort of resignation. I knew, because I love you, I was going to have to tackle the dreaded Quickbooks. See? I can’t even write Quickbooks without adding the “dreaded” in front of it.
I knew that I can’t share “good enough” with you. It has to be an awesome thing that I can show you, teach you, share with you. It has to work. So, while it feels like there’s all sorts of scary inside Quickbooks, I’m learning it. I’m taking all my knowledge of accounting, business finance, and expense tracking and I’m using it inside Quickbooks and I’m learning.
Let me stop for a second and say, “Thank you. Thank you for giving me the reason to have the courage to walk into the deep, dark, scary path toward success with Quickbooks!”
The impact of mindset
I will figure it out and, of course, I’ll be teaching you how it works, and best practices. I have a background in this stuff and it was still difficult for me to move through and learn. Yet, not so much because of the software, but because I was getting in my own way.
I made it scarier than it had to be. I rebelled against it, as if my taking a stand in not using it was some noble task, when, in reality, I was just getting in my own way. I was creating a story around it to protect myself from being uncomfortable. If Quickbooks was the problem, then I wasn’t the problem. In truth, I was my problem, it isn’t Quickbooks.
Quickbooks isn’t terribly difficult once you know what you’re doing. That’s what I’ve learned so far, now that I’m approaching it from the most humble of positions, embarrassed that I probably should’ve been using it for the last 13 years, which would make me pretty awesome at it right now. Yet, that’s not what happened.
I’m super excited, though; soon I’ll have an incredible solution for you to track your expenses, your income, and to evaluate your books in a better way. I’ve even found ways to track income by breeding dogs, as well as expenses by breeding animals and their pups, allowing you to run reports on who is really producing for you. It’s surprisingly easy now. I don’t feel that resistance in my body anymore. Am I confused a bit? Sure, yes, at times, but it’s not emotionally charging anymore. The rebellious teenage Julie isn’t in there on an emotional rollercoaster, (she was always a trip).
What changed? I stopped getting in my own way.
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Stop Getting In Your Own Way
It’s another one of those things that sounds simple: “Get out of your own way.” Yet, as per usual, it isn’t. It’s not like I’m walking and standing in front of myself.
It comes down to change; what will it take to change? They say you’ll only change when the pain of change is less than the pain of not changing.
I guess it finally got to be more painful telling you I didn’t have a good solution for you with bookkeeping than it was painful to learn the dreaded Quickbooks. In my mind Quickbooks is like this giant, fire breathing dragon. So, if you ever questioned if I care about you … just remember, I’m fighting medieval dragons for you.
Okay, Julie, that’s great and absolutely useless for me in figuring out how to stop getting in my own way, and figuring out how to make the shift, make the change.
You’re right. It’s crap. So, how do you actually find a reason to change and to get out of your own way?
Recognize You Have Resistance to the Task
First, recognize you have resistance to the idea and are actively avoiding it. This may be kennel cleaning, because it’s gross, cold outside, and takes F-O-R-E-V-E-R! Or, you might find that you’re avoiding posting on social media because you really don’t know what to say. You don’t want to just post to post something, but you also are missing a strategy, and aren’t sure how to stand apart from other breeders in your breed. Maybe you’ve avoided building your website because it just feels like too much. You sit in front of the screen, the excitement fading from your fingers as you stare at the website builder, with no idea where to start. You sit there a few minutes, as if to say, “Well, at least I tried,” so you can step away and not feel like you totally failed.
Instead of allowing our minds to play trickster games, making us feel like we’re “working on it,” consider an alternative idea: acknowledge that it’s frustrating, difficult, something you don’t understand, and let yourself acknowledge that it’s uncomfortable.
Surprisingly, taking this first step to realize that it’s uncomfortable and that you aren’t sure what to do, starts to take the sting out of it. It isn’t so scary anymore.
Then find a way to sit with that discomfort
Recently, I’ve been finding out how weak my psoas muscles are. If you aren’t familiar, there are two of them, one on each side, attaching to the front of the lower spine, weaving through your abdomen and attaching onto the front of the pelvis. They are important for picking your leg up past the 90 degree point, as in when doing a high step.
I sit a lot working on stuff, and so mine are short, tight, and, as I recently found out, they’re super weak. As I’m going through YouTube learning about it, I found a video about how to relax tight muscles, particularly this one. She pointed out that you have to put pressure on the muscle. It’s real tender, so this will be a sharp pain. She says to sit with that pressure for longer than you’d think, closer to 90 seconds, which doesn’t seem like long, … until you do it.
You go into it knowing it’ll be a sharp pain, but you hold the pressure. As you actively went into it knowing there would be pain, you have confronted the dragon willingly. As you sit there, 30, 40 seconds pass and something miraculous happens: the pain starts to go away, it’s no longer sharp. The mind starts to learn that this isn’t as scary as it originally thought. It’s actually okay to release the tension on this muscle, allowing it to stretch and release.
