Most kids have memories of their dad and mom making small talk over supper of interesting tidbits of their day, or discussing the latest news around town. My memories are filled with dad and mom talking cash flow analysis, employee training issues, service and process improvement, and strategic planning for their small business. They were small business owners, and I had a front row seat for it all. From the age of six, my parents owned and operated a vehicle repair and towing facility. Like many small businesses, I was ‘drafted’ into the business, and was put to work from a very young age. I went to school during the day, went to work after school, and listened to ‘owner-speak’ at night. It wasn’t until I was embarrassingly old that I realized how different my experience was compared to my contemporaries.
Hard physical labor by day and education by osmosis was the norm for my days growing up. It was a regular occurrence for us to work 12 hour days. During the winter, when the weather was the worst and the tow truck was needed the most, there were time when the work carried through all night and into the next day. When the the ‘Bad Boy,’ dad’s heavy-duty tow truck was called out for an accident, we would gather a crew of five or six men and work for up to 15 hours at a time to get the job done. When we weren’t in the shop or the tow trucks were when the lesson came for me. Our house was just the right size where the discussions my parents had about every single aspect of their business were where I could hear every word, every night. The lessons I learned at night were the same things I’d watch unfold the next day. I watched and learned as my parents went through every struggle, every decision, every success. The work was hard, the lessons were plentiful, and the education was invaluable.
I watched my parents’ entrepreneurship bring a better life to us as a family. Their decisions, their labor, their planning, and their choices put food on our table, housed us, and bought me an education. Now, with eyes and hands as old as my fathers’ were back then, I can see so clearly the futility of some of the struggles my parents went through if they would have had someone they could turn to that would have helped them.
I can see now that all the time my parents spent worrying about things like taxes, employee management, contract review and drafting, Account Receivable issues and collections, and liability protection could have been spent doing the things they were the best at, if there had been someone that could have helped them with those issues. I know now that the hours, and hours, and hours, and hours around the kitchen table could have been spent on so many more productive things, if only there would have been someone to help them through those things.
My parents were good at so many things, but like so many business owners, could have used a professional’s help with different aspects of their business. My dad is the best mechanic and tow truck operator I’ve ever met. He’s won national awards for his abilities and accomplishments in the towing industry. How many years sooner could he have achieved those high praises, if only he wouldn’t have had to struggle with things like depreciation schedules, ‘for cause’ termination determinations, six- and twelve-month cash flow projections, tax planning, insurance coverage estimates, and trade secret protection all on his own?
I’m a husband and a father now. I am married to the greatest woman on Earth, who I’ve spent ten amazing years with now. My oldest son helps me in the office these days, and my youngest three all know that I am an entrepreneur, just like their grandparents. When my children look back on my business, I want them to see their father helping people. I want my children to see their father helping other entrepreneurs. I want my children to know that I helped good people. When their old enough, I want to explain to my children that I helped entrepreneurs like their grandparents and I build better businesses by taking care of the tax problems that take business owner’s attention away from the good, honorable work they are the best at doing. I want to be able to show my children pictures of the business I built, where good people could bring their tax and IRS issues because they knew they would be taken care of fairly, honestly, and honorably.
Since I received my law license in 2005, my ‘practice’ has changed so much, just like people do. I’ve built my business to help good people deal with their tax issues and problems. It doesn’t matter what your past is, where you came from, or who you used to be. Nobody is the same person they were two, ten, or twenty years ago, not even me. Some of the greatest business owners I’ve ever met had very… colorful… histories. None of that matters to me because I truly, deep in my core, believe that each and every craftsman deserves the opportunity to do the work they’re the best at, without IRS harassment and threats; each craftsman deserves to build their business without having to worry the government will rip it all away from them; every craftsman has the right to do hard, honest work with the peace of mind that when the IRS starts causing problems, they have someone they can trust working with them.