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  • Writer's pictureMalissa Marshall, CFP®, MS Tax, EA

What I’m Doing Now

Building a business is much like planting a garden

I thought it might be interesting to share a peek behind the curtain, so to speak – a look into how I spend my days running two businesses as a single mom.


Businesses don't grow without new clients – who knew? I haven't spent much time over the past five years on marketing, and my business growth reflects that. So I'm focusing here for the next year or two, on multiple fronts:

1. SW Friday Newsletter

I restarted the newsletter in September 2022, issuing it every 2-3 weeks, and I've come to really enjoy it. Each issue includes a personal update, a longer section on a financial planning topic, and 2-3 links and resources. I sent out 19 in the first 12 months – I'm proud that I was able to maintain the consistency.

2. Reading Broadly

I love to read. Once, in middle school, I was given a pin for participating in the town library's summer reading program; it said, "I'd rather be reading." That's still true for me a lot of the time.

As a business owner, it's critical – reading books helps to both broaden and deepen my perspective away from the daily news cycle.

I set a very ambitious goal for 2023 to read 2 hours per day for the year, both fiction and non-fiction – I'm a bit behind, but eight months in, I've already finished 22 non-fiction books (and started 8 others), and finished countless fiction titles.

3. Miscellaneous Writings

Once I started reading more regularly again, the writing has been spilling out of me. The key will be to develop a regular schedule to finish and publish these writings. These include blog posts on my website and occasional social media posts on LinkedIn & Facebook (I don't have the capacity to follow other social media); I'm trying to post more regularly. I’ve also written a couple of white papers for clients whose companies are going through an IPO or acquisition to help them navigate the myriad cash flow, investment, and tax consequences.

4. Public Speaking

Giving presentations, on the other hand, offers a built-in forcing mechanism to complete them on deadline. After presenting seven times to various financial planning organizations in 2022, I’ve scaled back this year, and now only have two on the calendar, both in October.

The first will be for the Vermont Tax Preparers’ Association on US tax issues for clients with cross-border situations, and the second will be in New York City for the CIGA Network Symposium, covering financial planning around equity compensation for globally mobile employees.

Working with My Clients

This is why I'm here, and I'm grateful every day for the trust my clients have placed in me.

I currently have 11 ongoing financial planning and investment management clients, and 4 project-based clients. For my tax practice, I currently have 72 clients (8 of whom are also financial planning clients). So – 79 total clients.

My intention since I founded both firms was to serve 40 ongoing financial planning clients and 60 total tax clients (including financial planning clients), so I'm still working on right-sizing the allocation.

Working on the Businesses

1. Administrative Work

I spend almost half my time doing administrative work, which is why I've had a part-time virtual assistant since late 2020. There’s bookkeeping, marketing, investment research, planning research, continuing education, compliance, etc. etc.

2. Fine-Tuning My Services

I’ve spent dozens of hours fine-tuning my client service models and client deliverables. These are in constant development, as I’m always trying to provide better reports to help clients feel comfortable with the decisions they’re making, and to keep them focused on what they need to do next in order to move the needle toward their goals.

Personal Time

My #1 goal is to spend as much time with my 15-year-old son, Henry, as possible before he goes to college. Our big project right now is my teaching him to drive. Otherwise, I do yoga and meditate; hike with friends and go to the gym; and spend time with my very large extended family. And read. :)

[ht to Derek Sivers, fellow INTJ]


Image by bady abbas

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