Elizabeth Joyce: Tell us about yourself.
Mariette Martinez: My name is Mariette Martinez. I’m a mom, first and foremost, and come from a family of entrepreneurs, so it was only natural for me to start my own tax and accounting firm, Mariette F. Martinez, EA. I’ve been in the accounting industry for 20 years, and after working in technical support for a few years, I realized there was a niche there. I am a ProAdvisor who has been in business for five years, and partnered with Intuit to build my client base. My business is 100 percent cloud-based, which was one of my goals that allows me to have more clients. By having my firm based in the cloud, I’m not only able to work with hundreds of clients a year, but also have more time to offer the consulting services they need to run their business.
EJ: That’s a lot of clients to juggle! How are you able to manage everything?
MM: It’s a lot of work, but I don’t do it alone. When I was trying to do everything on my own, I found that I wasn’t taking good care of my clients and had to take a step back to realize I needed help. I started using tools, such as Smartsheet and 17hats, to help me streamline workflows for my tax preparation and accounting clients, keeping us all organized.
EJ: What makes you a Firm of the Future?
MM: By being on the cloud. I think it’s important to expose clients to new integrations and solutions to help them better run their business. I’ve taken the leap by becoming an advisor for my clients, rather than just doing data entry or bookkeeping. I took the leap out of bookkeeping and found that I was more excited to talk to my clients about how we can use their data to improve their bottom line, something that not only helps me provide so much more value, but also that they appreciated a lot more. I’m also very active on social media, which has been lacking for a long time in the industry. I wouldn’t have the connections I have now without it. This is where my passion is: to stay connected and bring that human relation to my firm.
EJ: How has the cloud increased your efficiency in tax planning and prep?
MM: At first, transitioning to the cloud was an intense engagement, since I needed to explain this exciting and sometimes unknown concept to my clients. However, my clients embraced the idea quickly when they were convinced I was doing everything in my power, and with the help of great technologies, to keep their tax information safe and secure; the tax preparation and planning experience became more simple and seamless with each tax year. What my clients and I love best about being in the cloud is the immediate gratification of meeting anytime and anywhere, just at a moment’s notice.
EJ: I love your “Let’s Talk Taxes” page on your website; it seems so simple and straightforward. Why did you develop this for your clients and/or prospects? How has it helped?
MM: This was my masterpiece when I took the leap to the cloud! I knew I needed a transparent roadmap to convince myself and my clients that this transition would be best for all parties. The “Let’s Talk Taxes” page is that roadmap. It allows my clients and prospects to clearly understand my online tax preparation services before engaging with me. It’s very important that my clients and I are on the same page regarding working in the cloud; this webpage helps with this discussion. It is also a work in progress and gets updated every tax year with resources, processes and interactive tools that keep my clients engaged and excited about their tax preparation experience.
EJ: How did growing up in a family of entrepreneurs inspire you to start your own firm?
MM: If you speak to my mom as an entrepreneur, she would say she’s a mom first, and then a business owner. She had more than 30 restaurants and six kids, so my mom taught me that you can have it all. As children, it was hard for us to understand what the business meant to our mom because we were focused on her absence from home, but we realized she had a higher purpose. It’s hard to believe it can all happen without experiencing it yourself or having a really great mentor. Mine is my mom, who showed me it can be possible. If you really try your best to balance it out, you can be a mom and have your own business, all while reaching your goals.
EJ: How does your entrepreneurial spirit translate to your work with your clients?
MM: I have a lot of small business clients that get very overwhelmed with everything, and it can be challenging to get to the mindset, “Yes, I can do it and do it really well.” Financials often scare entrepreneurs, so I took the advisor approach to give small businesses the encouragement and inspiration they need to make their great idea a reality. Starting my own firm made me a small business owner, so it was easier to understand the challenges and provide the support they needed. This is where my passion comes in – it’s not just about the numbers; it’s also about bringing in that supportive human element to help small businesses tie it all together.
EJ: As a small business owner, how were you able to leverage social media to connect with existing and prospective clients?
MM: I initially wanted to take advantage of anything that was free and was able to use Facebook, Twitter, Google Reviews and Yelp to help me find all of my clients. I’ve actually never sent a flyer/paper advertisement or paid for advertising since I started my business. I wanted to see how far I could get with the FREE online social media marketing platform. I want people to be able to find me and connect with me. It’s a little shocking at first to be everywhere and easily accessible, but I want my clients to feel like they can get in touch with, and view me, as the consultant they need to help them run their business. Intuit has been my number one partner since I started my practice. Find-a-ProAdvisor, particularly, helped me get started with my marketing materials and connect with new clients.
EJ: Now that you’re a Firm of the Future, what is next for you and your firm?
MM: Five years from now, I think it will continue to be important to integrate apps into my overall firm because I’ve found it really helps to keep me and my team organized, and lets me focus on being a strategic advisor for my clients. I’ll continue to use 17hats, which is an app that captures all of your lead generations and sends automated project emails. I’ll also use Smartsheet because it helps me streamline my workflow for my tax firm and gets the entire bookkeeping ready for tax season. Most importantly, I will stay true to my deepest passion: to learn and grow towards a healthy work-life balance. This balance will embrace the cloud and partner up with innovative companies to keep my business growing and allow for me to spend time with my loved ones – a healthier balance that I will continue to share with the online community!