Accountants are notoriously busy during tax time, and if you primarily focus on tax return prep, you are likely to be slow for the rest of the year. Consider using that time effectively with the following tips.
Focus on Unpaid Work
When you’re a freelance accountant, billable hours are only part of what you do. In most cases, you also need to put in a lot of unpaid hours to keep your business afloat. Consider devoting extra time to those tasks during your seasonal slowdown so you’re ready for next year’s busy season. In particular, devote time to marketing. For instance, develop a social media strategy, and consider using an app that lets you schedule posts. With the right tools, you can set up a year’s worth of posts during the slow season. Also, look for opportunities to get your name out there in other ways. For example, offer to write a guest blog for a website with a lot of traffic or a post for a financial magazine. You can book some public speaking engagements or offer to teach a personal finance class at the local community center.
Similarly, you may want to use the slow season to organize your own finances, clean your office, touch base with clients about next year, or deal with any other tasks that you couldn’t get to during the busy season.
Find More Paid Work
It can be stressful to have all your work clustered in just one part of the year. To avoid that in future years, you may want to spend some of the slow season finding more work. For example, find business clients who use a fiscal year that doesn’t match the calendar year. They have different due dates for their tax returns, and that helps spread the work around.
Also consider branching out from tax prep work. Can you offer bookkeeping services to local businesses? Are there additional services such as advisory services you can offer your existing clients? Use the slow season to develop a list of potential options and start marketing those services to new and existing clients.
Continue Your Professional Development
As an accountant, you have to log a certain number of professional development hours every year. Take care of those requirements during the slow season. You may want to take classes online or enrol in CPD courses in person. Also, consider attending seminars, conventions, or networking events to expand your knowledge base.
Rest and Relax
You aren’t a machine, and you need breaks to avoid burnout. Try to set aside money during the busy times so you can rest and relax during the slow time. Depending on your budget and your schedule, you may want to take a vacation during this time, or just take a break from work and focus on your family.
If you make the most of the slow time, you’ll be better poised to deal with the busy time when it comes up next year. There’s no right or wrong answer for how to be the most effective during the slow time. Ultimately, you have to figure out what works best for you, your finances, and your personal and professional objectives.