This is the third episode in the series, where Mike Goossen, CPA speaks with Jeff Badu, CPA, owner of Badu Enterprises LLC. Badu also owns the Badu Tax Services LLC and he credits the inclusion of Offshore Staff to his team as a game-changer that helped him double his client base in the past year. In this episode, they speak on how Offshore Staffing can help you maintain volume as well as value in the longer term.
#BKOT 03: BUILD A KICKASS OFFSHORE TEAM
VOLUME AND VALUE FOR YOUR PRACTICE IN LONG TERM
Hosted by: Mike Goossen, CPA, Vice President, Entigrity Offshore Staffing
Guest: Jeff Badu, CPA, Owner, Badu Enterprises LLC
Mike: Hello everyone and welcome to today's podcast of Building a Kickass Offshore Team. Today I have a special guest, I have Jeff Badu (incorrect pronunciation). Is that correct Jeff?
Jeff: Actually, that’s Jeff Badu.
Mike: Jeff Badu, okay Jeff and well Jeff owns a tax practice in Chicago and has been doing a lot of different things and he's an active investor. He works with property tax consultants, I understand you also have time to help CPA candidates in getting ready for their test. You've done all this and I understand you're only 25 (years old) is that correct.
Jeff: I'm actually currently 27.
Mike: Wow! 27 years old wow! You've done a lot. So let's start there, Jeff. I want to get to know you better. Can you kind of share a little bit about your history, where you're from, where you've been and how you got to where you are today.
Jeff: Yeah. So I was born and raised in Ghana which is on the west side of Africa. And I moved to the United States when I was 8 years old. My parents had already been here and I essentially migrated to the states with my older sister. Life was tough at that age because I moved into an area where it wasn't the safest neighborhood. It was one of the rougher neighborhoods in Chicago at the time. So with that being said, I unfortunately not only had to deal with the challenge of moving to a new place, new country but also not dealing with a not so good environment. So unfortunately, I got sucked into some of that. Just so some of some of the things as a child that I had go through, that's in a bad neighborhood. So unfortunately I surrounded myself with the wrong crowd, basically had friends who were involved in all types of crazy stuff and being around them influenced me to do some of those negative things. Now when I was 16 years old, I discovered my purpose in life, which is to inspire and support the super hungry to take hold of infinite resources in order to create an abundant lifestyle. And how I discovered that purpose was that, I went back to Ghana. It was a family trip that we took to Ghana and I seeing a lot of struggle. I’ve seen people with kids on their back, heavy loads on their head, of apples, oranges to sell on the street, just to make this pretty much, to put food on the table. And I was like wow! I mean I almost broke out in tears because I'm not like they have. I have such a great opportunity. Why on a road am I messing it up by being around the folks that I was around at the time? And why not use what I have now to help these people? So that's what my purpose truly unleashed as the light shines and I essentially started learning more about money and finances. I made it my aim to go to study personal finance. I started doing more research about it. I started looking at savings, accounts. Things of that nature. And then fast forward to when I was 18, I got accepted into the University of Illinois at Urbana, Champaign. I was the first person from my high school in history to get accepted at that university. And I went ahead to study accounting and while studying accounting I was building a business plan which turned into Badu Tax Services LLC. And with that business plan I just kept building and then launched my company in 2016. And I mean overall the UBI taught me a lot. About etiquette. So dining etiquette things of that nature has taught me about accounting and it helped expose me to a very large network. And then of course that helped me into my business plan which now is composed of 11 different companies. So yeah that's a little bit about me personally.
Mike: And you are, so eleven different companies, you're a very busy young man obviously.
Jeff: Yes absolutely.
Mike: Well, tell me a little bit about within the CPA firm, CPA work that you do the tax accounting and accounting the different consultants that you do and so what are some of the clients that are some, that some of your focus clients were some of your main clients and the work that you do for them.
Jeff: Yeah. So just a little bit of history about the firm. So Badu Tax Services LLC is a tax firm that specializes in tax preparation planning and representation services for individuals and businesses across all 50 states in the U.S. And we have clients in about seven different countries at the moment. That firm came about through my business plan when I was a freshman in college that I was building over time and launched in 2016. At the time between that time 2010 and 2016 we had 100 clients. And now in 2019 we have over 1500. And we're expected to hit 3000 clients next year and 10000 clients within five years. Also with that with that type of growth, the clien,t our primary client base that we figured out that we really like. That we truly can help impact and have massive amount of value. Our real estate investors. So folks who own real estate investment properties specifically multi-family residential property. And Chicago is we specialize in Chicago where we can go anywhere in a US
Jeff: So my niche, my target clients are real estate investors and also we have a lot of real estate agents that we work with. We also like those folks managing brokers are just realtors in general.
