The new financial year is upon us again. I can’t quite believe it has come around already. I feel like I’ve only just taken a breath since the January deadline for tax returns and here we are starting the new financial year.

Whilst it may be tempting to put off your tax return until January when the deadline is imminent, I’ve found over the years that putting my Finance Director hat on and doing my tax return at the start of the year has offered up valuable insights that have added focus to my marketing activities. Insights I would have missed had I left the task to fester for nine months.

It’s the revenue section that I focus my attention on – who have I worked with over the last year? I’ll start by reviewing all the invoices that I’ve raised over the year and categorise them into 3-4 categories – a slightly extended RAG or traffic light system (Red, Amber, Green).

Why I Do My Tax Return at the Start of the Financial Year 1Red is for those projects I’ve completed or clients I’ve worked with that I never wish to work with again.

Amber covers all the work in between never again and core activities. I’ll often split amber into two groups – one closer to green and one closer to red.

Green is for those projects or clients which form for the core of the business activities I want to focus on.

For each client project that I’ve billed, I’ll put the amount paid into one of these categories. And then I’ll total it up and look at the percentage of my revenue that came from each category. This year just completed is an interesting one for my work.

  • Red – 15%
  • Amber – 43% and this splits down further almost exactly 50:50, into work closer to green and work closer to red
  • Green – 42%

What this tells me is twofold. First, it tells me the value of category red work that takes me away from the core activities and I need to remember NOT to say yes to this work in future, but instead refer it on! Second, it highlights to me that if I want to achieve the same revenues as last year then I need to replace this work with, ideally, category green work. I now have a clear focus for my marketing activities – find green category work.

Next, I can drill down further into the detail of the green category and analyse which clients are recurring and which aren’t. Those who aren’t recurring are ripe for a check-in email to see if I can get them to come back for more. I now have specific marketing actions – check in with these clients.

The difference that doing my tax return now when I am looking ahead to the new year, is that rather than being a necessary chore with a fast approaching deadline, my tax return becomes a positive marketing activity that unlocks opportunities to develop existing client relationships.