How to Be an Overnight Success

10yearsTen years ago this week — May 26, to be precise — Keith and I threw the switch on a brand-new website offering a new kind of tax-planning software: “plain-English planning, with the savings your clients really want.”

When we started, we were TaxCoach Software, an online planning application. Now we’re TaxCoach System, a comprehensive business development tool consisting of three parts: the planning tool, the marketing tools, and the community. (That’s you.)

When we started, it was just Keith and me. We didn’t even have our own garage to work out of! Now we’ve got a team, spread all over the place, plus Lisa and Sarah full-time in the office — and if you’ve seen our new website, you’ll agree that they’ve certainly classed up the joint.

We started that day on May 26, 2005, with zero members. We finished with one. Now we’ve worked with over 2,500. We’ve had members in all 50 states (including those flat square states out west that nobody is using), and as far away as England and Italy. (It turns out that Americans living abroad want to pay less tax, too.)

I wouldn’t say that we were an overnight success. In fact, I’d say our biggest successes are still ahead of us. But in 10 years working with tax and financial business owners like you, we’ve learned a thing or two about how to become an overnight success. So I thought I would share them here — a distillation of 10 years of wisdom and experience.

The real key to succeeding in this business, overnight or not, is to show your prospects and clients why you’re worth more than your competition. You can’t be “just another tax guy” or “just another financial planner.” You can’t leave yourself open to damaging apples-to-apples comparisons.

Profound wisdom, right? Never heard anything like that before, have you? Of course you have. But let’s flesh it out with some specific action steps you can put to work now:

  • Target exactly who you want those prospects and clients to be. If you’re like most TaxCoach members, you started your business targeting “door clients,” meaning anyone who walks through the door. That’s great if you just need to pay the bills. But at some point you’ll realize you like working with some clients more than others. And as you work more with that group, you’ll see that your success builds upon itself. Your reputation within that group grows until, happily one day, you realize you’ve become the “go-to” provider for that market.Well, why wait for all that to happen accidentally? Why not pick a market now, and target them with specific expertise and unique value?

    Targeting a specific market or markets is especially valuable if you’re new to the tax business and need to build confidence. It’s hard to feel secure knowing that you can help everyone in the world save taxes. It’s much easier to enjoy that security if you research a specific niche and learn their specific opportunities and pitfalls.

  • Give ’em something they really want. Well, sure, you can give them what they need, too. But that may not be why they’re paying you. Clients will be a lot happier paying for something they want than something they need. They’re hungry for sizzle… and once you’ve hooked them with that sizzle, it’s easy to sell the steak.

  • Remind them over and over just how much you’re worth. This is what makes tax planning such a great service to sell. Where else can you tell your clients exactly how much “free money” you’ve gotten them? And from the IRS, no less?It’s ironic, really. Most accountants hate to “sell.” Yet you’re offering your clients a product that really sells itself. Take advantage of that!

  • Ask everyone you meet, “When was the last time your tax guy came to you and said ‘here’s an idea I think will save you money?'”

    Seriously. Ask everyone. They all want to save money. And very few of them are satisfied that their tax and financial advisors are doing everything they can to help with that crucial form of financial defense. So they’ll be open to a discussion.

    Try it at your next networking meeting or similar event. Make it a point to ask five people that question, just as I wrote it out above. You’ll get at least one appointment.

It really doesn’t have to be harder than that. So get started — if you really want to be an overnight success, you don’t have time to waste!

Keith and Lisa and Sarah and I are all proud to see how far TaxCoach has come in the last 10 years, and we can’t wait to see what the next 10 years bring us. We’re glad to have you with us on the journey!


Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at