Here’s How to “Do It”

December 15, 2015 is a big day. Yes, at that point there are just 9 more shopping days until Christmas. And yes, more important, there are just 16 more tax-planning days until December 31. But December 15 also marks the hundredth birthday of a skinny kid from Hoboken who grew up to became the greatest pop singer the world has ever known. I’m talking, of course, about Frank Sinatra. (Fellow Jersey native Bruce Springsteen may be “the Boss” – but Sinatra is the “Chairman of the Board!”)

I had the good fortune to see Ol’ Blue Eyes perform live in 1990, just as I was starting my third year of law school. He was slowing down by then. He ran through a short set of 15 of his greatest hits: You Make Me Feel So Young, Luck Be A Lady, Mack the Knife, and finishing with New York, New York. He seemed to have trouble with some of the lyrics. But it was still a very special event, and I knew that someday I would be fortunate to say I had seen him live. (Looks like today is my day!)

How did Frank do it? How did he command the pop charts, the Vegas showrooms, and the silver screen?

He did it his way. (Come on, you knew that was coming.)

Frank made up his own rules. He literally begged to play Private Maggio in From Here to Eternity, accepting a piddling $8,000 salary for the part. But after winning the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, he realized his entire life was a role. Fortunately for him, he was playing the role of Frank Sinatra. He inhabited that role to the fullest, hobnobbing with paupers and presidents. And along the way, he redefined the role of “pop star.” Do you think P. Diddy or Jay-Z would be where they are today if they didn’t have Sinatra to model themselves after? Hardly!

What about you? Do you model your practice, or even your life, after someone else? Do you do things because that’s how you were trained, or because that’s how you’ve always done them?

Or do you do it your way?

Who’s the boss of your business? Is it really you? Is it your clients? Or is it the ghost of the first accountant who hired you out of school, keeping books on a comptometer and prepping taxes on a ten-key?

Who’s in charge of your marketing? Is it really you? Or are you sending out the same old letters you sent out a decade ago? (There’s a CPA firm in the nearby Cincinnati suburb of Mariemont that sends Keith and me the same prospecting letter every year. We laugh at it every year, and we’ve even mocked it here in the Briefs. I wonder if the guy wasting money sending it to us realizes he doesn’t have to do it anymore.)

Who’s managing your staff and systems? You? Or “SALY”? (Same As Last Year…)

Who’s in charge of… ok, you get the picture.

You didn’t start your own practice just to do things the same way everyone else does. Did you?

Less than a month from now, it will be 2016. The air will be full of talk of New Year’s resolutions – losing weight, quitting smoking, spending more time with the family. Those are all good and valuable resolutions.

But why not consider something for yourself and your practice? Why not resolve to start doing things your way for a change. You really can get away with it. You don’t even need Sinatra’s talent or swagger. You just need a bit of determination and a drop of confidence.

Want to raise fees? Just do it. Your clients will be far less offended than you think. Last month, Lisa and I hosted a “Boot Camp” for new TaxCoach members here in Cincinnati. By the end of the day, we had convinced one member from Charlotte to double his fees forevery single client next year. That sounds terrifying, right? I can promise you, he’ll do just fine. He’ll be a lot happier and a lot wealthier on April 15. And if some of his clients leave (which of course some will), he’ll be better off without them.

Want to add audit protection services but aren’t sure how your clients will receive them? Just do it. Daniel Greene added $75,000 in new revenue to his practice in Temecula, CA with audit protection services. His clients still love him.

Want to add financial services, but worried that clients will think you’re stretching yourself too thin? Just do it. It’s your business, not anyone else’s!

Want to fire some pain in the ass clients? Just do it. We’ve seen several TaxCoach members take the terrifying step of firing their very biggest clients who were troublesome. All of them have said it was the best thing they ever did.

Want to take a week of vacation in March? Just do it. David Stone has done it for years. He still manages to maintain a growing practice and offer his problem resolution software system at www.irssolutions.com.

You’re the chairman of your own board. Baybee! So take Sinatra’s words to heart, and do it your way in 2016. You won’t regret it.