The words "CPA" and "Macintosh computers" don't sound as if they go together. David Micoff is taking advantage of the fact that they don't to run a very profitable business. Micoff, president of Digital Guidance, a Milford, Mich.-based company, combines his knowledge of the Apple Macintosh technology with his CPA credential and Big Five background to rake in engagements.
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Often, he is a fireman, brought in after problems have arisen.
"It's been a great niche for me. There are few people in the country that are CPAs and who are versed in the Mac platform," he says. Conversely, small businesses often don't have access to business knowledge. Often they get "a lot of computer jockeys that can do the networking and hardware," Micoff continues, but they don't have access to professionals with a higher level of financial knowledge.
That's why Micoff, with a staff of two, has been able to reach $300,000 a year in billings with almost no formal marketing. "I do very little marketing,'' says Micoff. "Eighty percent of my clients come to me by referrals and strategic relationships."
About 35 percent of his business is from the Macintosh platform, which is supported by both the MYOB and QuickBooks software he carries. This business includes systems specifications and installations, networking, and training. Clients utilizing the Mac platform include attorneys, automotive facilities, and beverage producers. Another 40 percent is on the PC platform, with the same services available. "It's not a question of best served, it's more a platform of choice," says Micoff. "There are no task-specific advantages of one platform over the other." The remaining 25 percent is from traditional CPA tax preparation and compliance services.
The Macintosh business is a lucrative one.
"It's an underserved market," Micoff says. "You are able to charge a premium price."
Micoff also carries Microsoft Dynamics GP, which he says is a logical choice if people remember that Great Plains started as a Macintosh product. He still sells GP into that market to clients who use Citrix Server to run the back-office on the Microsoft platform but whose client machines are Macs.
Micoff got his fondness for the Mac at the University of Michigan, where he graduated cum laude in 1986 with a bachelor's degree in business administration. He went on to work as an auditor for the Small Business Division of the former Arthur Andersen, where he got his small business orientation. He moved through ADP as a staff accountant, and then was CFO for Fame Software, a development company. He founded his own accounting firm in 1993, then was a partner in the Mac Group, a computer consulting firm that specialized in hardware sales and software consulting services to SMBs, Micoff says. It had $5 million in revenues before it was sold in 2000 when his business partner relocated to Florida
In 2001, Micoff restarted Digital Guidance, which he had founded in 1998 as a part-time business. As a full-time operation, it reached revenues of $125,000 that year.
Micoff travels around the United States to serve clients. Businesses often hear about him through networking, and they fly him to their sites to handle systems that need immediate fixing. One of the reasons his expertise is needed is the performance of the Mac on LANs. "With transaction issues, the Mac has challenges," he says.
As a result of that, disaster recovery has been a strong point of his practice, which has led to him getting a lot of referrals to help CPAs in Michigan.
"If they run into a problem they can't solve, they call me in," he says. "They are willing to pay a premium."
And for the moment, that means a deep pool of potential business.
"There are all kinds of opportunities and activities going on," Micoff says.
Riccardo A. Davis is Associate Editor of Accounting Technology and canbe reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
DIGITAL GUIDANCE SNAPSHOT
HQ: Milford, Mich.
Annual revenue: $300,000
Accounting software brands: Dynamics GP, MYOB, QuickBooks