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How my $100,000 tax bill helps you

The year was 2006 and I had hit a $1,000,000 in revenue for the first time. As you can imagine, I was thrilled to have reached that magic business number that so many strive for, but part of me was terrified because I knew that I had done it with a broken business foundation and at some point that would catch up with me.

You see, I hit a million in revenue by focusing all my energy on sales and marketing.

Even though I was a lawyer, I didn’t have my legal, insurance, financial and tax systems lined up. And, truth be told, I didn’t even really know what I needed to have in place.

How my $100,000 tax bill helps you

If you’d like, watch a video where I share each of the $1,000,000 worth of mistakes that made up my broken business foundation and how I fixed them one by one, you can check it out here.

I knew I would be facing a big tax bill in April of 2007, but I didn’t think much about it as I was so focused on the sales and marketing side of my business and, frankly, I didn’t really know there was anything I could do about it.

Each month, my bookkeeper would put reports on my chair and I would glance at them, but I didn’t really know what I was looking at or what I was looking for, so I just tossed them into the stack of papers on my desk to look at later. Of course, later never came.

The big, bad news came a few months later when my CPA contacted me and told me that I had $105,000 due to the IRS that year. $105,000 that I didn’t have.

I had to take out a loan to pay my taxes. Back in 2007, taking out a loan was fairly simple as the banks were lending and I had a great credit score, so I did it, but it hurt.

And, today, getting a loan isn’t quite so easy. (If you have a big tax bill you can’t pay this year and you cannot get a loan to pay it, look into payment plans with the IRS — they’ll loan you the money. Or consider whether you may need to work with someone to negotiate down your tax debt. Via our Eyes Wide Open membership, we have trusted providers who can do this for you.)

The worst part was that once I made the commitment to get my legal, insurance, financial and tax systems handled and learn what I didn’t know about how to build a solid foundation beneath my business, I discovered I could have decreased my tax bill by at least $50,000, if I had planned in advance.

That would have been an additional $50,000 in my pocket, which I could have used for my kids’ private school tuition, a trip to Bali with the family, or re-invested back into the business.

But, back then, I didn’t even know how to ask my accountant the right questions. And I knew my bookkeeper wasn’t handling things the right way, but I didn’t know what handling things the right way even meant. So, I paid big time. (We’ll be offering a training for our members later this year on how to work with your bookkeeper the eyes wide open way, watch for it.)

For those of you who are facing a big tax payment this April, first of all congratulations. I say congratulations because it means you have figured out how to bring in the money. That’s great news and before you go beating yourself up for overpaying the IRS, congratulate yourself for knowing that you’ve got one of the hardest parts of business down — bringing in the cash flow.

Now, commit to doing things differently next year. If you want to keep bringing in the big money, it’s time to learn how to create the foundation to hold it all, otherwise, you’ll be likely to lose it just like I did and have to start over from scratch. Stay tuned here for some resources we’ll be sharing with you next week to support you.

Or start here and watch my video on the $1,000,000 worth of mistakes I made while building my businesses the first go round.

If you are ignoring your taxes or getting a refund this year (because you are still a W-2 employee), it’s time to make a shift and start focusing on how you can step up your personal responsibility for how you earn your income and what you do with the money, when you do.

Ignorance is not bliss. You can step into personal sovereignty and full control over your financial future by implementing the entrepreneurial principles we teach here at Eyes Wide Open (even if you do work for someone else).

I want that for you. And I know you can have it, if you choose to build your life and income awake, aware and on your own terms — with your eyes wide open.

For years, I built my life and business with my eyes squeezed shut, ignoring so much of what I knew was an issue because I couldn’t face it. I didn’t know how to face it. Simply, I was scared.

That’s why I’ve created Eyes Wide Open … to support you in learning, growing and evolving by facing the scariest parts of life and business with open eyes and an open heart. It’s all here for you.

With love beyond the beyond,


PS — soon I’ll share with you what happened when I had a big tax audit in 2007 and how I handled it in such a way that I ended up building my second million dollar business as a result. Yep, I turned a terrifying tax audit into a million dollar business. If you want to hear how, make sure to read tomorrow’s post.

How Alexis Neely Ended Up in Bankruptcy {Part Three}: Facing My Greatest Fear & Letting Go

So, as we left it last, I had just packed up everything and headed to the farm in Colorado…

Before you dive in, be sure to get the full story: Read Part One here & Part Two here.

I tried to hold it all together in this transition, but I could sense that it was becoming less and less tenable.

I wanted to hand the business off to my right hand gal and have her run it for a while, but when I hired a coach to help with that transition, he told me I was crazy. This business would fail (just like my law firm did after I sold it) if I handed it off before it was ready and before I had someone in place who could handle the hand-off of a million dollar plus business.  I would end up with another failed transition.

So, instead, I fired my right hand gal. While her husband was dying of cancer. It was not a shining moment in my life, that’s for sure.  I didn’t handle things well, at all.  And, I didn’t feel I had another choice. There was a great deal of lack of trust between the two of us. I was falling apart and I either needed to shrink things back to a level I could manage with very little overhead or have a team that could run the business without me.

My team was not really running the company, depending on me for so many little things, creating tons of drama and conflict (which I contributed to greatly) and constantly pissed at me because more and more this “other part of me” (now known as Ali Shanti) was slipping out through the cracks in the veneer.

I began to get a sense that I might not be able to maintain things as I once had.

So, I decided to use my great credit score.

I used it to buy land. It seemed like it would be a good investment.

My ex-husband was going to grow medical marijuana on the land and, in the back of my mind, though I was sure it would NEVER happen, I could live there, if necessary.

