MATTHEW SHEIBLER: Hey everybody, it's Matt Sheibler with the interactive entrepreneur podcast, sponsored by interactive accountants, where we help you minimize your taxes and measure your success. Today's episode three, and I'm joined by the lovely Jane Muir from J.Muir and Associates. Jane's not only a friend of mine, but she's actually a client. And we're going to be talking a little bit today about what's working in your business. What's keeping you up at night. What does, well, you know what good business tips we have for the entrepreneurs that are listening out here. And also, we're going to tell you, talking a little bit about maybe a failure too, that we've had in our business. So I'm going to give Jane a moment here to just introduce herself to everybody and tell her a little, you know, let her tell us a little bit about what she does, who she's doing it for. What's her ideal client and take it away, Jane.
JANE MUIR: Well, thank you for having me, Matt. I am honored to be your first guest on the podcast. and I have to say that Matt is absolutely the best accountant in the world. I am so lucky. I'm so lucky. I found Matt like three years ago and immediately he saved me like $30,000 on taxes. So I highly recommend anybody who has their own practice or business to hire interactive accounts.
MATTHEW SHEIBLER: Thank you. I will take all the publicity I can get.
JANE MUIR: Yeah, of course. So about me. I I'm an attorney I've been practicing since 2009, so 13 years now, lucky 13 and my practice focuses on business law. And what does that mean? That's kind of a broad kind of description, but I handle troubleshooting and contracts and litigation for a variety of businesses that tend to fall into three categories. One is professional service, especially medicine. Second is hospitality. I have salons, restaurants, hotels, that kind of client. And then my third category is nonprofit like condo associations. And I represent a halfway house that hosts people who are leaving federal custody and helps them transition to the regular.
MATTHEW SHEIBLER: Working.
JANE MUIR: World. Exactly. And I have another nonprofit that helps refugees who are coming to the United States, especially from Syria and helps them learn how to use the public options and resources available to them.
MATTHEW SHEIBLER: Okay. So having heard that one, we're dealing with like a business, right? And they're come to Jane and they say, Hey, Jane, I'm getting into business with like a partner or I'm going to open up a new company. What would be like the number one tip that you might suggest to a business like that?
JANE MUIR: Well, it really depends on their budget. My, my first piece of advice is allocate your budget in sort of a, a percentage format. So I suggest that if you're starting a company with a thousand dollars, maybe you spend a hundred dollars on a consultation with a lawyer because proportionally, it doesn't make sense to spend $5,000 on a operating agreement with your partners. If you're a bike fitter and you are just one.
MATTHEW SHEIBLER: But like, let's say, we're like, we're going to be a manufacturer, right? We've got a million dollars of equity that we're pumping into this business. You know what I mean?
JANE MUIR: That case then we definitely want to have operating agreement that explains how disputes will be resolved. And also you definitely want to have agreements with your employees, vendors, and clients or customers. Those, those three categories of agreements are able to protect you from like 90% of the conflicts that happen in a company.
MATTHEW SHEIBLER: Okay. And that's something that your law firm could handle for our clients that are listening out here.
JANE MUIR: Absolutely.
MATTHEW SHEIBLER: What would be like, well, let me ask you a question, like now that we're kind of like getting on a phone, a little bit of a tangent about what you do, what's, what's your favorite thing to do?
JANE MUIR: I love talking to people and solving their problems. That's my favorite work. So the writing is, is my second favorite. I consider myself a writer. I write for fun. I write for work and when I'm not writing and reading, so I really enjoy writing. But my, my favorite part is the presentation element, I think.
MATTHEW SHEIBLER: Okay. Like for me, my favorite part is tax mitigation. Right. I love helping clients to save on taxes and find not new and create not new ways, but like, you know, just helping them to take advantage of, let's say what's something that's out. You know what I mean? So if we're, you know, let's say we're a 10, 10 employee company and we want to start doing like the tuition reimbursement. I love doing that stuff. If we're a a hundred person company and we don't have a retirement plan, I love, I love doing that stuff as well. So that's awesome that you like to actually just really get in there and be in front of your client's face. So to say, and be that voice of I'll call it reason because I've used Jane's law services before in my own life. And you know, one thing that I could tell you about Jane is that it's always just steady. You know what I mean? Like the emotion is out of the equation. Right? Right. That's been my experience anyway. Whereas me I'm like the emotional wreck, you know what I mean? Cause I'm the one with the problem and Jane is just smooth and steady and always on with what's happening. So that's something that I really admire when I work with Jane on some legal matters that I, I, I won't get into details. All right. But let's just say those matters are resolved now they're behind us. And I learned a lesson. Right.
