Lessons exceed expectations

In the two-plus months since I decided to try my hand at being a sole practitioner, I have learned much more than I ever expected. Once I made it over the hurdle of submitting a request for proposal, the idea that I could be successful in this venture has become easier as the days have gone by. The following is a short "lesson" plan:

Getting the message
I touched on this briefly in my last post, where potential clients say they need your services only to never to get in touch with you. I suppose this is like many other things in life, but because I had never experienced going out and try to generate business it never occurred to me that this would happen. As I like to say, you can only plead ignorance once. I now have an appreciation for what sales people go through, and that patience and persistence are two traits one must have to be successful.
Back to the stacks
As much time as my spouse says I spend at the computer, I have found myself reading more articles in print than I can remember. It was as if I had returned to newspaper business! Not only am I actually reading my magazine subscriptions, I have spent many a day at the local library checking out books. Not all of the works have been to-do books about sales, relationships or other business-related topics. I actually checked out a book for pleasure, which was a collection of the Jeeves short stories written by P.G. Wodehouse. It has been good to get away from the screen for some time each day.
More paper goods
Even though I  own a PDA, I have found that returning to a paper-based planner has kept me better organized. For a time, I was exclusively carrying a breast-pocket size spiral notebook to jot down my thoughts to complement a weekly planner. But soon after I began this sole venture, I found that I could fill up the two pages in a matter of minutes. My solution: Return to a daily Franklin planner. Not only have I used it, I am doing so consistently. I either update at the end of the day, or first thing in the morning. It has really helped me to stay in touch with contacts and keep on top of needed tasks.I continue to use the small spiral to jot my thoughts - after all, it is much less bulky than a planner.

Demos galore
The vendors that provide accounting, audit and tax software have been extremely friendly and nearly all inquiries have resulted in test-driving these products. The fact that all the products offered have full capabilities has been helpful in deciding what will be best for me to use as I begin to attract clients. And in many cases, free or discounted CPE has been a great incentive.
The two traits
Patience and persistence have served me well. My two best leads have needed plenty of these qualities. I fully expect to hear answers in the next week. By the time I hear from both, I should have the one tax client that I am working caught up on all of its filings.


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Alan is a sole practitioner based in Central Ohio. He made a career change at 40 after working as a journalist for more than 15 years. Alan started his practice in May 2010 and currently focuses on not-for-profit organizations, individuals and small businesses. He has helped a number of nonprofits obtain their tax-exempt status and assisted others with their audit, compliance and tax needs. Alan has overcome many obstacles, and has spent the past 11 years primarily as an auditor. He also has worked on audits of financial institutions, closely-held businesses and began his second career as an ABL field examiner.

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