Resources for Buying and Selling Online Businesses

Comprehensive Tax, Exit and Family Planning for Exceptional Business Owners & Families


Sean DuncanSean Duncan is the Founder and President of SMD Consulting & Accounting, LLC, a firm using a multifaceted approach to helping people and businesses build and preserve life-long wealth by focusing on financial planning, asset preservation, and investment management through strategic tax planning. He is a CPA who has established his reputation as a thought leader in the accounting industry by focusing on advising, teaching, and helping clients with proactive strategy and planning.

Over the last 25-plus years, Sean has accumulated a diverse and unique set of credentials and knowledge that he shares through speaking at conferences and events, in private seminars, and one-on-one with clients. He also founded Chief Proactive Advisor, LLC, which provides training, coaching, and systems for CPAs and accounting professionals to support them in transforming their firms and building stronger client relationships.

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • [01:45] Sean Duncan explains how SMD Consulting & Accounting, LLC is unique
  • [03:22] How SMD focuses on its ideal clients
  • [06:45] The value of professional accounting advice — before bookkeeping gets messy
  • [11:24] Preparing accurate financial statements to help make management decisions
  • [14:18] Sean’s comprehensive consulting approach
  • [17:31] Why SMD brings accounting, investments, and strategy under one roof
  • [23:05] How Sean collaborates with clients to analyze and plan mergers or acquisitions
  • [25:43] Sean’s love of teaching — advisory work through the Chief Proactive Advisor program
  • [29:44] Sean explains how identifying his WHY maintains balance in his life

In this episode…

Many entrepreneurs struggle to balance financial and bookkeeping responsibilities while managing a business. Getting help to navigate your obligations and make solid decisions is essential to grow a business effectively. Should you hire a CPA, a tax advisor, a financial planner, and an investment consultant? What’s the best course of action to get the guidance you need?

According to Sean Duncan, a seasoned strategic consultant and CPA, the benefits of a comprehensive and collaborative approach to the financial aspects of a business are many. Rather than separating functions, bringing accounting, investment strategies, and significant business objectives together provides a holistic view for making sound decisions. Using this method helps to identify areas that need improvement and allows the consultant to pinpoint places that should be refined, thereby customizing solutions for each client. Businesses can save time, money, and resources and make informed management decisions when they enlist the help of a professional strategist who blends their services into a collective package.

In this episode of the Quiet Light Podcast, Pat Yates sits down with Sean Duncan, Founder and President of SMD Consulting & Accounting, LLC, to discuss how he works with small businesses. Sean talks about how SMD is unique, why a comprehensive consulting approach eliminates redundancy, how financial statements aid in making management decisions, and what strategies he uses to prepare businesses to sell, merge, or acquire a new business.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Sponsor for this episode

This episode is brought to you by Quiet Light, a brokerage firm that wants to help you successfully sell your online business.

There is no wrong reason for selling your business. However, there is a right time and a right way. The team of leading entrepreneurs at Quiet Light wants to help you discover the right time and strategy for selling your business. They provide trustworthy advice, effective strategies, and honest valuations. So, your Quiet Light advisors aren’t your everyday brokers — they’re your partner and friend through every phase of the exit planning process.

If you’re new to the prospect of buying and selling, Quiet Light is here to support you. Their plethora of top-notch resources will provide everything you need to know about when and how to buy or sell an online business. Quiet Light offers high-quality videos, articles, podcasts, and guides to help you make the best decision for your online business.

Not sure what your business is really worth? No worries. Quiet Light offers a free valuation and marketplace-ready assessment on its website. That’s right—this quick, easy, and free valuation has no strings attached. Knowing the true value of your business has never been easier!

What are you waiting for? Quiet Light offers the best experience, strategies, and advice to make your exit successful. To learn more, go to, email [email protected], or call 800.746.5034 today.

Episode Transcript

Intro  0:07

Hey folks, it’s the Quiet Light Podcast where we share relentlessly honest insights, actionable tips and entrepreneurial stories that will help founders identify and reach their goals.

Pat Yates  0:32

Hello, and welcome again to the Quiet Light Podcast. I’m Pat Yates. Today’s guest is Sean Duncan and man, this was an unbelievable conversation. This guy has so many things between business tax strategy, accounting, bookkeeping consulting, he’s with SMD Consulting and Accounting, LLC, but he has multiple businesses, he ties into this. I think one of the biggest struggles that Quiet Light for a lot of our people is coming in with the right books, the right set of books that have the right things and then tax that’s going to come out of that planning what you do with that money when you exit your business is really a big part of what they do. This is a great conversation. And if you’re thinking about bookkeeping, accounting, Sean is an incredibly actionable guy. I can’t wait to talk to him about all these things. So let’s get right to it. Sean. Good morning. It’s great to meet you. It’s great to see you. I’m looking forward to talking to you welcome to the Quiet Light Podcast.

