Thursday, January 21, 2010

Medusa's Muse earned a profit! Why do I feel so guilty?

After checking and double checking all the receipts and sales numbers, I discovered something very exciting. Medusa's Muse had made a profit last year. A slim profit, less than $50.00, but a profit nonetheless. Book sales were low, but so were costs (funny how those two go hand in hand). This means under the rules of the IRS I get to keep calling Medusa's Muse a business. According to the IRS, a business must make a profit in three out of five years. However, it doesn't say how much you have to make, just that you made profits. I lost money my first two years in business, which is to be expected for any type of business. In fact, most businesses will lose money far longer than just two years, so there are ways you can prove that you're a business even if you lose money for five years. The rules are complicated, so that's something you'll need to talk to a tax professional about. You can find information on IRS Publication 535 - Business Expenses.

I found a good article that explains more about small business tax rules in this article on

Regardless of the fact that I need a day job to support it, Medusa's Muse is a real, sanctioned, honest-to-goodness, chamber of commerce eligible, IRS kissed, seal-of-approval, gold-stickered, business.

Why do I feel guilty?

That's the weird part of success: it can stir up all those feelings of unworthiness and insecurity we've had beaten into our psyches since childhood. Some people fear failure, while I obviously fear success. Who am to make a profit doing something I love? Who gave me permission to be successful? Yes, I know, earning less than $50.00 in a year is not exactly a high level of success for most folks, but to me, the fact that I earned any profit at all is enough to make me uneasy. Profit? You mean my little publishing venture might end up actually paying for itself? Impossible.

I've run this venture as a business from day one, even writing a book on the subject to help others do the same. I didn't go into publishing willy-nilly; I took classes on business management and studied the publishing industry for over a year before attempting to publish a book. This wasn't a whim, it is a passion. I am dedicated and devoted to my company and my authors. Earning a profit is what I dreamed of and now that it's happened, I'm feeling guilty for earning a small level of success. And it's such a tiny amount of money that the press earned! I might have a nervous breakdown if I earn more than $100.00.

Have any of you experienced this sensation? And if so, how do you handle feeling unworthy of success at any level?


Jane Mackay said...

Mate, you have problems.

Repeat after me: Creative ventures are entitled to earn profits. I have rewarded my authors fairly, kept the prices of my books low so that as many people as possible can enjoy and benefit from them, poured innumerable hours of my time and much of my self into producing quality books that put more into the world than they take from it. Because I have done all of this, I can, with an easy and glad heart, enjoy any profit that ensues from this, my gift to the world.

Mother of Chaos said...

Congratulations on the profits! How exciting!!

Funny how success can make you feel guilty - I think it's like survivor guilt, when people feel guilty for living through disasters where others perish.

I'd tell you not to do that, but I know how well THAT works. How about this: I think you'll feel better about it as you continue having more and more of it. ;-)

Corrie Howe said...

I don't know about being successful at a business, but I've felt guilty at being paid a lot more than I thought I was worth to do something I loved and would do for free (if I didn't have a mortgage and son, without another income from his father).