Michael Carney didn’t get discouraged after being downsized from the public accounting firm he used to work for. Instead he picked himself up, and launched his own company with only himself and his computer.
MWC Accounting is a small accounting firm that focuses primarily on small start-up companies looking for financial guidance that allows them to grow. They provide accounting and tax advice to meet the needs of our clients and save them money.
MO: Tell us about the process of starting a company with no partners and almost no resources?
Michael: It was liberating. I could decide how I was going to approach clients, what I was going to sell, how I was going to complete my work, and what systems I wanted to use. I didn’t have to run anything by a partner and I could set up and run the company however I wanted. I loved it. Luckily for me the resources for accounting are low. I just need to read the rules and apply them to my client’s situations. I had a personal computer that became my business computer and I was off and running. I found free services I could use until I found clients that would allow for me to invest back in the business with better software, etc.
Ultimately, it was a matter of trial and error. I had to figure out how to do things on my own from filing for a federal identification number (FEIN) to the proper forms to complete to get my Illinois business and unemployment numbers. It was a lot of research and investigation. In the end it helped me better identify problems and find a solution because if I didn’t I wasn’t going to last long.
MO: Why did you decide to focus MWC Accounting on small start-up companies?
Michael: I’ve always been intrigued with small business. When I started I didn’t have anyone to go to that didn’t want to charge me an arm and a leg to get started so I bootstrapped it and figured it out myself to save money. I wanted to be a resource to the small businesses like me that want to do it themselves they just need a little guidance at a reasonable price. While they’re small I hope to be a trusted resource that can be called upon as they grow. I can offer everything from simple guidance to full-on management of a company’s finance department. It all depends on what the client needs.
MO: You mention that while most accountants try to force small businesses into using Quickbooks you frequently realize this is not the correct solution. Why do you think so many people see Quickbooks as the only option, and what other tools do you suggest people use?
Michael: It’s my opinion that groupthink is what leads most people to QuickBooks, groupthink and good marketing by Intuit to keep their name out in front of small business owners. It comes down to QuickBooks is what their friends use, they don’t know anything else, they’ve heard of it so this is what they’re going to use. Plus, most Accountants use QuickBooks so that’s what they recommend to their clients.
For me there are great online solutions out there if the small business owner is willing to move outside the box. LessAccounting is excellent and much less intimidating to track income and expenses for service based companies. I’m a big fan of Harvest for timekeeping and Pulse for cash flow projections. These are all web-based applications that are subscription based and reasonably priced. I can get the information I need right on my computer, iPad, or iPhone.
MO: As you continue to grow in the next 12-24 months what will you look for when hiring? What do you believe is the most important factor in hiring on staff?
Michael: Hiring is a difficult process. Not only do you need to find someone that can do the work it’s important to find someone that fits my style of work. I’m high energy and high intensity, which isn’t a fit for everyone. Often candidates are quiet in interviews but if they’re the right fit they’ll open up a bit more so I can get a feel for who they are and how it will be to work with them. Ultimately, I want someone that’s enthusiastic and willing to learn. It sounds easy but in my experience it has been anything but easy. You’re not going to find someone that knows everything but if they’re willing to learn it’ll make life a lot easier.
MO: Your website states “The most important part of your business is also the most painful. We can help.” What makes you so passionate about an area of business (accounting) that most people see as painstakingly awful.
Michael: Business owners, and people in general, seem to have a pathological fear accounting and more specifically taxes. I think it’s more than the numbers and the government though, it’s a fear of the unknown. When they get a notice or have an issue with their accounting they have absolutely no clue how to fix the problem. More often than not they’ll sweep it under the rug in the hope it goes away or wait until the last minute. I’ve never had that fear, I like the unknown and I like to problem solve. I encounter new problems nearly everyday and it keeps me on my toes.
MO: What is one big mistake that you think many entrepreneurs make when dealing with their taxes?
Michael: The BIGGEST mistake entrepreneurs make is waiting until after year-end to find an accountant. I see it every year from January through April. People will find me and say “Hey, I need my taxes done for last year. Can you find me deductions?” Unfortunately, more often than not the answer will be no. After year-end an accountant’s hands are tied and we have limited options to save you money for the previous year. Find an accountant in October and pay for tax-planning advice, long-term will save you money and avoid major headaches come April 15th.
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