Is your tax practice going anywhere?

This is a subject that I inevitably end up revisiting every few months. I think it’s worthwhile to revisit the purpose behind your practice at least once a quarter, to ensure that you’re on track to achieve your goals.

Before I get into that, just a quick reminder about the CPE survey. If you haven’t already taken a minute to complete this, I’d very much appreciate you doing so. The questions should make it obvious what I have up my sleeve, and based on responses so far, it’s probably a project I’ll tackle during third quarter.

CPE Survey: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/9NW9LQ6

So back to our core question: Where is your tax practice going?

This is a good question to ask, prior to asking an even more important question: Is your tax practice going where YOU want it to?

When I first started sailing a year ago, one of the first lessons I learned was that every boat has a mind of it’s own. Even in nearly identical wind and current conditions, different boats will behave very differently. With half a dozen different boat types available to me to sail on any given day at the yacht club, you’d think it would take a while for me to figure out which was my favorite, especially since conditions were actually different every day.

The reality couldn’t be farther from the truth. Within a month, I knew exactly which was my favorite boat, specifically because of how it handled in medium winds heading upriver. Other yacht club members didn’t like that boat, because they had different performance criteria they were interested in. For me, my target was always to make it as far upriver inside a two hour window as I could, and this particular boat did that the best.

What does that have to do with your tax practice?

Simple: Where you want to go determines what you should be doing to get there.

We’re two months post tax season at this point. That means right now you should already be well into your summer marketing campaigns for other tax services, such as representation work, audit defense, and tax planning.

If you’re not doing that, then I sure hope that it’s by choice. If you want to be sitting on a beach in Estonia for half the day (that’s what I did today), or work in your garden, help out at your church, etc., that’s AWESOME. But make sure that what you’re doing with your off-season time is by choice, not default.

If, instead, you’re still going to the office every day and spend most of the day rearranging paper clips, then that’s no good. Right now is always the perfect time to be progressing towards something greater. Evaluate where your practice is right now, in regards to revenue, case load, free time, lifestyle goals, etc. If you’re not there, or not on track, it’s time to course correct.

In sailing, it’s quite common to have to zig-zag towards your destination (called “beating”). To an outside observer, either from shore or from the air, beating a course probably looks haphazard, as if the skipper is either drunk or lost. But beating a course is actually a well planned, carefully executed set of maneuvers to arrive at a destination based on the currents and winds that are available.

Are you beating a course towards where you want to be? Do you even know where you want to be going?

If not, take an afternoon and think about it. Maybe even an entire day. It’ll be time well spent, and five years from now, you’ll be glad you did.

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