By Jen Cook
We recently finished the beta test of SmartCenter, and we learned a lot from our users. These users – small tax practice owners and tax preparers – helped us uncover some pitfalls and realities going on in the tax business world.
Here’s a little infographic we made to show you what we discovered.
So, let’s recap in more detail.
1. Small business owners are overwhelmed by too many tools.
As a tax practice owner or tax pro, you need at least SIX software programs to get the job done:
‐ Your tax software, of course.
‐ Your accounting software,
‐ Your email application,
‐ Time and billing software,
‐ Your CRM (you should have one),
‐ A workflow engine,
‐ Sales software...
...The list can go on.
Unless you have four giant monitors and a boatload of patience, this can be a pretty frustrating scenario, and you have to deal with it on the daily.
Business owners and tax pros alike need an all-in-one solution that lets them work in peace, so they can say goodbye to the chaotic mess that is their desktop with seven programs running at once.
2. Businesses should be mobile.
Our beta showed that a growing 90% of business owners would use their business tools on mobile devices.
Nothing says “freedom” like getting out of the office and not having to worry if a work-related problem arises.
When your business tools are available on your tablet or smartphone, you can go wherever you want and do whatever you want with the comfort of taking your business with you.
3. Businesses need a tool that’s just for them.
The football ref standing in a doctor’s office doesn’t need a stethoscope or a tongue depressor. He needs a whistle. And as valuable as the doctor’s tools might be, they’re not made for a referee.
You wouldn’t use a healthcare solution in your tax practice; you need a tool just for tax pros.
There are tons of free-for-all business tools that you can customize for your needs, but they tend to be so generic that they lose their value.
With a specialized business tool, you can get the value you need “right out of the box”.
4. The cloud is the way to go.
Often getting misconstrued as “unsecure” and “risky,” cloud softwares are quite the opposite. With tons of secure servers and off-site backup, the cloud actually trumps any kind of physical data backup and security... by a long shot.
So, if your office burns down, your house gets robbed, or your car gets stolen (not to be a Debbie Downer), you’ve still got your information backed up in the cloud. And you didn’t spend an entire day backing it up yourself!
Not to mention, cloud-based business tools also give you the same mobile abilities to work wherever and whenever you want. Freedom!!
5. Workflow management is the key to staying organized.
Running a small business = wearing every hat in the building at some point.
Your job is to manage every little thing that happens, while making sure nothing... hits the fan, shall we say?
That’s a lot of responsibility, and a lot of tasks on a daily basis. So, how do you manage all of your duties as a small business owner?
Having a good workflow management system is your big golden ticket to staying organized and getting work done. Invest in one, and you’ll never look back.
6. Client relationships matter now more than ever.
Let’s face it. These days, we’re running businesses in a battlefield of competition. In a world where we’re consumed by Yelp, social media, and relentless critics (aka, every consumer, ever.)
Your potential clients have their guard up when they’re looking for a tax pro, and they’re looking for someone they can trust before they take the leap. That’s why the relationships you have with your clients are more important today than they’ve ever been.
When you nurture a great relationship with each of your clients, you make them happy. And when they’re happy, they talk about you. On Yelp, online, to their friends, to their family – news travels fast (good and bad).
That being said, getting control of your client data and interactions is the first step to maintaining a good relationship.
With a great CRM in place, you can keep important dates, phone calls, client preferences, family info... all the detes you need to keep your client satisfied and coming back for more.
7. Business owners are willing to pay for value.
As a tax pro, you don’t have all the time in the world. You only have time for the things that give you value.
There are a ton of free tools out there, but we found that small business owners are willing to pay for tools that provide real value. They want to invest to make their life better.
So, take it from the grill master in our graphic, who doesn’t want to ruin his prime filet on a rickety old grill – when you’re looking for a tool to make your life better, it’s a good idea to skip the freebies and invest in a great solution, and you’ll see real results.
Be wary of high-priced softwares that are meant for big businesses with big budgets. Stick to the solution that’s right for you, and make sure the cost reflects the value. To make sure you’re getting the value, start with a free trial before you invest.
Any truth discovered is only as valuable as what you do with it. If you have small business clients, use these truths to make deeper connections with them. As a small business owner yourself, know that you aren’t alone in your struggles and keep fighting toward your goals.
Demand business tools that will work for you, and never settle for less. We built SmartCenter from the ground up to help address the issues that many tax professionals are facing. Stay tuned for more details. We’re excited to be launching very soon.