How Accountants Can Prepare for 2021: a special solo episode with David Cristello

In this special end-of-year episode, David Cristello, Founder & CEO of Jetpack Workflow and host of the Growing Your Firm Podcast, offers his observations of 2020 and predictions for how best to prepare for 2021 as an accounting firm owner.

We’re proud of our community of accountants and financial professionals who have stepped up to serve businesses in need in a hectic year. You have likely had so many curveballs (and a few tornadoes of questions) sent your way, but you’ve made it through another year, stronger than before. The energy you continued to gather up for yourself and your clients has raised the level of small-to-midsize businesses worldwide.

TL;DR: We could not have made it through this year without you.

We hope you’re able to rest and take stock of all that you’ve accomplished. As you reflect on this year and prepare for the next year, we’re sharing three main buckets of your firm that you should secure for a great year in 2021. Read on to learn about each bucket you should be securing, why they’re important, and how to take action on them right away.



  • Bucket 1: Secure a margin of safety for your firm.
    • Think of systems as a way to solve challenges and problems in your business.
  • Bucket 2: Secure opportunities to serve existing and new clients.
    • Ecommerce
    • Additional Financing Options
  • Bucket 3: Secure your own wellness and goals.
    • Make It Easier On Yourself to Stay Focused
    • Schedule Regular CEO Days


Bucket 1: Establish a margin of safety for your firm.

Do you have enough cash on hand to weather a 30-40% drop in your business? Can you establish a line of credit just in case? Consider what finances your firm needs to stay afloat and to keep growing.

Think of systems as a way to solve challenges and problems in your business.

Is there a system, tool, or process that can help you maximize what you currently have? If you’re not already using Jetpack Workflow, you can try it for free for 14 days to automate more and reduce your firm’s overhead costs.

Leverage your time and attention away from adding headcount in your business.

Bucket 2: Seek opportunities to meet the needs of businesses everywhere.

You’ve already been taking on new clients to adjust with the times this year. Here are a couple of areas in which many businesses we anticipate will keep needing you in 2021:


Ecommerce is bigger than ever before thanks to 2020. If these businesses shift into brick-and-mortar or in-person products and services as the world opens back up, they’ll need your firm’s assistance to shift into the right direction and maintain their growth.

Additional Financing Options

PPP loans. Stimulus packages. Small businesses loans. Tax planning (multiple times). Debt relief.

If you heard about it this year, you likely helped a plethora of clients with all of them. Even if 2021 opens back up early on, businesses will still be feeling the pains of 2020 and will want your advice on how to repair any damage and prepare for the possibilities of any more.

Bucket 3: Take care of yourself.

Head’s Up: We might have to be just as nimble in 2021 as we were in 2020.

We’re hoping for the best, and we have a lot of reasons to believe the world will gradually start to look more “normal” like pre-COVID times in the market. But we can’t be sure, and it’s always wise to remain flexible with your plans so you can adjust as you need. Here are our top tips for how to make a plan that works, but that is flexible enough to change as needed.

Make It Easier On Yourself to Stay Focused

If this year taught us nothing else, it taught us to fill our own cup so we can overflow to our employees, colleagues, clients, and loved ones.

How can you cut out the noise to focus on what matters in your business? One way is to reduce or remove the amount of social media, overwhelming amounts of news, etc. that you regularly consume. Stick to the sources of news you trust and need, and the communication channels that are growing your business and filling you up personally and/or professionally.

Pro Tip: If you find that you really miss the news sources and platforms you cut out, you can always return to them. There are no rules except what you establish for yourself to focus on what you want in your firm and in your life.

Schedule Regular CEO Days

We suggest that you schedule time for yourself. You can schedule a CEO Day for yourself once every 4, 6, or 8 weeks (but be smart during busy seasons not to overdo it). On this CEO Day, you can take one day to recharge, think about your business, your blockers and opportunities.

Here are the focuses we recommend for your CEO Day:

Strategize and Plan

This isn’t a PTO day, but it’s not a typical work day either. It’s a day where you get to wear only your CEO hat. Put down your admin, manager, or individual contributor hats. All of those needs can wait for one day while you focus on your business’s strategic goals, your plan to achieve each one, and the opportunities to shift any goals or focus according to the market and times.

Learn and Grow

Catch up on the industry news, research, reading, and education you need to grow as a leader. These resources can help you to reflect on your progress and your own professional goals. How are you doing against your own KPIs as a firm owner, accountant, manager (of yourself if you’re a solopreneur, or of your employees if you have a staff), and in service to your clients?

