H&R Block works year-round to support small businesses at any stage
While many people think only of H&R Block from January through April as they prepare their annual tax returns, many of the company’s franchisees provide financial services to individuals and small businesses throughout the year.
Patrick and Susan Taft own 15 H&R Block offices across Arkansas, including two in Conway and one in Greenbrier. The couple started their accounting business 21 years ago and joined H&R Block in 2009. Patrick and Susan Taft employ 26 people year-round, which scales up to 130 employees during tax season, including enrolled agents, CPAs and other staff accountants, and tax preparers.
The Tafts earned H&R Block’s Featured Franchisee of the Year designation in 2016 and 2018, an award that recognizes three top-performing franchisees that stand out from the nearly 1,400 H&R Block franchisees nationwide. They became the first franchisee in their category (those with eight or more offices) to earn the coveted award more than once.
“We’re not your average H&R Block,” Taft said. “As far as national recognition, we have been in the top 100 for all 11 years that we’ve been part of H&R Block and were recognized in the top 25 last year. We’ve won several awards and have done a lot with H&R Block, and much of that comes from our ability to help small businesses.”
Susan and Patrick Taft earned H&R Block’s Featured Franchisee of the Year designation in 2016 and 2018, an award that recognizes three top-performing franchisees that stand out from the nearly 1,400 H&R Block franchisees nationwide.
Taft said small businesses are the heartbeat of America, and small business ownership provides people with the opportunity to be their own boss and obtain financial freedom. His job is to help them take the first step.
“If you’re looking to start a business, the first thing you need to do is think about what you love to do and how you can turn it into something someone needs,” he said. “From there, sit down and think about where you want your business to be three years from now, and then plan what it’s going to take to get there.”
Taft and his team at H&R Block help aspiring entrepreneurs go from “dream to reality.” He stresses the importance of having a plan to ensure the business’s growth potential and long-term success and to avoid costly mistakes.
“You don’t want to get established and then realize you need to start over because your name wasn’t registered with the secretary of state’s office – forcing you to rebrand – or you don’t have a tax ID number to set up your business bank account.”
Through free consultations, H&R Block can help clients navigate the many aspects of starting a business – from choosing a business structure to securing capital to connecting them with other professionals who can assist with marketing.
“And we will be there along the way, providing training and education and supporting them with whatever they need, from bill pay to tax preparation. Our main objective is to educate people to be able to make the right financial decisions for their businesses and their families.”
Once the business is off the ground, Taft recommends small business owners seek the expertise of trained professionals, just as they would for car repair or dental work. One mistake many new business owners make is not getting help when they need it or getting help from the wrong places.
“People often have a misconception that accounting is something anyone can do. If I don’t know how to fix my car, I go to a mechanic. But my brother, who is not a mechanic, may say, ‘All you have to do is change the radiator.’ That sounds great, but there’s a lot more to it than that. Leverage people who are good at what they do and let them help you. Don’t try to do everything on your own.”
Locally, H&R Block manages bookkeeping services for about 220 businesses each month and payroll for about 150 businesses each month. Outsourcing these services enables a business owner to focus on the reason they started their business in the first place.
“People go into business because they have something they’re either passionate about or interested in. And for most of those people, what they’re passionate about or interested in is not accounting, payroll, or bookkeeping.
“They’re passionate about whatever drives them, and the accounting and the bookkeeping is generally just a peripheral thing that they have to do. So, our goal is to be able to help them focus on why they started that business and how to make it successful. Focus on the business and what you’re good at, and we’ll take care of the books.”
For day-to-day financial matters, Taft encourages new business owners to establish good financial habits upfront, such as recording expenses on a spreadsheet or in accounting software.
“Find an easy accounting method that works for you and that you will actually do. You don’t want to be in a situation at the end of the year where you’re looking at your expenses in January and wondering what you spent. It can cause you lots of issues.”
Taft said as a national brand with national backing, H&R Block is equipped to assist clients with whatever issue they may face. And as a Conway native and local business owner himself, Taft is committed to ensuring the success of small businesses in Faulkner County.
“Conway and Faulkner County is our home. It’s where we’ve raised our kids, and it’s where we own our business. That business may be nationally known, but it’s locally owned. We would love the opportunity to serve people in the place we choose to call home.”