We are now knee-deep in tax season. Oh joy. When I realized this, it got me thinking about the first time I ever made use of off-shouldering.
“Off-shouldering” is a phrase that long-term Appraiser Coach followers have probably heard me use many times. For the uninitiated, it is a pretty literal term! It simply means getting something off your shoulders, and on to someone else’s. It’s something that took me a long time to get into, but – once I did – it made my business more efficient and more effective than ever before.
My journey towards off-shouldering salvation began nearly a decade ago, when tax season was approaching. I did my own taxes at the time, using TurboTax, as I had done for many years previously. It was something I absolutely dreaded, putting it off and procrastinating for as long as I possibly could. When it actually came to doing them, it would take me at least an entire day; probably longer, when the time spent collecting all my files, receipts and so on was factored in.
Back then, I regularly attended a mastermind group that was filled with people who were much more successful than me. The subject of taxes came up, and I mentioned that I was planning to do my own that weekend. The room went silent, and everybody stared at me like I was completely nuts.
“What, you do your own taxes?” someone asked me eventually.
“Well, yeah,” I stammered. “It’s only $100 for TurboTax.”
“It’s only $100 for the software,” they continued, “But how many hours does it take you? And how much money do you make per hour?”
They… suggested I try an accountant that year. I asked how much they thought it would cost, and they replied with a figure that sounded pretty significant to me. These were people that I greatly respected, however, so I agreed to give it a go. I called up an accountant I knew, who quoted me $200 for my personal taxes and $300 for my business. With a wince, I agreed to give it a shot.
Two things ended up happening. Firstly, my taxes got done a lot quicker that year. Who’d have thought it?! Secondly, TurboTax actually sent me a free copy of their software (to try and keep me as a customer I suppose), and I decided to have a quick go at doing my own taxes again after all; y’know, just for kicks. Guess what? The taxes I calculated that I should pay, were more than what my accountant calculated (i.e. what I actually owed the IRS), but almost exactly the same amount as it cost me to hire the accountant in the first place. Effectively – even before we factor in the value of the time I saved – it cost me nothing to hire the accountant due to the savings he was able to find. I’d call that a win.
Ever since then, I’ve been a massive proponent of off-shouldering; also known as my Law of Delegation. Simply put, if it’s something you don’t have to do – accounting, bookkeeping, data entry, replying to your calls and emails, and so on – then get someone else to do it. That can be someone in your office, someone in your town, or someone from the other side of the planet that you hire online. Free yourself up to work on the genuinely important things that only you can do; usually, the analytical (appraisal) side of your business.
The key here, of course, is to remember your role and liability. Hire right, manage well, and never, never, never compromise the quality of your work. Remember whose name and reputation goes on the bottom line.
In my time as The Appraiser Coach, I’ve interacted with a huge number of other appraisers. I’ve found that delegation is the number one thing they struggle with. I know it’s hard – I’m a control freak too, by nature – but this is something you have to do. Look at the tasks you do on a regular basis, identify the ones you don’t need to do yourself, and outsource them immediately. Your business will be vastly more efficient and more effective as a result.
For more information on this subject, please download and listen to The Appraiser Coach Podcast Episode 086 – Off-Shouldering; The Key to Success.