The “unextended” part of tax season officially ended yesterday, but it actually ended for me late last week.
On Friday I finalized the last of the tax returns not going on extension, and got e-file authorization pages out to those people. So the last few days leading up to April 15th were surprisingly uneventful.
Last year I was able to write about delays and problems with applying tax law. I didn’t face that problem as much this year.
Instead, I’m going to write some “dear diary” thoughts that take you inside my head to show what it’s like to run a growing business:
One: I Know What It’s Like to Run a “Real Business” Now
As I’ve written about before, I started in 2009 by preparing 3 tax returns. From there, it’s grown to where I quit my day job at the end of 2011. But even then, I was mostly a stay-at-home dad who prepared tax returns on evenings and weekends during tax season.
That ended this tax season. I pushed past the 100-client mark, and had to send my son to daycare 2 days a week so I could get work done during the day. And I’ve taken on enough business clients now to where I have things that need done on a mostly full-time basis all year.
This tax season, I continued to make house calls and meet people “whenever and wherever.” That was a nice selling point when I was working with 30 clients and, even when chasing after kids, I had all the time in the world.
This year, the administrative burden of running a “real business” at times became too much.
Answering the phone, responding to e-mails, scheduling appointments, driving 45 minutes one-way to meet with someone for 3 minutes to pick up their things and then driving all the way back home, following up with people about missing information, keeping up with the things my ongoing business clients need, dealing with administrative things for my own business, being a stay-at-home dad to a 2-year-old 3 days of the week….
And, oh yeah — preparing tax returns.
Part of owning a business is adjusting the sails. I started making procedural changes toward the end of tax season, and will be implementing more.
Two: Using Your Cell Phone As Your Main Business Line is a Bad Idea
Clients have discovered that my business number is also a cell phone.
Once people find out your business line is a cell phone, the text messages start coming.
I normally don’t mind getting texts from clients, but sometimes a line gets crossed. For me that line is: when I’ve said the timeline is 14-20 days for getting the return completed, but the text messages start after 3 days.
And then another at 5 days.
And another at 7 days.
“How r our taxes coming?”
“R u done w r txs yet? Tks.”
“Do u know what r refund will b? We r hoping 2 buy (a car, a TV, a camper, a house, etc.) and need 2 c how much we can spnd.”
“U will tell us what r refund is as soon as u know right?”
Three: Almost All of My New Clients Came in February
Most years, the phone is ringing and e-mails are coming up through April 15th from prospective new clients who want to know if I can prepare their taxes.
This year, from the first week of March through April 15th, I got exactly TWO inquiries. One of them became a client, one of them didn’t.
Not that I’m complaining. I had plenty of work to keep me busy, and my overall client count grew by about 39% over last year, so I had plenty of new clients this year. They just all came to me in February, and then the phone stopped ringing and the e-mails stopped coming. Weird.
So, there you have your not-so-brief journey inside my mind about how tax season went.