Mike: Sure, so it's a real see that the property area property growth. And so that's okay. That's a nice one thing that I have learned over the years has been too broad is not as effective as find a nice narrow focus and focus is important here. They say it's not about it's not hocus pocus it's all about focus. Kind of a thing and so I focus on you've found some that you're good at. I'm sure you'll take a client or two elsewhere but that's your main thing and that's great. So with this kind of growth in this kind of expansion I'm sure you had troubles you're trying to find enough staff. I mean there was talking about can't get staff I can't keep staff all that kind of thing and so I came across the concept of offshore staffing and you met Entigrity. Tell me a little bit about that.
Jeff: Yeah. So I met Entigrity actually at an AICPA, American Institute of Certified Public Accountants conference that they invited me to. I was the speaker over there and I had seen the ads and then started getting the emails and the blast. So that was definitely a great marketing tool. But yeah I started saying, ‘oh okay’. Well my firm is looking to grow at the time it was during the summer so it was, it was pretty slow time of the year. I said okay, let's start thinking about the following year. It was literally after the first year of the firm.
Mike: And this was 2017 then.
Jeff: Yeah exactly. So I said yeah let's, let's just go ahead and start looking at possibly expanding the firm. So I started watching videos testimonials. I started looking and doing a lot of research on this whole offshore and the fact that the AICPA allowed Entigrity to be a sponsor of the event, I said OK it can’t be that bad.
Mike: Must be legit, huh?
Jeff: Yeah exactly. So yeah, I started, I started doing some comparisons, I mean, I can pay my remote staff $9 an hour. Wow. Hey wow this versus $55 or so. However much nowadays as per required. So yeah I mean I decided to try it out. I jumped in the water and I tried it out. Talked to Shawn, did some interviews with some of the remote staff and they were great people. I mean I felt like I was interviewing a real life job candidate. And the fact that I was a flexible environment and everything of that nature was great for me. So overall I came across Entigrity through a conference and then started getting the email blast and decided to sign up because I knew my firm needed to grow. And I knew that the data entry, I mean as I was going to tax returns I knew that entry was for me. I'm more so strategic.
Mike: So you were anxious to get started and you gave it a try. You started small I would imagine and worked your way up and tried different amount number of hours, different people. So when I heard you heard you say as you found that the people that Entigrity brought to you to interview you found them all to be competent and ready to go and were there any, were some of the challenges you did you were communication issues or you know online interviews I mean was that all comfortable for you?
Jeff: Yeah I mean for me I've learned to be in uncomfortable environments. So initially I was a little uncomfortable to interview somebody out overseas. However I started becoming comfortable. I learned that they had pretty good English and I mean really good English. And yeah I mean it felt I mean for me I worked with a lot of people virtually. So almost 95% of my clients are virtual so for me it is a very easy transition to interview candidates virtually and the interviews went great. Have to ask him some questions. Some were business related, some are personal. An interview process is great. I do feel like I chose the right candidate. I started a one, one remote staff and then I ended up with two and I think next year we probably will stay at two because we're still trying to figure it out. As far as growth and everything of that nature. But the following year would definitely be the third, at least a third person. So essentially our role is for every 500 to 1000 clients we're going to need at least one remote, that I think keep growing.
Mike: Yeah. So as and when you work with Entigrity the more you build your team as part of our name of our podcast. Building a kickass offshore team and team will be working together in our offices in a separate area just for you.
Mike: That type of synergy that type of working together should increase productivity and results for you as well. So I'm curious were there any some of your apprehensions that you started with that you maybe had some concerns about different things like maybe time zones, skill set. What were some of those? What were some of your initial concerns and how did those get rectified?
Jeff: Yeah I mean my initial conception was that you pay for what you get. So cheaper staff meant cheaper work or cheaper quality but it turns out it actually led to the best some of the best quality that I've seen. So yeah like that. That was one of my biggest misconceptions was that I'm paying cheaper or that the staff is cheaper and the work would be cheaper. But no, it just the fact that these are dedicated people and are looking to work hard. They know what they're doing. They go through training through Entigrity. I go through, I do I put them through my training as well through my firm and so that I was one and then also the time zone difference, that was huge. You're dealing with India time zone versus West time zone. I mean, I thought hey, I might have to wake up middle of the night but it was very flexible, because it's all I have to do is get up at about 6:00 a.m. or 7:00 a.m. Central. Up on the computers. And I was pretty much it I didn't have to wake up at 4:00 a.m. or 3:00 a.m. or anything like that. So yeah it basically work worked very well my schedule because I'm an early riser but I'm not the guy who wakes up at 3:00 a.m.
