30-Day Tax Firm Challenge: Day 1

First of all, thank you to everybody that replied with excitement regarding this 30-day challenge. It’s good to see so much energy about taking growth steps!

A few readers expressed concern over the timing, asking why I wasn’t waiting until after extension season. My response to that is pretty simple, and something that I’ve been saying for years: You control your practice, your practice doesn’t control you.

The reality is that this coming week should be no more or less busy for you than last week was, or that next week will be. If you work Monday through Friday, 9-5, then the fact that it’s the extension deadline should have no bearing on that schedule, nor on what you do during the day. This is how every well managed professional services firm operates in reality — it’s not just some fantasy that I’m trying to sell you on.

There are numerous practitioners reading this email at the same time you are today that have simply shrugged their shoulders and skipped these two paragraphs, because they already operate this way and have no use for this particular little pep talk. Helping your business get to this place is the entire point of the practice management challenges you’ll see over the next 30 days.

As a reminder, I’ll be sending these emails each day for 30 days. Each day will provide one short, actionable challenge in each of three key areas of your business: Online marketing, offline marketing, and practice management (systems/efficiency). Without further ado, let’s dive right in…


Online Marketing

Find one site to submit a guest blogging proposal to.
Estimated Time: 5-10 minutes

Guest blogging is when you write an article on somebody else’s website. It doesn’t need to be a traditional blog, so don’t get caught up on that one word. To complete this task, simply hop on Google and search for popular local websites. In fact, you might already know what they are.

If you live in a suburban or rural area without a specific, local popular site, look for popular sites in your nearest big city or even your entire site. Or regional. Or national. Honestly, it doesn’t matter: Just find one website that you feel comfortable contributing to, and contact them with a two sentence email asking if their readers would be interested in reading about a relevant tax topic.

Example: I just did a search on Google for “seattle popular blogs”. From that search, I found two articles of interest — one highlighting 4 Seattle bloggers worth reading, one highlighting 9. After reading each blog description and quickly checking out each site, I would choose one that seemed appropriate for a tax-related article. For example, one blogger provides neighborhood guides for each area of Seattle. That would be a perfect site for an article about the tax benefits of home ownership. Another popular local blog focuses on health and wellness, and might be a good place to write a tax article about ACA and deductible medical expenses.


Offline Marketing

Write your elevator pitch.
Estimated Time: Less than 5 minutes.

Your elevator pitch, or elevator speech, is your response to the classic question, “So, what do you do.” Your answer to this question should never be, “I do taxes”, or “I’m a CPA”. Wrong answer!

Your elevator pitch is what you use to communicate the kind of clients you’re looking for. It should be specific, and have a purpose. It should not be generic. You want people to be thinking about who they can refer to you when they hear your elevator pitch. You want them to evaluate their own life against your pitch to determine if they’re a prospect for you. Not everybody should be your client — this is a filtering mechanism.

My old elevator pitch was very straightforward: “I help mom and pop small business owners with tax debts to screw over the IRS.”

Straight, simple, and to the point.

Let’s break it down:

1). Identify ONE specific target market that you’re looking to serve. I preferred working with family owned small businesses doing a few million a year or less. Thus, “mom and pop”.

2). Identify ONE specific service that you are looking to focus on for your target market. I have always been a one-trick pony, and focused solely on IRS Collections representation. It’s really all I know how to do, and so it was easy to target the service. By saying “tax debts”, I’m specifying the exact.

3). Identify ONE benefit you bring to the table. My clients in rural western America were predominantly blue collar, Republican, and generally frustrated with the IRS. “Screw over the IRS” clearly illustrates the end goal, and uses language that resonates with my target market. It also clearly communicates that I’m on their level, and won’t be one of those people that makes them feel bad about being in debt to the government.

In summary: One target market, one service, one benefit.

Additional Examples:

“I help new homeowners realize the full tax savings from their new investment.”

“I show political candidates how to sound like a genius when discussing tax policy.”

“I work with Realtors and their clients to clear up tax lien challenges so that everybody can get to closing.”


Practice Management

Issue a document deadline to all 1040 clients on extension.
Estimated Time: Depends on how long it takes to compile the email list.

Compile a list of ALL clients that you filed a 4868 on and that haven’t completed a return yet. Insert their email addresses into the BCC field of an email. Thank them for being a client, and let them know that you need to have ALL documents for completing their return into your office by noon on October 12, otherwise you will **NOT** be able to complete their return on time. Documents delivered after that time will have the return completed as soon as possible afterOctober 17, but it will not be filed before the deadline. Also tell them that, because you’ll be working hard to get everybody done as fast as possible, you will be adding a Rush Processing Charge to all invoices.

If clients don’t get information to you on time, it’s not your problem. There is no legitimate reason (other than a very large surcharge) to bend over backwards, lose sleep, stress out, and tick off your family just to get a return done for a procrastinator. Tens of thousands of tax professionals already set these deadlines and rush processing charges, and I think everybody should do it.

If it helps you mentally, remember this: The extension deadline really only impacts the ability to file electronically. If there is a refund or no balance due, there is no late filing penalty on a 1040 return. If there is a balance due, the tax was already due back in April and failure to pay penalties have already been piling up (yes, there’s an additional failure to file penalty, but one month won’t make a big difference).

These two things right here are why I’ve never personally understood all the hullabaloo regarding Oct. 15 each year, to be honest. But then again, I’m used to filing returns that are already 3 to 20 years late. 🙂


So there you have it, your Day 1 challenges. Do one, do two, do them all. Whatever you’re comfortable with. But the point is to do something to help move your practice forward.