JANE MUIR: Well, I got to tell you, I'm the kind of person who runs towards the fire and I love an emergency. I think they're, they're invigorating. I love the feeling of adrenaline. So when people have emergencies, that is absolutely by far my favorite type of thing, because I calm everybody down. I know how to put fire out and then create a system for the future of how to avoid it.
MATTHEW SHEIBLER: That's cool. That's cool. So speaking about that, why don't we just jump into, what's working for your business right now? So like thinking about things like an entrepreneur, because aside from being an attorney and an accountant, whatever you may be, right. We're entrepreneurs at heart, you know what I mean? Right. So in that respect, what do you think is like really working for you today in your business?
JANE MUIR: Well, I, I put a lot of time and effort into isolating the culture and what we want for our team to, to value as a, as a group, because that I've learned from a lot of books, I've read like traction for instance, is the first step because it helps all of your staff decide what to do in a situation. It helps you pick staff. And so I'm really pleased that I have a group of six staff, people at the moment who are all just awesome people and they're onboard with the program that we're on and they share all the same core values. So we developed an acronym for this, for our core values, which is attack, which I love for litigator.
MATTHEW SHEIBLER: Will you spell that out for us?
JANE MUIR: Sure. Sure. So our it's advocacy and that stands for the ability to communicate directly with confidence and represent the firm and our clients with passionate and care and always make suggestions to improve our work and our systems. Trust, which means that that's like the critical part of being a lawyer, loyalty, honesty, confidentiality, accountability, and care for each other and our clients. Achievement, So we don't just want to be mediocre. We want it to be outstanding. And so we wanted.
MATTHEW SHEIBLER: I can speak to that. Jane is definitely outstanding.
JANE MUIR: So you'll want to make constant effort to improve and avoid typos. That's our, that's our definition for, for achievement. Courage, which means facing challenges, being solution oriented, fighting for justice and not being afraid to experiment or learn from our mistakes and Cooperation, which is transparent goals and processes, collaborative leadership, and execution and respectful conduct towards everyone. And this, I am proud to say, we all believe this, demonstrate it, know it, and that's working really well. And it's helping to gel our systems and processes as we're working on developing them.
MATTHEW SHEIBLER: Well, that one definitely deserves. I also have an acronym that works for, for my business. Right. And it's called kiss. Keep it simple, stupid. You know, I think I taught you that one.
JANE MUIR: If you didn't, I'm sure you've mentioned it.
MATTHEW SHEIBLER: It's not an original one. You know what I mean? But for me with my staff, it's just trying to keep things simple because as accountants, sometimes we just get like lost in the weeds trying to explain depreciation or income taxes. It's just like, look guys, let's just try to dumb this down. You know what I mean? And make it simple, you know, whenever we can do that and speak to people as I'll call like a layman, right. For me, that works perfectly. And that is kind of my tone at the top. Whereas, you know, w what you were saying, your tone at the top is attack.
JANE MUIR: Well, that's what you want your lawyer to do, right?
MATTHEW SHEIBLER: Absolutely. Well, you know, I don't necessarily want them to get in trouble attacking or anything like that. No, no. Roll back the firearms. Right. But, but ethically attack the problem. I mean, and get to the resolution the quicker we get to the resolution, usually the lower, the legal fee, no offense.
JANE MUIR: Wait, no a thousand percent. And that's why I urge all my clients to make sure that they have contracts in place, especially with those three categories, employees, vendors, and clients, or customers, because if their agreement is solid, then they avoid disputes. And if they're forced to get into a dispute, then I can win back their fees, which makes it a lot more palatable.
MATTHEW SHEIBLER: Okay. So you've heard it first that's what's working for Jane is what I'll call the, or what I heard is really setting the tone at the top. Does that, does that kind of like totally. Okay. All right. So setting the tone at the top guys, right. And gals. Nope. Not trying to exclude anyone here. The next thing I just wanted to ask you, Jane, is what's keeping you up at night and your business.