Example CEO Day Schedule

Ideally, you’ll take one whole day for this work, but if that’s too much for your current workload, start with one morning. Mark it on your calendar and make it clear for your staff and clients to know that this is the time you have dedicated to making your business and services better for everyone involved.

Here’s an example of a short morning schedule you can try out until you have more time to spend for the whole day. If you usually start your day at 7 a.m., here’s how you can spend it for your CEO Day, abridged version:

  • 7 a.m. Pick up your favorite drink from your local coffee shop. Come back to your office to read for an hour. Jot down notes, and think about big questions.
  • 8 a.m. Move your body in the way that you enjoy most. For David, it’s jogging around his neighborhood. If weather permits, get some fresh air and any sunshine you can find. Or keep up your streak on the virtual workout classes you’ve been mastering in 2020. Use this time to let your mind process these big questions, whether consciously or unconsciously.
  • 9 a.m. Map out your priorities for the following month.

In fact, this could be your morning schedule as often as you’d like! But if you can only afford these few hours to yourself once every month or so, make sure that you stick to it as you would a meeting with your team or your clients.

May 2021 be your best year yet!

If you’ve been enjoying our Growing Your Firm Podcast, please rate our show and leave us a review. These ratings and reviews help more accounting firm owners like you to find our show. It only takes a minute, and we’d really appreciate it!

Unfamiliar with how to rate and review? Here’s a handy how-to video for Apple Podcasts, made by one of our favorite guests, Michelle Weinstein.

See Jetpack Worflow In Action

Get under the hood of Jetpack Workflow’s accounting workflow and project management platform. See some of the top features and how it helps your firm standardize, automate, and track client work more efficiently.

When was the last time you took a vacation? Not just a long holiday weekend where you peel away from the action to take client calls or check emails. I’m talking about a prolonged amount of time away from your business and as unplugged from notifications, email, and messages as possible.

Taking time for you to relax and recharge is an investment into your firm’s future growth. Making this a priority can help you grow your business, enjoy your success, and stay at your best. 

In this article, we break down exactly what you need to do to take a vacation and actually rest easy. No more frantic emails or calls from your team or clients while you’re on questionable cell service or WiFi. Our goal for this post: Give you the tools to confidently put that OOO message in your email.

Why Taking a Break is Critical for Accounting Firm Owners to Avoid Burnout

Taking a break is important for anyone, but it’s especially important if you own your own firm. You see, many firm owners find it hard to separate their businesses from their personal identities. But this separation is critical if they want to maintain a sense of personal time outside their work time. 

What Is Taking a Break When You Own Your Own Business?

Taking a break when you own a business means setting boundaries and not feeling guilty. You don’t have to hustle 24/7 to reap the benefits of success. In fact, improving your work-life balance is key to overall wellbeing. Remember, a rested mind is a sharper mind.

A few ways you can help yourself take a break:

  • Use time-blocking and double down on time management.
  • Delegate or cross-train key processes and responsibilities to trusted employees to allow for back-ups when you need to take time off.
  • Automate business processes for the team and your own work where it makes sense, including e-signatures on contracts, scheduling time on your calendar, and sharing your access view in key programs.
  • Effectively communicate your out of office plans with your team ahead of time.

Benefits of Taking Time Off as an Entrepreneur

When you take a break as an entrepreneur, you’re giving yourself permission to rest and breathe. Taking regular breaks allows you to replenish your energy levels and your creativity. They also provide you with a healthy work-life balance, which will make you more likely to love your business and stick with it in the long run instead of growing to hate it. 

How to Finally Take a Break from Your Business Without Losing a Cent in 4 Steps

Here’s how you can finally take a break from your business, without losing revenue. I promise you that it’s possible.  

1. Take Your Vacation Days

This is one of those moments when you’ll want to treat your business the same way you’d treat a 9-5: If you have a designated number of vacation days in a year, take them. It’s likely you’ve factored your vacation time into your take-home pay with your accountant or bookkeeper, so use that time.

Since you own your own business, you will have to set these vacation days yourself, and that’s okay. Take a calendar and chart out the best times to take a specific number of vacation days for yourself. Then, go ahead and take that time off. Preparing ahead of time can ensure a smooth transition and encourage you to take vacation more often in the future.

2. Set Normal Business Hours (and Actually Stick to Them)

This may be difficult, especially if you’re used to an always-on mindset. But keeping regular business hours can help you form a separation between work and your life outside of it.

Once you clock out for the day, switch off your email notifications, and try not to check them again until you clock in the next morning. They’ll still be there in the morning! If you get a lot of instant messages and texts, it might be worth turning off notifications for those, too. You can always go into your texting app when you feel ready to talk — instead of feeling the urge to immediately answer a message flashing across your screen at off-work hours.  