Sean Duncan  1:23

Good morning to you, sir. I’m looking forward to it. I’ve heard lots of great things about you Pat.

Pat Yates  1:27

That’s great. Yeah, we were excited to have this discussion with you today. I think there’s a lot of things that we can learn from you, obviously accounts or something people need. It’s a little bit foreign to me, but you’ve got a lot of things that you cover. So give us an overview of SMD Consulting and Accounting LLC, tell us all the things you do.

Sean Duncan  1:45

So we’re not your typical CPA firm. And that’s on purpose. In fact, even in the name, it’s SMD Consulting and Accounting. A lot of people can find accountants, there’s lots of accountants that are amazing and talented. But what we’ve discovered over the years is clients need help. They need advice, they need strategy, need planning. In fact, clients created the tagline if we do what you wish your CPA would do. And that’s the advice, its business strategy, tax strategy, cash flow management, we fold it in other services, we bring in wealth management, estate planning and law through affiliations and other organizations, which we’ll talk about more later if you’re interested. But it centers around how do we help the successful business owner with strategy and do that in a subscription based recurring model? So we’re helping you as the years going, as opposed to April comes around, you owe some money on taxes, and you ask your CPA, how can I reduce that? Well, I can’t go back and fix that. It’s managing things as they go and giving them guidance. And that’s, quite frankly, our unfair competitive advantage is we’re giving advice as they go. And we’re giving wealth management and building and estate planning stuff and business law. It’s really wrapping our arms around everything a client needs as a business owner.

Pat Yates  2:57

That is amazing. Use the word, how did you call it your unseen…

Sean Duncan  3:02

Unfair competitive advantage.

Pat Yates  3:04

That’s interesting that a service is an unfair competitive advantage, something that most people could probably leverage. But you’re doing a much better job of this. Tell us about that. So let’s ask this, what’s your perfect kind of client? Probably not starting out bookkeeping. It’s more post Bookkeeping Tax, tell us who your perfect client is.

Sean Duncan  3:22

It’s actually the underserved segments. So people start businesses, and we can help people starting businesses, there’s lots of questions about entities and taxes. But a lot of times they don’t have a budget, right? We’re trying to be very cognizant of cash flow, because if you don’t make it the first year, you won’t be a client for the next 10 years. Most of our clients when we think about it, if we look at the household, so this is an important distinction. We help people with businesses, not businesses, because we’re always centered on what are you trying to accomplish the business is a tool for you to accomplish your goals. So a lot of times our clients have households that make between a quarter million and say three, four, five million bucks a year of take home income, that’s the small and micro business segment of the world. If you made 50 million bucks, there’s consultants falling out of the sky, they’re all over the place. In fact, there’s a concept called the family office model, the family office model is for people with 50 million in assets and above, and there’s amazing firms that help them. But what happens if you only have a few million dollars in your retirement account, and you’re only making $800,000? That’s successful. But a lot of folks don’t have the tax preparer, the lawyer and the financial advisor collaborating, and that’s what we’re trying to solve for. So it’s really about our perfect client. They make a certain amount of income because that’s where we can get huge impact. I mean, you’re in a 37% bracket. Everything we do is a little more powerful than if you’re under 15. But then they’re trying to do something they’re goal oriented. We want to have them retire early. We want to have them put their kids through college, whatever their purpose is. We have a niche that builds with this we can say niche if you want to say we have niches or niches we can be pinky up, pinky down, whatever helps you out with that. All right, the clients we end up crushing it with have tend to be self-employed physicians, typically three or fewer owners in a practice, because when you get beyond that, so different, there’s different complexities. Software developers, we have done an amazing job of software developers, and particularly video game developers, I’m a big gamer, so actually have an immediate report. And most of our crew does. So we get along with those folks as well. Folks that want to invest in real estate, and that actually tends to dovetail into it. We don’t exclude other types of industries with certain exceptions. We don’t help lawyers, we don’t do nonprofits, we don’t do international. So but most of our client base is physicians, software developers, professional services. That’s the vast majority of it, we have restaurants, manufacturing and other things. That’s who we tend to help. And then a lot of times they have a big transaction. I mean, how many times and you know this, well, how many times is somebody selling a business or buying a business, and yet, their CPA doesn’t advise on that deal. And either version, or the lawyer is not collaborating on how they’re going to draft the document. That’s where we really come in and sing as well. Even if it’s just a one off. We’ve helped a lot with that.

Pat Yates  6:10

That makes a ton of sense. And I was reviewing the site, and I know that you do, it shows like this is like the most basic level, it shows you how bookkeeping services, then you have tax planning all these things. So you’re like a one stop shop for a lot of people, I guess the question that I would have, for a lot of our people, let’s say they’re starting a business out there, and they don’t know where to turn. And maybe they don’t have a huge budget. So they’re afraid to have an accountant or a bookkeeper come in, and then that’s kind of where they make mistakes, is it sort of like an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure type thing to start with you guys at the base and then let it expand or is it they have to be at a certain level to come in and work with you.

