In this interview, we talked with Josh Bauerle, who came on to talk about how he got his first 100 accounting clients and kickstarted the success of his firm.
In this interview, we talk about how to get your first 100 accounting clients as well as:
+ How Josh found his first opportunity to start his own firm
+ How we landed a “Dream Client” that catapulted his firm
+ How he packages his services and builds in retainers
+ How Josh found his first joint venture
+ His transition into owning his own firm
+ How he got his first 100 accounting clients on board
+ How content strategy when he started out
+ How he created recurring, packaged tax services
+ How he landed his “dream client” & grew past his first 100 accounting clients
Josh’s Website: http://cpaonfire.com/
Josh’s “Runaway” Youtube Success video:
Back To The Beginning
Josh Bauerle has had a sporadic career progression so far. He went from trying out many aspects of the CPA world to starting his own advisory business. He is the Owner and Operator of JDB Business Solutions (www.CPAJDB.com) and the Founder of CPAonFire (http://cpaonfire.com).
Josh was able to make an accelerated leap from first starting as a staff accountant at a Fortune 500 firm. Then he moved onto a CPA firm where he got his CPA license and did some tax and audit work. After that, he moved on to work at a financial advising firm for a year.
When To Determine What You Want
He was “all over the place” as Josh said. He was not enjoying the work at any of these places and realized that he had to work for himself. He did enjoy doing tax work mainly for business owners where he finds himself doing that work today.
Josh “figured out how to make money doing taxes,” and so can you.
In realizing he was going to start his own business, Josh took active steps to make it happen and had a bit of luck along the way too.
It is all about niching down and focusing on a specific service offering. Then sprinkle in some content creation with blogs, videos, and podcasts, and you will start seeing traction around your efforts.
How To Transition To Your Own Firm
Josh first had the idea to run his own practice when he was working at the financial advisory firm. Their business strategy for growth was to buy a CPA firm to leverage additional business from their financial advising clients. However, the financial advisory firm “got cold feet,” according to Josh.
But Josh did not. He put in his two week’s notice and took the leap to find his own CPA firm to buy.
And he put in an ad on Craig’s List.
Yes. He put an ad on Craig’s List to buy a tax practice in the Denver area where he was located at the time.
Although Josh and the business seller could not agree on a price to buy firm outright, they reached a compromise.
Josh would work for the owner doing tax returns for the existing client base and earn a 35% commission on each return. Also, they agreed that Josh could find his own clients on the side and work for himself in that way.
“It was almost an H&R Block style business,” says Josh. They were doing tax return on the spot and “cranking it out” at low rates and high volumes.
For Josh, it was a “huge learning experience” and he enjoyed the tax work. On Day 1, he hit ground running to start his own side business, all while earning a guaranteed, recurring income during tax season.
After year 1, Josh pulled in $10,000 revenue on his own. Then he built it up to $40,000 in revenue in the following year.
He thought, “I can grow this.” And after just two years, he walked away from the tax business arrangement. Since then, he has been on his own.
Josh found that most business owners did not have an option to complete their tax returns at a reasonable price. Josh knew he could provide quality tax return service at a better price than the larger firms could.
Embracing The Creative Angles To Win Business
First Josh leveraged the business owner network through his mother who is also a business owner.
Josh created his website right away. On the site, he posted new content frequently – up to four blogs posts a week.
Then he launched YouTube videos on “How Tos” for the everyday person, such as “How to fill out a Schedule C” or “How fill out a Form 1065.”
Josh had no background on marketing his business through social media and YouTube. It was just his mindset. He thought, “hey people need this information and there’s pay here,” so he found the quickest way he knew how to take advantage.
His impulsive courage and passion matched his action. He just figured out how to make a simply good, explanatory video.
Josh posted many videos. Some were more successful than the others. What was important was that he made steady progress with his content creation and that consistency provided recurring value.
Friends asked why he would share all he knows to everyone for free. It worked to his benefit, actually. Some of his YouTube videos got significant views, including one with over 35,000 views, a level that is a big deal for the subject of tax, Josh notes.
It turned out to be the Number 1 search result on YouTube and the Number 2 search result behind the IRS link on Google.
His YouTube videos brought in about $10,000 worth of business and that business is now recurring. While people who watched the videos became informed, they still were frustrated, so much so, they reached out to Josh to have him do their tax returns for a fee.
The YouTube video sessions worked well as a free promotion tool for his business.
Create Recurring, Packaged Tax Services
Josh was finding that 90% of his business revenue was coming from tax season, and so he wanted to figure out a way to create additional, recurring revenue to earn throughout the rest of the year
He kept looking at what clients wanted. He noticed that after reviewing the business entities of his clients, he would conclude often that LLCs or Sole Proprietors should be converted into S-Corporations. He saw this opportunity as a massive, recurring value for his clients and for his business.
So he launched a consulting service for his clients. For a flat-fee package of $1995, he would provide tax-return services, business entity reviews, 30 minutes of consulting per month over the year period.
In switching business elections, he was able to save $7000 in taxes for his clients, and in paying $1995 for the package, his clients were still “coming out $5000 ahead.”
Clients saw the value and wanted his services right away. Josh sold 5 packages in the first month he launched this service. He earned $10,000 in revenue “for a tax preparer without doing tax return.”
He played around with the price. Josh said the more he upped the price, the more his consulting packages sold. It is the psychology of price where higher prices evoke a certain expectation of quality services.
How To Land A Dream Client To Catapult Your Firm
Then Josh got his big break. He connected with the popular podcaster, John Lee Dumas of Entrepreneur On Fire who has 500,000 recurring listeners per month. Josh is now featured monthly on the podcast show.
“Find an influencer that you can do work for free. Put your name out there. Offer value for free,” Josh recommends. In return, that person would want to help reciprocate in some way.
Josh was smart. He reached out to John and offered his help for free on a few of John’s business projects. Josh helped John “save a ton on taxes” and eventually landed a spot on the show talking about tax tips.
He is in the middle of his 5-part podcast series talking about how entrepreneurs can save money on taxes. And it has worked: 75% of his clients have come from listening to him on the show.
What is next for Josh? He is launching his own podcast show for accounting and tax entrepreneurs and is working on creating a community for CPAs and attorneys to start firms and grow businesses. Also, he continues to maintain his exposure by posting content on YouTube videos, his blogs, and his website.
The moral of the story: Sometimes it is not worrying about how much you can make on the front end. It is establishing that relationship and adding value for your client. Eventually, good business is going to come back to you in some way.