While most high school students work part-time jobs in restaurants or grocery stores, Jennifer Noga, Owner of Where you Matter Accounting & Tax Prep, worked in the accounting department for a company her mom worked for. At a young age, she learned the ins and outs of bookkeeping and tax return preparation and gradually climbed the ranks to office management and eventually human resources. Noga, who moved to Deltona from New Jersey in 2000 for a change and to be closer to her younger brother, shared the story behind her journey and offered some great advice for business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs.
“Before starting my own business, I spent six years working for my son’s grandma’s tax preparation and accounting business,” Noga said. “It was a great experience and I learned a lot from her, but after another team member left and with her wanting to retire soon, we decided to make changes. I was able to keep clients that wanted to stay with me and the ones she was letting go in the midst of downsizing.
In January 2019, Noga founded Where You Matter Accounting & Tax Prep. Her services include personal, business and corporate tax preparations, payroll, QuickBooks training, bookkeeping services, notary services and assistance with monthly, quarterly and yearly financials. She also does sales tax, solid waste and prepaid phone cards. For truck drivers, she does IFTA returns, IRP Renewals, Heavy Highway, MCS150 and UCR and also sets up LLCs, Corporations or Fictitious Names by preparing all documents required. Since going off on her own, Noga shared some of the challenges she’s faced and how she plans to grow her business.
“Because it’s just me, when I go to clients I don’t have someone to answer the phone,” she said. “My phone system does allow the caller to leave messages, but my goal is to have someone answering the calls. The biggest challenge so far was dealing with a sickness that lasted from March through May. It wasn’t COVID-19, but I was pretty sick and, since I had no one to help me, I still had to work.”
Noga added, “In terms of a growth strategy, I’ve had a hard time advertising. This business wasn’t really something I planned ahead of time, so there wasn’t a budget set aside for advertising. I’ve mostly relied on word-of-mouth referrals from current clients. I do have a girl I used to work with that might come on board as a subcontractor. She’s currently working on marketing. I’m hoping this tax season she’ll come onboard full-time. If she does, her focus will be accounting for her clients, assisting me and learning tax returns and other functions. Eventually the hope is that she’ll be someone I can hand over the reins to.”
Noga shared that when it comes to bookkeeping and tax preparation, what she enjoys most is the fact that it’s different every day. One day she’s doing the books for a church or a restaurant and the next it’s an auto mechanic or a truck driver. She also loves giving sound business advice and seeing her clients succeed.
“Most of my clients are scared of their books,” she said. “I try to teach them and want them to know their books. If they know them, that means they’re doing them correctly and it saves me time. I’ve spent days fixing books to even to be able to start doing the work. As a business owner, you need to know your own books. I also do yearly comparisons to show clients where they may need to cut costs, if they need to increase any of their fees, identify money they can invest in themselves or spouse, if applicable, to lower their tax liability and build on their retirement. In addition, I look at changes they may need to make to their own payroll to cover their taxes and areas they should focus more of their time on budget-wise to reach goals.”
Looking ahead, Noga’s main goal is to become a certified Enrolled Agent (EA), allowing her to represent her clients when it comes to matters regarding the IRS. She also wants to expand her business, hire additional team members and eventually get a physical location.
What advice does Noga have for aspiring entrepreneurs? “It’s scary,” she said. “I was kind of forced into it, so that helped me. In general, I would say to do the research in your industry. Ask a lot of questions, join industry groups on social media and network as much as possible. Also, stay organized. I have spreadsheets that keep me extremely organized. It’s important to have a system in place – especially if they’re thinking about going into accounting and bookkeeping – to ensure nothing falls through the cracks. Lastly, if you dream it, you have to push past the fear and go for it. Sometimes you have to take risks, even if it’s scary.”