Sean Duncan  6:45

It’s a judgment call. It’s actually a professional judgment call. And when we do is when we assess that that’s what we’re looking at. If you are so early stage, that you don’t need QuickBooks, there are times when Excel is perfectly fine to doing a record keeping, because you’re so early stage, but I don’t want to come in three years later, and your books are a disaster. Because if I have bad books, I can’t even give you advice, because I don’t know, basically. So it is better to get early professional advice so that you don’t have this multi $1,000 cleanup 10,000, I got a quote right now it’s $25,000 to clean this person’s books up, because they’ve let it go. Messes are more expensive than just doing it right the first time. And this is true on so many levels. So it never hurts to ask. The beauty of it is and this actually may tie to my securities license, I’m a fiduciary. Now we take our fiduciary responsibility very, very seriously. Which means we’re obligated to give you advice based on your best interest, not ours, this may sound bad, I’m not hurting for referrals. I want to make sure that we’re helping people and we’re helping people grow their businesses and be successful. So I’m not going to talk into anything that doesn’t make sense. If it doesn’t help you, I’m going to tell you, it doesn’t help you. That’s the key is. So if you’re early enough, and I say we’re too expensive. I’ll tell you why. And then what the next triggers are for when it’s time to call us again. So I’d never encourage anybody to discourage anybody from talking to a professional. Just be aware that, what are they trying to do? Are they trying to close a deal? Are they trying to help me. That’s a hard thing to gauge. But that’s what we try to do.

Pat Yates  8:24

That makes a lot of sense. And I think what a lot of people, you have a lot of people that have done exactly what you’re talking about. I’ll give a great example. I wouldn’t know that guy named Clay Copeland I hope please listen to the podcast right now. He had a book, he had a business doing Magnet Fishing. Do you have any idea what Magnet Fishing is?

Sean Duncan  8:38

Oh, I’ve heard of it. I have never done that. I’ve heard of it for sure.

Pat Yates  8:43

How do you catch a fish with a magnet? There’s no way that works. So of course, I had no idea what it was that you drop in and you pull up artifacts, a lot of times they find guns that are thrown off bridges World War Two over in Europe. No clue what it was. The guy came in, he gave me his books. They seem trustworthy. But at the last minute, I said something doesn’t add up with your cost of goods sold. We spent four months with him rewinding that and we sold the business for probably about a million dollars more than he had thought he could sell it for. So in those examples, this is exactly what you’re talking about to start right instead of a garbage in garbage out type of approach, correct?

Sean Duncan  9:20

Absolutely. And also it comes back to goals. Why did I say we help families that have businesses, if you’re building a business to sell, we need to do things differently with the books we need to give you different strategies. That’s a different business model than building the business to create mail boxing. Prospect I just got off a meeting with just now, they want to acquire other companies. They’re not worried about being bought out. They’re gonna keep doing this and they have no designs on selling well, that’s changing what we’re going to do in the books, the strategy, the investments, everything that we’re doing, it changes so knowing what you’re trying to accomplish changes how that works. And so the sooner you get on that, the more runway we have to create the optimal strategy now do we clean things up all the time and react, of course. But in your example, if your guy’s books are a mess, and then he sells it next week, that immediately screws up the valuation. And I have a light background and valuation work. So I know how a lot of the discounting works, that I don’t want to decrease your valuation by 25%. Just because we can’t present reasonable financials. That’s a big deal. So there’s a lot of aspects and running a business is tough. I mean, there are so many things we have to keep track of managing your books should not be the priority of the owner, it should be delegated to somebody else that knows what they’re doing. And you’re focusing on the strategy component, the books are there to support you not be the thing you spend your time on.

Pat Yates  10:45

Yeah, that makes sense. So I think a lot of people out there like when entrepreneurs get busy, and I know I’ve been a solopreneur, I’ve had businesses that have multiple people. And inevitably, they work on the day to day and say, you know what, I’ll catch that accounting up later this month, or next month, or the third month or quarterly, and then they end up with this mess, they hand you over. So it’s one of those things that I mean, you have looked at people probably that didn’t do business with you may have come back a year later, and it was a mess and other people that started right away that were in a better position. So is there a better time to come in and do this? I know we talked about the size of the business. But do you think, is it consistent all the time? Or is it picking it up quarterly? Or how do you usually structure your customers on booking is based on size?