Mike: Earliest as relative as I suppose. So that's when you found that that maybe you know so they're doing some work when you're sleeping and there is some advantage it almost extends the office hours for a little bit and so forth. And what about you? What about your staff that you currently have at the time as you began to talk about you know we look at this offshore idea what do you guys think? I mean how did that go with the current staff what were their concerns and how did you overcome them?
Jeff: So believe it or not we didn't have any staff at the time.
Mike: Oh this was your first hire.
Jeff: This is a one man show. I mean I did so and I felt we have an independent contractor model. Where we teach other people in the business we teach other people how to run their own tax business. I had another guy with me but he was doing his own thing, he would get his own client. He was an assist to my clients. So yeah we didn’t necessarily have a team per se. We didn't have anybody really. We didn’t even have a business coach at the time. Now we have over 25 people in the firm.
Jeff: That's that's not even including my business coach. That's not even including my mentors, things of that nature. So say we had no staff so it was a very easy transition.
Mike: So as new staff came on that's just part of the culture. So is that part of your business culture and so forth and that's great says because I mean some people have those concerns they already have the staff of say 30 people and they and they look you to offshore and there's some concerns there and you know historically it's been you know we discovered that you know there might be some apprehension at first but the reality is utilizing offshore staff to do some of the data entry and some of the… we'll call routine activities actually frees up your local staff to be a better consultant to the client to be better. More or less, less overworked if you will and allow them to generate better service for their customers and clients which I think is a positive. So typically there might be a little concern at first but actually it's usually smiles afterwards because of the some of the work that's able to be passed off to the remote staff very effectively with the Internet and all that with the cloud based connections and all those sort of things.
Mike: So when you were looking at this. Were there any other things that you were looking at as part of to help you grow or were you just kind of latched on to the offshore idea and just took off with that with other ideas you are going through at that time.
Jeff: Yeah, I mean I thought about hiring U.S. staff which we actually did. We actually hired US based interns.
Jeff: And turns out that, basically it turns out that they wanted more. They simply they were getting paid more. But their skill set would be even lower than the people were paid less and Entigrity staff. So yeah. And so we hired interns who were paying about fifteen dollars an hour, which we still think, I guess just to get a little more of this really just to get a little more diverse. So if we have offshore and we have US base just to test the waters a little bit. I have found that I like the offshore a little bit more. It is much more flexible. And U.S. I think US based folks just demand a lot. I think it's a cultural thing but yeah overall I mean I thought about hiring even like a tax manager where you pay a salary, but I'm like ‘you know what, I just stick with what we have’. We're going to operate on a contract basis only. We're not hiring anybody full time. We're not. We're just strictly part time. We’re just strictly offshore. And yeah we were just taken off with that. I mean we have a firm that has over fifteen hundred clients more than a lot of CPA firms and I know. And we're still working out of the home office. We're still doing things virtually. 95% of the work is that way.
Mike: Yes. You're taking this all offshore. Virtual Office thing pretty far. That's great. That's great model. I think individuals and I'll use your age category see this as a reality and it's one of things we talk about I share a lot and some of the webinars I do is that whole idea of being office less or not having all the overhead of an office is a huge advantage. And if you can work remotely when you have both onshore staff that works at home or a distant office and you have the offshore combination a blend of that is what it sounds like you're doing. It sounds successful. What are some of your clients concerns and have they been concerned about the fact that you're processing their portion of their tax return offshore onshore a different way? Is there any concerns about that and also along with that? What about data security, is that a problem? What are some of your concerns and how do you come from that? Give me some insight there.
Jeff: Yeah. So I really have had one client out of the past three years of one term that complaining or just expressed some type of concern. But even having been OK with the now one out of fifteen hundred plus clients. So I think that's a pretty good. Yes. I mean ultimately the client just cares about the work being done. They don't really care who does the work. They care about quality, work efficient. I mean quality and efficient work. That's it. All they are looking for the final work product and that's it. You're not concerned about who is doing that. I mean we don't necessarily. I, we share that hey we're a virtual firm and we have these processes in place and all that stuff but they don't really care about that.