JANE MUIR: So my biggest challenge at the moment is I have to grind out all the work. I do have a few attorneys that help us on a contract basis and I have an associate and our current law clerk will hopefully become an associate in when she finishes law school in a year. So I'm looking forward to that. But if I got sick or we're trying to have a baby, so if I had to take maternity leave, I am not sure how far we'll keep going without my personal input and participation. So that's my, my biggest challenge. And we've been really working on creating systems and processes to allow me to take a vacation longer than a couple of days, or, you know, be out for maternity leave or sick or something like that. And so that's really been my biggest challenge.
MATTHEW SHEIBLER: Gotcha. Okay. What's keeping me up at night, right. Is client satisfaction, you know, we'll get into this a little later, but like, you know, here at interact with accountants, you know, we, we try to maintain our clients for, for years and years and years. You know what I mean? And when a client leaves all of a sudden, right. Without, you know, you having any idea of, you know, why or what was the reason, you know what I mean? Like, so that's, that's the one thing that keeps me up, but interactive accountants, we have a staff here now of 18 and I'm a little bit hands-off. So to say, when it comes to like the daily work, whereas you right now in your position, you're more hands-on, you know, and when I was hands-on like, I was able to be in front of the clients all the time, know what's going on and be more in tune with the, what I'll call it, satisfaction dial, you know? And now that I'm a little bit hands off, it's, you know, more of a, you know, I'll get a call from a client if they're not happy, you know, or we'll get a call, you know, saying, Hey, Matt, your staff is awesome. You know, like when we do see people from time to time again. So that's the one thing that keeps me up a little bit at night. I'm not gonna lie. And, you know, thinking about ways that I can eliminate that from my, you know, like what's keeping me up at night, what's not letting me sleep, you know, is I have to probably do some more work on a, you know, like I try to meet with our clients once a year. You know what I mean? But I could probably do a better job with that.
JANE MUIR: You know, what else is it's delegable and, and replicable. So my, when you think, when you share this with me, my first thought is like the five love languages. Have you heard of that?
MATTHEW SHEIBLER: Why don't you share what the five love languages are? I'm going to learn something new today.
JANE MUIR: Gotcha. Okay. Well, there's this book it's called the languages of love. It's written by a psychologist, a male psychologist. And according to him, there are five languages of love. And it's giving gifts, acts of service.
MATTHEW SHEIBLER: Thank you for the hot sauce by the way.
JANE MUIR: You're welcome. Acts of service, words of affirmation, touch and spending quality time. And so everybody has one that they prefer, like for me, it's acts of service. I could never speak to you see you, but if I get good service, I am satisfied.
MATTHEW SHEIBLER: I see. I like that service, but I also like touch, you know what I mean? Like when you get that time, and this is something that we've lost with COVID I think, You know, is the touch.
JANE MUIR: Right hand shakes and the hugs.
MATTHEW SHEIBLER: The hugs, the handshakes, the hugs, you know, a little kiss on the cheek, whatever it may be, you know, a smile, you know, something about that in person for me is a lot different than on a zoom meeting. And some of my clients, I'm never going to be able to do that with, because they're like halfway across the United States. I mean, we're here in Miami. Right. And I have clients all the way out in Oregon, you know, so it's never gonna happen. So then there's other things like you were just saying.
JANE MUIR: That you can do.
MATTHEW SHEIBLER: I can do. Right. So kind of fill in the blanks. to I know we just recently ordered like a bunch of a logo umbrellas.
JANE MUIR: Oh, that's a great gift.
MATTHEW SHEIBLER: You know what I mean? Cause I'm always losing an umbrella. So we're going to send some of those out and remind me to get you on, But let's just, if you could just repeat that it was touch.
JANE MUIR: Touch, acts of service, words of affirmation, quality time, and gosh, what was the last I've just said it and, and gifts.
MATTHEW SHEIBLER: Gifts.
JANE MUIR: So we use JR Global events and their event and seminar coordinating company that does promotional gifts. Gotcha. And they will select and package our gifts. So when we sign up a client or when we conclude a case, we send out a welcome and a thank you package. And our welcome gift is a tumbler, like a coffee traveler.
