FINDING LUCK IN ALL THE RIGHT PLACES
How Hard Work and Serendipity Combined to Grow My Practice
Do you believe in luck? With St. Patrick’s Day right around the corner, there’s been a lot of talk of “luck of the Irish” floating around, and I’ve found myself looking back over my life and wondering, “Just how much of that was luck?” Overall, I think I’m a pretty lucky guy. I’ve been able to do what I wanted with my life, and I’ve had great opportunities. How many people can say they’ve been a golf course turfgrass manager, an owner-operator truck driver, and an accounting and tax resolution specialist and found success at all three? Add in having kids on top of that, and I’ve been able to cram a lot of dreams into one life. That said, I wouldn’t have been able to do all of those things without putting in some hard work, too. Changing careers twice wasn’t easy, and being a dad certainly has its challenges. Mulling it all over, I’ve decided that I do believe in luck but with one caveat: In order to find that luck, you have to get yourself into a place to receive it. Here’s a prime example. Back in 2013, when I was looking to expand my business, I attended a tax seminar for some continuing education. In a stroke of luck, during one of the lectures, a guy in the front row stood up, announced that he wanted to sell his practice and gave his phone number out to the crowd, asking anyone who was interested in buying to give him a call. I wrote the number down and as soon as the lecture was over, I called him. We ended up meeting, and even though he had four or five big CPA firms on the hook to buy his business, too, he picked me! We even worked out a payment structure that meant I didn’t have to give him any cash up front, which made the buying process much easier for me. Taking on his clients was a huge boost to my firm, and I’d say I still have 85% of them today. Now, some people would say that whole thing was luck of the draw, but I know my hard work put me in the position to receive that luck. If I weren’t dedicated to learning as much about the IRS and tax law as I could, I wouldn’t have been at that seminar, and if I weren’t good at what I do, the guy selling his business never would have trusted me with his clients. Most important of all, I took a risk and shook on the deal, and if I hadn’t, the luck never would have materialized.
I’ve seen the same type of thing work for my clients: Once they make the move to hire me and open up about their tax problems — in other words, once they put in the work — the luck follows. One of my past clients won big by doing this. When he sought me out for tax resolution help, the state of Wisconsin was claiming he owed them $980,000, and when he tried to talk them down, going back and forth with the state agent, his debt rose to over $1 million! As soon as he hired me, I discovered the massive inflation the state had put on his debt was because of estimated tax projections for past years tax returns he had never filed. After a lot of hard work preparing income tax and sales tax returns for 12 years and some negotiation, I was able to get what he owed down to just $38,000. To people on the outside, it might have seemed like he got lucky, but the real deciding factor was that he stopped sticking his head in the sand and sought me out. I suppose the moral of this story is that if you want to get lucky, you need to take some initiative to get the ball rolling. In my experience, drive and ambition are better lucky leprechauns than the little guys in green! Paul Francetic
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