3. Take Breaks During the Workday

Keep a regular lunch hour and block it off on your calendar. Do your best not to schedule meetings during it. Use the time not just to eat lunch, but also to read a book or watch some TV. Use this time as a part of your day when you have built-in room to unwind. 

4. Delegate and Automate Key Tasks and Responsibilities

Yes, this step is key. Establishing a backup protocol and cross-training should be built into your business processes already. It’s also important to establish this type of work well before you go on vacation to work out any kinks. Test your team members as backups leading up to a long vacation for best results. As you start to scale your team’s work, you stop being a bottleneck and can focus on growing your firm when you get back to work.

Taking a Vacation Made Easier with a Firm Management Software

It can be physically painful to take yourself out of the loop of the business you built so carefully — even for just a few days. But, the wellbeing of you and your company overall outweigh the need to be on-call at all times and days of the year. Recharging your brain cells and reconnecting with loved ones and your own passions can have real benefits to your business and those on your team, including improved productivity, efficiency, and happier employees.
Try Jetpack Workflow free for 14 days, and begin the process to set yourself up for some well-deserved time off. By automating processes of your firm, you can take yourself and key team members out of the loop of project management so everyone can focus on getting the work DONE and growing your firm.

See Jetpack Worflow In Action

Get under the hood of Jetpack Workflow’s accounting workflow and project management platform. See some of the top features and how it helps your firm standardize, automate, and track client work more efficiently.

You *know* time is money, right? If you haven’t heard that yet, as a business owner you’ve likely felt it on a very real level. The less time you spend on getting new business in the door, adding on to existing business, or finding top talent is time wasted on less important tasks that could be delegated, automated, or planned for upfront. 

Why Effective Time Management Helps Grow Your Firm

As you begin to expand your team and start picking what type of work you will and will not do, you start to learn where you should spend your time and what gets you the most bang for your buck with your team (and their best work). All of those things require time, and you have just as many hours in a day as everyone else. Where you can differentiate yourself from other accounting firms is your process and your service — all directly tied to you and your team’s time in a week.

So, if you’re trying to find ways to improve your time management skills, we break down exactly what it is, determine if you need to improve it, and how to implement a better way of managing your time. 

What Is Time Management?

Time management is a set of related tasks and fail-safes you build into your workday and your employees’ standard operating procedures to get work done efficiently and effectively. Effective time management consists of making repeatable, predictable tasks and workflows automated through process, procedures, and possibly a few special tools. 

Time management tools can include your:

  • Business and personal calendar
  • A time-tracking tool or system
  • A project management or workflow software
  • Standard operating procedures for recurring client tasks and work
  • Communication tools for email, project collaboration, video or phone conference calling, and instant messaging

Once you identify the tools and processes you and your team will use to get work done, you can start to implement effective time management practices into your business.

5 Signs You Have Poor Time Management Skills

Finding your way on this blog may mean you have more than an inkling your time management skills aren’t up to snuff. To be an effective firm owner, you need to balance your and your team’s time like any other resource. However in this case, time cannot be returned if wasted! 

After talking with dozens of accounting firm owners, we know the importance of learning the signs of poor time management before it’s too late to fix the problem, and you’re losing money, clients, or valuable team members as a result. 

Here’s a quick list of our top signs:

  1. The same handful of to-do items fall off your list consistently, such as marketing or working on your own financial strategy.
  2. You and your team are missing deadlines on client work.
  3. Your team is burned out from overwork or working on administrative headaches.
  4. You don’t feel in control of your own schedule or work.
  5. There are fire drills almost every day that cause priorities and resources to shift.

Now that we know the signs of poor time management, we outline the steps you need to take to fix this problem. As a result, the benefits of time management solve these common problems.

How to Implement Time Management into Your Daily Work in 6 Steps

Getting better at time management and implementing best practices into your daily work are two entirely different sentiments. If you’re really ready to get better at managing your growing client work and expanding team — while also taking some time off for yourself — take these time management steps and take back control of your day.

Step 1: Keep a to-do list. (Or five.)

Your to-do lists should vary based on when you want to achieve certain goals. Of course, bigger, more strategic goals will take more time. But by assigning a spot on the calendar, you have a point to focus your energy in the way that gives you a better handle on a project when it’s in a tool with a process flow versus a red row on an Excel spreadsheet.

Here are five to-do lists you can create to get started:

  • Daily to-do list: Assign times of the day to complete them within your calendar of choice. Doing these lists at the tail-end of the workday can help prevent your mind from racing at night coming up with your list instead of sleeping or enjoying time offline.