Sean Duncan  11:24

It is based on size? And actually I want to touch on one thing you said there’s the catching up the books thing. Our profession has not done and we’re talking about bookkeeping, but I mean, we’re talking about tax prep and advice and lots of other aspects of the accounting industry. I will say the tax preparers have done a real disservice as it relates to the books. Too often the clients don’t see the books having any value other than, like, I just need to get my tax return prepared. Well, then they hand it to the book that prepare, they get it close enough to get the return done. And then they move on with their lives. What too many business owners don’t understand is and I preach this when I’m teaching seminars and webinars and all the things that I do. The purpose of your financial statements is not for your accountant, not for your banker. It’s not even for the investors, if they’re talking about selling or investing or whatever it is, it is for you to make management decisions. And if they’re junk, you are making bad decisions, you’re guessing. And we don’t have to be fancy and get KPIs and stuff. So back to your question is if a CPA is just focusing on getting a tax return done, and they don’t care about the books being financially useful, that holds you back. So when you want to come in is when you want to know what’s going on, so you can make better decisions. That’s how soon it is if you want to start from the get go is like I need good books, because I have dreams that I want to accomplish, then let’s do it right away at the start. I need to see if this thing takes off, before I spend a bunch of time, I just need to sell a few things. Let’s see, Excel will work just fine. It’s a judgment call. And that’s where we come in a lot of times is deciding but sooner than later, at least to enquire up the value is the way to go. And the other trigger point is, when you’re too dang busy. When you say that I got to get around to it, and I’m gonna play catch up, immediately reach out to somebody. Because your time is worth so much more than just sitting there catching up the books, because that’s hours and hours and hours you can be selling or spending with your family, the moment you fall behind is the moment to start saying it’s time to hand it off to somebody because I’m gonna tell you, you’re just gonna keep procrastinating and it’s gonna get worse. And remember, it’s more expensive to clean up a mess, just to get it right going forward every single time.

Pat Yates  13:47

I 100% agree with that. So when I was looking over it, you know, you do accounting, but you also put consulting on there because accounting inevitably leads to how do I fix this? What do I do better? Where do I go? Obviously, you get a comprehensive approach. And I know you have a place where you do actual special projects. I was really impressed by that. Because if people come in to do the bookkeeping and tax, you support them on audits, if there are things and helping them minimize the tax, tell us about the scope of things that you can do as far as consulting and accounting help with them.

Sean Duncan  14:18

It’s pretty wide ranging and a lot of times we tell clients if you’re not sure if we do it ask anyways because if we don’t, I network and one of my other businesses, I do a lot of professional speaking and I speak to a count they counted communion for the most part at this stage in the medical community for the other if I don’t do it, dude, I know so many talented professionals across the nation that are specialists in other niche. So just ask Anyways, now the scope of work that we do. It starts with tax. The books are there obviously to give us the management reports so we can make decisions. It often starts with tax because quite frankly, if I can save you $50,000 in taxes I’ve already more than paid for myself. And now I know we’re free because we do a subscription based business So if we’re doing subscription based work, and I saved you, 50k, and you’re paying us 24k, congratulations, your books are free your tax returns for free. And now all the rest of the advice is for free. That’s pretty dang cool. So the advice, it’s tax, it’s cash flow, it’s entities, it’s transaction, should I be should I buy? Should I sell my business? Should I not? What am I worth? What would the tax implications be? If I sell my business, how do I restructure that? Can I minimize tax on this event? Can I 1031 exchange this business building? What does that mean? And sometimes it’s purely teaching, I, again, probably use the prospect from this morning. There seek S Corp. They don’t know why they’re in this corporation. They’ve been an S corp. For years. Well, my CPA said I was posting, I just stopped and explained and quantified. This is why you do it. This is what you saved. And this is the pros and cons of this particular entity. This is what you want to stay with. And he said, I’ve never had anybody actually just break this down and explain it. That makes so much sense. Thanks. Now I know what decision I can make. Sometimes it is stepping back and saying wait, what are we assuming you know, what my classes I teach is called the pillars of business mastery. And it’s really teaching clients about entities, the financial statements themselves, the five categories of taxes you’re responsible for, as a business. If you don’t know those three things, and how your business works, how can you make a decision that relates to your financials and your tax, the world assumes that you, as a business owner, understand your entity type how the financials are read, and what taxes you’re responsible for. If you don’t, there’s nothing wrong with you. It’s not what you were trained in, how do we step back, and make sure you know what you need to know, as a business owner, then we get back into the strategy. So a little bit of its professional judgment, navigating that minefield, and there’s more of it, that’s where it starts, we’d like said, we do wealth management and other stuff as well.

Pat Yates  16:58

Well see, that’s interesting, because as I looked at your site and reviewed all your information, I was really impressed by a lot of things. Number one, you work with a base size client, that’s going to help them get into a business or manage it. But let’s say that everything goes great, they pay their taxes, business makes a lot of money, then they take it on personally, and they may have to go to someone else. But you actually have the ability to help them with wealth planning and things, insurance things that they would need. It’s like a full service operation to where you can take that money and get it real time back into some other things. Tell us how you try to work with clients on that, that’s really exciting.

