Creating Your Dream Team with A Well-Designed Business Podcast

Welcome to A Well-Designed Business. My name is LuAnn Nigara, and I’m so glad you found this podcast. Together with my husband, Vince, and our partner, Bill, we have grown our company, Window Works, from the ground up, so I know and I understand the challenges you face in running your interior design business. I also know that your talent alone isn’t enough to ensure your success, so on this podcast, we talk about strategies and practical steps to help you grow your business, but make no mistake about it. We have our share of fun here too mixed in with those aha moments that I love so much. This isn’t flop. Nobody has time for that. Whether you are a new interior designer or a seasoned designer, I am here to help you create and to manage the kind of interior design firm that you dream of. It’s straight talk and it’s action. Are you ready? Let’s get started.

Hey, everybody. Welcome to another episode of Power Talk Friday on a Well-Designed Business. I’m happy to introduce you to Craig Cody today. Hi, Craig. How are you?

I’m very good. Thank you for having me here today.

Yes, Craig. I’m going to give everybody a little bit of background on you. Craig Cody is a Certified Tax Coach. He is a Certified Public Accountant. He’s a business owner, and he’s a former New York City police officer with 17 years on the force. That’s pretty impressive right there. Forget being a tax guy, right? In addition to being a Certified Public Accountant for the last 15 years, he’s also a Certified Tax Coach. You’re starting to talk my language there, okay?

Craig, couple of things in there, and I said you’re talking my language because there is something more approachable about a Tax Coach than a CPA. I mean, I’m just going to be honest with you. Somehow, it feels like a coach … You know, I don’t know what the heck I’m talking about in the accountant. I feel like I got to sit up straight and pretend to talk the talk. You’re both though, so you have a unique vantage point of being this certified professional who can execute this, but it sounds like that you have a passion or an inclination to help and teach people to go on their tax journey with their business as opposed to just feed it to them at the end of the year and say, “Sign here.” Am I on the right track with this?

Correct. Definitely. We will definitely need to be proactive versus just recording history.

Right. You know, it’s funny because I wrote a book recently. It came out in February, and one of the chapters I have in my book is to gather your dream team. Then, within the dream team, I say that you have your non-negotiable dream team members and your negotiable ones. The non-negotiable one in my mind is the CPA, is the accountant who’s going to do the legal filings for your company, but I list as one of the negotiable ones but strongly suggested is a Tax Coach. I make the analogy, and so I’m running it by you because this is my personal opinion. It doesn’t mean it’s exactly gospel, but I make the analogy that it’s sort of like your health trainer, your fitness trainer and your GP. Your fitness trainer is going to meet with you as often and as regular as you need and say, “Hey, do five more sit-ups and do six more planks, and eat three less Twix bars this week, LuAnn.” The GP, at the end of the year, is going to analyze where you are, where you’re going, and look and say, “Don’t do this for next year or do that.”

I feel like the Tax Coach is the person along the year that you can check in and ask all those questions and sort of get your business education on the financial side of your business up so that you can have intelligent conversations about the financials of your business. Would you agree? Am I on the right track with that?

Definitely. Definitely on the right track. It’s all about communication.

Good. I’m glad because I put it in my book, so it better be true. Okay, so tell me about that. Here’s the thing. As creatives, we are talking to … My homies here are interior designers and aspiring designers, and as creatives, it’s not our wheelhouse, finances. It’s intimidating, and it’s difficult. Let’s, for a moment, forget the business owner for a moment and let’s talk for a moment, Craig, to somebody that is maybe recently launched their business in the last year or two or about to, and they don’t have somebody other than the guy at the desk that they see once a year or they intend to see once a year. Tell us how do we … What should we look for? What questions should we ask when we’re looking for someone who’s going to go down the road together with us as opposed to just looking for us at the finish line on April 15th?

I think one of the questions is, how accessible are you? How often are we going to communicate? Are you going to communicate with me, or am I just going to see you in March or April? You obviously do not want somebody that’s just going to see you in March or April. If you’re doing it right, you should have actually already had that conversation before you started your business, so did you create the right entity? Typically, what happens is the business owner has a conversation with their attorney, and their attorney says, “Okay, you should form an LLC, or you should form a corporation or a sole proprietorship,” whatever it is, but there’s no interaction with the accountant there.

A lot of times, if you just have a little bit of communication, you could actually find, okay, what’s the best entity for legal purposes, and what’s the best entity for tax purposes and get the best of both worlds? I kind of call it having your cake and eat it. It starts right there. That alone can significantly affect the amount of taxes that you pay.

Well, I 100% agree. Like I said, I think it’s the second chapter of my book. It’s like, let’s get started. This is how you start. Square one, get these things locked down. When we say, you know, look. How are we going to find an accountant? We’re going to get a referral from a friend or a colleague or our parents or our sisters and brothers or something like that.

What are the kind of questions are that … I have to tell. I think what it is, is we know as creatives that we want to work with someone who is not going to talk down to us, that is not going to intimidate us, and who is going to understand that we are probably starting with a ground zero level knowledge. What do you suggest? What is appropriate for … Do you just, look, call up and say I know nothing and I’m interested in somebody literally holding my hand? How do you know that the person that you’re speaking to is going to be a person like yourself that’s interested in that journey?

Well, I guess depending on, are you getting a referral, are you just going on the web, are you listening to a podcast? I mean, listening to a podcast, you get a little bit of an idea of how that person may operate, how they may communicate, okay? If it’s a referral from somebody you know, they could give you their experience. Those are few ways. Just going online and Googling, you get what you find. That’s it, and then you could be six months into it and realize that he does have our pocket protected, but he doesn’t know how to communicate.

Exactly. Now, you’re located in New York in Long Island. Are accountants people that can cross state borders or do you, if you live in New York, you should be working with a New York accountant because the laws for each state are different?

I could do work anywhere in the country. The only thing I can’t do anywhere in the country is sign off on audited financial statements, which most of your listeners, that’s probably not in their wheelhouse. We have clients from Oregon to South Florida. The internet’s a wonderful thing. It’s not the same old world it used to be 20 years ago, so you’re able to do Skype. We do Zoom. We do WebEx. We communicate that way. We have our calls once a month with our clients. They might be in California, but we’re just looking at computer.

Okay, so that’s a key thing right there. When someone signs on with your firm, your business model is that part of the service is that there is a once a month phone call about the status of their finances and the business of what’s going on. Is that correct?

Correct. The first thing we do is an analysis, and we do … If they’re going to work with us, we do a tax plan, and then we get into the ongoing accounting and tax services where every month, we have a Zoom or a WebEx and we go over the P&L and any questions, and figure out what they’re doing, what their plans are, and how to do things in the most tax economical way.


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