Jeff: They care about the work product the quality of the work the value is already there.
Mike: Value, right?
Jeff: Exactly. Exactly. So yeah, I mean they haven't really expressed concerns as far as security we’re very secure. I mean we're probably one of the most secure firms you can ever discover. We have a secure portal where you need a password to get it need a PIN number to get in if you get locked out. If you have three failed attempts then you have to email me to get your account reset. Highly secure. Anytime a client download the document, I get a notification. So there is no monkey business or anything going on anywhere. All our computers are shut off at the end of each day so nobody can possibly get in after I sleep or while I'm sleeping. Everything is all password protected as far as I mean documents go through the portals so they don't necessarily need to be password protected but our flash drives are password protected. All the laptops are password protected. Yeah. Initially I thought, hey, what if this company is out to steal data. I mean that literally that was one of my thoughts.
Mike: But people have that concern. Yes?
Jeff: Yeah exactly. So yeah. You were hearing about the scams in India and all that stuff but I was like ‘no, these just they say the great thing is life on an opposite side of fear’. So had I feared at that point I would not be able to grow my company. And that's on the greater side. So yeah I mean there's always that fear or hey I mean there's so much there's so many scams going on. But I think even the scammers and gone down tremendously through IRS practices that they put in place and on a good stuff. But I mean still you hear about these scams people going to Walmart getting cards and stuff like that. But yeah overall it wasn't really a serious issue. I think it was just that misconception and I haven't had any issues.
Mike: Right. So how do you understand? You probably realize that the security processor you've been aware of what Entigrity goes through. How does that what do you think about how they operate their offices. That's something else that you've learned about it. What do you think about it?
Jeff: yeah I would say I don't know too much in depth about what Entigrity does exactly with security but I'm sure that it's of high standard. I mean I'm pretty sure that staff can take work home or very confidential work home things of that nature. So yeah. To my understanding it's very secure in the fact that knock on wood we haven't had any issues. I can imagine an extremely insecure environment.
Mike: Yeah. Just kind of just a quick review for you. The offices are secure. The staff leaves all their personal items including their cell phones in a locker. There's password, pass-code entry into the office. There's no printers, there's no other serial, Ports are locked down there's minimal access to the Internet. Just what they need to do work so like can get onto the systems that you provide through your network. You’re virtual, your logins and all that sort of thing. So there's no paper, there's no pencil, so and it's all video recorded at all times, so there's absolutely no opportunity for individuals to take anything out of there, so that's exactly right. They work on your work on your system only. The time you want them in so it sounds like. I wasn't asking about that you said you're very secure so do you have like a cloud based server. You have a server room within your location or what is your system. Is it part of a cloud based server system?
Jeff: Yes. So all the documents go through the cloud the software itself right now is not on a cloud. It's a desktop based software. However, starting 2020 we will be going to cloud so that would bring its own challenges. So right now we basically have computers set up in office where you have to remotely log in.
Jeff: But it's about getting to a document you can get the documents from anywhere. So yeah we are going cloud with the software. Hopefully next year. We still haven't finalized it yet but more than likely, we will. Right now they're based on the desktop exactly.
Mike: Now about to bring complete virtuality. Then when you have everything in the cloud, access from anywhere that will make things easier for everyone including your offshore staff.
Mike: Yeah. Okay so what we have kind of covered a lot of topics here, so when you think about it when you meet colleagues when you're at the conferences and you talk about it and they are offshore staffing comes up or what are some of the things that you. What would you share out there if someone's listening right now thinking about offshore staffing what would you share. What would you say to them?
Jeff: Yeah I'd say fear not, because there are great things with offshore accounting or offshore staffing. I have an open mind in this because, I mean, truly to succeed in business you have to be open minded. You have to step outside of your comfort zone. If you're not, then you'll always be comfortable. For me if I'm comfortable, I mean things are going wrong so always expand. Always, always do more. And in order to do that you have to break any stereotypes, break any sort of barriers that you have and just try it out. I mean their testimonies, their reviews online. There's a reason why they are online, so just try it out. I mean I've had great success with it. I love it. I would recommend it to anybody. We have 15 independent contractors that are planning to use Entigrity within our firm, pretty soon. As they get more clients and as they get busier, I mean I can work a heavy workload for them. They're still building their business but when I get to the point where I add a thousand or so clients they will absolutely need remote staff offshore accountants. So it's definitely something that I highly recommend looking into. If anything it’s going to cost you less money and another advice really, is to make sure you're training, make sure you very detailed about what it is you want with your people. So have we have standard operating manuals. Everyone, any new Entigrity staff or anybody that joins the firm have access to a document that literally tells them from step one to step ten what you should be doing. So we have it already we just send it to them. They read it and they just go through it as they're going through it turns out ‘oh yeah’. This is the step. Okay make sure you notify him of finishing a tax return that it's ready for a review. So yeah definitely have those in place. Of course Entigrity trying to staff to for best practices but everybody runs their firm differently. I run my firm very differently. I'm usually the last person that sees the tax returns in their final product.