Sean Duncan  17:31

So we started this because quite frankly, we got frustrated, we got frustrated that I would work with a client, we would save them 50 100 $200,000 In Texas, whatever the number is, and then they’d say that Sean will talk to your guy, and they will go to their investment guy or gal and they would do something that blew up my strategy, I’m gonna give you something really simple. Hey, I think that we should set up a 401k. And your business because of this, this, this, this, this. And the financial adviser and a separate company says, you know what, let’s set up a SEP, those are cheap. Well, that might mess up the payroll and related strategies I have in mind, but they don’t communicate with us. The lawyer goes and sets up a C Corp when I wanted a partnership or whatever I decided I want to do. If they’re not collaborating with us, they could be screwing up the business attack strategies. They’re not giving the wrong advice, but they’re giving the wrong advice in consideration. They’re giving good advice, or legal or wealth for that little silo. But they’re looking through a keyhole, they haven’t opened the door to look at the entire room to figure out what the choice is. I got frustrated. So I said to the heck with it, I’m going to create my own dang team. And so we pulled that together. Licensing and everything being what it is, is technically an affiliation of entities. But again, I’m a securities license and insurance license and a CPA so I can handle and own portions of things. But we turned it into a quarterback situation where we will just lead the charge for you, we will make sure that we get an idea of strategy that considers tax and law with the legal team happening behind the scenes. So you don’t have to go set the dang meeting. We then bring ideas to you at that point. And maybe you need to be part of the decision making process. But we try to feel that before you have to schedule any appointments. I mean, if you’re a business owner, how many times have you had to wrangle all the parties that were related to it to get something done? And then you paying by the hour for every single time somebody talks and it just becomes a nuisance as opposed to advocates working on your behalf. I just got frustrated, it was a mess. Small business owners need the same resources the ultra-wealthy get why can’t they have that collaboration, and that comes back to the unfair competitive advantage.

Pat Yates  19:42

It’s really incredibly awesome. I mean, I think one thing that also struck me you obviously you’re very big on your team because you say the difference is your team. Tell us about that philosophy because a lot of people would think my services are what’s going to make the difference from you. You leave with quality in your team.

Sean Duncan  19:59

Oh yeah. One they’re much smarter than I am. I’m just some weirdo Foosball that tells funny stories.

Pat Yates  20:04

I have a wife like that she’s been smarter than me since mid-late 80s, by the way.

Sean Duncan  20:09

Yeah. And sometimes it takes us longer to figure that out about our wives, because suddenly, she is right. And once she’s realized she’s right, everything gets a whole lot easier. And if I’m not sure, I let her tell me how sure I am. I just keep it simple. We actually, in fact, I have, I’m a big fan of EOS Traction in the Entrepreneurial Operating System. I’m the visionary I have an integrator I have the. But the key to it is our core values. We hire people that really get the way we’re trying to do things. And then I let them just go be awesome. We have to hire unique people, we hire purple unicorns, not every single accountant out there is suited to go sit there and have consulting meetings for clients. And we’ve met us we CPAs are not the most fascinating people in the world, a lot of us are not trained to talk to clients, doesn’t mean they’re bad people, it just means that’s not there. So we hire specifically for you got to have the technical skills, but you’ve also got to be a communicate a core value, you have to be able to do that. And by having those people that hate other core values, they’ve got to be problem solvers. They’ve got to embrace equality and inclusion, they’ve got to have all these different traits. It’s them that the team is the reason we’re successful. Do we step processes and consistency and training and automation? Of course we have, we’re still a business. But they’re the heartbeat of whether or not we help a client or not. And I would rather have fewer clients, if I can’t find the right employees to service it. And I want to give that quality service that really helps as opposed to just throwing bodies at it. We’ve been there how many times if you go somewhere, and they just got a whole bunch of people, but only 2% of them know what I think we call that the IRS, that bunch of people that are filling a position but not actually bringing into service. That’s what it has to start with. And we invest a lot of time.

Pat Yates  21:58

I mean, that’s really awesome. I think just like you were it’s kind of funny when you were laughing about it. It’s like accountants get the joke of being completely boring. I don’t know where that ever started. But it’s like, I guess maybe Monday numbers, people think that’s the case. So here’s one thing, I really want to get into at Quiet Light, obviously, the biggest thing with us, we are a lot like you. We’re very similar as a lot of M&A brokerages out there that, they want to get you in and sell. That’s pretty much what they do. But I think Mark Tao, Star founder, he put it really, really well we judge ourselves by the quality of conversations, how much we can help people exit their business, it’s not something they have to list with us. We want to be actionable for them to be able to improve the business they’re going along. And that seems to be very similar to your philosophy of how you just help people along the way. And you stay out of the way while they’re able to make better earnings. So tell me from a standpoint of M&A, let’s say someone’s coming in, in their in their first year and they say, hey, I’m planning on three years from now I want to be able to sell, are there ways that you look at their business over that period of time and help them position to be there may not be things you do now, it might be stuff that through six months, a year from now, but how do you approach that portion?

