Q : Kindly give our readers an introduction to your business. Please include what your business is all about, in which city you are located and if you have offices in multiple locations/ cities?
Ans : A Kaplan CPA, P.C. is Tax Resolution and Accounting Firm located in Staten Island, New York. The firm specializes in providing Tax Resolution services to Staten Island residents that found themselves to be in trouble with Internal Revenue Service (I.R.S.) and/or local State tax agencies. We pride ourselves in helping local taxpayers to resolve their tax problems using most efficient and effective measures within the scope of the law that produce most favorable tax resolution results.
Q : Kindly give us a brief description about yourself (it should include your brief educational or entrepreneurial background and list some of your major achievements)?
Ans : Aleksey Kaplan, CPA is the Principal of A Kaplan CPA, P.C. Mr. Kaplan has extensive entrepreneurship background. Before becoming Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Aleksey Kaplan had many successful businesses that he started from scratch and made them into successful enterprises. He holds two separate Bachelor of Science Degrees from Brooklyn College. One in Business, Management and Finance and the other is in Accounting (CPA Qualifying). He is a Gold Member of American Society of Tax Problem Solvers.
Q : What inspired you to (start a new business venture) or (to make significant changes in an existing business)? How did the idea for your business come about?
Ans : I love helping people that actually need help. Life is an unpredictable thing, one minute one can be very successful and the other minute there are on the verge of bankruptcy. People make bad choices and wrong decisions, however everyone is entitled to get “Fresh Start” to their life and turn things around. I am in the position to grant this ‘Fresh Start” to people that need it.
As a result, I have decided to convert my tax and accounting practice into Tax Resolution practice instead. I am able to do what I like and to have the ability to change people’s lives for better. The personal gratitude and satisfaction that I get from helping those that are in need is priceless.
Q : What three pieces of advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
Ans : 1. Be honest with yourself and others.
2. Treat everyone equally without being judgmental.
3. No matter what curve ball life can throw at you, never give up in believing and fighting until you achieve all of your goals.
Q : What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
Ans : 1. Be determined and proactive.
2. Be persistent and understanding.
3. Be cautious and try not to bite off more than what you can chew.
Q : How many hours do you work a day on average?
Ans : Someone once told me that anyone that wants to be an entrepreneur is willing to work 80 hours per week for themselves in order not to work 40 hours per week for someone else. I try to have a work and life balance. I have a beautiful family that I want to spend time with and as a result, I try to be as productive as possible when I am at the office so I can spend the rest of the time with my family. It is not the quantity that matters, rather the quality. Someone can spend 80 hours per week at the office and only do 20 hours of actual work. Other people can be at the office for 40 hours a week and actually work for 40 hours without losing productivity. Personally, I am the person that comes in to the office and get things done without wasting any time. The sooner I do what I came in to do, the sooner I can get out and spend my time elsewhere.
Q : To what do you most attribute your success?
Ans : I attribute my success to my family. My wife and kids give me all of the inspiration to become better and be more successful. I believe in hands on involvement in any business I was ever a part of. If you want things done, you must do them yourself.
Q : How do you go about marketing your business? What has been your most successful form of marketing?
Ans : I am working with a marketing company that does all of the SEO marketing for me. Best source of growing your business are referrals from your existing and past clients. However, when starting a business in Accounting or Tax industry, one must generate initial “book of business” and prove themselves first. Generating this “book of business” is the difficult part. Hence, one should have a great website that will be marketed on the Internet utilizing the help of professional marketing company that specializes in Marketing Campaigns for Accountants.
Q : Where did your organizations funding/capital come from and how did you go about getting it? How did you obtain investors for your venture?
Ans : All of my initial funding came from my personal savings. I was fortunate enough to earn and save money from my prior business ventures and used my personal funds to start my Tax Resolution Practice. I did not borrow any money from family and friends and would strongly discourage everyone from doing it. Never mix business with pleasure!!! The other alternative is to raise capital from either private investors or public banks or both. I personally believe that borrowing capital from public banks is the safest way to start your business. Although, if the business does not turn out to be a success, you may still be personally liable for the debt.
Q : What is the best way to achieve long-term success?
Ans : Stay positive, stay focused, stay determined and never get discouraged by minor failures. I personally live by the following slogan: “At the end, everything will be ok…. If it is not ok, then it is NOT the end!!!”
Q : Where you see yourself and your business in 5 – 10 years?
Ans : Honestly, I never liked answering this question. No one knows what will happen tomorrow and especially in 5-10 years from now…. Ideally, I would want to have slightly larger practice with 5-10 people working for me. I do not want my practice to be in multiple states and become national in nature. I would rather service local residents of Staten Island and perhaps other 4 boroughs of New York City. The correct answer to the posted question will most likely be… it depends.
Q : Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?
Ans : Interesting question. I tend to like most of the companies that were started and are still owned by self-made entrepreneurs. Most of the tech companies, Microsoft, Google, Facebook and etcetera started with one or two guys with a vision. Using their vision and aspirations, these guys were able to change the world and make it a better place. I admire people like that and not the businessman that were born with a silver spoon in their mouth and take over their parent’s business when time comes.
