Photo by Flickr user Alberto F.

As it’s tax time and I’ve survived the annual bloodbath (it’s a hard choice – run a sloppy business that wastes money and pay less taxes OR be frugal and smart and pay more taxes) I thought I’d take a long hard look at our company’s finances and plan a few important moves for the next 8 months.

While I work really, really hard to minimize the amount of money we spend on frivilous or extraneous items/services, I’ve also been hesitant to spend money on the necessities, because I don’t want to overextend our resources.  Through hard work and good fortune, our company has not required any loans or personal contributions since the first of our five years in existence.

And while a big fat loan would allow us to buy a lot more equipment and hire a few more sew-ers, I’m not sure I’d be comfortable with the added responsibility.

Which is why I’m so frugal with our money.

But then tax time rolls around and I am reminded that necessary purchases (new machines, better tools, conventions, etc.) are all tax-deductible as they are direct business expenses.

Which is why, when it’s time to buy an industrial serger this year, I’ll splurge on a good one that operates at four times the speed of our current semi-commercial models.

It’s also why I’ve ordered more-expensive ergonomic rotary cutters for my sew-ers.  And it’s why I’m going to re-hire a bookkeeper for our company (I was doing it myself lately and that’s caused a few headaches!).

Other than the tax-revelations, why the sudden change of heart?

I read a recent story about one of the firms I met at a recent convention.  They’re new to the industry and have just secured almost $2 million in venture capital financing.

While I was busy bootstrapping my firm from a hot, one-car garage with nothing more than a $200 home serger, store-bought quilts and a roll of clear vinyl, folks with only the vaguest of notions how to crack the funeral industry were convincing investors to fork over millions.

As I read the story, I started to steam ever-so-slightly.  Then something hit me:  My company is WAY more successful than this heavily-funded startup.  We have a proven product, a well-oiled supply chain (we sell retail from our website and magazine ads while also providing wholesale product to seven supply companies) and a knowledgeable, industry-specific workforce.  Better yet, we’ve made a whole bunch of actual sales to real, live customers.

So why am I still running this place like we’re still in that un-airconditioned garage?  Why should we be limited by slow machines or uncomfortable equipment?  Are we stuck in the past?  Have I ignored the fact that our company is changing and is no longer the “startup that could”?

Which is why I’m making some important changes.  While we won’t be actively seeking investors, I will remember that reasonable loans can fuel expansion.  I’ll also treat our employees to a little more luxury when we go to conventions and trade shows.  We’ll buy better equipment when needed and I’ll give a little more responsibility to my workers.

Has this been a rambling post?  Gosh, I hope so.  There’s a lot to think about when it comes to re-thinking a company’s direction.  And while I won’t be making wholesale changes for “no good reason,” I like being able to think these things out here, where my friends will help encourage me or set me straight.