Pro Spotlight Q&A: Emmanuel Miller On Why He Became a Pro and How It Allows Him To Run His Business
Emmanuel Miller has ambitions. Miller, who lives in Dallas, understands his position in his community and wants to empower those around him. It’s why he started LOFE, which stands for look out for everybody, to engage communities, so people see greatness in themselves and their responsibility to look out for others. As a Taxfyle Tax Professional, the flexibility of working on his desired schedule allows Miller to focus on growing his business while using his spare time to earn money on the side.
Q: Why did you pursue accounting as a career?
Miller: Interesting story. I didn't start off with accounting as my career path. I went to the University of North Texas and started off as a mechanical and energy engineer major. And, you know, I wasn't really enjoying my courses. [I] met a guy, you know, just right outside the auditorium, I was walking, knew him already. But he was telling me that he got an internship in accounting; he was getting paid $25 an hour working at Price Waterhouse, Cooper. And so I had no idea what the Big Four were, I had no idea really what was going on in accounting, but I did know what $25 hours looked like. And that's something that I was interested in. And so I just took an accounting course, and, you know, it wasn't like too difficult. I worked really hard to study for the exam, got like, 100 on my first test, and I just kept going with it. And that was, that's pretty much what led me into accounting. It was just, you know, trying to get paid, man. That's the truth.
Q: What about switching to accounting made you know it was the right career path?
Miller: Really, it was just something that people said was hard, and it was something that was easier for me. So, and also just knowing what I knew from my friend. I didn't necessarily know, like, it would end up, you know, becoming where I became, because I didn't know the ins and outs, and you know, how accounting firms actually work. I just knew I could get an internship and I could work somewhere. And he told me about the Big Four, and I knew I wanted to work for one of the Big Four. That's pretty much it and I worked my ass off to get it.
Q: What was your first job after you graduated?
Miller: My first job, actually, so I worked at KPMG, I did an internship with them twice. And then, because of the hours that I was working, I didn't really feel like I had a lot of balance. But instead, I took an offer to go and work for Grant Thornton for six months. I worked there, I didn't really enjoy the environment, I didn't really enjoy, you know, who I was with, you know, and then no offense to anyone, but I ended up going back to KPMG. And so typically say my first job is KPMG, just because that's where I have my community for the first part of my career.
Q: How would you describe your experience working at firms?
Miller: My experience is unique, because I'm raised in a different culture and a different environment, and, I didn't grow up with this sort of framework of what it means to be a professional. So it was really just a learning experience of what do you need to be like? How do you need to respond? And how do you need to act? A place where you're not necessarily familiar with and no one's kind of like, really just training you to be there. And so getting adjusted learning what not to say what to say, and learning how, you know, people in the professional world talk. That is something that I could count on as something that really helped and shaped me as a professional. Just because you can't always be exactly who you want to be, you just have to kind of be who you have to be in these places to make it. You know?
Q: How did you gain these attributes while also working full-time?
Miller: Well, I mean, honestly, just through my work is how I gained a lot of my attributes as far as just like, you know, learning. I can't attribute anything other than just, my awareness, what's going on in an environment and knowing that if there's an opportunity, and everyone else is not willing to step up, I've been stepping up all my life, man. So I'm all about stepping into something that I don't know, about and then executing just because, you know, that's the way to live man like, is to take a risk.
Q: How did you hear about Taxfyle?
Miller: Yeah, so how I first heard about Taxfyle, man, is I spent some time just kind of looking for something that can hold me over, as I continue to build my own organization. And if you want me to go into that, I will, but that's pretty much what happened. It started with me just trying to find a way to build a bridge and close a gap, because I still needed some money, but I didn't necessarily have all the capital and the resources to continue to build on what I'm building. And so it is something that came across my feed, I was looking for contract work, contract CPA work, and, you know, sent my resume in, and that was history. That's pretty much it, man. I just, I didn't know if it was real, honestly, I was like “Is this real?” I went ahead and went forward and found out that it is. And so, that's how I learned about Taxfyle just doing my own Google searches and finding out that there's something out there for people that want to find contract work as a CPA.
Q: You run an organization called LOFE. What does it stand for and what is the ultimate goal of it?
