Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in financial services but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Lisa Niser, E.A., a tax advisor, educator, and speaker based in Chicago, IL, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

I am a personal tax advisor and financial educator, which means I focus on teaching people about taxes and money so they can make informed decisions that move them toward the life they desire. Even though we interact with it daily, we aren't taught much, if anything, about taxes and money, and this creates a lot of stress. By helping my clients better understand taxes and money so they can ask good questions, they improve not only their financial situation but their relationships, their physical and mental health, and their productivity as well. My clients are individuals who are interested, open, and willing to learn, as well as organizations who want to empower their teams by bringing me in to teach financial literacy workshops.

Tell us about yourself

This is my second career. I started out as a shoe buyer for Marshall Fields. After getting laid off because I was the newest employee and working for several other retailers, I realized that I wanted a lifestyle that would allow me to have a family. Both my grandparents and parents had tax businesses, so I decided to give that a try. I went back to school, got my Masters in Taxation degree, and worked for Big Four accounting firms prior to having my first child. In 2002 the world was not as flexible as it is now, and having time for my children was challenging, so I decided to leave my firm and start my own practice. We had saved my entire salary the year I was pregnant and lived in a small apartment, so I was able to do this without much financial worry. My goal in life is to leave the world better than I found it, and I know that by teaching people about money and how it works, I am doing that. Even if I only impact one person, I have made a difference.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

My biggest accomplishment as a business owner was building my business entirely through referrals. Most people ask for a referral when seeking an accountant, so giving my clients the service I would want leading to them to want to share my name with others.

What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?

For many, one of the hardest things about being a business owner is receiving gross income and having to pay all of your taxes vs. being able to spend your net paycheck. It's a huge shift that many don't think about. For me, the hardest part was the lack of social interaction. When I started my business in 2003 when there wasn't social media or Zoom to connect us.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Have a nest egg so you can give yourself time for the business to grow. It takes more time than people realize.
  2. Learn how taxes work when you are self-employed, as this will help not only with setting pricing but also with understanding cash flow and profitability. I have a workshop called "What Entrepreneurs Need to Know About Taxes" that provides big-picture information.
  3. Don't be afraid to invest in help. Your time is valuable, and many things are better outsourced.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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