Examples: Update search query in LinkedIn Sales Navigator to find 2 key decision makers at X type of business, or gather summaries of benefits from medical, dental, and vision insurance brokers for the employee handbook.

  • Weekly to-do list: Put these larger goals on the Sunday of each week on your calendar (otherwise, it stays blank or gets filled with tasks that don’t align with your priorities) and check them off as they’re completed with smaller tasks throughout the week.

Examples: Write personalized messages in LinkedIn to 10 key decision makers at X type of business or make a list of all the systems a new employee must be added to or trained.

  • Monthly goals: This can be a note on your calendar month in a planner, desk calendar, whiteboard, or post-it note. 

Examples: Get 3 meetings with key decision makers at X type of business or create an employee handbook for new hires.

  • Quarterly goals: Same as above. However, these can be baked into your calendar for marketing or sales to help meet revenue goals overall.

Examples: Get another client just like XYZ Company or hire a manager for your staff.

  • Annual goals: These can be big, hairy goals that remind you why you decided to start your own firm all over again. The end of the calendar year or end of tax season (if there is one) is a great time to make these goals.

Examples: Start offering package services to streamline your service offerings and business processes or take a month off to travel with your family next summer. 

Step 2: Schedule time to think, grow, and take a break.

Taking time for your self-care extends beyond your own health and well-being. As a firm owner, your team relies on you to be at your best. If you’re not prioritizing your own care with lunch breaks, walks or physical activity, and time to unwind, you’re putting yourself and the operations of your business at risk. 

Pro Tip: Assign company-wide quiet hours to help you and your teammates do the same with limited company-induced distractions. Encourage your team to use the time to focus on goals, deep work like process improvement or account growth, or simply take a break from communications.

Step 3: Delegate tasks to your team.

The difference between an accountant with subcontractors and a CEO is delegation. Hire your team to help carry the weight of client work. The part you should control is the overall process of getting work done, as well as determining how you’d do the work multiple times over to scale your business offerings. As you add more team members (and responsibility), revise your processes to include new roles and responsibilities for the team. One area you can delegate or outsource is your firm’s finances.

Step 4: Plan your quarter, month, week, and day ahead.

By breaking your days, weeks, and months into smaller task lists, you make small steps toward multiple goals at once and over time. Additionally, by blocking time on your calendar each day for key tasks that ladder up to a weekly or monthly goal helps you organize your thoughts and each day much more easily. Plus, imagine how good it feels to see all the work completed on your calendar at the end of the month! 

(Side note: Jetpack Workflow has a Done Report, so you can get that feeling any time you want.)

Step 5: Prioritize work – not everything is a priority.

Think about your accounting firm like an assembly line. If one piece of the process gets backed up, it has cascading impacts on the next steps. This means you need to get your arms around how you intake and delegate work and assign steps in the process that will make your firm work like a well oiled machine.

Step 6: Remember to build in time for missteps.

Mistakes happen. And in the service industry, you’re depending on an entirely infallible workforce and human-generated information to get important work done. 

There will be unexpected priorities, someone calling off sick or taking leave, or a glitch in your process when onboarding new employees and clients. By building in a buffer on your timelines, such as setting deadlines in your project management tracker a day before the due date to the client, it can help set you and your team up for success while meeting your client’s expectations at the same time. It’s something we like to call workflow excellence.

Managing Your Time Made Easier with a Firm Management Software

There are never too many hours in a week, but there may be too many fire drills. As a firm owner, you need to guard the time of you and your team like the precious, non-returnable asset that it is. 
Try Jetpack Workflow free for 14 days, and add hours of time back into your workday. With more time, you can grow your business, empower your employees, and enjoy some much-needed downtime to refresh yourself to help you do your best work every, single day.

See Jetpack Worflow In Action

Get under the hood of Jetpack Workflow’s accounting workflow and project management platform. See some of the top features and how it helps your firm standardize, automate, and track client work more efficiently.

An IIT graduate, Kishna Pendyala is currently the Founder and Chief Empowerment Officer of Choice Ladder. He previously worked with congressional representative Tim Ryan at the Mindful Nation Foundation, which offers wellness services for Veterans and their family, education, and healthcare. He’s had a very diverse career from founding technology companies to being a COO and coach at a financial firm. 

In this edition of the Grow Your Firm podcast, we’re replaying Krishna’s session at the Lift Customer Conference, held earlier this year. In this talk, Krishna focuses on ways in which we can bring mindfulness and awareness into various sectors of the workforce.



