Starting a Tax Practice in a Pandemic: 4 Lessons from André Marais  

They say you should never let a good crisis go to waste. André Marais seems to have taken the adage to heart. During Covid, when most saw despair, he saw an opportunity. He launched Numberwize, an accounting firm serving clients in Gqeberha and the Garden Route. 

A pandemic is a great time to start a business  

 “I actually saw a need for servicing smaller companies, people that got retrenched during the Covid time and started their own businesses and who aren’t aware of the tax legislation,” explains Marais.  

“I think that the smaller companies that I do work for, they want something simple. Our aim, vision and mission is to keep our accounting process as simple as it can be and offer cloud-based programs for them, which is simple so they can concentrate on growing the business while I take care of the accounting, taxation and compliance for them.” 

Plan and do your market research 

Marais didn’t rush into opening his business. “I only started trading this year after putting everything together like my programs, getting a structure, compiling a brochure of all the services and stuff that we offer to customers and my clients. You need to know what you are talking about when someone approaches you and what you’re offering them.” 

He also did market research by studying his competitors’ offerings.  

 “I picked up that there’s a huge gap in Knysna and George for smaller accounting firms. People there want more hands-on accountants. They want a more personal experience. Most people complain that they send in their stuff, and the big accounting firms don’t come back to them and explain how they got to the taxes,” says Marais.  

He says the feedback has been positive. He is in a growing phase and hopes to hire someone soon to assist with the business.  

  The oldest and newest form of advertising works best 

 “I’ve tried advertising on the radio that didn’t go so well. I didn’t get any clients from that,” says Marais. “Most of my clients are from word of mouth and referrals. I’ve opened a Facebook page, and I seem to get a lot of inquiries from my Facebook page as well. I must say the digital platforms work much better. It’s easier just to post an ad on Facebook and get everybody to share it.” 

Start sooner  

I ask Marais if there is anything that he would do differently? “I wished I started this before Covid. Then I think my business would have grown more if I’d started it earlier.” 


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