JANE MUIR: And a charger stick, and a little booklet of how to work with us because we have these frequently asked questions that people have, like, they want to know how often can they expect to hear from us? Well, we like to set up a monthly 15 minute consult that we do for free so that the client can always know when their next consultation will be. And they will tell us what their problems are and we can mitigate the problems before they snowball. And we also advise them of our billing because we have a retainer that has to be replenished. And a lot of people get confused about the billing practices. So we explain that and anyway, everybody gets this welcome kit and it's a nice way to kick it off, but you don't want the client to think that they're chopped liver during the term of the engagement. So we also do a quarterly offbeat holiday campaign. Our most recent was this hot sauce mailing.
MATTHEW SHEIBLER: I used it on my little, my little Pico. What did I have the other day? I'm trying to remember. I forget, but I used it on my food.
JANE MUIR: Well, excellent. I'm so that was it. Tasty was good. Good, good. I picked up the jalapeno flavor. There were some other flavors that I thought.
MATTHEW SHEIBLER: Yeah, exactly.
JANE MUIR: So the holiday was Cinco de Mayo and we use that to remind all of our clients that we speak Spanish. And so, because I'm blonde blue, blue eyes, you know, American girl, but I actually grew up in Miami, so I speak Spanish and I know you do too. Matt.
MATTHEW SHEIBLER: Yo hablo espanol. but most of my staff here is a a hundred percent bilingual. So for us, you know, if I do have a client that's that wants to speak in Spanish, I will direct them generally to one of my other staff, because my Spanish is like social. It's not business. You know? So that's where I, one of the areas I'm lacking, it's always really, for an entrepreneur, whether you're here in Miami or you're anywhere in the world, you know, I really think being bilingual is, you know, just another way to open up doors to other types of clientele. You know what I mean? So that's awesome that your, your office is bilingual as well.
JANE MUIR: Thank you. Well, we're, we're very happy to help anyone who needs it in any language. We have a couple of French clients too. And unfortunately my French is not as good as my Spanish, but we can get by. So.
MATTHEW SHEIBLER: That's awesome. That's awesome deal. We don't, we have a English Spanish and I think Rashid, he speaks another language. I don't remember what it is . So we have three that we can work with In-house. You know, for here in the United States. It's for me, it's generally English, Spanish, and every once in a while Cantonese.
JANE MUIR: That's cool.
MATTHEW SHEIBLER: You know, but I don't speak any Cantonese whatsoever, but just in terms of like the three major languages that I hear in the US, English, Spanish Cantonese, yeah. Right. Which is like a dialect.
JANE MUIR: Totally.
MATTHEW SHEIBLER: So that's what I'm seeing here in the U S and if you speak all three, well, then that's money That's money. So speaking of like, you know, being bilingual and everything else like that, what do you, what would you think your best business tip is for the entrepreneur who might be listening?
JANE MUIR: I would say document your procedures early as you can, because if you have documented procedures, then you can delegate work to other people. And I would say, start with the simplest and then get to the more complex and other than documenting your procedures, I would say automate as much as you can. So I use a tool called Gliffy, which is a diagramming tool that's free, but you can get a PRO version that's $10 a month. It's very cheap. And you can make like flow charts that are very helpful to show somebody who's brand new at your area of expertise, how to do something, how to, how to move a process along. So I think just having a diagram is super helpful. And then also it allows you to share the diagram with like a computer programmer. Like we've had several computer programmers that we found either through recommendations or through Upwork, which is an online system, kind of like a marketplace for services. And we just share with them the diagram of our process and that enables them to take the process and use the software to make it into an automatic system.
MATTHEW SHEIBLER: Gotcha.
JANE MUIR: So I'd say document, document, document that's my business tip.