  • A Metaphorical Experience
  • VUCA
  • The Great Escape: Unplugging
  • Lifespace Reconciliation


A Metaphorical Experience

One day, Krishna went to a lake with his wife. They were having dinner in the evening, sitting close to the exhaust fan. Suddenly they noticed another couple dart away from their table, which was, of course, odd.

Krishna’s senses piqued, and he heard a faint voice saying, “Help, Help! Can anyone hear me?” With the permission of his wife, he went to investigate the source of the cry. A gentleman who had earlier left the table had reached the man who was seeking help, as he was flailing in the lake after having fallen off of his boat. 

The other couple who had left eventually returned, and Krishna inquired what had happened. The man who had fallen was working on the motor of his boat when he leaned on an unsecure railing. The railing broke, and he fell into the water. The man was holding onto the lid of the motor, which filled up with water, and he could not get out of the lake. 

There are several metaphorical insights to glean from this experience. There were several other options the man could have taken, such as letting go of the motor and returning to the scene to retrieve it another day, for the water was shallow enough to make the option possible. Of course, we also have to consider how much this year was believed to be stable, only to realize how feeble it actually is just like the railing. The prevailing theme of 2020 seems to be “Help, Help, can anyone hear me?!” 


Our ability to reason is a hallmark of progress, a gift from historical periods of Enlightenment. However, in the shadow of panic, all of such reasoning goes out the window because of fear. In April 2020, Krishna provided tips on how to navigate uncertainty and set priorities so that a business may overcome the pandemic.

However, he emphasises that we were never truly in a state of “balance.” In matter of fact, Krishna asserts that balance is near impossible to achieve. Instead, he says that we are always in VUCA times. With technology at our fingertips more than ever, Krishna describes society’s current style of living as:

  1. Volatile
  2. Uncertain
  3. Complex
  4. Ambiguous 

Tony Robbins once said, “Where attention goes, energy flows.” In a similar sense, Krishna explains that because we are so fixated on the object of our panic, or even the state of panic itself, we are constantly on high alert at all times. “We are depleting…energy,” he says, “much more than we probably even realize. We don’t have a gas gauge to tell how much energy we have.”

Krishna double downs on this point. If you are depleted of energy from the previous day, how well are you going to perform the following day? Furthermore, how will the quality of decisions be affected by fear and panic? During periods of stress that trigger the freeze, fight, or flight response, one should take a time-out before acting rashly, allowing the mind to cool down.

The Great Escape: Unplugging

Media can often contribute to the drain and panic but so can work and cellphone use. In modern days, many of us work hard in anticipation for their break; however, our break is seldom ever used to rejuvenate our minds. Instead, we shift our attention to a new subject of addition, usually our cell phone. 

It’s not just enough to limit cell phone use. Krishna says, “I have gotten rid of my devices. I’ve turned off all notifications. I go look at it only when I want to. And weekends, they’re totally off simply because that’s the only way I can limit.” We have to look at how to protect our mind from certain kinds of information. Thus, taking exceptional care of communication practices to limit the quality of information coming into the mind is pivotal to redirecting one’s attention and energy into meaningful spaces.

Lifespace Reconciliation

As we negotiate how we engage in our spaces, it is worth reiterating that work-life balance—or any balance at all—is nearly impossible. The average person sleeps between 6 to 8 hours per day (if they’re able to do so) and works up to 12 hours per day. This does not leave much time for a personal life. To make things a little more complicated, life shifts and changes shape differently for everyone, so instead of a work-life balance, Krishna encourages “lifespace reconciliation.” Krishna has identified 6 lifespaces in his book Beyond the PIG and the APE:

  1. The Self
  2. Your Partner
  3. Your Friends, which includes relatives and community
  4. Your work
  5. Your money
  6. Your kids, pets, parents etc.

Often, people try to interact in each of these spaces every day. “In accounting, you might say, I want to reconcile balance or reconcile my books every so often. And you can define that time period in life spaces. You can do the same, but it can be a different time period for each lifespace for yourself,” Krishna explains. 

A working person with teenage kids, like Krishna, is less likely to engage in a lot of spare time with their children than another person who may have to care for younger kids. A person who focuses on work and family may have a weaker lifespace for friendships. Krishna explains that there is a time, or a season if you will, to cultivate each of these lifespaces, and the key is being able to give each space its due diligence at the right time.
There was a lot of valuable information in the presentation, and we encourage you to listen to the podcast or watch the video recap. Krishna is always trying to enrich the lives of those around him, and he has offered a free infographic for boosting your energy by replenishing your immune system. To receive this infographic, text the word VALUES to the number 233777.