Sean Duncan  23:03

We want to know why. What are they shooting for what is their gut goal if they want to sell but they need a certain dollar amount to protect. Because even on the why, you know, I want to sell this for $50 million. Your revenues 600,000. Explain to me how we get there. Now, I’ve had meetings with those people. Actually, the this afternoon I’m meeting with a client that I’m helping him analyze the acquisition of a potential company. And the seller has revenue of $800,000 and pass for roughly the last three years. And even during COVID they had a dip and COVID. And they came back. And they said in the next year, they’re going to make 1.4 million, and by the end of 24 months, they’re going to get 1.8 million. Now, I don’t know about you, unless I have a clear roadmap. How in the world are you going to more than double your revenue in 24 months? Tell me how that’s gonna happen? Well, we just believe our reputation is good. That’s not a plan. That’s just me throwing out a number because some broker wants to close a deal at a higher multiple. Well, that’s the type of stuff if I was advising the seller, we would have had a conversation about are you going to achieve the 1.8? What do we need to do to get that? What do we do internally? To put you on that path? How do we make the numbers show and tell that story that has an upslope? And quite frankly, we can tinker with the numbers? You guys know if somebody’s buying a business, what are they going to go look at the last three to five years of financials. And then what somebody’s going to do, they’re going to look at a trend line. They’re going to see what the slope is. If I can tinker with that slope, I can show an upward trend to revenue I can show an upward trend of net income. I’m increasing the selling price by 10, 20 30 50%. By the actions I start today, a lot of it’s why, what are you trying to do? How do we communicate this message? We’re building a plan. Simple things like procedure documents, helping them build procedure documents can increase valuations 20 to 50%, depending on the type of procedures, the more transferrable, we make this company, we increase the valuation. So it’s all about understanding, what are we trying to achieve? And then what can we realistically pull off in that window of topic?

Pat Yates  23:18

Yeah, that’s really amazing. So again, we’re talking with Sean Duncan with SMD Consulting and Accounting LLC. I know you have other businesses. It’s interesting because I clicked on one of your things on seminars, because I was very, very curious. So not only are you doing accounting work, and you have people tax plan, you’re actually doing seminars to teach all this to it’s like super educational. Tell us a little bit about how that ties in.

Sean Duncan  25:43

So, I’ve loved teaching what I just I have a heart of a teacher, which is why I’m a consultant to consulting just pays more than teaching. So congratulations. I originally started teaching seminars to the business owners. And I still do that, like I said, pillars of business mastery course, I teach these different courses. Then I had accountants keep approaching it just randomly, I won’t be walking through scaling new heights, and somebody run over to me and say, oh, my God, three years ago, you changed my life. Well I didn’t speak three years ago, we have lunch, and I gave him tips and advice. And quite frankly, it just kept happening. And I was talking with a friend of mine, and I started discussing, Sean, how did you come to the decision to turn down the FBI and start to go and start your own firm? Sean, how did you make the decision to file your tax returns to focus on advisory? Like every time I have these decisions, these decisions? I have a process. And she pointed out you realize you have a repeatable process. That process is actually the Chief Proactive Advisor program. It’s the process, I teach people for change management, largely focused on moving to advisory work. There are not enough of us out there. So two years ago, I said, you know what, I’m gonna go ahead and formalize the stuff that I kind of just been shooting from the hip chatting with people over lunch and whatnot. And so I formalize that process into the six steps of the MasterClass and then said, hey, if anybody wants me to speak at this, I’d be happy to teach on it. Next thing you know, I’m speaking at AICPA engage and then QuickBooks connect and scaling and various different conferences. I’m working with Canopy different things. And so and this is actually ironic that so depending on when this podcast comes out, but just this morning, Canopy released their top 10 influencers for 2024, I’m on there, which blows my mind, because we’re talking about, like, Doug Sleater, and Amy Vetter and Jody Podar. Like, legitimate Jason stats, legitimate influencers. So for the last two years, all I’ve been trying to do is let me see how many accountants I can help. Because every accountant I helped move into advisory services, I’m helping hundreds of business owners. That’s my pay it forward legacy, if I can teach the accountants to fish, they can teach their clients to fish because I cannot land every point. It honestly took off a life of its own. I wasn’t expecting it to be a thing. And I got published last year on I’m writing a chapter of a book, you’re just fun little stuff that really starts with a heart of how can I help more accountants be advisors? Now I do webinars, I do conferences, I do workshops, I fly out to accounting firms and work with the leadership team sometimes to go over the MasterClass and program because so many accountants are stuck. Yeah, that’s fine. I’m supposed to do advisory, what the heck is advisory anyway? And how do I make the transition because this is the firm I have. That’s what I helped with. I’ve done it, I’ve coached people to do it. And so it truly was one of those, I just thought I’d help a few folks out and next thing you know, dang, and I’m traveling to a dozen different events and doing webinars and like I said, just took literally this morning, blew my mind that I was included in that top 10 influencers.

