When was the last time you dedicated time to working ON your business instead of IN it?
The key to transforming your practice into a successful business machine is to transform yourself from being an employee in your business, to being a successful leader and entrepreneur. What does it take to do that? You need to shift your business from depending on YOU to depending on other people and processes. Systems are the tax materials you need to run your business efficiently and profitably.
Good processes in a tax business will lead to greater profit margins, greater employee satisfaction, greater accuracy, and greater control over scheduling and quality of work.
Many tax business owners mistakenly believe that tax businesses are impossible to systematize. But tax businesses actually present many opportunities for systematizing. Due to the fact that our work features repetitive tasks, we have an optimal environment for creating processes to streamline the work. And in spite of the fact that we have deadlines on our work, this creates an opportunity for creating controls.
Good processes include controls and safeguards that protect your business from uninformed or poor decisions or bad behaviors, so that essentially you control the outcome you desire.
External controls allow you to SEE that the right things are happening. If things are going wrong you see it instantly so you can fix the problem and keep things running smoothly.
Internal Controls control the work without someone having to remember to do something to use them. Processes that control variables are a good example of internal controls. If you establish protocol preferences in your tax return prep software for example, which limits the judgment required of your preparers you can control the quality of the work. Removing judgment is one of the variables that can kill a good process.
Most of the time tax business owners judge that our industry prevents us from systematizing due to the amount of variables we face in our work. The biggest variable by far is the PEOPLE. Clients delay submitting their information. Documents arrive in various formats and levels of completion and accuracy. People kill our chance at completely automating our processes.
One of the secrets to great systems, however, is designing a process that controls the variables. And YES, controlling the people can be done! Create a system for how you collect and distribute data. Clear communication with staff and clients will help make the process more effective.
Sticking to your procedures is essential to controlling the variables. Your clients will try to circumvent your standards, it is up to you to ensure control over your processes. If you discover problems with your systems, first analyze whether or not it is a true problem with the process or a problem with the people. If you find a problem with your process, it is easy enough to correct. If you find it is a problem with people, you may have to get tough, but the rewards are worth it! Take some accountant CPE on creating systems for your business. Then create them, sit back and let your business depend on someone else for a change!
Dominique Molina is President of the American Institute of Certified Tax Coaches, an organization of tax professionals who are trained to help their clients rescue thousands of dollars in wasted tax. In addition to her blogging and speaking engagements, Dominique provides CPA continuing education as a registered educator with the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA).