You know, that time of the year where accounting practices (like yours) are inundated with corporate tax preparation. Some repeat clients from previous years, some first-timers.
Regardless of how your tax clients break down, are you ready for them?
1. Coffee (and Snacks)
You may think this is a throwaway entry on the list of “essentials,” and that’s fair for some (but not for us at Botkeeper...we live on that hot bean water!). But the point is that long days and weeks require surrounding yourself with things you enjoy. Staring at a screen, waiting for responses, and double checking your work makes small treats like coffee and snacks something to look forward to.
If you’re working remotely, stock up on your favorites. And if you have a team in a physical office, a coffee or snack surprise goes a long way. Maybe this year is finally when you decide to get an espresso machine!
A coffee or snack break is a good reward in between Pomodoro work sessions, which could help boost productivity.
2. An Efficient Onboarding Process
Some clients only talk to you a few months before the tax deadline. You’re left to make sense of a pile of documents so you can put together their tax filing, and it’s a frustrating process.
It’s also one of the most unorganized processes at many firms.
Get a solid onboarding process down before you find yourself spending too much time doing pre-work for preparing taxes.
A few important points:
- Onboarding is the first impression for new clients
- Set clear expectations so the client knows exactly what’s happening with their return
- Emphasize proper communication channels and deadlines for receiving key documents, logins, etc.
3. A Good Sleep Schedule
We all know how this one goes: when you’re working long hours, rest is often one of the first things considered “expendable” in your routine.
But truly, a good night’s rest should be as important as meeting all of your clients’ deadlines.
Lack of sleep affects the immune system. If too little rest affects your health, it affects your work, your temperament, and the ripple effects can damage your personal life. Take care of it with intentional preparation.
Opt to begin work early instead of working late. Doing tasks that don’t require email or Zoom calls from 6-9am supercharges focus.
Begin the season with a set time to leave work—no matter what! You can adjust based on demand and how much is on your plate. But try to stick to the time.
Do your research on better sleep. These common tips are great, from reducing screen time before bed or drinking a glass of tea.
4. Solid Morning/Evening Routine
This “essential” ties in with the previous, but it stands alone in many ways. The morning is your chance to get your head straight. That could be through meditation, making that first coffee, or getting in some exercise.
Whatever it is that makes you feel ready to tackle the day—do it.
On the flip side, try and create a routine for the end of the day. Instead of preparing for a day of number-crunching, do your best to forget it all and unplug.
Just remember to get your rest, too!
5. Expert Resources (For the latest updates)
This year’s PPP loan forgiveness requirements are proof of how changes to tax code and other regulations can impact your process. On top of that, you have to stay on top of ongoing accounting work that needs to be done.
You don’t want to be left alone trying to navigate big changes, and in fact there are resources available to help save you time and effort. Here are just a couple:
The Journal of Accountancy has a great list of tax-relevant news sites, specifically for accountants.
Industry leaders are great at sharing information. Here’s a list of 20 accounting influencers, why you should follow them, and how to find them on social media.
6. Better Tech
There’s a ton of tech available to help make your 2021 tax season better. Technology, like what’s behind our Rapid Write-Up Package can make a massive difference. Additionally, there are simple technology moves you can make to improve your tax-time work.
Productivity apps: Nearly all professionals run into challenges with distractions fighting for attention. Consider apps to help with productivity. For example, you can use a note taking app to better capture all the ideas swirling around your head. Or you can try an app that removes social media for specific blocks of time to help with focus.
Better internet: This might go without saying, but slow internet will tank your productivity, especially in a remote world where back-to-back video calls depend on your ability to connect. If you’re having internet problems, consider an immediate upgrade before the busy season is in full swing!
Simple task management: You won’t be able to fully overhaul your practice management system overnight. However, a simple task management system like Trello or Asana can help you visualize your tasks, so you know where to prioritize your time. And these apps make it easier to delegate to teammates, too.
Also important: As you make adjustments to your tech stack, place security and accessibility near the top of your considerations!
7. Automation (Where possible)
There’s a blend between using technology for automation and adding in the human touch in your practice. How much of each is essentially up to you. At the very least, you’ll want to consider automating certain tasks.
Here are two of the most impactful:
Begin automated billing: It helps reduce the risk of forgetting while taking a big responsibility off of your plate. Every moment counts during the busy season!
Automated bookkeeping: Client write-ups are often difficult because you get 12 months of data in a single email. Convincing your customers to let you keep monthly books makes things so much easier...and we’re not just saying that! You can even outsource this aspect and use a cloud ledger solution to combine essential tips.
8. A Plan for Tackling Next Year
It may sound impossible, but your end-of-year blitz doesn’t have to be the norm in your business or office. You know, where your clients pay a one-time, mid-4-figure sum and you work hard for 3 months?
Imagine charging monthly for that same service while you gain regular access to the financial data you need for tax time. Then, when it’s time to file, it takes less than an hour. There’s no extra communication necessary, and fewer hours are needed to get the job done.
Even if 20% of your one-time clients did it, would it help? A few years down the road you may just have a steady stream of regular income and a clear view of your calendar.
In addition to evaluating your client relationships, it’s also a good idea to look at your tech stack. Where are things slow? Could you benefit from additional automation? Are there manual steps that could be eliminated?
With every tax season comes the opportunity to learn more, improve processes, and make things a little easier next time around
Elevate Your Firm and Save Even More Time On Write-Ups
Your firm has an opportunity to maximize productivity and revenue during tax season, and it will make your life easier, too. Improving one of the most arduous and uninspired areas of tax season can lead to growth you never thought possible!
The Botkeeper Rapid Write-Up Package can save you 8 to 12 hours on each business write-up you tackle, which creates more bandwidth for more clients, a more “normal” schedule during tax season, and the ability to focus on developing other areas of your firm.
We’ve put together an informative presentation for accounting professionals looking to transform how they take on tax write-ups, and we’re sure it will help your firm get to the next level.
Click below to save your seat and start your journey toward a better tax season in 2021!