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Far more than just a tedious chore, accounting has the power to transform a business and secure its future – if tackled correctly. With that in mind, Omega Accounting Solutions is on a mission to share the positive effects that accounting can have, with tax credits one of the most powerful tools in its box, according to Founder and President Jay Woods.
“Accounting is a way to communicate the health of a business,” he tells The CEO Magazine. “It’s not just this necessary evil that people don’t want to get to, it’s actually indicators or metrics that people can use to understand the optimization of their business.”
Before Woods founded the company in 2007, he had been working as an entrepreneur after a stint in the Certified Public Accounting (CPA) industry.
“That was my first glimpse of what a business owner actually looks like up close and personal,” he recalls. “I saw just how strapped they were for time, how many balls they were trying to juggle, and I saw the value that I could create for them as their back-end advisor.”
“It just blew my mind what incentives were out there that businesses had no idea about.”
That was the inspiration for Omega – partnering with business owners who already had a great concept, or were skilled at the sales and marketing side of things, but had little understanding of the back-end and finance functions.
As an accounting firm, helping small and medium-sized businesses to get organized and understand their books has always been a key component of Omega’s day-to-day operations. But as the business has grown over the years, its offerings have evolved in line with the shifting needs of its clients.
“We learned the power of tax credits about five years ago and it just blew my mind what incentives were out there that businesses had no idea about,” Woods says. “We’ve invested in those areas, and with the COVID-19 pandemic there was a big opportunity with the employee retention credit and we leaned in pretty heavily.”
Pre-pandemic, claiming tax credits wasn’t even on the radar of small and medium-sized business owners, according to Woods.
“Tax credits weren’t relevant,” he says. “CPAs weren’t talking about them and they didn’t really exist at a mainstream level.”
Coming out of the pandemic, the situation has completely changed. Now there is much greater recognition in the United States market around programs like the Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan.
“The pandemic was interesting for a number of reasons. It was the first time the government took subsidization of businesses and trickled it all the way down,” Woods reflects.
The incredible demand that resulted has created a significant opportunity for Omega to connect more regularly with its clients.
“We were able to expose this giant inefficiency in the market space where there was a large demand and need for these tax credits, and we were able to fill that need.”
Now, the company is helping business owners establish which tax credits they qualify for, giving them an important advantage, especially against a challenging economic backdrop.
“We see ourselves as well-positioned to come in and say, ‘Hey, we’re going to be that advisor for you who can bring these tax credit opportunities to your business and continue to keep you informed’,” Woods says.
“And the employee retention credit is that first opportunity to expose them to a whole world that they don’t really know about.”
Omega has also started a lending practice, enabling clients to access cash coming to them via tax credits from the IRS in advance. Wait times for these payments are otherwise often between 10 and 12 months.
“We’re taking a comprehensive approach to meet the needs of small businesses and mid-sized companies. We feel like we’re well positioned for that,” he explains.
Like so many other companies, Omega is harnessing the fast-rising potential of technology to drive its business forward. Data, specifically, will play a big part in the company’s future, Woods specifies, accelerating the process of accessing information about business owners.
The company has already brought developers in-house to tackle tasks like data automation and data visualization, with it now looking at further innovative uses.
“We are focused on managing that data in a smart way to take advantage of all sorts of tax credits,” he expands. Because tax credits range from federal to those at a state and local level and differ according to the various municipalities, data is an invaluable tool to sort through it all.
“We try to take as much of that data as we can to prospect for our clients and the opportunities that exist.”
AI is another tool that is showing great potential for Omega, this time on the lead generation side.
“Beyond the traditional model, there’s all sorts of information living on LinkedIn and social media that tell you something about who a potential customer is,” Woods continues.
It’s an approach that is breathing new life into a tax incentive space that follows a traditional model that is based on hefty contingent fees, according to Woods.
“What happens is these tax credit firms have to bill a staggering amount of hours to justify their fees and so there’s not a lot of built-in incentive to be efficient,” he explains.
“A lot of accounting firms put on a fancy suit and a we-know-more-than-you mentality, and that’s just the wrong approach.”
By leveraging technology to track the information required to calculate credits, Omega can bring those prices down.
“There really aren’t a lot of firms taking advantage of technology the way they should be,” Woods says.
But even while Omega embraces evolution, its mission remains a constant.
“An informed business owner is an empowered business owner,” Woods notes. “A lot of accounting firms put on a fancy suit and a we-know-more-than-you mentality, and that’s just the wrong approach.
“We see ourselves as an advisor, bridging the gap from bookkeeper to CPA and taking the scary out of the process for the client.”