What I *really* learned from this tax season

Today, I’m going to provide my final wrap-up of lessons I learned from participating in tax season, including how I plan to apply those lessons to fit into my vision of my own “lifestyle practice” — which I’m already living, but want to grow.

But first, just a quick reminder about tomorrow’s teleconference call with Salim Omar, CPA. In case you missed my last couple emails about it, I’m hosting a special teleseminar with my good friend Salim Omar this Tuesday (tomorrow), titled:

“How Renegade Practitioners Succeed during Tough Times”

If you have not registered yet, click here to do so.

This will be the most complete, detailed and valuable teleseminar on EVERYTHING YOU need to build a Million Dollar practice, working just a few days each week, and eliminating money worries out of your life once and for all.

Salim Omar was in massive debt several years ago, and on the brink of bankruptcy. By going outside-the-box and applying strategies NO other practitioners in his market were, he built a massively successful eight person practice, and he works only three days per week.

I’ve invited him to share his secrets with you, but you MUST register NOW to secure your spot on the Here are a limited number of lines available for the call, so don’t lose your spot.

Date: Tuesday, May 7th, 2013
Time: 12 noon (EST)
Registration: click here to do register

Earlier during tax season, I shared with you this mid-season gut check. Part of what I shared there was that I was far behind in m revenue goal for the tax season, and I shared what I was going to do to help catch up.

I ended up doing some “catch-up marketing”, and made up some ground. I went from 30% behind goal, to only 18% behind goal. I’m actually happy with that, especially since I set a pretty audacious goal for starting from scratch in a new city.

The primary thing was that I took a look at my core metrics, and took corrective action.

This is something you should be doing in your practice at frequent intervals. Many practitioners only do it every few years, or at best annually. For CPA’s in particular, this seems to be something that is only done during retreat season, which will be starting here soon.

I’d encourage you to do this sort of review at least quarterly. Even better, why not do it monthly, or weekly? The more frequently you do it, the better on track you will always be. By making it a regular part of simply operating your practice, you will be constantly improving your practice.

By doing it more frequently, you can also look at more numbers than just revenue. In fact, you can afford to look at even more important metrics, such as daily and weekly lead flow. Are you generating the number of new leads each day you need in order to stay on track for your revenue goal?

Extremely few service professionals can ever answer that question. Look at your lead flow as a trend line. If your trend line is below your goal line, you need to increase marketing activity. If you are significantly above goal line, then either enjoy the success, or re-allocate resources to make sure that you continue that lead flow for a longer period of time.

So that’s Big, Important, Potentially Scary Lesson #1 from this tax season for me. Here was #2: It didn’t take me long to realize that the local plan I had set in motion didn’t align with my bigger life plan.

You may or may not already know this about me, and I consider it fairly embarrassing to admit this, but I am an incredibly indecisive person. On top of that, it’s a major internal struggle for me to balance my nomadic nature with my desire for a family and some stability.

Vancouver, WA is a great city, and I really do like it there. However, it’s not going to be my long-term “home”, and I already knew that. In fact, I’ve already left: Today is my 8th day back on the road.

Thus, I went into this tax season with a marketing plan that just didn’t align with my real values. I crafted a powerful marketing plan (I’d encourage you to read it if you haven’t), but it wasn’t something I could really go all in on because it didn’t really fit my lifestyle design objectives.

Make sure that whatever goals you set, whatever systems you put into place, and the tactics you deploy, all align with your major life purpose. There’s no point in building a practice that you don’t actually want to run.

For example, if your goal is to have a $2 million per year accounting practice with just yourself and a bare minimum of support staff, with no other licensed practitioners as employees or partners, then you can’t promise your kids that you’ll be at every ball game, every recital, every match, every practice, etc. The two goals are fundamentally incompatible.

You have to determine what’s truly important to you, and only you can do that. For me, having the freedom to travel anywhere, at will, is currently more important to me than having anywhere near a 7-figure practice. I know precisely what it takes to get a tax practice to the $2 million+ per year revenue mark (been there, done that), and I am not willing to sacrifice my location independent lifestyle for that size of a business.

Instead, I choose to operate a much smaller tax practice, one that can still generate a respectable level of personal income, but which allows me to work from anywhere, and with a minimum of scheduled appointments and other time obligations (I prefer working at random and weird hours, often in the middle of the night).

I hit 82% of my tax season revenue goal. That allowed me to completely pay off all my consumer and business debt, including buying out every long-term monthly service contract I had. It also gave me enough in savings to be happy for basically the rest of 2013. If I’m a bit more frugal than I usually am, I actually don’t need to make another dime the rest of the year. In reality, this was my real goal — not the actual revenue number. What your revenue allows you to do is far more important than the money itself.

So those are the two things I really learned from tax season. In summation:

  1. Implement action plans that are properly aligned with your values and life objectives.
  2. Review progress and course correct on a more frequent basis.

These two lessons have created the future structure of my tax practice, which basically looks like this:

  • Seasonal tax prep, from a distance, for a niche industry that I know well and have affinity with.
  • Occasional collections representation cases that are of interest to me, all other leads referred out.
  • Tax advantaged lifestyle design planning services for American expats in a small number of countries I enjoy visiting frequently.

This is a highly specialized, boutique tax practice in three areas of interest to me, which also happen to overlap, creating cross-marketing opportunities for my services. These are also high-fee service areas, and I can offer them in such a way as to maintain my own desired lifestyle.

Have you consciously selected your service offerings, and to whom you offer them, in order to maximize revenue, cross-sell opportunities, and your lifestyle goals? If not, now is the perfect time to do so.

Comments on What I *really* learned from this tax season

  1. Cathy says:

    I really think your specialized boutique tax practice is a very good idea! Most people don’t think of what they really want their practice to look like…with them in the picture. They focus on number of employees, amount of sales, but not how hard they are going to have to work personally.

    Well, I am really giving it some serious thought and will be working up my own plan of how I want to practice to really look like and it will include me not working more than 3 days a week.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  2. Jassen says:

    I really do believe that the single most important thing for any business owner, no matter what their profession, is to create a business that works around their schedule, rather than a business that is just a job. Good for you for taking that step!

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