Pat Yates  28:56

I disagree with that because just having spent a little bit of time with you I can tell not only are you educated in what you sell a sort of quote unquote sell and teach like you said, your actionable from a teaching standpoint, which really resonates with me, because my mother was a prince, I talked about this several months, and my mother was a principal and teacher. My wife was a teacher, she retired and started a business. And I think that I always try to lead with education. My business, our my econ business on Shark Tank I’ve done about every license, you can imagine. I’ve had everything that you could imagine from retail to e-comm that I’ve done before. And I feel like a lot of times I can really add value in ways why do you know that I should do way more consulting, I do a ton of free consulting and Quite Light, obviously, working with people in their businesses, but I think that it’s so important to be able to add that value and it seems as if you lead with that value, correct?

Sean Duncan  29:44

Absolutely. Now I will say and this is something that’s really important for me, and maybe it’s just wedging it in there. There’s an infinite number of opportunities to help. But we always have to come back to your why. If you go look at my LinkedIn, my first two things is husband, dad. Those are that’s my job, husband, a dad first. Those are my jobs. Everything else comes after them. And so what are the challenges is you go do advice, we can help people all the time. Yeah, but we times are the constant without the shoes we forget to help ourselves. And so one of my big missions is as this honestly took off, like a rocket, I had to pause and say, Well, wait a second. Why am I doing? It’s just like I say, why are we trying to sell a business? Or why are you starting this company, I want to be present and successful with my family, and also do all the cool things to help other people out. And so, once I got that centered, a lot of other things just clicked correctly in place. But yeah, it starts with helping, but it starts with helping, not at my own detriment, I have to actually take my own medicine. And I’ll give you a funny example. So I’m not speaking at AICPA engage that’s going to heights this year, which I hate, because I love those two events, I stand in front of a room of 400 people and watching them scribble feverishly because you gave them a tip that you know is going to help I love that I’m fulfilled, my cup is filled. But I’m not going this year, because well, I’m going to spend a month in Egypt, Greece with my family instead. And my wife said, we can move our vacation. It’s cool. No, my purpose is husband and dad. That’s it. I want to help other people, but not at the sacrifice. And this is what happens in our profession. How many of us are pulling 14 hour days right now? Because well, that’s what I got to do. It’s what I signed up for. Look, ya’ll, we’re not saving anyone’s lives, given those tax returns done. The only people that know that you work till 2am are your kids and your spouse, stop and think about what you’re trying to do here. And that’s why advisory services is so powerful, is it can start pulling you back into your own life and getting a better balance. Sorry, I went on a soapbox there.

Pat Yates  31:51

Oh, it’s really amazing. So it’s like we’re extremely aligned, I have three sons of married longtime, doing all those things are really, really important. And they all tie into what you do as an actual individual anyway. So it’s like a means to an end. I think what you’re talking about is exactly the way that I wouldn’t approach me, we’re same way at Quiet Light, we try to add more value than we do on a sale. The funny thing about you the more that I’ve listened to this, you may spend money to do the services you have but the at the end, you’re probably gonna save way more than you ever spent. It’s a value proposition in many ways.

Sean Duncan  32:21

Yes, in fact, actually, I have a saying that I want to point out, nothing on your p&l should ever be an expense. Everything should be an investment. If you’re spending money on something or somebody, what are you getting from it, the ROI can be joy. Like, I don’t know if everyone’s watching this on video. Instead of just audio. I have a Captain America shield the Thor hammer on my wall. SMD purchased those now, what’s the ROI of Captain America shield? I think it’s hilarious and fun. That’s it. That’s the joy. I can’t quantify tax state. Well, I can’t quantify the tax savings. But sometimes joy is the reason. But too many people don’t hire their accountant. They don’t hire the CPA, they don’t hire a broker that understands the deal. Because they’re, oh, they’re too expensive. Are they? What’s the return on that investment? So I have a doctor virus for consulting? We saved him 90,000 bucks last year. And he’s like, yeah, but I can’t justify this $900 month consulting fee. We quantify it and point to that the 90,000 we save that he missed the previous year, as money he saved to put in his pocket. Yeah, but you’re just too expensive. That’s a scarcity.

Pat Yates  33:38

That’s the mind for some people?

Sean Duncan  33:40

Yeah, it’s a scarcity mindset that we can’t always be. So if you are a business owner, stop and think, am I being cheap? Or am I being prudent, and that’s it, there’s a distinction there, you cannot spend money because it’s not a good ROI, or you just being cheap, because it sounds expensive. You we’ve all heard, nothing’s expensive when there’s value, and so on. There’s various versions of that.

