Originally from Port Orange, FL, Matt Norris, owner and founder of Norris Accounting & Consulting Solutions, PLLC (DBA Matt The CPA), took a leap of faith that many dream about but few act upon. After establishing a successful track record working for two separate accounting firms, Norris felt the time was right to go off on his own. What follows is a genuine story shared by an entrepreneur not attempting to sugar coat his experience or glorify his accomplishments. As Norris proves, the path of an entrepreneur can be lonely, but also extremely gratifying and purposeful.
“After I graduated from FSU with degrees in Accounting and Finance, I accepted a position with James Moore & Co. in Daytona Beach,” he said. “While at FSU, I did an internship with James Moore, so it was a pretty natural progression. I learned everything I know about accounting working at James Moore. It was a great experience and one that I’m incredibly thankful for, but I wanted to try something different. My role was very tax specific. I was ready for something new.”
After four years with James Moore, Norris went to work for RealTime CPAs, based in Ormond Beach. RealTime specializes in working with dentists and provides unique services custom tailored for this target market. Norris was intrigued by the highly niched vertical and the owner’s entrepreneurial spirit. After one year with Real Time, he felt a calling he couldn’t resist.
“My decision to leave RealTime and start my own business was a combination of several things,” he said. “My girlfriend at the time came from a very entrepreneurial family. I talked with her dad a lot about owning a business. As an entrepreneur, he always operated on his own schedule and by his own rules. That was very appealing to me. Also, my boss at RealTime, Eric DeVriese, was very entrepreneurial minded. He always encouraged me to read books and listen to podcasts on how to help people capture profits. When you’re an accountant, you see what everyone else is doing. You see what the producers of the world are doing, not the consumers. As a result, you realize there is more to what you’re capable of doing too.”
At the end of April 2018, Norris took the leap. He launched Matt The CPA, a “small batch” CPA firm delivering progressive custom-tailored solutions fueled by a passion for small business and a desire to establish genuine relationships. As Norris candidly shared, the leap was the easy part. The landing, however, proved to be much more difficult than expected.
“It was a complete roller coaster of emotions,” he said. “I came out of the gate really confident but also naïve. I pretty much got body slammed. Nothing was as easy as I thought it would be. Just getting up and being productive was difficult. When I started the business, I had one client and maybe five or six hours of work per month. I didn’t have a lot to do. I had no rules or structure. I didn’t have an office. I worked in my pajamas. Over time, I got really anxious and eventually hit an all-time low. I saw a doctor who described my situation as, ‘an existential crisis’. The first 22 years of my life were very structured and then all of a sudden, it wasn’t.”
At a critical juncture when most people would throw in the towel and start looking for employment elsewhere, Norris dug deep and took a systematic approach towards improving his situation. He made little changes that, collectively made a big impact. He got an office. He got dressed. He left the house and started networking. In short, he got some structure back. As a result, he began to see the beauty of doing things his own way.
“Once I regrouped and put the pieces together, the phone started to ring, my confidence went up and eventually I saw the light,” he said. “The business started to grow and by January 1st, I hired my first employee.”
The premise behind Matt The CPA is that every business needs a CFO in some capacity. Whether it’s 30 minutes per month or five hours. It’s critical to have someone watching your numbers. With a focus on small business accounting geared towards startups, Norris is able to curate a custom package based on specific client needs. Whether its monthly accounting, margin analysis, tax planning, tax returns, bookkeeping or budgeting, Norris offers simple, affordable and passion-driven solutions for startups and more.
Looking ahead, Norris, who thoroughly enjoys getting to know his clients and learning about their journeys, is also exploring ways to scale his concept. He’s planning on developing an accounting platform with automated advice/consultative features, utilizing Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and formulas to provide clients with affordable analysis and reports. The basic membership tier will include bookkeeping services and automated analysis, but higher tiers will offer direct access to Norris and other CPAs as he grows his team.
What advice does Norris have for aspiring entrepreneurs? “Honestly, my experience was pretty traumatic, but looking back it didn’t really last that long,” he said. “Nevertheless, I wouldn’t suggest doing what I did and just jumping off the cliff and see if you can swim. Start a side hustle and see if you’re good at it, if you like it, and if you’re able to generate some income. Whatever you decide to do, do something where you’re able to capture your value. It feels really good to get paid for what your time and efforts are worth to you. It’ll completely change your perspective about the work environment. In fact, I think it’s one of the keys to a happy life.”