The Secret Power of Adding Yourself to Payroll

The secret to doing payroll right

I think we can all agree that “The Secret” is bullshit. That’s the 2006 movie that promoted the Law of Attraction.

Skeptical? I like to think of it as “logical.”

Anyway, voodoo aside, there’s a way in which the Law of Attraction sort of comes into play in our businesses.

Let’s back up.

Are You Making This Mistake?

I rarely meet a small business owner who lacks acute awareness of the next payroll. We all know when it’s due, how much it is, and how short we are as of the current moment. The only people who aren’t thinking about payroll are the people who don’t have to meet one.

For many of us, payroll includes only the amount due to employees. It doesn’t include anything for us—the people managing the meeting of the payroll obligation. It might be that our accounting system doesn’t easily allow for our inclusion in the payroll. It might be that we’ve created some other reason for leaving ourselves out of the total we carry around in our heads.

That’s a mistake.

Why to Include Yourself in the Payroll

We need to be included in the payroll. Our compensation needs to be included in the total. We need to block ourselves from having the following mental conversation with ourselves:

Payroll is Friday. It’s $92,000. We’ve got $48,000. So, we’re short $44,000. That’s four days from now, so we need to do $11,000 per day. Plus, I’d like to get paid, so we need to do another $4,000 a day so I’ll get paid too.

Don’t do that. Stop it. Don’t talk to yourself that way. It violates the Law of Attraction. I think that’s a felony in Berkeley, Boulder, and Ithaca.

Include yourself in the math. Have this conversation instead:

Payroll is Friday. It’s $108,000. We’ve got $48,000. So we’re short $60,000. That’s four days from now, so we need to do $15,000 per day.

Don’t think of paying yourself as optional. Don’t tack it on to the “real payroll.” In your mind, treat yourself like everyone else. Include your compensation in the total.

Some lawyers argue with me about this. Oddly, it’s always the lawyers struggling to meet payroll who resist my approach. “But what if we’re doing better and we have excess income? Shouldn’t I wait to see how much I can get paid?” Um, no. Include yourself. When there’s extra cash lying around, we’ll solve that problem. Excess money is an easy problem to solve. We’ll add the cash to the reserve fund or do a special distribution. Stop overthinking this. Just include yourself in the payroll.

Putting yourself in the payroll changes things. It does something to motivate you. It keeps you focused on the right number. It forces you to put the pieces together so that the goal is achieved on the day payroll is due. Let’s just call it the “Law of Attraction.” That rolls right off the tongue.

There may be a “Secret.” But I don’t know it. I missed the movie. For now, just include your income in the payroll as I’ve suggested. Then, you can afford to download the movie on Amazon. It’s got an “Extended Edition.” Maybe it has more than one secret?

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