See Jetpack Worflow In Action

Get under the hood of Jetpack Workflow’s accounting workflow and project management platform. See some of the top features and how it helps your firm standardize, automate, and track client work more efficiently.

Who’s ready for 2021?

It’s been tough to navigate daily life in such ways as strategizing where to find a bag of flour and when to schedule non-emergent doctor appointments. Let alone running a thriving CPA firm and completing your daily workload!

That’s why we’ve done the dirty work of compiling a list of changes to tax law that impact small businesses and a step-by-step list to keep yourself on-track when it comes to your own business’ taxes.

Consider These New Tax Laws for Small Businesses When Filing Your Firm’s 2020 Taxes

We can’t not talk about the COVID-19 global pandemic. (Sorry, but the effects will last for quite some time. Even in accounting.) In May 2020, Congress issued relief to US consumers and businesses alike by issuing stimulus payments to individual taxpayers and loans to aid small businesses negatively impacted by lockdown measures. 

With these funds, there were additional and complementary adjustments to the tax code (including extensions for filing taxes during the 2020 year for 2019 filings).

This list is a quick snapshot of history for small businesses in 2020. So whether you’re still working on explaining these programs and laws to your clients, or didn’t have clients that fit the bill, we wanted to capture them all in one place.

Here are just a few of the COVID-19 tax changes for you to consider for yourself and your clients as you approach April 2021:

Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)

You’ve likely already reviewed this program exhaustively with your clients this year. But in case your clients didn’t ask, apply, or qualify, here’s a quick recap. The PPP emergency loan program was one of the largest parts of The CARES Act that included tax relief and funds to both individuals and eligible small businesses. This loan can be forgiven if at least 60% of the loan was used to pay employees wages and payroll costs. Forgiven loans are tax-exempt with a few exclusions.

PPP Flexibility Act

This law was passed shortly after the PPP loan program was released within The CARES Act. Key adjustments were made to allow more flexibility in PPP loan approvals, such as allowing a business recipient of a PPP forgiven loan to take advantage of the payroll tax deferrals within the CARES law.

Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program (EIDL)

This program existed prior to the coronavirus pandemic to allow for assistance to businesses during a disaster through the Small Business Administration (SBA). In light of the pandemic and prolonged lockdown in much of the country, EIDL was adjusted to make disaster funds more readily available.

Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC)

Businesses that did not receive or apply for the PPP Loan Program may be eligible for the Employee Retention Tax Credit. In an effort to protect jobs of small businesses and incentivize small business owners to keep employees on their payroll, this tax credit can account for up to 50% of qualifying employee wages with payment up to $10,000 per employee.

How to Prepare for Tax Season All Year Round in 7 Simple Steps

Tax season comes with dreary April showers, but it doesn’t have to be that way. As an accounting firm owner, you tell your clients day-in and day-out not to procrastinate on their taxes. So, here’s a taste of your own medicine. 

Your firm’s taxes need to be a priority. Here are seven (7) easy steps to do just that:

Step 1: Mark your calendar to spend time on your taxes each month and quarter at minimum.

If it’s not on my calendar, it’s not happening. Whether you choose to use a trendy Erin Condren paper day planner or entrust Google with your minute-by-minute happenings in and outside of your business, there’s a way to keep yourself on task for important items like financial planning with little to no effort. 

Choose a day each month and quarter to spend on your finances and tax planning, and stick to it. Mark your calendar with details to complete the following tasks and prioritize your small business finances regularly:

  • Research new tax laws in the news from media outlets and accounting websites.
  • Review your profit and loss statements, as well as other financial reports.
  • Record your receipts and save them digitally with your bookkeeper and backup on your own computer.
  • Review employee records or check with your HR rep(s) to ensure documentation is up-to-date.

Step 2: Hire a bookkeeper to handle daily transactions.

There’s a notable difference between a bookkeeper, accountant, and tax strategist in both responsibilities and work output, as well as purpose. To have all of your bases covered truly, make sure each area of responsibility is covered by the resources you do hire and whether or not you hire a separate employee or consultant for each role.

In some cases, you may find a tax strategist that enjoys balancing your ledger or an organizational marvel in your accountant that also keeps meticulous records of your receipts and daily expenses. However you split the work, be sure to cover the daily, minute tasks of bookkeeping outside of your own workset. If you stay in the weeds of your business, you’ll never level-up to the CEO of your dream CPA firm. In fact, we wrote about hiring these critical roles for your firm in another recent blog post.

Step 3: Sign-up for webinars or listen to podcasts.

It’s so much more fun to listen to a podcast about how to make a roller coaster or the latest conspiracy theories. We get it. But podcasts can be really helpful tools for finding very specific information about a topic, like the current small business tax rate or how COVID-19 relief impacts your personal pay. 

