- Early career experience in college
- Growing a business during a pandemic
- Typical day of a CPA firm owner
- Learning resources for small business
Macey Singleton has experienced what it’s like working for accounting firms of all sizes. She always had her sights set on owning her own business, so at just 25 years old, she decided to open up her own firm. Read on!
I had the opportunity to play volleyball at the University of Texas-Pan American. I had no idea what I wanted to do in college, all I knew was volleyball was going to get me to school and then we'd figured it out once we got there. I changed my major a couple of different times and I ended up taking an accounting class - which was my favorite (and easiest) class up to that point - so I ran with it.
Once volleyball ended and it was time to enter the ‘real world’, I did a four-month internship where I worked under a woman named Abby Murray. Once my internship ended, she decided to start her own business and she asked me to work with her. I said yes and I remember thinking – I hope this is full time, so I don’t have to get another job while getting my Master’s degree. It ended up being 70+ hour weeks, but it was the most amazing thing that happened to me by far. I was able to see and work on everything that came in the door and she treated me more like a partner than an employee.
I worked for her for about three years and then moved back to Dallas. After working for Abby, I knew I wanted to own my own business but didn’t think I had enough experience yet, so I got a job at a bigger firm in Dallas. Instead of getting to expand on everything that I had learned, it was ‘you get to do one thing and one thing only, and you're going to do it every day’. I wasn't learning anything, and it wasn’t for me. So that was when I ultimately decided to make the leap and start my own business and I haven’t looked back since.
I think I always knew that I wanted that kind of lifestyle of owning my own business. My mom owned her own business and worked from home my whole time growing up and she was always there. I didn't realize how special that was until I was older, but she was able to bring me lunch in the middle of the day if I needed it, and she never missed any of my sporting events.
So that was always important to me. And then once I started working with Abby and seeing what it was like to run your own firm, I knew for sure that's what I wanted to do. I didn’t think it would happen at 25, but here we are!
When I first started, my business was all referral, word of mouth. I haven't done a lot of marketing, so I was fortunate to pick up enough steady work to keep me going. I joined a networking group in Dallas which gave me a lot of work when I was first getting started. I grew a lot faster than I thought I was going to, which I'm not complaining about, but it was a lot. And then COVID hit my second year. It was scary for me because my work is focused on small businesses, and they were the ones being affected by COVID the most. So, when that hit, I was worried that if anything were to happen to them, that's my business also.
It turned out, with all of the PPP and economic injury disaster loans happening that I was a lot busier. I don't want to say I'm thankful for the pandemic, but it did grow a lot during that time. I brought on an admin that also helps with payroll and a bookkeeper, which has taken a lot off my plate. This next tax season, I am going to bring on someone to help me with tax work, which has been my hardest hire, but ultimately to get where I want it to be, I can't do everything alone and I just have to trust the process.
We handled all the applications for the loans, so I was able to get all my clients the PPP loans, which definitely came in handy, as well as the economic injury disaster for those that needed/wanted it. It was just a crazy time because my clients kept turning to me asking how it was working and I was learning it at the same time that they were. The government just kept throwing things out and then changing it - there was nothing set in stone.
It was a lot of applications and making sure that everyone stayed in compliance. And then the next year with the PPP forgiveness, making sure everyone put in their applications for the forgiveness so that they didn't have to pay that back. Those were the main two things that I provided during that time, on top of my normal tax and bookkeeping work
It was a learning curve for everyone, and I did a lot of research during that time just to stay up with everything. But every client that came to me that needed help was able to get assistance and none of them went out of business, which I’m so happy about.
A major struggle I experienced during that time was, it’s just me. At larger firms, they have research departments and others to bounce to learn from, but I didn’t have that. I did read a lot of the IRS publications, which was not fun, but honestly, Instagram and YouTube helped the most. There are tax professionals that give out really good information and they do a great job of summarizing what the publications are about. There are two CPAs that I get notifications from every time they post a video and it’s like a learning course, so I didn't have to read all 2,000-word publications over and over to figure out what was going on.
A typical day for me depends on the time of year but I'm at about 200 clients right now, which is a mix between businesses and individuals. The first four months of the year (or 6-7 months the last 2 years) is a lot of tax work and getting as many returns done as possible. I’m thinking this year will look a little different since I will have help and I can oversee the work rather than do it.
Throughout the rest of the year, I primarily work with small businesses and my focus is LLCs with the S-Corp tax structure. I do monthly bookkeeping, payroll, and provide monthly financial statements to each of my clients. Having someone else help perform these tasks has been a huge help so that I can just prepare the financials and go over that with my clients. I usually meet with my clients on a quarterly basis, and we discuss how they feel their business is doing, I make recommendations, and answer any questions they have.
Recently, there’s been a lot of IRS work due to the IRS being partially shut down and a lag in communication. I also work with tax planning items near the end of the year so that my clients aren’t hit with a big tax bill next year.
In the CPA profession, especially with bigger firms, the smaller businesses don't get the attention that they need or deserve. Small business owners ‘don’t know what they don’t know’ and there is no course in starting a business. It’s important for them to feel day one that they’re in compliance. While I do all the work for my clients, I also make sure they know why we're doing what we're doing. It’s important to explain all aspects of it and lead them down the right path from the beginning.
When I was first getting started, I was saying yes to all work that came my way, but the past year has given me the opportunity to only focus on what I enjoy, which is small businesses. This past year was the first time that I turned away business, which killed me, but I was just too busy. I feel like I'm over that hump now, especially bringing on additional help, but I have gotten to the point where I do not take on clients unless they own a business. It feels nice to be in a position where I can be selective of what clients I take on.
I’ve been working from home since I started because when it was just me, it never made sense to have an office. Now that I’m expanding, and plan to continue doing so, my dream is to open up a building where the bottom floor is a coffee shop, and the top floor is my CPA office.
I love that anytime I go to coffee shops, it’s always professionals in there working or having meetings. I feel it would be so beneficial to have a CPA right upstairs. But I’m also a coffee fanatic, so I could just walk downstairs to have a cup whenever I wanted. I have found a few areas around me that would be great for this, so I am hoping to make it happen in the next few years.