Miller: Thank you, man for asking. So LOFE is a fashion house that engages communities through hard pressing work. So people see greatness in themselves and the responsibilities to look out for others. We do this by challenging societal narratives, and creating our own and meeting people where they are and collaborating to solve the problems that we see, to change the world. Everything we produce, I would say, represents our purpose. And my goal is to find a way to basically bring about awareness of what happens in the fashion industry, as far as just like the oppressiveness and the imperialistic aspects of how it's done. And also understanding that there's just a lot of waste, and people don't know that some of the things that you buy represents, your person, you know, represents what you stand for. So my goal is to kind of create people, or create, you know, liaisons of understanding what it means to LOFE and LOFE, it means to look out for everybody, not necessarily just in the form of looking out for people that you know, but looking out for people that, you know, work for you. And so our goal is to do that, right now, we're in a position of trying to find an organization that aligns with us, you know, nationally, whether that be a nonprofit organization, or even some other corporate group that understands what we're trying to push for, so that we can basically donate our proceeds to them, but they have to be in alignment in what we see. And that is, you know, seeing greatness, and understanding that we have to do something for the next generation to understand that it's up to us to make change in the world. It's up to us to do anything. And so, I enjoy accounting from the standpoint that I'm able to do it, but I enjoy making an impact more than anything, and making an impact is just hard work, and building is hard work. And so until I'm able to maintain all this work that we're continuing to go through, I'm gonna keep being at Taxfyle until I no longer have to but Taxfyle is a part of my story and a part of my journey. So I'm thankful for the opportunity to even have this conversation.
Q: How does being a Taxfyle Pro help you meet your needs while you continue growing LOFE?
Miller: Taxfyle does a great job of just allowing me to be free, right? I think that that's extremely important. That, you know, it's hard when you're working at a firm, and they kind of want your life, man, they want you to be there. And you don't really have a lot of control, you have a salary that you get paid. And then eventually, you know, they continue to give you more work and more work and more work, and, you know, it becomes your life. And I think that, right now I have a lot more autonomy of what or at least for me, I have a lot more autonomy of what my life is going to be. And I think that's my goal. I think accounting is great, but doing the work that I'm doing [at Taxfyle], it's just a lot more fun. And so it just gives me the opportunity to be free and create and meet the people that I need to meet. And just be out in the community and continue to network and connect with the right people to build this business that we're trying to build.
Q: For someone that has such a busy schedule, how important is it to have more control over how you divide your time?
Miller: Yeah, I think that when you are someone who is running out here, it's important because if you don't have that autonomy, you don't have some sort of control over what it is that you're going for, someone's going to beat you, right? I don't think that people think about that. It's like you gotta run if you got an idea, if you got something that you want to do. And you got all these other things that are holding you back. If you don't start running at some point, someone's gonna do it before you. And so I think that if you have an idea, you got to start running as quickly as possible if you truly believe in executing it. But that's what I think about is, that's just what's really important to me, at least, because you got to run fast to get it done.
Q: What are some of the benefits you appreciate about being a Taxfyle Pro?
Miller: I think one of the most important things that I enjoy is the fact that I'm able to reach out to someone if I need anything. If there are issues that I'm having, someone's gonna get back to me and let me know what it is that we can do to resolve it. I think that I'm a pretty open and transparent individual. And so, mainly, I love to provide feedback, and love to do anything I can do to make things better for any organization. And so when I talk about collaborating with anyone and solving the problems that I see, you know, I think that that's in every aspect of what I do. And so, you know, being a part of this network, I want to be able to make it the most efficient thing it can become, so that, you know, Taxfyle becomes what it needs to be.
Q: What are some of the attributes that you found that have helped you become one of the top Pros on our network?
Miller: For me, I think that is the desire, right? You guys are looking for an individual. And ultimately, you got to find someone that is hungry. You know, the hungry people are going to be the ones that thrive in this in this network. Because at the end of the day, whether you're doing contract work and you know you want to be a Tax Pro, and just do this for a living, it's still going to be a grind and you're going to have to run for it and continue to find ways to get work and do your clients well, and stuff like that. And so I think that's the difference for me is I just run man. And I go and try to, you know, always do my best. And if there's an opportunity for me to do more, I'll probably take it not knowing if I can necessarily handle it yet. But eventually, if I've signed up for it, if I've put my mouth on it, or as far as just like saying the words out loud, I'm going to complete it. And so that's just what works for me is just always going for what I need, and not being afraid to take on things that I probably don't necessarily always understand, but knowing that I have the mind to figure it out. I think that that's the beauty. And, you know, I think that people need to have a lot of confidence to do what they want to do. And, you know, even work for Taxfyle you can't be, you know, a person that doesn't have a lot of confidence.
Q: What are the jobs you typically pick up as a Pro?