Webinars and podcasts tailored to accounting firms or small business owners are invaluable resources to tap into regularly. Sandwich a few tax-related episodes between your regularly scheduled podcasting entertainment, and you’ll accrue a solid investment into your tax knowledge.

Step 4: Assign tasks to your team.

Yep, that’s right! This is a great opportunity to delegate work to your team members so you can focus on your business strategy and the big picture of your business’ tax position. Gathering forms, inputting data, and holding valuable information (receipts, expenses, and forms) in a secure, cloud-based environment are perfect reasons to employ a workflow software. Add a team member to these tasks, and you’ll be able to rest easy as completed work and file folders are done for you.

Pro tip: Add a new workflow template in your Jetpack Workflow account to manage your own processes related to your firm’s finances and tax forms. 

Step 5: Establish business processes for tax form completion.

Tax forms are important and incredibly tedious when done en masse. Building tax form completion into standard operating procedures only benefits you and your firm. 

A few common tax forms for business owners to process include:

  • Form 940: Complete this form to report your Federal Unemployment Tax Act for your employees.
  • Form 941/Schedule B: Only one form is required to complete this form for all federal income and other payroll taxes, but you need to file this quarterly with the IRS.
  • Form 1040/Schedule C: This form is used for sole proprietors to report on their business’ profit or losses for the tax year. If not a sole proprietor, keep reading.
  • Form 1099: This form is completed for independent contractors and freelancers you may hire for your business.
  • W-2: Complete this form and distribute to your employees each year. They use this form to complete their personal income tax returns each year.
  • W-4: This form is completed by your employees. You typically gather this form upon hiring along with other employment paperwork.
  • Schedule SE: This form is used by business owners to report on their income as a self-employed business owner and calculate their Social Security and Medicare taxes on their self-employed income.

Pro Tip: If you don’t have a Jetpack Workflow account yet, download our 32 free workflow templates to save you time from creating your own workflows for each of these forms!

Step 6: Hire an expert you trust.

Although we’ve talked to hundreds of accountants and firm owners, we are far from tax experts. When it comes to your firm’s tax strategy, invest in another expert’s time and attention on your finances to not only complete your tax returns but also set your firm up for success in the short and long term.

Step 7: Save and organize your receipts in batches.

As part of Step 1 above, you need to ensure that you manage and store your receipts for business expenses in a consistent manner. Work with your tax adviser to establish a process and schedule so you’re not scanning hundreds of receipts on April 14th.

New Tax Laws for Businesses Made Easier with Practice Management Software

There’s a lot to juggle as a small business owner, from employee management to client work and keeping the lights on, to name a few. It’s important to take ownership of your business’ tax position as if it were your own client. Of course, that doesn’t mean you should be crunching the numbers yourself. Delegate the tasks to an expert you trust, but stay on top of the topics throughout the year.
Try Jetpack Workflow free for 14 days, and assign tasks to key team members throughout the year to review tax laws and deductions for you. Once you’ve automated the tasks in your workflow software, you’ll rest easy knowing you’ve handled your own small business taxes ahead of time.

See Jetpack Worflow In Action

Get under the hood of Jetpack Workflow’s accounting workflow and project management platform. See some of the top features and how it helps your firm standardize, automate, and track client work more efficiently.



  • Meyer Tax Consulting
  • F.O.R.E.V.E.R.


Meyer Tax, The Concierge CPA

Jackie has been a firm owner of Meyer Tax Consulting for a decade, more recently established the Certified Concierge Accountant program for tax planners, and just released a tax planning app called TaxPlanIQ™. She converted her firm to value pricing around tax strategies approx 2016 and later became a speaker and a coach from that success. Her effective leadership has been proven through a survey she conducted that compared her firm to others in the industry.

The results of the survey revealed an average rating of 9.4 for her firm, which translates to an NPS score of 81. To put this into perspective, the average accounting industry score is 24. So 81 exceptional! How did she do it?

Jackie explains that the key to such success is keeping her clients as her fans, using the F.O.R.E.V.E.R. method.


Jackie says that F.O.R.E.V.E.R. is the most concise way to share the lessons she’s learned along the way during her transition from a traditional tax firm over to a concierge CPA practice. In the talk she gave at our first Cloud Accounting Summit, she breaks down what this acronym means and how to use it to retain your clients.

F is for Fit

One size does not fit all in tax and accounting. You have to deliver the right product for the right client to maximize retention. The key is to find a niche you love and excel in that niche.

