Category: Operate A More Efficient Tax Firm

What is the singular focus of your tax firm?

Last year, we were one of the first companies to provide comprehensive CPE on the PPP and EIDL processes so that you could assist your clients with such matters.

Because of that, I’ve been getting a ton of emails from people over the last three weeks asking when we’re going to teach PPP/EIDL update classes.

Here’s your moment of disappointment: This year, we are choosing NOT to present such classes, despite recent legislation.

Why not? For a number of reasons:

1). The PPP program hasn’t changed that much from last year. You should be able to fill in the gaps easily from journal articles and official guidance from SBA and Treasury.
2). The EIDL program has changed even less, so ditto to above.
3). It’s not our core competency, doesn’t fall into our central mission, and is therefore something we shouldn’t even focus on.

It’s this last thing that I really want to address.

Our website is

Tax. Resolution.

Hmmm… If something needs “resolution”, that must mean there is some sort of issue. A problem. A dispute.

About taxes.

See, the name itself provides a clue about where our boundaries are.

In my normal email signature, I include a quote from author and entrepreneur Oliver Emberton: “Monomaniacal focus on a single goal is perhaps the ultimate success stratagem.”

What’s he talking about? Focus on what you do best.

If you’ve been reading my emails for a while, you may be thinking that I’m about to go off on a rant about niching your business. Focusing on specific services and serving specific industries or professions.

Yes, yes, I am. But not here. If you want to read my past rants, start here or here.

My monomaniacal focus right now is on finishing development of the CTR™ program. There are still about 20 classes, of two hours each, still to prepare. There’s a case study practicum to create. An exam to write. In terms of new content creation, this is my focus right now, as it should be — not PPP and EIDL matters that are not directly related to our core focus.

You should be applying a filter, also. If 100% of your client base consists of W-2 wage earners, it’s an absolute waste of your time, money, and brain cycles to learn about PPP and EIDL stuff. Absolute waste. Shouldn’t even be a consideration. On the other hand, if your … Continue reading

12 Reasons Why You Should Niche Your Tax Firm

In order to run a more profitable tax firm, I’ve always advised tax professionals to specialize.

That means niche down into one or two specific target markets and narrow your service offerings.

We’ve all heard the old cliche: You can’t be all things to all people. And if you try, you’re simply going to spin your wheels and go nowhere fast.

I’ve clearly seen this in myself over the years. A clear lack of focus, changing directions too often, trying to do too many different things. It all results in, well… Zero results. Put another way, he who chases two rabbits catches none.

Unfortunately, I see a lot of accountants effectively doing the same thing. They try offering preparation of every type of tax return, while also doing bookkeeping, while also doing attestation, while also doing tax resolution, while also doing advisory in twenty different industries. They try to offer every possible tax and accounting service under the sun, to every profession, industry, and walk of life, without ever developing deep competency in any particular area. While they might make a living, they never actually build a real firm.

While there are rare exceptions, the majority of highly profitable companies have a narrow focus. They know what they do, and they focus on doing it well. Salesforce doesn’t build cars, and Ford doesn’t build CRM software. Outside of the absolute largest public accounting firms, most of the remainder of the IPA 300 run specialized firms. These firms typically choose to specialize in one or both of the following manners:

1). By offering a very narrow range of services.
2). By servicing a very narrow range of industries or professions.

For example, I know one large accounting firm that specializes in tax, accounting, and auditing for car dealerships. That’s it — nobody else. If you’re a engineering firm, they won’t help you.  If you’re a magazine publisher, they won’t help you. If you’re a manufacturing company, they won’t help you.

Car dealerships. Nothing else.

When I operated my tax firm, I offered one service: IRS and state DOR Collection representation. That was it, nothing else. I didn’t prepare tax returns, I didn’t offer bookkeeping. Nope, just tax resolution. On top of that, I had two very well defined niches that I served: Independent trucking companies in five western states, and large TFRP cases post-assessment. That was my universe.

Early last year, during a … Continue reading

What’s your backup plan?

After returning from my recent vacation, I decided that I didn’t want to spend the winter in Wyoming as I had originally plan. Because snow.

So I moseyed on out to the Puget Sound area.
I’m staying on Bainbridge Island for the week, and had a CPE webinar scheduled for this morning..
Unfortunately, the weather decided that tomorrow would be a better day for that webinar.
Overnight, a snowstorm moved in, and dropped a whopping quarter inch of snow on the ground. Back home, a quarter inch would simply be a big nothing burger. But here, the wet snow was heavy enough to snap power lines, close schools, and shut down roads.
I was able to get a couple notification emails out via cell phone (since many cell towers have backup generators), but even 4G LTE isn’t really adequate to run a webinar from.
For something as simple as a webinar, “postponement” is an acceptable backup plan.
But for bigger things in your business, you need a real plan.
A robust plan.
Really, a set of plans for weathering much more than a measly quarter inch of snow.
Have you given this much thought? Have you given thought to what you would do to survive if certain things happened that impact your business?
For example, what if Congress passed a law (and provided the funding) to mandate that the IRS do what a number of other countries already do, and pre-prepared most people’s tax returns? After all, the IRS already has the data on file to do this for the majority of taxpayers, and there is a small movement to make this happen.
How much of your tax prep business would disappear as a result?
For most preparers, at least 3/4 of their business would disappear overnight if this were to happen. One stroke of a pen (and a strangely coordinated Congress), and an entire industry vaporizes.
What would you do?
You may think this is a far-fetched example, but the exact same thing is already in progress, at a much slower pace, due to the rise of AI.
What about bookkeeping? How much of your revenue comes from recurring bookkeeping clients?
You know that AI is killing that, too, right?
I’ll even put my own field on the chopping block. What if the current administrative remedies for tax debt resolution were suddenly eliminated? What if Congress decided that all tax debt cases now had
Continue reading