Going to the Dogs

BY LAURA BARON

SIGNS OF THE TIMES

 hat do you get when you combine a beloved hobby with a CPA credential? If you’re John A. York of Royal Palm Beach, Fla., you start a dog-related company, operate it successfully and then add CPA services to the mix for your fellow dog-loving small business owners. York says expanding the six-year-old Bow-Wow Video ( www.bowwowvideo.com ), which trains and videotapes dogs in agility competitions, to include tax preparation and accounting services evolved naturally. When his customers found out he was a CPA, they started asking questions about their existing businesses and starting new ones.

There are all kinds of unique businesses out there that need the specialized functions a CPA can provide—such as assisting with bookkeeping and tax compliance and advising on the tax implications of forming an entity, York says. If you just take a look around, you may come across an area that really interests you. He’s been providing CPA services to individual dog trainers, training centers and retailers of dog products—such as food, toys, bedding and treats—for more than a year now.

If you’re considering a career expansion into the unknown, don’t be afraid to ask questions, York says. Get advice from professionals you trust as to whether you can start and sustain a business in the area you’re considering and what the advantages and disadvantages are.

York uses networked computers in the office, and cell phones, a laptop and a portable hard drive on the road. He uses QuickBooks and Quicken software so distant clients can e-mail him their files. He also uses PCAnywhere to mirror his clients’ computer on his own screen so he can walk them through the system when they need help.

York’s favorite part of the dog business is meeting people from all over the country and traveling to agility trials to see them. And, of course, the best thing about working with dogs is that “they give unconditional love,” York says. “No matter how rough a day I’ve had, when I get home I always have happy tails wagging to greet me.”

The tails are attached to Debit, Credit, Bank and Tax Man, as well as Raven and Rumor. Is this a guy who’s crazy about his dogs and serious about his CPA training—or what?

—Laura Baron

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