4 min read

Isn't it all just busy season, now?


You know the drill. Accountants block their entire calendar from January through April, and usually another 4-8 weeks in the fall, for clients requesting extensions. The profession on the whole knows the term “busy season.”

Want some advice on preparing, hiring for, and maintaining your sanity? It’s as easy as doing a web search. The amount of advice, listicles, webinars, and podcasts are staggering. But there’s an angle on the busy season that's not often covered—Isn’t it all just busy season, now?

You may think, “Alright, I get it. We’re busy 24/7/365. Is this just life now?”

never ending busy season


The answer? First, realize not all busyness is bad. Then, differentiate between good and bad busy. Finally, work toward the good from where you are currently. A steady workflow of business spread throughout the year is an ideal business busyness model. Non-stop, seemingly uncontrollable craziness is the other side of the spectrum. 


One gives you clients who value your services enough to use you throughout the year. The other leaves you feeling scrambled every week of the year. 


Unfortunately, these definitions of “busy season” are wildly different. One is taking a seasonal accounting firm and turning it into a well-oiled, recurring revenue machine — an internal decision.


The other is a firm that’s a bit out of control due to external factors. Let’s briefly speak to which external factors currently affect the accounting profession.


Why you’re busy all the time (and getting busier)

Here are a few (of the many) reasons you and your team may feel overworked, even during the so-called “down time.”

  • IRS backlog: The institution seems confident they’ll catch up this year, which means a large number of notices going out about the past few years of filings. Mistakes and follow-ups on credits (like companies poorly applying for the ERC) are soon to cause a large number of frantic emails and phone calls to the local accounting firm. As the number of IRS employees increases, so does the need for your services — no matter what time of year.
  • A growing desire for advice: The pandemic surprisingly increased the need for client advisory services (by 20%, according to the Journal of Accountancy). While the economic uncertainty continues, clients need advice outside of the cliché tax time window.

Ancillary services: It’s not only advisory clients want. Many firms are either adding other services (i.e., budgeting, payroll, accounts receivable) or partnering with firms that complement their services. Many of these offerings are due each month, and while it doesn’t necessarily put you working nights and weekends, it is year-round.

 sent an invoice out for approval meme


So, how do you smooth things out?

Okay, let’s talk about organizing your expanding workload to get everything done without feeling like you’re losing control or unable to take a vacation. If everyone plays their part, things go from roller coaster ups and downs to a manageable, sustainable month-to-month business model.

Nowadays, three pieces fit into your smooth-year puzzle — your clients, your team, and your tech. Each area needs a bit of focus.


Focus on your client roster

Your clients affect your schedule more than you think. Let’s illustrate through a tale of two clients. 

Client number one waits until February to even ask if you can handle their taxes, and it’s mid-March (if you’re lucky) when they finally get you all docs and details to do the work. Now, client two understands the value of clean books and having regular communication with a professional, which moves them to opt for your monthly bookkeeping service that includes a quarterly check-in. 

The difference? Around the same time client one is about to call, you’re ready to file client two’s taxes (in about 30 minutes flat, no less).

Now, take a minute to consider your current roster of clients. If client one is the worst and client two is the dream — where does your average customer sit? It could be time to fire some of those clients. But that’s only part of the issue. 

If all the clients who aren’t great fits for your firm leave, you still need to build a pipeline to attract and close ideal clients. (We’ve covered this in detail in a post about taking a look at the clients from this past busy season and using that data to build a better clientele.)


Focus on your team roster

Much like clients; the team has a massive influence on whether or not your firm seems chaotic throughout the entire year. The team issue is multi-tiered and nuanced, which causes much trouble to firm owners. A tight-knit team that loses one of its members quickly devolves into a chaotic few months (or longer). Keeping things together means constant attention to your current team as well as the pipeline for new staff.


The elements of your team include:

  • Attracting new talent: Hiring shouldn’t begin when you have an opening. The next star player is likely in your circle, but it’s up to you to nurture that candidate and get them on to your roster.

  • Retaining your best team members: Keeping your current team happy is more than competitive pay and benefits. Do things like reducing the redundant tasks (with tech, which we’ll discuss later) and focus on their career, with a solid learning plan for each accountant on staff.

  • Properly managing your capacity: Sometimes, the team needs better communication. Other times, maybe the owner/partner is a bottleneck to progress. Other times, still, it’s possible that the team needs a shift, so everyone works to their strengths. Capacity planning ensures no client work is left behind and the team isn’t overwhelmed.


Focus on your tech roster

Tech is the ultimate year-smoother because (when used correctly) it directly improves how your firm serves and acquires clients and empowers your team (Technology also helps offset increasing resignations). 

But software isn’t without potential hiccups, which include 

  • Implementation of new tools

  • Getting the team on board with using them

  • Making your entire “tech stack” work together 

However, like most things that have a bit of resistance, it’s worth the work. Here’s how to ensure you get your tech roster right:

  • Check for additional features. Know everything about the tools you’re considering to ensure you’re getting the most from each solution you employ. A great example is Botkeeper. We offer automated bookkeeping for your accounting clients. We also offer onboarding and cleanup services.

  • Know how to use it yourself. If you’re confused by a piece of tech, you can’t expect your team to pick it right up. Take the tools you use seriously, and any serious software company has tutorials, knowledge bases, and guides to help you succeed.

  • Communicate the value to your team. Each of the tools in your tech roster brings a desirable result. (If it doesn’t, why are you using it?) A project management tool makes team communication better. Jane doesn’t have to ask John if the report is ready, because she sees it directly in the tool. Or using Botkeeper for bookkeeping means your team spends more time focusing on more meaningful accounting work.

Ready to gain control?

On the sliding scale of busyness, which is your firm currently experiencing? After you see the situation clearly, you’re prepared to assess your clients, team, and tech. Optimize these areas, and your business is in for a very smooth and busy year ahead.

If you’re ready to consider a tech solution to your firm’s bookkeeping woes, learn a bit more about what Botkeeper has to offer. You can also check out our resource library, filled with helpful ebooks and white papers you can use to tackle myriad challenges every firm faces.

Gimme the resources!