Mike: Yes that's a good thing. So, well great! Well thank you for sharing. I'd like to just ask you a few kind of quick questions here. I guess you're just a little more about you or so. So what would be your favorite accounting software package. What is your favorite? What are some like two or three of your favorite ones.
Jeff: Yeah. Drake tax software. Definitely my favorite tax software out there. Very easy convenient and mandatory.
Mike: Drake, did you say?
Jeff: Yeah. Drake Tax software
Mike: Yeah well. What about your management software?
Jeff: I mean as far as my management I mean overall Quickbooks are also the ones. QuickBooks is a great tool to have everything in there. Drake, I would say that has a pretty good management software. So yeah I would definitely say that.
Mike: So if you weren't running a CPA firm what would you like to be doing? What would you be doing if you weren't a CPA today?
Jeff: I'd be a real estate investor full time.
Mike: There you go. Obviously you like that part of it.
Mike: So when you think about your clients and so what would you prefer? Do you prefer a large volume of clients you mentioned? like ten thousand, one thousand or maybe fewer clients by higher value? Which one would you choose?
Jeff: I honestly, I believe we actually have the model where we can have a lot of volume and still a lot of value. We have different trainings in place that teach our people how to sell more. But still get more clients. I mean in a reality you probably want lower clients but higher super higher dollar values for us. We have a model where we're only attracting those higher dollar value clients now. We're having a lot of them and we're training people to service those clients. So yeah I mean you really can't get the best of both worlds but I think they're great.
Mike: Well hey, when you want to take a vacation? Where's your favorite vacation spot?
Jeff: Ghana. So in Ghana, where I'm from and that's definitely my favorite vacation spot.
Mike: Next time you go, you go to Ghana. Huh? How often do you get out there?
Jeff: I go there once a year.
Mike: Oh good for you. That's great. We have obviously a place to stay when you get there.
Jeff: Oh yes. Absolutely. We’re actually developing a real estate in Ghana right now. So…
Mike: Good, that's great over there I'm sure. So what about when you're home and you're done with work? What's what do you do to relax?
Jeff: For me I like to watch a movie. I watch a lot of movies. I'm usually relaxing. I'm just kicking back in the chair relaxing to watch the movie. And also I write a lot. I'm a poet. I write a lot of romantic poetry.
Mike: wow! Really. So do you have someone you're romancing right now?
Jeff: Yes I do have a fiancée who we’re getting married next year.
Mike: Congratulations. Good for you sir. That's wonderful. Oh yes many-many years I recommend to everybody.
Mike: What about professional sports? Who do you like to cheer for?
Jeff: I'm a huge Boston Celtics fan doing very well right now.
Mike: The Celtics. That's interesting. That's a little bit far from Chicago.
Jeff: Oh Yeah!
Mike: How did you become a Boston fan?
Jeff: Yeah. So I was a kid when I was in Ghana. They turned on a TV and one of the first teams I've seen with the Boston Celtics and I go with them ever since.
Mike: And that's that is so true and that's you know that's one thing about professional sports at such a young age like you know when I was a kid gosh back in the 70s 60s 70s and before you were even in the scheme of life obviously. Yeah my family was a big you know they're all L.A. fans so I'm in California so all the L.A. professional teams became a part of my genetic past. That's how I am too. It's funny what you, It's what you learn when you're a young child. What happens and it sticks with you and submit your life.
Jeff: Yeah for sure.
Mike: Well Jeff, hey, thank you so much for being on our podcast today. You've given us a lot of great information some great things that think about. You’re an impressive young person. I wish you well and I hope that maybe our paths will cross someday soon at one of these conferences in the future and we can be able to look eye to eye and shake hands.
Mike: Thank you So much for joining us today and we look forward to more from you. So everybody, thank you so much for joining us today on our podcast. And we look forward to seeing you next time. Have a great day.