Women's Small Biz Month profile: Louise Cochrane, CPA, EA
Success Stories

Women's Small Biz Month profile: Louise Cochrane, CPA, EA

Editor’s note: Louise Cochrane, CPA, EA, is the owner of L.F. Cochrane & Associates, a CPA firm specializing in advisory services for women-owned businesses. Firm of the Future asked Louise to write about her firm and its niche. Louise is also a member of the Intuit Tax Council.

The niche chose me

I decided to niche while doing distant learning amid the obstacles of the pandemic. I had been wanting to work with more proactive women, but my ultimate priority was the ability to be flexible with my schedule due to unexpected exposures, vaccinations, and pod playdates.

At the same time, I noticed my female clients were reaching out to me to discuss their needs and fears, including applying for Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster loans, a fear of having a decrease in contracts and having to close their doors—which was unlikely—and their fear of losing employees.

Surviving COVID-19 as a working mom was definitely a quest. It helped that I could relate to my clients’ needs because I was in their shoes, too. I was their cheerleader. I had their back.

What it takes to offer a service niche

Just like any other valuable service-based business, it takes organization, repeatable processes, and a mastery of time management to offer an amazing service.

The best move I ever made was hiring my colleague from the Big 4 to help me with compliance during busy seasons. We loved working together at the Big 4 and have been friends for 12+ years. We had the same training from Big 4, which makes working together seamless in accountability, organization, and asking the right questions.

The second best move I made was to hire a virtual assistant. Getting all that low- billable and non-billable work on my plate was huge; being able to have my email organized, schedule blocked, and appointments scheduled made me more efficient. Having someone help me type up notes, or walking clients through portals and retrieving documents, freed up my day so I could devote more time to business development.

The third best move I made was joining a Mastermind group with four other brilliant CPA women in my area. We meet for an hour once a month. Being able to discuss changes in tax laws and brainstorm solutions for complex tax situations is invaluable. But most importantly, having a community that I can text or email, and get responses back, is very valuable.

Two examples of advisory services

Colleagues often ask me for examples of the advisory services my firm delivers. Here are two examples:

  1. I helped a very successful realtor save $160,000 in Federal taxes, and an additional $80,000 in California taxes, by implementing three specific tax strategies.
  2. I coached an amazing attorney transitioning her business from an S Corporation to a partnership, where she brought on her two top performing associates as partners. This transition enabled her to retain talent and create an exit strategy to be complete in five years time. In turn, this led to an advisory engagement to educate the new partners on owning a business, how partnerships operate, and how they are taxed as a business and individually.

Make your niche work for you

Every firm is different, and every CPA or accountant has different goals and aspirations for their firm—and life. For me, it’s all about helping women business owners succeed by helping them realize their dreams. 

The best advice I can give is to find a niche that suits you and your lifestyle. You’ll undoubtedly reap many rewards and success for years to come.

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