Transition is complete
"I can accept failure. Everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.”
- Michael Jordan, Champion Basketball Player
I discovered the quotation on a pencil that I used to take notes at a seminar. The quote also summarizes this sixth chapter in my accounting career.
About a year ago, my world started to change. Had you told me at the start of 2010 that I would be where I am today, I would have not believed it. The last thing on my mind was to work for myself. Due to a lot of inspiration with a little desperation thrown in, the transition from employee to employer has more than exceeded my expectations.
I will likely never know where I would be had I joined another firm. I did know that reaching partner was slim at best. The decision to go on my own came down to the following: Try now – and possibly fail - or wait 2-3 years and possibly never try.
The idea of working as a sole practitioner yielded the initial audit, plus an AUP engagement and more than a few leads. Tax work was secondary on my list, but I have completed a number of 990s, a couple 1023s and lined up individual returns for the current season. Overall, I sent out 15 invoices in 2010, which were 14 more than I had expected.
Every day has been different. I never know what will happen. The AUP has been completed and led to additional work, and leads are still being followed. Although this is better than expected, in other ways it is frustrating. I knew the day would come where work slowed down, yet I did not do as much as I should to maintain my momentum. I have learned to get out of the office and spend time each day marketing my practice.
I have had to come out of my shell. Now I can hold a conversation, and every once and a while make a point. The most important thing I have learned is my fortune truly is up to me. That has pushed me into new responsibilities: Follow-up phone calls, networking events, additional correspondence, all while learning not to be too assertive.
There have been other new experiences. I made my first presentation – discussing state and local taxes with a group of people in transition. A second presentation took place two weeks later. I have learned to adapt my schedule and to my schedule to best suit my needs. I never thought my planner would see the light of day after three weeks, but I have been consistent with it throughout the year. The planner has helped me allocate time, especially for administrative purposes. All the while, I have learned to find time for my personal life.
I am using my time efficiently, making many of my phone calls outside the office. I am spacing my appointments out during the day and scheduling fewer of them in order to get more work done. I am receiving more mail than ever: At least 2 pieces daily from the Postal Service and countless email that has information truly beneficial to my practice. Who has the time to read all of it? But as my own boss, I can spend my day reading all my mail from the comfort of my office.
In my case, my office is at home, which affects more than the bottom line. Expenses are reduced, and so is face-to-face contact. To counter the tendency to stay at-home, I have joined a weekly networking group and became active in two other organizations. These associations have paid dividends in ways other than financially.
I see 2011 as a time for growth and improvement. I have been told by many the opportunities are out there. In fact, I have a tentative commitment for 2012! My next job is to fill in the gap between now and then. I think I will be OK - as long as I don’t stop trying.
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.