I filed for my PLLC on April 23rd, 2018. Norris Accounting & Consulting Solutions was born. Almost immediately, everything began to change. From my company name (now doing business as “Matt The CPA”), to my mental health, my routine, my relationships, EVERYTHING. The struggle was real. I am compiling a few tips in hopes that any future or current entrepreneurs out there can potentially avoid some of the missteps that I took.
DON’T lose your structure. I cannot stress this enough. I am someone who vastly undervalued the structure that a 9 to 5 job provided for my life and my mental health. The first day after you quit is like the Wild Wild West – there are no rules and it’s super easy to spiral out of control. Once you whittle your productivity down to a few hours per day, it’s painstaking to work your way back up. I admit that I quit my day job TOO early, when I should have just been building up a “side hustle.” Don’t let your savings and stamina drain away unnecessarily - It only adds to your stress. Build up your side hustle, your revenue, and stay in a productive routine.
DO have a dedicated workspace. Roll out of bed, stay in your pajamas, eat some breakfast, pull out your laptop and get to work! Sounds great, right? It’s really freaking difficult to do actually. It’s so distracting. You are stuck in a mode between work and play that your brain just won’t know what to do with. Have a place in your house or around town that you have dedicated to WORK and use it for only that. Put on some big boy (or girl) clothes and go in there and shut the door. That is your zone and treat it that way. Don’t try to be a Couch Potato Accountant – I tried being that type of CPA and it just didn't work. (Also, big shout out to Work Webb – they are an awesome shared office solution in Daytona Beach that I use to get out of the house!)
DON'T get hung up on your original plan. It’s OK to realize and accept that you were wrong. Here’s the thing, you are probably wrong most of the time, and that’s OK! For me, doing shit the wrong way the first time is really the only way my stubborn brain seems to be capable of learning. My advice would be to TRY the thing, ANALYZE it, and then KEEP MOVING FORWARD. Not everything you try is going to work, but you don’t know until you try. Just don’t be stubborn and stick to your completely untested ideas that you’ve built up in your head. Move on quickly and pivot from your initial plans if they are not working for you and your clients.
DO take baby steps. I remember feeling like any type of action I could take would be completely insignificant relative to my goals. I would think - Why even bother taking the action at all? It’s easy to feel crippled by your lofty business dream that you started off with. My initial goal overlooked the first 20 steps I needed to take, and it was a huge, HUGE mistake. Your first goal should be incredibly small. Develop a habit of achieving a small goal, rewarding yourself, and then setting a new one. This steady climb will work wonders for your business-related stress and anxiety (trust me, it will creep up on you fast).
DON’T focus on deductions. This is a common mistake that I have seen business owners fall into repeatedly, but it still seemed to creep into my own head. When you are first starting off, you should be focused entirely on top line growth. You need CLIENTS and REVENUE. Don’t buy shit because you think you can save a few dollars on your tax return. NEWS FLASH if you don’t have net income then you won’t pay any income taxes. Focus on growth and revenue. Think about how your MacBook Pro deduction might help you later.
DO be kind to people. 100% of my business growth in the first 6 months has been directly attributable to contacts I had made throughout my life PRIOR to starting my business. My revenue has grown from ZERO dollars per month to $6,000 per month simply by being nice to people, caring about their problems, and having a genuine desire to help. We are all just human beings and we want to work with other humans that we like and trust - it is as simple as that. Be honest, be kind, work hard, and you will find your client base amongst the people you’ve interacted with - or even better, they will find clients for you.
Matt The CPA