Q : How important have good employees been to your success?
Ans : Good employees are extremely hard to find. When you find someone that you believe is good, you need to hold on to them as long as possible. However, every person has a different interpretation of a “good” employee per se.
Q : How long do you stick with an idea before giving up?
Ans : It depends on a couple of variables. As long as I see that I can at least recover my investment and break even within a reasonable period of time, I stick with the plan. In the event that I see no results for quite some time and no prospects of them changing, then I sit down and evaluate my options.
Q : What motivates you?
Ans : I personally get motivated by results. If I start a new business and see that the business grows and my clients appreciate what I do for them, I am happy. Happiness is the driving force for my motivation. Everyone deserves and wants to be happy. The way people interpret happiness is unique to every person.
Q : What are your ideals?
Ans : Be honest with yourself and always try to be better.
Q : How do you generate new ideas?
Ans : I go for long drives and they come to me… Or, I got by the water and take out a writing pad and start writing down anything that comes in into my head.
Q : How do you define success?
Ans : Ability to live a comfortable lifestyle while being able to sleep at night. Conduct all of the business affairs ethically and being true to yourself.
Q : How do you build a successful customer base?
Ans : Building relationships with your clients is a key component of any business. Sometimes your relationships end and other times they become stronger. I am honest with all of my clients and I never “sugar coat” anything. Some clients love this approach and others do not. Those that do, appreciate me as their trusted professional and individual.
Q : What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
Ans : Freedom to make decisions (whether right or wrong); freedom to reap the rewards or pay the consequences. Ability to stay in control of your own business and life without relying on anyone else.
Q : What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
Ans : Every time I win a case for the client and it changes their lives is satisfying moment in my business. Every time my client start crying in joy, is satisfying and emotional at the same time.
Q : What do you feel is the major difference between entrepreneurs and those who work for someone else?
Ans : There is absolutely nothing wrong with working for someone else. It is safer, since you are guaranteed to make a paycheck. It provides your paid benefits, health insurance, vacations, sick time and etcetera. You are not required to make key decisions (unless you are in the position to do so for someone else’s company). However, as an employee, you are not free to have your vision and implement it. As an employee, you are required to do work for others and make someone else richer. There is always a cap on how much money you can make and under what conditions. Entrepreneurs have the ability to be themselves and implement their own ideas and visions that may affect everyone else.
Q : What kind of culture exists in your organization? How did you establish this tone and why did you institute this particular type of culture?
Ans : I tend to be demanding but fair with all of my employees. As long as the job gets done right and on time, I reward the employee. If it is NOT done up to my liking, the penalize the employee. However, I always try to be friendly with everyone I work with, yet all of my employees know when to draw the line.
Q : In one word, characterize your life as an entrepreneur?
Ans : Rewarding.
Q : If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
Ans : I would rely more on other professionals in the marketing and advertising departments.
Q : How has being an entrepreneur affected your family life?
Ans : Being an entrepreneur defiantly has its perks as well as challenges. My family knows and understands that I need to spend time in my business in order for it to be a success. Once the business is all set up and runs efficiently, I am able to spend more of my time with my family.
Q : What is your greatest fear, and how do you manage fear?
Ans : My greatest fear is damage to my professional reputation. Half of our lives we work on getting educated and then using education to become professionals. The other half of our life we are building and working to maintain our reputation.
Q : How did you decide on the location for your business?
Ans :I did an extensive research based on Census Demographic Data and based on the information obtained from my research and data, I opened my office in the area that caters to the type of clientele I am looking to get and service in my practice.
Q : Do you believe there is some sort of pattern or formula to becoming a successful entrepreneur?
Ans :Not particularly. Have an idea, be determined, work hard and believe in yourself is the formula that worked for me in the past. However, to each is their own.
Q : If you could talk to one person from history, who would it be and why?
Ans : There are many people that I would love to speak to from history for different reasons. Hence, I would rather not narrow my answer to one specific individual.
Q : Who has been your greatest inspiration?
Ans : My family has always being my greatest inspiration.
Q : What book has inspired you the most? (OR what is your favorite book?)
Ans : The Great Gatsby is the book that I read in High School and became inspired by the Great Gatsby’s character.
Q : What are some of the biggest mistakes you’ve made?
Ans : I trusted and helped too many people that did not deserve my trust and help.
Q : How can you prevent mistakes or do damage control?
Ans :When it comes to trusting or helping people nowadays, I tend to be very cautious and selective before I either trust and/or help someone.
Q : What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time?
Ans : I play chess as a hobby. I enjoy MMA and Boxing sports and I am a huge car enthusiast.
Q : What makes you happy?
Ans : My family and the ability to provide a comfortable lifestyle for them.
Q : What sacrifices have you had to make to be a successful entrepreneur?
Ans : Investing my time, money and energy into my business and taking all of it away from my family on a temporary basis.
Q : If you were conducting this interview, what question would you ask?
Ans : What would you rather do as an entrepreneur? Would you want to stick to your current business and profession OR would you rather do something else?
A Kaplan CPA, P.C.
Address: 300 Hylan Blvd., Suite 2F – Staten Island, NY 10312
Phone Number: (718) 577-2582