Each day it gets a little better. The pressure is releasing from my lower back, I’m standing straighter, my hamstrings feel, less tight and more limber. I’ve only been doing it two weeks.
Now, other things change, too. Because those muscles aren’t as tight, they are much more engaged in my workouts. This sounds good, but really, it’s pathetic to watch. I have had to lower the weights I use in my workouts, I’ve had to go slower, really focusing on the psoas, engaging it, and being gentle with it.
Why do you care about this? Because it’s the same with anything we have resistance to.
When we go into something knowing it’s a dragon, we are now confronting the scary unknown with willingness. It dissolves the resistance and allows us to move forward. If we know it’ll be a little tender and painful in the beginning, we can better prepare for it. We can allow ourselves to feel the pain, the fear, the scary without resistance. We can let it go, let it pass through us. In doing this, we get out of our own way; the resistance is dissolved.
The scary will pass as it is soon replaced with excitement that we’re making progress. We’ll build resolve as we willingly meet the dragon. Each moment gets a little better. We get stronger. We become more capable.
How Do You Get Started?
Getting started is easier when you think of it as a formula. The formula starts with acknowledging what you have resistance to. Once you’ve talked about it, it’s like you stopped walking around the elephant in the middle of the room. You’ve made note of the elephant; you’ve given him a name.
Okay, so now we know we have a thing we are feeling resistance to. Good. Got it.
Next, we need to look at what it would take to change. If you recall from earlier, change is about the tipping point where you recognize that it is now more painful to stay the same than it is to change. This is why so many people finally change when they hit “rock bottom,” the place where their decision patterns finally collapsed their reality and everything was pain and suffering.
I don’t want you to go down a dark path to get to a place that’s so painful that you feel inclined to change. That sounds terrible. I’m imagining you going to your spouse saying, “You’ll never believe what Julie said in the last podcast…” My whole goal of this podcast is to make your life better because of breeding, not worse.
What people often overlook is the other side of the change equation. There’s the pain of not changing on the one side, but the other side is the pain of changing. You actually have a lot of power to influence this side of the equation!
Reduce the pain of making a change
How do we reduce the pain of changing? We get help. In essence, our goal is to reduce the scary of the change to make doing it easier. Sometimes it’s as simple as a YouTube video or asking a friend; other times it’s bigger, like hiring a coach to help you with that part of it. So many of you who have scheduled a free strategy session were doing exactly this. You were picking my brain for thirty minutes to reduce the scary of what you were working on, to get a plan, a path, a way to make the change easier.
Imagine this: what if a buyer came to you and said, “I’m so overwhelmed by dog poop! There is so much! I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to walk in my grass again!” Now first, you’d probably roll your eyes. Okay, it’s dog poop, what’s the big deal? The difference is you know how to tackle dog poop, it isn’t scary to you, you have a plan, a method, and you know what to do.
For this buyer you could help them with finding excellent pooper scooper tools, let them know that a higher quality dog food will reduce stool size and quantity, and that you can train a dog to go in a specific spot in the yard. You could even let them know that often neighborhood kids will do it for a small fee to make a little extra money.
See how having that knowledge reduces the potential for dog poop to be overwhelming? Now your job is to do that with the other things that are dragons for you.
Reduce the difficulty in making the change and the change can occur with less pain.
Focus on the benefits of change
On a side note, it helps to remind yourself of the benefits of making the change. Adding more weight to the benefit of the change further makes the change equation less painful. I know that getting Quickbooks organized, teaching you how to use it, and seeing the relief on your faces when tax time is a breeze and you have a clear financial picture of your breeding program, well, let’s just say that’s a lot of weight added to my push to change.
As you know, there are lots of things to learn in dog breeding, lots of hats to wear, and skills to conquer. My goal is to throw myself into the fire first, learn it, figure it out, and help you take an easier road to getting there.
Some of you will be saying, well Julie, why didn’t you just outsource all of that bookkeeping stuff? Why not outsource the social media and the kennel cleaning?
There is absolutely a time and place for outsourcing things, delegating things, hiring help, and taking things off your plate. I’ll be diving into all of that in the next episode where I discuss when you should do it yourself and when you should outsource and get the ongoing help.
To summarize, remember, we get in our own way when things are uncomfortable. Learn to recognize your resistance and discomfort as a signal that you might be getting in your own way. Dig down and see what change you’d like to make and where it’s painful. Then look to make the change easier, making the threshold of entry on the change lower, easier. This will probably be through getting help of sorts, whether that’s education or assistance in the task from an expert. Then remember and remind yourself how much better things will be when you make the change.
I wish you the best. I’m always on your team, doing my best to make things easier on you, trying to reduce the pain of the change.
If you can spare a few minutes of your time, I would be grateful if you could leave a review on this podcast. It helps me better understand what you need, and a good review helps other honest breeders find our community.
Thanks for listening to another episode of the Honest Dog Breeder Podcast, with me, your host, Julie Swan. Thank you for taking time to give me your feedback and push me into the unknown to make things better for you. Thank you again, and I’ll see you in the next episode!