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Staff or Automate? How to Build Out Your Tax Prep Business

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Whether you’ve been preparing tax returns as a side job for years or are just getting started, you've decided the time has come to grow your operation.

But how? The world of hiring, staffing, and automation is huge. Where do you even begin?

Start with the tax preparation life cycle

We’ve been working with tax professionals for years, and we’ve identified a simple five-step cycle for the tax preparation process:

  • Document Gathering
  • Organization and data entry
  • E-filing
  • Document storage
  • Client communication and return delivery

  • Each different step in the cycle has its own needs and challenges. When you operate the entire tax-prep service on your own, you’re responsible for each step in the process.

    To grow in a way that is sustainable, you have to start delegating different parts of this five-step cycle. You will still be involved, of course; however, now is the time to decide what that involvement looks like and design your ideal workflow.

    Identify your strengths, weaknesses, and ideal workflow

    Looking at the list above, certain steps may immediately appeal to you (or make you want to go back to bed). 

    Some preparers may want to delegate every item except the actual e-filing process. Others may shine on the interpersonal steps and enjoy the process of communicating with clients.

    As you look at the tax-prep life cycle, identify your strengths and weaknesses–and take time to daydream about your ideal workflow.

    Do you want to reduce your working hours to spend more time with friends or family? Would you like to use tax preparation as a form of outreach for marginalized groups? How much do you want to budget towards growing your business or hiring help? Answering these kinds of questions will help you identify your staffing and automation needs.

    Look for ways to automate

    We’ve finally arrived at the point in the process where we can start answering the question, “Should I staff or automate?”

    Why not both?

    Your first stop should be automation software; it's easier (and often less expensive) than hiring an employee or independent contractor. 

    Going back to our life-cycle list, which items could an automated system handle?

    Gruntworx, for instance, takes the organization and data entry process off your plate. We help you convert paper documents to searchable PDFs, directly scan those documents into your e-filing software, and more. 

    Once you’ve identified your ideal workflow and the automated software you’d like to use, it’s time to look at what’s left–and how to fill the gaps with new hires.

    Build your staff to meet remaining needs

    How you hire additional persons depends a lot on the type of needs left to address. 

    You might not need to hire an employee if you simply need someone to run your marketing campaigns. That said, you might want to hire someone if you need a public face for your business, or someone trustworthy to handle the actual e-filing.

    Boiling it all down

    Since you’ve narrowed down the list of needs by delegating work between yourself and automated software, now you have more direction for staffing your business.

    We at Gruntworx hope that we can be a part of your plan to turn your tax preparation business into the ideal system you’ve visualized. 

    To learn more about how we can serve your organization and data entry needs, head over to our Products page for a full breakdown.

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