TL;DR: For a more successful tax firm, plan your business development activities on a weekly schedule.
Under the international week date standard, ISO 8601, the numbered weeks of the year always start on a Monday.
But here in the US, we like to buck international standards and do things our own way. Thus, our calendar weeks run Sunday-Saturday, making TODAY the first day of the first business week of 2021.
Over the past couple months, I’ve become more and more fascinated with this concept that we call a “week”. I’ll spare you all the boring details, but in short, I have made the decision to start viewing my life from a weekly viewpoint, rather than the monthly viewpoint that I think most of us are accustomed to.
Monthly thinking and monthly planning are pretty well ingrained into American culture. Rents, mortgages, utilities — all billed monthly. Not all, but many employers run payroll as a monthly process, such as defining paydays as the 1st and the 15th. The base time unit of accounting by which most businesses do their books is monthly. As a tax professional, depending on the services you offer, you run client work on a monthly pattern based IRS deadlines. Heck, the majority of notice response deadlines are in 30-day multiples. So much of our business and financial lives are tied to monthly cycles.
But in some arenas, monthly thinking has a lot of weaknesses. Or, rather, we as people have psychological weaknesses that are exacerbated by monthly thinking. For example, if I’m trying to do meal planning for weight loss, monthly thinking just doesn’t work — at least for me (I concede that most people are better than me). It’s just to long of a timeframe to think about what groceries I need, what recipes I’ll cook, keeping produce fresh, etc. In fact, thinking about a diet for a month is straight up exhausting. It’s too daunting, seems too impossible.
But a week? Yeah, I can go a week without cookies and Doritos. After three days and the withdrawal headaches are gone, even skipping my precious Red Bull for one week isn’t that daunting.
This is very common, by the way. If you’ve never struggled with your weight, you may not know about this, but there’s a reason that diet plans are most commonly based on weeks. There are reasons that meal kit delivery services, be they weight loss oriented or not, are most commonly based on weekly shipment schedules. There’s a reason that most cookbooks are written from the perspective of weekly meal planning for families. It’s just an easier unit of time for us to digest (pun intended).
In fact, I’ll go so far as to that this is the precise reason that most religions are based around some sort of weekly observance. We need that frequency of reminder about things, that frequency of interaction with the peer group, in order avoid straying from the path we’ve chosen.
This train of thought, which involved many more stations than the two I’ve mentioned here, led me down this path to re-orienting myself from monthly to weekly. When it comes to your business planning and implementation in particular, weekly just makes more sense.
Think about it…
Frequency and recency of repetition are important for learning. Doesn’t it make sense to practice your Swedish on a weekly schedule, versus a monthly schedule? I’d argue the same goes for your CPE. Doesn’t it make more sense to do a little bit weekly, to help you build real, usable skills you can apply to clients? Especially in comparison to — ahem — the annual CPE mad dash that too many practitioners embark on near the end of their CPE cycle? 🙂 For this reason, and as part of my own re-focusing to a weekly basis, we are now moving to a weekly CPE presentation schedule. Academy members should always look at the Events page, non-members should always check my Eventbrite page.
How about practice management, client interactions, and marketing?
Well, when it comes to tax resolution client engagements, I’ve always recommended weekly contact. That’s been my advice for the entire nine years I’ve been teaching tax resolution. Even if nothing is going on with the case, like when you’re just waiting in limbo for the IRS to respond, still call or email the client every single week just to say, “we’re still waiting, nothing new to report”. This provides reassurance to these clients, something they need a lot of.
How about marketing? I’ve long espoused the use of a Daily Marketing Checklist, something I learned from one of my mentors. But there’s also always been the Weekly Marketing Checklist, and to a lesser extent, some monthly tasks. But in all honesty, after speaking with literally thousands of tax professionals over the years, there is a certain reality: Ya’ll just ain’t gonna do stuff every single day. OK, a dozen of you may. But most tax pros just don’t. Heck, I don’t even do my daily marketing tasks every day. Even my single most important daily marketing task is something that I miss more often than I care to admit.
And monthly? Well, aside from the monthly client/prospect newsletter, the reality is that monthly is too infrequent for most marketing campaigns to have much effect. For example, if you’re only tweaking your Facebook or Reddit or Google ads once a month, you’re just not doing it right, and likely wasting a ton of money. You simply need to pay closer attention to your ads than that. Minimum? Yep, weekly.
What about your video marketing? Sorry, but posting once a month to your YouTube channel just isn’t going to get you anywhere. Conventional wisdom amongst successful YouTubers? You guessed it: Weekly.
Got a podcast? Yeah, there are some monthly pods that do well, but they are few and far between. Weekly is best.
Sending direct mail to tax liens, new homebuyers, new business entities, or a niche list like Realtors or doctors? OK, here I must digress. Monthly mailings to the same list are perfectly acceptable. BUT… You really should be mailing to multiple lists in a rotation. For example, this week you mail to December tax liens for the second time. Next week you mail to November tax liens for the third time. Week after that you mail to October tax liens for the fourth time. Etc. So, it’s actually a weekly activity.
Telemarketing? Yeah, you need to be scheduling weekly telephone time, at a minimum.
See, all these marketing activities, be they online or offline, old school or modern cool, thrive on a weekly schedule, not monthly. With weekly business development, you get into a groove…forge good marketing habits…are able to tweak and adjust faster…and by increasing frequency and decreasing latency, you get better at doing the thing.
This year, I am choosing to embrace the power of the week. Sure, my mortgages are all still due on a monthly basis. And yes, The Profitable Accountant newsletter is monthly. But pretty much everything else I do can be better done on a weekly schedule.
And, very likely, so can it be for you. Especially when it comes to business development.
It comes down to a simple choice, really. You can choose to develop new, better habits that will help you build a better tax firm. Or you can choose to do what you’ve always done, which will inevitably just give you the results you’ve always gotten.
I invite you to join me for weekly improvements to your business in 2021. From here on out, these emails will have a theme for the week. Yes, you’ve seen me experiment with that over the last few months of 2020, but now it’s a permanent change.
Since all Internet memes have collectively declared that 2020 was a dumpster fire, we shall no longer look back at last year’s hot mess, but rather look forward to the future with a twinkle in our eye and a bounce in our step. Will you walk with me?
Here’s to 52 kick-ass weeks in 2021,