But, let me repeat, that was NEVER going to happen. NEVER. I was NOT GOING TO LIVE ON THAT FARM, damnit. No way, now how. facing my greatest fear

I bought the farm in mid-2010. Then, after firing my right hand gal, I broke up with my boyfriend who was also a key supporter in my business and hired an interim CEO. Hitch McDermid. Little did I know, he would lead me on what I now know to be, my Fearwalk.  Back then, I just needed someone who could hold me and the business while I figured out what was going on.

Hitch was more like a coach than a CEO. Everyday, I would cry. “Hitch, I can’t do this.” And he would say “Lex, what do you want?”

Round and round we went as he systematically dismantled the companies, bringing my overhead down from $70,000 a month to $20,000 a month and creating something that I could likely run myself rather than relying on a large team, which I simply couldn’t manage.

By August of 2010, I was starting to face the reality that something serious was going to have to shift. Hitch and I had a transformative conversation while I stood at a gas station and cried to him that I couldn’t run out of money because no one would like me anymore if I did.

He said, “Lex, everyone likes you. It’s okay, just run out of money. Stop paying all the people you are paying and just let go.”

I asked him if that meant I could stop paying him too and he said yes.

The seed was planted, but I wasn’t ready yet.

This would mean facing my greatest fear of all.  

I had built multiple million dollar businesses, precisely because I was afraid of running out of money, so to now actually do the thing I was most afraid of seemed, well, ludicrous.

But, I could also see that he may be on to something. Maybe, in order to stop being ruled by my fears, I would have to dive into them head first. I took it under consideration.

Considering the possibility of facing my greatest fears and running out of money gave me the courage to face smaller fears, such as losing face, which led to me getting married at Burning Man that August. Yes, married.

When I came home and posted about it on my blog, I got more negative feedback than I had ever gotten in my life.

I (mistakenly) took the feedback to heart. I thought it meant that lawyers would no longer respect me and invest in my programs. Forget about the results we were having for the lawyers we served, I figured they cared more about the fact that I was a freak than on their results. So, I shrunk.

I stopped posting anything too personal on my blog. I stopped marketing to the lawyers and I decided to offer the lawyers already in our program the option to stay with us at either $197 a month or $497 a month (down from $1,500/mo.)

I went to Peru with my new husband, launched his book Heart Wisdom into the world plus his Clean Up Your Life program and then the relationship blew up and came to an end.

But he left me with something far more valuable than his love. He left me with an emerging vision around the part of myself I now know as Ali Shanti. bankruptcy blog series

On New Year’s Eve 2011, as 2010 drifted away, I sat in ceremony and heard the words “Shanti, Shanti, Shanti, Shanti” being chanted from across the room. As I heard the word, I also heard a voice in my head that said, “That’s your name. They are calling your name. Shanti is your name.”

Shanti’s my name?!? What? Alexis Neely was confused. But the part of me that is Ali Shanti was not. She knew. It was true. Now, how to integrate that?

It would take a few months and I would add Ali to the front of my name, but the gift of that awareness — I am Ali Shanti — was seeded during my time in relationship with Russell.

2011 began with a bang. A $250,000 launch of an early iteration of the Money Map program.

At the same time, my first ex-husband’s medical marijuana farm collapsed.  So now I had to figure out what to do with the farm.

You remember the farm, right?

The farm that I was never, ever, ever, ever going to live on. It was supposed to generate income, not suck all my resources. So, I decided to create a community/retreat/co-work space.  I recruited a former boyfriend (the first man I dated after divorcing my husband) to come out to Colorado and build out the space and the community.

bankruptcy blog seriesAt the same time, I was producing an event at the land I had fallen in love with, Eden Hot Springs, 50 Entrepreneurs, unplugged. We called it Eden Unplugged and it was amazing. Almost everyone who attended that event has had their work emerge and evolve gorgeously since then. Life-changing.

It was another hit to my bank account though. More Debt.  I was reeling from the end of my relationship with my Burning Man mate and delivering on the sales of the Money Map launch and trying to figure out how to live as an entirely new being (Ali Shanti). It was exhausting. I didn’t have time to market the event as well as I could have and while we got 50 people there, we made a lot of deals on the tickets.

It’s probably one of the very best investments I’ve ever made, considering the businesses and people who grew out of that event. So lives were changed significantly, but once again I dipped into the last of my savings and credit.  

Plus, I took on even more debt to finance the build-out of the farm and turn it into a community/retreat/co-work space. It would be my last ditch effort to create something sustainable that would allow me to pay back the debt I had already taken on. It was another financial nightmare. But, infinitely worth it in terms of the lessons learned about living in and building community, lessons which serve me deeply today now that I’ve rebuilt.

I do not regret the investments I made with the debt I took on. I invested in things that couldn’t be taken away from me, no matter what. Lessons learned, personal growth, connections with community, my own creativity and resourcefulness, all of which I now give back via teaching, coaching, and supporting others.

So, between this post and the prior post’s in the series, you now know where all the debt came from.

In the rest of this series, I’ll share how I made the decision to file bankruptcy and was able to rebuild so quickly and easily after filing bankruptcy.

Stay tuned and please share in the comments any questions you have so I can make sure they get addressed.

>>Read the next installment of this series here.

Stay tuned for the rest of the story in the upcoming installments of this series “How Alexis Neely ended up in bankruptcy” where I’ll be discussing where the rest of the debt came from and how I was able to rebuild so quickly and easily. And keep an eye out for my books “Financial Liberation” and “You Are Not Your Credit Score”. Read Part One here & Part Two here.