Pat Yates  34:07

That’s really cool. So again, when we’re Sean Duncan with SMD Consulting and Accounting. Sean, we’ve covered a lot of things. I feel like we could talk for a couple hours, I really think we’re very aligned. And some of the things that you have are just amazing. I think our clients are Quiet Light to reach out to you and try to make sure that their accounting is up to date and caught up. We have vendor partners that we do this is just an awesome system. So I know we didn’t cover everything. Are there things that you’d like to tell the audience about at SMD that we didn’t touch on?

Sean Duncan  34:33

Well, I will point out for anybody that mentions Quiet Light or knows quiet light, we do a one hour no charge intro. So if you want to come in and just bounce ideas around, maybe you have a technical question you want me to try to answer to the best of my ability, but really, it’s let’s get to know each other to answer some questions. And then we’ll tell you what the next steps would look like if you’re interested and if not, no harm, no foul. So one thing is, look, it doesn’t hurt to reach out to the professional when now you know, I’m not going to get charged for it. Because I would rather talk with you and then tell you not yet call us in six months, or heaven forbid, oh my gosh, you got a disaster, please let me fix this, it can take different flavors and different shapes.

Pat Yates  35:10

That’s really amazing. Yeah, I mean, we do the same thing. And just to touch on that we try to get people to come in and just let us do evaluation, see where you’re get a baseline, even if you list with someone else, you need the right information. So that’s what you’re talking about. Correct?

Sean Duncan  35:24

Absolutely. And what we’ve actually found is, there’s amazing and wonderful CPAs out there. And I’m not saying anything bad about their freakin amazing talent that’s out there. Maybe you need somebody that’s proactive. Maybe you need somebody that holds multiple things under one roof. We work with people that have other preparers, we come in only as the consultant because they love they’re preparers. That’s fine, too. There’s nothing wrong with it. But understanding your choice is always the key, making sure you’re making the right decision. We’re not the fit for everyone. If you have a giant nonprofit, and that is your entire business, I am not your guide. But you know what I know somebody that is, I know this girl that does amazing. Compliance and Bookkeeping and Tax Prep. That’s who I put you in touch with. That’s just because it’s not our specialty. We do what we do, and we do it really, really well. That’s what we focus on. And so sometimes, I can’t even anticipate the questions. But it’s fun to have those meetings and people ask the question, we try our best to give advice. But really, if you’re a business owner, your take home income is sub 3 million. By the way, we have clients that make 10, 20 and 50 million bucks a year. So we help outliers. Our sweet spot is half a million to three ish million bucks in revenue, typically service based professionals. And we have a unique niche and medical practitioners and software developers. And the last little thing I’d point out is the one of the most common mistakes we see that closes deals for us all the time, if somebody says, oh, I’m just a 1099, contractor, I’m sorry, I’m just a 1099 employee is the word. There is no such thing as a 1099. employee. If you receive a 1099, you’re a business owner, that immediately changes everything. ER doc making $500,000 a year is not an employee, they’re a business owner. And immediately I can do more tax strategies for you than I could for the W two. If you’re a 1099 and you’re making six figures or more, you should immediately be just looking at, should I have an entity should I have an accountant and tax deductions. Good, great call someone it does not have to be us call someone I am seeing so many messages, and 10s of 1000s of dollars that could have been saved just because of one dinky little thing, bad bookkeeping, and no tax planning. And they just didn’t understand how the rules work. So if you want a little low-hanging fruit, that’s one to call a CPA for sure.

Pat Yates  37:53

I actually know someone that’s going to need that advice, and I’m going to put them with you for sure. That’s really amazing. All this stuff is proactive advice. It’s like so actionable and so good to have. I mean, you guys do an amazing job over there. So Sean, tell everyone how they can get in touch with you if they want to reach out?

Sean Duncan  38:09

Sure. So we have the website it is That’s the easiest way to do it. You can email [email protected] or you can check me out on Facebook, LinkedIn, and all that stuff, definitely waiting to grab it. If all else fails, there’s a phone number 469-252-4547. But that’s also on the website. That’s the easiest way. And if you want to reach out to me directly in Facebook or LinkedIn, I’m happy to answer there too.

Pat Yates  38:36

As you said, if they mentioned the Quiet Light Podcasts, you can do a one-hour consultation with them. So it’s like a free roll to find out how to help your business right? Yeah, listeners out there. If you’re thinking about accounting or bookkeeping or tax planning or anything, Sean can give you some advice, even if it’s something actionable that you could do on the end. Sean, this has been really amazing, man. I really appreciate you joining the Quiet Light Podcast today, buddy.

Sean Duncan  39:00

I appreciate you taking the time. I really enjoyed it.

Pat Yates  39:02

All right, buddy. Have a good day.

Sean Duncan  39:04


Outro  39:06

Today’s podcast was produced by Rise25 and the Quiet Light content team. If you have a suggestion for future podcasts, subject or guest, email us at [email protected] Be sure to follow us on YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram, and subscribe to the show wherever you get your podcasts. Thanks for listening. We’ll see you next week.

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