What we do is what’s we call tax planning. Whereas most people, when they deal with their accountant or the CPA, they are looking in the rear view mirror, right? What we do is we look forward, and we look for opportunities and missed opportunities and mistakes to help people and business owners really keep more of what they make so to give less to the government legally.
So you look at things like the structure of the business and potential tax savings that could come from doing this or that with your money, that kind of thing?
Correct. We look at all those things. Structure is—entity–in the US—entity classification is, probably the biggest mistake we see small businesses make that cost them a lot of money. So that is one of the main things we always look at first.
Yeah, I’m sure there’s plenty of small businesses that decided in the beginning that they’re going to save some money and they will pick their business for themselves. So they go ahead and set the business open then they come to you at some point and discover the expensive mistake they’ve just made.
Yes, very true. And a lot of times they go to the attorney without consulting with their tax professional and the attorney is looking at it from a legal perspective and we’re looking at it from a tax perspective and it’s always great if you put those two minds together and make the optimal choice.
So you, you actually worked with sort of legal people to make sure that they do make that right choice ?
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All the time. We try and work with, all the professionals around our clients to have all the available information and make the–help the client make the best decision.
Are your clients a certain type of business owner, or are they just a wide range of different people?
Our clients are really a wide range of business owners that are making money and they’re paying tax and they want to try and keep more of what they make. They work very hard and they know the people like Warren Buffet and Donald Trump and everybody else that they see in the media have, teams of people that work on these things for them. So they they want to try and do the same thing.
What do you enjoy most about what you do, Craig?
Oh, I love the impact that I have on people’s lives. You know, when I was in the police department, we had an impact on people’s lives by helping them and I’m giving certain types of guidance I might say. And what we do here is,very similar. We’re giving them guidance that saves them money and allows them to put more money away for retirement and live–live a better life.
And what is it that drives you?
The ability to make an impact on different people. So I know there are many people out there that need what we do and that, and the ability to spend time with my family.
So you went from being a police officer to being a tax consultant or CPA. How did you make that transition? What’s the story behind that?
You know, when I originally went to college, I was an economics major and I joined the police department. It was kind of what we did where I grew up. You went on to become a civil servant. And I’m, after time went on, I realized I really did want to do something else, and I was lucky I had a nice career in a police department and I was able to retire, and make a decision to pursue something different. You know, and I always say, the adrenaline rush that we used to get from chasing a perp down the street, I get that same rush when I’m helping somebody and we see the taxes that we can save them.
Must be slight difference to it all.
It’s really very, very similar.
Wow. How do you relax when you’re not working in your business?
It’s all about family. I love to spend time with my family. I’ve been married about 27 years. I have three children, 21, 24 and 25. So I like to spend time with them, We boat we’re–which is a great way to get the kids out with you when they’re a little bit older–and do some traveling.
And do you have any entrepreneurial role models?
Yes, I do. My brother who was a–he kind of broke the code in my neighborhood– and he went on to have his own business. Like I said, that was from an area where we went on to become a civil servant, and then, later on in life I had worked for somebody that recently passed away and he showed me that you could own your own business and still have time for the family.
Craig, what I want to do now is just talk about that time before you were an entrepreneur. What difficulties did you have to overcome when you started your business?
I think for me, I had to go from being seen as the New York City police officer to, a professional–somebody that you can go to with your tax and accounting issues and get guidance from. And the way I was able to do that is I went back to school and I received a PR professional designation. It was hard to break out of the mold.
So having previously been a police officer and being a tax advisor now, does that give people more confidence in your thing?
Yes, it does. It definitely does. People see what you’ve done in another career and to see that you were successful or you were somebody that was trusted by the community, and they liked that. They liked that. So it’s definitely an asset that in the beginning I did not want to have out there. But I’ve learned that it’s something that people looked to.
I could imagine people will get comfort from that. Did you have any doubts that delay just starting your business?
The doubts were how do I get people to realize that I’m no longer a police officer. So that was the biggest doubt I had and with time and I’m being out there that was able to go away.
What mistakes did you make that slowed your journey?
Definitely trying to do it all myself, especially when you start out. You’re doing a lot yourself and then as you start to grow it’s hard to give up some of that control, and that will definitely slow your journey. And it definitely was something that slowed our journey here.
I suppose that lots of entrepreneurs try to do that with their own tax returns and things as well. They probably do that and take lots of time trying to figure that out when there’s people like you who can help them do it and save the money at the same time.
Most definitely, I tell my clients, you make money doing what you do. Don’t waste your time trying to do what somebody else is trained to do.
So what mistakes did you make that slowed your journey, Craig?
I think I didn’t give up control of certain parts of my business that I should have given control over. And a simple one was payroll. I did not need to be the person crawling into payroll and these little time blocks that might be a half hour here, an hour here, add up at the end of the week. So that’s just one example of something like not giving up control over something that you should be giving up control over.
And what were some of the things that you did before you started your business that will be helpful tips to some of the Listeners who haven’t yet taken the first step on the “Entrepreneur Way”?
I think we all have to look at what are our costs to start a business, which a lot of people will look at that, but then they don’t realize what are our costs to keep the business going until we become profitable? So, as a CPA, it can be a degree and a computer. But depending on the industry you’re in, maybe there’s more equipment you need to have. But then once you start your business, you need capital to get you to the point where you’re profitable.
I know at which point, or at what point should people come and seek the advice of somebody like yourself?
They should start basically before they actually formed the entity because some—because some like I said–the biggest issue we see is wrong entity classification. So start at the beginning, get some advice, maybe you don’t need to work with a CPA on a regular basis in the beginning, but you know, interact with somebody. Have somebody that you can talk to.