There were two things that drew Brock Andersen into the family business: people and puzzles. “I’m a people person,” he says. “And I love piecing things together until they make sense.” His older brother is also a CPA, and they both studied at the same accounting program at Brigham Young University. However, as a champion of freelancer rights at Independent Contractor Tax Advisors, Andersen is forging a path that’s all his own.
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The idea for IC Tax Advisors first surfaced during the 2008 recession. While many companies were forced to lay off their staff, people began picking up contractor gigs to make ends meet. Andersen started to see a disturbing trend unfold: freelancers were getting smacked with sky-high tax bills — tax bills that could’ve been prevented with a few hours of proper planning. A lot of folks new to the freelancing world “were totally blindsided” when they saw how much their income dipped after self-employment taxes kicked in. All those sad surprises were what finally propelled Andersen to branch out on his own.
“I thought if this is what I specialized in, I could really bring costs down for people. So that’s what I did.”
Andersen quit his job and started IC Tax Advisors, a boutique accounting firm that works solely with freelancers across the country, or in other words, anyone who is paid through a 1099 form instead of a W-2. The firm’s goal is to decode taxes for independent contractors who have one thing in mind: independence from unnecessary self-employment fees. And the results have been monumental. Today, Andersen’s team saves each of their clients an average of $5,400 a year on taxes.
“The most exciting thing for me is that I get to talk to people and make a simple fix that helps them out a lot. That’s huge for people.”
One of the best decisions Andersen made while building his practice was partnering with other companies who were also looking to help out the freelancer community. Recruiting agencies and IT companies were a perfect match since they both care deeply about making contractors’ lives easier. These partnerships enabled IC Tax Advisors to grow even more rapidly, through a larger team that constantly looks out for each other. For other companies looking to expand their reach, Andersen suggests spending time upfront to identify valuable partnerships in your space. This action has made a tremendous impact on the firm’s success.
Like any new business owner, Andersen has had to deal with an ever-evolving array of challenges: streamlining processes, keeping clients happy, staying on top of changing tax laws — the list keeps piling up, but Andersen’s ability to find energy in the chaos is what helps him stay on top. One of the biggest issues IC Tax Advisors has had to grapple with is how to clearly communicate to their clients. “I wish I had known how hard it is to educate others. It can be difficult for people to see the opportunities they have.” So how does Andersen make the complex understandable? “We never stop iterating.” The firm publishes a blog, conducts webinars, and constantly tweaks its messaging.
“If you’ve got a product you think is the greatest thing since sliced bread, it has to be clear in order to succeed. It’s all the little things that make a huge difference.”
If Andersen could offer advice to freelancers, he says the first thing to focus on is being awesome at what you do. After that, spend time on the accounting stuff. Before any thorny issues arise, schedule time with your accountant so you can see exactly what your options are. “You always want to be proactive.”
And finally, Andersen says, “Don’t be afraid to specialize in what you do.” He saw a very obvious problem that needed to be solved, so he did everything he could to fix it. Once Andersen sketched out a solution, he intensified his efforts by constantly experimenting. As a result, every one of Andersen’s clients is rewarded with a much smaller tax bill at the end of the year. “For us, that’s a pretty cool thing.”
Andersen is Gusto’s Fastest Growing Partner and won our most recent competition — Partners Perks Plus! Check out our payroll software for accountants here.