My Love-Hate Relationship with Making the Inc 5000

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It is with decidedly mixed emotions that I tell you that TaxProMarketer is on the Inc. 5000 list this year. After 15 years in business, it’s a fairly unusual thing to receive this honor for the first time. Most of the companies (but not all) on this list are younger than we are.

I’ll explain why my emotions are mixed:

Firstly, here’s why I LOVE the Inc. 5000…

1) It is a reflection of a TEAM accomplishment. This ain’t the Nate Hagerty show. We have 20 employees dedicated to our clients, and this is far more about THEM than about me. Troy, Christian, Ben, Bekah, Katherine, Eugenia, Kaelah, Amanda, Jodi, Ramon, Sarah, Jenn Ann, Jill, Noah, Jennifer, Christine, Ariel, Vlad (and interns Timon and Sarah) — this one’s for YOU.

2) The timing of this recognition is my favorite thing about it. Not only that it comes 15 years into our company life, but it compares revenue and profit from 2018 and 2021.

And something special started for us in 2018 that I haven’t shared much about before. Well, a few things — but I want to highlight this one:

Starting in 2018, we moved our company to a “7 weeks on, 1 week off” schedule. In other words, every employee here — PT and FT — works in a focused sprint for seven weeks and then gets a PAID week off.

I know, it sounds crazy … but (ahem) we just made the Inc. 5000 after implementing it.

Because in actual PRACTICE, this has revolutionized our agency.

We organize our company into 2 teams — we always have senior people available to our clients during these off “sabbatical” weeks. But this necessitated SOP creation. It cross-trained my team. It created a culture of “I’ve got your back.” It focused our work during the 7-week sprints.

AND, most importantly, it refreshes everyone on a regular basis. We attack our goals and our work with renewed zeal. And we have time for LIFE.

It’s almost as if less really is more sometimes.

I believe that there is something in here for YOU to think about as it relates to the growth and healthy culture of YOUR practice.

And I’ll share more about this stuff in the future (and have already done so in some podcasts that I’ve been a guest on), but that’s just a couple reasons that I LOVE the timing of the Inc. 5000 award.

But here’s why I also hate the Inc. 5000 list.

1) It is a blunt instrument. It is a measure of top-line revenue growth, and that’s about it.

Believe me — some of the companies on this list are a MESS. They are experiencing rocketship growth, and they don’t have the culture or the team to sustain it.

2) It feeds what I call the “flex culture.” For so many business owners, success in their vocation becomes the defining metric of their lives, at the expense of all other goals — family, quality of life, health, relationships, their soul. This is by no means true of everyone on this list … but its very existence feeds this machine of hype, positioning, and hustle-flex.

People think they’re being celebratory, but sometimes it just comes across as braggadocio. And it can engender jealousy, covetousness, and distrust.

Not always, of course — but often enough that when it doesn’t, it’s exceptional.

Frankly, we aren’t interested in helping practitioners build their business around this kind of hype. Numbers matter and we don’t shy away from telling our good stories.

But we got to this point over the last few years because we have made a CLEAR decision to work with practitioners who want to build with the protein of amazing content, excellent technical know-how, and expert understanding of the industry — to build online marketing machines that stand the test of time and aren’t shaken by algorithmic earthquakes.

If that’s YOU, let’s talk.

But if you want to ride the manipulative hype train to get the sugar high of fake success, there are plenty of gurus out there who will take your money. We just aren’t one of them.

Alright … I’ll have more to say on these things soon. 

(Including at our event next week in San Diego.)

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