Donald Williams, Jr. / AURN Graphic

Big Plans for Small Business: Pro Tips from Donald Williams Jr

Donald Williams Jr. is an accountant, entrepreneur, and business consultant who has a passion for helping people—especially small business owners—get their money in order. Williams, who  holds degrees in accounting from Southern University of New Orleans and Clark Atlanta University, has a wealth of knowledge and experience. He started his own business (Donald Williams Accounting and Consulting) back in 2005 just after Hurricane Katrina.

The New Orleans native was motivated to help small businesses with development when he saw businesses around him, particularly in his hometown, not receiving the types of aid and returns they needed to survive. After launching his business, Williams relocated to Atlanta, Georgia, where he worked toward his master’s degree and where he currently resides. (But he has a roster of clients nationwide, whom he caters to over Zoom.)

“That was a stupid decision,” says Williams, “for me to be in grad school getting a master’s degree and starting a business from the ground up.”

He’s partially joking, but the entrepreneur was also serious because starting a business and having a life outside of that can be rough. His journey wasn’t easy, but he persevered. Today, Donald Williams Accounting and Consulting offers tax solutions, income tax consulting, accounting, payroll services, and is expanding to add a staffing department. 

Expanding a business during a pandemic is no small feat, but Williams is here to help. Small business owners can get started with growth hacks by downloading a free e-book from his business website entitled The Small Business Survival Guide. There is also a pre-order available on his personal website for Williams’s upcoming book, Eat What You Kill. The latter is a more in-depth guide for how to launch and grow as an entrepreneur.

“I share my mistakes, my successes, all the things that I was witnessing,” Williams tells AURN. “I didn’t have someone to hold my hand through the process in that sense. I had a mentor that I talked to for some guidance, but I didn’t have anyone that really understood everything I was going through because it’s different when you have a business—it’s different when you’re your own business. People think it’s easy, but no, you work triple time. You might wear 20 hats and then some.”

Here are a few pro tips from Williams to help your business run a little smoother:

On Taxes

Make sure you speak to someone and not a computer. I tell people all the time: Let a plumber be a plumber, and let an accountant be an accountant. People have to realize that actual humans are better to process all this data and crunch numbers. There are tax regulations and laws that you need to be aware of that a person would know. For example, I get a lot of clients that don’t think they can carry a child in college. But you can. You need to be aware that you get to carry your child in college until they’re 23 years old. Parents will tell me their child had a full-time job but didn’t know—their child can make millions of dollars, but if they’re still in college, then that’s their dependent. And you would not know that talking to a machine.

Important 2020 Write-Offs

Businesses can write off anything—even before COVID-19, as long as it’s business-related. If you want snacks at work, you can go buy a snack for the office. As long as your staff is entitled to it and has access to it, you can write it off. If you buy gum to hang a picture, or you need to fix something, you can write that off. And now, more things are being done with businesses to prevent COVID. Businesses are increasing hygiene supplies, cleaning offices, buying PPE—it’s not like you get anything extra for it, but businesses are allowed to write those things off as long as it’s business-related. 

Creative Ways to Attract and Retain Clients

Have client appreciation days. They like to be thought of. For example, one of the things my bank does for me is—when I walk in and they say, “How are you doing Mr. Williams?” They all know my name and that’s a good thing. That means they appreciate me. I’m not just a number. So what people need to understand is that you have to sell some other services as well, try to capitalize off of the foundation that you have. If you have a base of clients—let’s say you sell cupcakes, then when birthdays come around, you need to try to sell them on birthday cupcakes. When the holidays come around, maybe send them a personalized Christmas card. It’s those personal touches that can go a long way too.

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