Journey of a Thousand Miles, etc.

Most of you are awfully busy right now, and I appreciate you opening up your email to check us out this week. I won’t keep you long, I just want to share some mid-season success stories to help you rally for the home stretch and focus on the prize at the finish line – which is building the business you really want.

There’s an old saying that’s stuck in my brain now, “the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” I’m not sure if it’s from the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu, or something I read in a fortune cookie. But it’s worth contemplating here in the middle of tax season. You may not be interested in making big changes to anything right now. But even little changes can make a big difference in your practice over time.

So here’s an email that arrived in my inbox just yesterday from a longtime member in Atlanta:

“I had a realtor set up an appointment with me about 2 months ago for an initial tax analysis. I asked her to bring me her tax return for 2014, but when she arrived she did not have it. So we chatted and I found out about her financial situation. After the meeting she emailed me her self-prepared 2014 tax return.

Since then I had attempted to contact her to set up an initial tax analysis appointment but I had not heard back from her. A couple of days ago she sent me an email with her attempt to do her own tax return for 2015. She was attempting to contribute $7,500 for her own IRA (she is about 37) while also writing off $25,000 for her new 2015 Mercedes SUV. She was having problems.

As I was looking over her return I realized I could help her save around $10,000 in tax by having her set up a SEP for 2015. I got excited about the opportunity to help her in that way but then I remembered ‘Don’t give it away!’

I let her know that I would love to help her but that I would not be able to do it until after April 15th. I would be glad to do an extension for her and her husband if they wanted me to. Of course, I have not heard back from her yet.

Why is this a success? I did not give it away and I feel sure she will become my client.”

Randy Larkin, CPA, CTC
Atlanta, GA

You may think Randy and I are both jumping the gun by calling this a success story. After all, the prospect hasn’t closed. She isn’t even a client yet! But that won’t be the real success anyway, even after she signs. The real success is the new attitude – Randy didn’t give away an idea worth $10,000 in savings to the client. I have no idea how much he’ll end up charging her for planning, but this week’s decision not to give away his hard-earned expertise can make an enormous difference over time.

Two weeks ago in this space, I talked about a TaxCoach member struggling with confidence issues. He told me that over the next week, he would be delivering 30 tax returns, including 10 entity returns. I told him that he should sit down before every one of those appointments and quantify exactly how much he’s saved each of those clients. In some cases, with simple 1040s, the answer may be zero. In other cases, with more complicated entity returns, it could be thousands of dollars per year.

Monday, we spoke again, and I asked him, “So… how much are you worth”? His answer, confidently delivered, was “millions.” In fact, in one case involving a monetized installment sale, he’s on the verge of saving a client a million dollars in tax on a single transaction. He’s also delivered a seminar to a group of realtors where he booked two appointments, got invited to speak to two more real estate offices, and sold a tax plan where he collected the fee up front.

Again, a little change – the decision to quantify your value – can lead to a big boost in confidence and make a big difference over time. The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.

Finally, here’s an email I got last week from another longtime member:

“Ed and team:

Below is a P.S. included in an email I sent to a client I did tax planning for in 2014. Really, I wouldn’t have done this tax planning, nor charged for it, without TaxCoach influence.

Thanks again.


P.S. I almost forgot… you saved $11,419 in taxes for 2015 as a result of the tax planning we’ve done! That’s combined with 2014 savings of $9,603 for two year total of $21,022… very cool.”

Fred Bumpass, CPA
Duluth, GA

Yeah, I’d say that’s pretty cool, too! And once again, a small change – specifically, communicating your value to your clients – can make a huge difference over time.

What single step can you take today? What small change can you put in place right now to build your business? I bet you’d be surprised how big a difference it could make over time!