Miller: I don't work on the, I guess you could say, retail side, I work on the I guess you could say the side that deals with firms that, you know, are looking for outsourcing. So the jobs that I pick up are somewhat more complex, just because they're not your normal individuals. And some of the returns I do aren’t for individuals at all. So I do trust returns, I do individual returns, I do S corp returns, I do all of the returns that, you know, some people might just stick to a niche just doing 1040s. But, you know, I think that I pick up anything that I know that I can do. So partnership returns, I don't think that there's really a tax out there that I can't really do outside of just like nonprofit organizations.
Q: How does your past experience working in finance help you fulfill these jobs?
Miller: I think it's because of the dynamic in which I worked. And you know, I appreciate everything that I learned and the people that I work with before becoming an entrepreneur, but the way that they do things is, you know, I would have a book of business, and would have around 70 clients. And those clients, they look to you not just for taxes, they look to me for everything. I was more like a CFO for each one of these small business owners. And so, you know, being like the person that they go to whenever they have a financial problem, you know, you become a quarterback of figuring things out, and you know, facilitating the right introductions, connecting them to the right people, whether they need a new life insurance policy, whether they need to have their funds invested in a completely different way and understanding expense ratios, and understanding load fees, and understanding budgeting, understanding what their EBITA is, understanding what their earnings are, understanding what the businesses work, understanding what their businesses need to do to basically make their financial plan complete. And understanding how taxes play and all of that, and giving them insight to some of the things that they can do to make their tax situation less. Just can't find a way right now. But just, yeah, just get their tax burden to be less. And so that's really what what helped me a lot in this aspect is, you know, solving problems is what I would do on a daily basis outside of just filing a tax return. My work was extremely comprehensive. And so because of that comprehensive work, it helped me build up a lot of confidence. Because now you're in a position where someone is completely leaning on you for all the answers and you find them for them. And I think that that's what helped me out here as a professional is, you know, I'll find the answer because it's out there somewhere. If I don't have it, then at least someone else knows. And I'll find them.
Q: How does your schedule a Tax Pro compare to when you worked at a firm?
Miller: My schedule right now it has a lot more autonomy. So when I worked at my firm before, I would have meetings all day with my clients to begin on a Friday or a Monday. During those meetings, I would have my other clients that will still be emailing me needing responses for stuff and all these other things. And so my autonomy was good sometimes between Tuesdays and Wednesdays, I was still in a position of always playing catch up. And my freedom was a little restricted. As a Pro, now, I have the freedom to choose what I'm going to prioritize, that's going to basically either, you know, feed me, or, you know, grow my business, or whatever the case may be. And so that's the beauty of where I am now is that I'm in a position of trying to build, you know, a business that I would assume is going to become a conglomerate at some point in time. But while I'm here, I'm building a part of the journey and a part of the story so that people can understand, you know, nothing happens overnight. Right? You guys see me right now. And then five years from now, I'll be somewhere else. And so I think that this is the documentary that we're living in witnessing, as far as just like, being able to build, while at the same time, being able to make some money with the skills that I've already had in the past.
Q: How different would your ability to focus on LOFE be if you didn’t work as a Pro?
Miller: It would be hard, because it'd be hard to build relationships and have meetings and meet with people and everything like that, and do the things that I'm doing right now. So I enjoy going out and serving for the University of North Texas. I sit on the Denton County chapter board, where I'm in charge of student engagement; I’m the student engagement chair. I'm also a part of the UNT Black Alumni Network, where I'm sitting on the recruiting retention committee, and finding ways to continue to engage students finding ways for the alumni to basically grow, because if we don't get young students to come into the fold the alumni [network] is going to die and [I’m] doing the exact same thing for the Black Alumni Network. I enjoy doing those things. But it's hard to create, and, you know, get those introductions and be in front of students when I'm working another job. And so this gives me the autonomy to go out and meet people and help these organizations that I've attached myself to specifically the University of North Texas, which I’m an alumni. And so, you know, it helps me make the school, a better school, hopefully, for the next generations to come. I wouldn't be able to do that work in my old job and tax spot allows me to the freedom.
Q: Is there anything I may nor have asked you that you think is important people know?
Miller: I think that it is important to know that no matter what you do, it's a grind. You know, I think that that's the most important thing is that you can have all the free time you want in the world. But if you want to make good money, you're gonna have to grind and get it, you know. And so if you are a grinder, if you are somebody who is a go getter, [if] you're somebody that wants to be free, but at the exact same time, you just don't want to do nothing, then Taxfyle is for you, but if you're somebody who just wants to, you know, be lazy, then what you're going to receive are no results. And so I think that, for me, I think it's about building relationships with the people that work at Taxfyle and building relationships with your clients, and who they represent our, you know, the firms or whatever. And, you know, doing good work. But if that's not what you got to do, then, you know, you're probably better off staying where you are.