MATTHEW SHEIBLER: Well, coming from an attorney, I I'm I'm, I'm not surprised to hear that. Right. When I started my firm, it was just me and one other employee, her name is Sonya and believe it or not, I guess it's been like over 10 years now that I've been in business for myself and she's still with me, so thank God, knock on wood, but I didn't document anything at first. It was just kinda like, you know, like just running with the wind. Right. And then as we grew, we started to document, you know, and now where we're at today it is not only, are most of the tasks documented, but they're actually in like a work flow system. So for us here to direct of accountants, we use this program called Jetpack and it's pretty popular with other accounting firms. It's designed for accounting firms. So all of the tasks that like a client is assigned, when they come on board with us, they get put into Jetpack based on their contract for services, right? And then it's assigned to a person. And then the tool itself inside allows us to repeat the frequency. You know what I mean? And for every employee, when they log in during the day automatically it dashboard comes up and it says like, this is what you're behind on. This is what you have to do this week. You know, this is what's coming up in the next week. So, and then each job, like, let's say, reconciling your trust account, you know what I mean? That's assigned to a person that has a due date and that reconciling trust account is part of like closing the month in books. So closing the month in books might be the job and then reconcile trust account, reconcile, bank, account, reconcile, credit card account, or to tasks. And that's what works for us. So if I'm going to give a tip for any of our business listeners out there, you know, I'm going to just kind of piggyback off of what Jane said, and that is to try and, you know, while you're, you know, I guess when I was first starting off, like I was just running a hundred miles an hour, you know what I mean? And I didn't necessarily have the time to do all this documentation, you know, but if you start finding that you're like hiring people, you know, to your point is like, try to document what they do for them as, as simple as you can. And then as you know, you grow and you grow and you grow, expand upon it, you know what I mean? So that these policies, procedures, and even somebody simple as like, let's say you have an, like a person that just answers the phone, there should be like a set script, right? When they answer the phone, like, "hi, this is John from JLM manufacturing, thank you for calling today. How may I assist? " You know, so I like that. I think that's a great step. And now the last one that I wanted to talk about, and when we were kind getting together before this, Jane's like, I don't know if I could talk about my biggest failure, matt. I'm like, don't worry, don't worry. Just pick a failure. You know what I mean? So we want to share a little bit about also like learning from our failures. So on the last episode, I was talking a little bit about like, failing. Well, the first episode, actually, it was talking about my failures. I was having on Google ads. Then on the second episode, I was starting to talk a little bit about the fact that just, I have failed, you know what I mean, many, many, many times, but kind of like getting yourself up, brushing off dust a little bit, you know what I mean? And learning from it. Right. And not repeating that same mistake, I think is what sets entrepreneurs apart from like not entrepreneurs.
JANE MUIR: Absolutely resilience.
MATTHEW SHEIBLER: Is that resilience. Right? So, Jane, I was just, we were talking a little bit about it before, and if you wanted to just kind of share maybe like something where you failed, right. Learn from it and bounced that.
JANE MUIR: Sure. So I guess about five years ago, I have a bit of grass is greener syndrome. So I'm always looking for a good source of new clients or a good market to target or a new software I should implement. I love the shiny new thing. So I received a notification from the state of Florida, that they were doing a request for proposals for illegal defense matter. And there are a hundred firms in Florida that do defense for the state, through their state backed insurance company, citizens. And I applied for this RFP and I won a bit and it came with a lot of overhead. I had to take on a million dollar malpractice insurance policy and all these other special softwares to be lead certified and all this stuff. And it was about $35,000 a year in overhead. And they didn't ever assign me a single case. And I thought it was because of the staffing, but it turned out that wasn't it at all. It was some software glitch that they hadn't actually turned the switch on for us to receive clients. So it ended up with us getting some work, but it was not profitable. And what I learned was that the rates of insurance defense for, for citizens were not sufficient to justify the.
MATTHEW SHEIBLER: Amount of overhead that you were getting into. Gotcha.
JANE MUIR: So it, it was a major loss of investment, like over a hundred thousand dollars. And I really was taking a risk by investing in this RFP because I just wanted a big fee and I could have just held onto this, this fund. But instead I invested it towards getting this government contract. And in the end I discovered that I really don't need to go after this insurance work after all. And I am really happy in my area of practice.
MATTHEW SHEIBLER: Awesome. Jane, if anybody can get, if wants to get in touch with you, where can they find you?
JANE MUIR: My law firm address is Miamibusiness.law, and you can find us online and I'd love to help any of your clients or listeners.
MATTHEW SHEIBLER: Well, thank you, Jane. I really appreciate you coming in today. Speaking with us. And that's a wrap for today. Folks remember interactive accountants and Jane Muir. We're here to help.
This is Matt, Sheibler your Interactive Entrepreneur. And once again, Interactive Accountants is the sponsor for the Interactive Entrepreneur Podcast. So if you are interested in learning about accounting or if you are an existing entrepreneur, and maybe you're just not happy with your current accountant, check us out at interactiveaccountants.com, happy to schedule a consultation. And we appreciate everyone listening. Have a great day, take care.