About Michael Eckstein
Accountant, advisor, mentor
I’m Michael Eckstein.
I started my career as a tax accountant doing personal tax returns. In a few short years, I became one of the highest-rated accountants in my area, became treasurer of a local non-profit (a business improvement district, if you’ve ever head of them), was quoted by dozens of websites, newspapers, and magazines, and even spoke on a few podcasts. Frankly, I was successful, my business was successful, and I was making good money.
But, something wasn’t quite right. Categorizing transactions, reconciling accounts, running payroll, and preparing tax returns made good money, but it wasn’t fun. And, it definitely wasn’t fulfilling. Very few of my clients were truly thankful for my help and that was, in a way, exhausting.
I needed a change. But, couldn’t figure how to change because I was already “successful” by accounting firm standards.
It hit me while listening to a podcast. The guest, an accountant named Greg Crabtree, suggested:
Accountants claim they’re truly helping clients, then why do accounting firms focus on compliance and fill in the slow periods with consulting? Shouldn’t we focus on consulting and improving our clients’ businesses?
[That’s a very loose quote. But, you get the point.]
Believe it or not, in the accounting world, that’s a somewhat controversial opinion. Accountants view themselves as numbers-people. We take financial data, rearrange it, and prepare it to be used for tax returns, management reports, and financial audits. Maybe we give clients tips here or there. Or, answer a few questions that have nothing to do with numbers. But, we definitely don’t give advice.
Yet, without even knowing you, I’d bet you crave your accountant’s advice. The numbers are nice. You appreciate the tax return keeping the IRS off your back. But, you want advice. You need help navigating the business of running a business. 9 times out of 10, you call your accountant with general business questions and concerns.
- How can I make more?
- Am I saving enough?
- Why is there never any money left in my bank account at the end of the month?
- Which retirement account do I open?
- Should I hire some employees?
- Am I charging enough?
- …and so on…
After listening to Greg Crabtree, I realized that I love that part of the job. I love helping business owners talk through the problems in their business. I enjoy talking to clients, discussing their issues, giving targeted advice, and hearing about their success. I live for helping clients improve their businesses, make more money, and sleep better at night.
I was good at defending IRS audits. But, I loved teaching my client to save more, so he could pay his way out of tax (and credit card) debt.
I was good at preparing tax returns. But, I loved discussing my client’s business goals and helping her figure out if she really needed the fancy website with all the bells and whistles.
I was good at finding trends in financial reports. But, I loved talking to clients about new strategies they could implement in their business to increase their profits or decrease their taxes.
I’d loved consulting all along. I just didn’t call it that yet.
I want to help your business. I want to help it grow and become more profitable. I want to help systemize it so you can live your life instead of burning the midnight oil. I want to talk your ear off about saving for retirement so you don’t wind up working until you’re 75 (unless you want to, of course).
My goal is helping business owners, like you, build better businesses (and lives) that they can be proud of.
Who I work with
I predominately work with digital and creative agencies (or freelancers). My clients all have a few things in common:
- they care about the quality of their work and their employees
- they’re ambitious and want to grow
- they’re open-minded, adaptable, and willing to implement new ideas
- they have under 15 employees
- their total revenue is less than $10 million per year
They can also honestly answer YES to these two questions:
- Do you want to do better?
- Are you willing to feel the discomfort of putting in more effort and trying new things that will feel weird and different and won’t work right away?
If that doesn’t describe you, I may not be a good fit for your business.
What I don’t do
I’m not a pat-you-on-the-back business coach
I’m not going to hold your hand and tell you everything will be alright. You have enough people in your life that can give you that kind of trite advice.
We’re going to tackle your business issues head-on. If you aren’t ready to recognize those issues, work on new solutions, and build a stronger business, then you’re in the wrong place.
I’m not a once-a-year accountant
There are plenty of perfectly adequate tax accountants that will talk to you once a year, take your sloppy Profit & Loss, and prepare a tax return. I’m not one of them.
I’m an advisory-first, compliance-second accountant. My goal is to better your business. I handle compliance to keep the IRS off your back.
(I only handle tax compliance for legacy and advisory clients.)
I’m not a financial advisor
Accountants that dabble in investing on the side are doing their clients a disservice. Managing investments is a full-time job for someone with years of experience that has weathered economic downturns.
If you need a financial advisor, I can connect you to a fantastic one that truly cares about his clients. Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll connect you. (His internal compliance won’t let me put his contact info on my website 😞)