To do this, identify the clients you love to work with and why. Next, make sure that your best practices revolve around serving the needs of those favorite clients. Jackie explains that this was one of the key tactics she did in 2016 when she converted her firm from hourly to value pricing

Most people stop at figuring out the people with whom they want to work. Jackie takes it a step further, advising us to identify our favorite clients’ ideal persona. She says, “Just like I interview a new staff member for being hungry, humble, and smart. I interview potential clients to be respectful, a kind person, and tech savvy.” These qualities act as qualifiers for potential clients.

O is for Outstanding

Next, figure out in what areas you are outstanding, and identify your competitive advantages as a firm. Sometimes it may help to find a coach to aid in realizing where your strengths lie. Jackie’s business coach, Chuck Bauer, helped her realize how to differentiate herself from other firms. Here are a few ways that Meyers Tax Consulting outperforms its competitors:

  • Offer 24-7 emergency access. 
  • Have an ROI on tax strategies. 
  • Deliver video and recorded communication that clients can watch any time. 
  • Aid clients in managing their entire estate and financial teams.
  • Use state-of-the-art technology like Jetpack Workflow.

Meyers Tax Consulting also offers free pickup and delivery scanning services for local clients. Make a list about what makes your firm different from the rest. Highlight what’s unique, as even the small things will add up. When in doubt, get feedback by asking your clients what they appreciate about you and your firm.

R for Resource

Be accountable to your clients, and have someone at your firm assigned and dedicated to their needs. As president and founder of her firm, Jackie had to let go of being the client’s manager for every relationship. Many CPAs and leaders in the industry have type-A personalities, so the temptation of being a control freak in the shadow of perfection is very high.

However, in order to guide the business and maintain a leadership role, it’s simply not possible to manage every single interaction. Instead, use your resources, tax staff and project managers, to work with your clients.

To reduce the fear you might have about this, use workflows to standardize the work. For instance, be sure that your staff adheres to your company values and policies, like answering emails and phone calls within 24 hours, by making it a requirement.  Take it up a notch by establishing these values and policies as key performance indicators (KPIs) that you measure with your team.

E is for Empathy

Tax accountants understand that we’ve become immune to that hair-on-fire feeling when an IRS letter arrives. This can translate into a perceived lack of empathy to the worries of our clients. The ability to make our services “human” can become a significant attribute when value pricing as opposed to hourly pricing.

While you may be familiar with IRS processes, the client, on the other hand, isn’t. Instead, support them through their worries, and show that you’re more than just a number cruncher. Jackie says, “Send sorrowful condolences when [they experience a loss]. Work through their fears, by training them to understand there aren’t really that many true accounting and tax emergencies. Mail them handwritten notes; say happy birthday.”

V is for Valuable

Can you show your client their return on investment in you and in your firm? When developing tax strategies or outsourcing CFO work, any consultative service, you can easily estimate a cash value for that service.

For example, Meyer Tax Consulting won’t work with a client if they can’t find at least 200% return on investment upfront in its tax strategies. Jackie explains, “We point that out during our work, and we review that year to year with a client. It’s way too costly, otherwise, to waste each other’s time.”

E is for Engaging

Be someone a client wants to be around. Regulate your emotions, and put on your game face. A client meeting or a webinar isn’t the time to vent your frustrations. Instead, find the passion you have, and project that outward towards your clients. Jackie expressed that she does whatever she can to add joyfulness and positivity with both her clients and her staff.

This also means being personable and remembering that clients and employees are human too. When you come across a helpful article, send it to them. During the pandemic, Meyer Tax Consulting offered free virtual town halls weekly for clients to ask all those pressing questions that are pretty repetitive about PPP. One client after the meeting expressed confidence that they will be okay.

R is for Revolutionary

Michael McQueen, one of the keynote speakers at QuickBooks Connect last year said, “Think revolution, not evolution.” Jackie explains that there is a time and place for this kind of thinking, but several small firms may not have the resources or support to make that revolutionary move. However, receiving coaching can aid in reevaluating processes and holding firms accountable for positive change, eventually leading to revolution. 

There was a lot of valuable information in her presentation that didn’t make it to the show notes, so watch the presentation to glean more knowledge! If you would like to connect with Jackie, visit her website at, fill out the three-minute application form, and schedule a one-on-one appointment. You can also join her free Facebook group called Accounting Firm Influencers.

Share your biggest learnings from this episode and from the rest of the summit, using #cloudaccountingsummit on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter!

See Jetpack Worflow In Action

Get under the hood of Jetpack Workflow’s accounting workflow and project management platform. See some of the top features and how it helps your firm standardize, automate, and track client work more efficiently.