Maria Hayes, founder of Maria P. Hayes CPA & Associates, had been drawn to entrepreneurship since college, but did not take the leap herself until her daughter turned two and Hayes saw the added benefit of the flexibility that came with being your own boss. "I wanted the flexibility to care more for my daughter yet also stay in the profession," she said. "I grew the business slowly at first for about 7 years by referral only, no advertising. When I moved out of the home office, I started advertising and growing more rapidly, with the need to add employees, at the rate of about one new employee per year. Networking was the largest contributing factor, along with client referrals, to our growth."
Hayes' firm provides financial services, audits and tax return preparation for non-profits and small businesses in addition to assisting individuals with personal income tax preparation. "We are a locally based and smaller firm offering more personalized and individualized services," she said. "We build relationships with our clients and they are not passed around the office from one employee to another. It's a real family atmosphere."
Hayes' advice to aspiring entrepreneurs hinges on planning. "Put your plan down in writing and take the steps to make it happen," she said. "Once you put it down in writing you can follow it better and can move forward step by step."