Welcome to The Expert Exchange, a new blog series we’re rolling out to connect local small business wizards with each other. Let’s face it: as CEO (Chief EVERYTHING officer) of your company, you rarely end the day with extra time on your hands to scope out services and talents you are in need of for your business. This is where we’d like to help connect the dots, and get you concise, valuable information to drive growth in your business.

To kick off our very first post in these series, we interviewed Norvan Mardirosian, CPA and Partner/CPA at MASH Accounting in Glendale, CA. Here we go…


ONE Strategy:  Tell me a little about yourself, your background, how did you get into accounting?

Mardirosian:“People naturally assume that if an individual chooses to go into the field of accounting, then he/she must be good with numbers and math,” starts off Mardirosian. Although it is true about Norvan, he believes his strengths in logical thinking and ability to quickly problem-solve make him a better accountant.

After about 5 years in the corporate world, working for the large accounting firm Moss Adams, Norvan realized he wanted more control over his career trajectory. In 2012, he and his partner, Vagram Shalvardzhyan, officially opened MASH Accounting. Their edge: bringing corporate-level accounting skills and techniques to the small business masses, especially via high-tech integrations.


ONE Strategy: What should business owners look for when choosing a CPA?

Mardirosian:The most important part of choosing a CPA is the “personality compatibility” between the client and their CPA. Both parties should feel comfortable interacting and communicating with each other. A huge part of the relationship is the CPA’s communication skills: Is he communicating the necessary information to the client on time? Does he stay connected and is he available/reachable when the client hasa question?It is important to choose a CPA that takes aholistic approach to solving clients’ problems. The right CPA should be invested in the well-being of the clients’ business and always act in their best interest.


ONE Strategy: What practical tips do you have for business owners, in terms of accounting and finance? Can you name 3?


  1. I highly recommendbusiness owners take the time to understand the pros and cons of various business structures, so that they form their business the proper way. This is even more important if you have a business partner. It will help safeguard all the parties involved should anything happen in the future. A good starting point would be to consult your CPA about the best structure for tax and financial purposes.  If the situation requires more input, you may also need to consult an attorney, which a good CPA can refer you to.


  1. Try not to fall behind on your taxes. Know your finances, even before you ask for assistance from your CPA and, best of all retain a CPA early on in the game, who you may consult with regarding any financial questions throughout the year. It is also important to note that some small businesses are required to pay quarterly estimated taxes. You should always stay current with your quarterly tax payments to the IRS, in order to avoid incurring any penalties at the end of the year.


  1. Always start with a budget, and make sure to over-estimate start-up costs. Padding your budget with a little cushion will help you cover any unexpected expenses (which almost always occur) in the long-run. The most helpful tool during the initial phases of your business is a solid business plan;even for the simplest of businesses, a plan will help you succeed and achieve goals.


ONE Strategy: What easy-to-use software programs do you recommend to help business owners keep track of their finances?

Mardirosian: I really recommendQuickBooksOnline(by Intuit) as a great software application for bookkeeping throughout the year. It is also a very convenient tool to organize your finances to allow for easy data transfer to your CPA. It’s super-easy to navigate and very user-friendly, definitely check it out. Some other software programs his clients have used before are Freshbooks, Xero, Nutcache, Zoho Books.


ONE Strategy: Is it true that if you use a car for work purposes, you can expense either the mileage or the car payment, not both?

MardirosianIf standard mileage is used for a year, you cannot claim any actual expenses for that year (insurance, repairs, maintenance, tire changes, title fees, etc).


ONE Strategy: Do you have a funny accounting story to share with us?

Mardirosian: A couple of month ago, during tax season I walked into our office to find the entire place flooded, because of the rain the night before. The piles of tax return papers that wereready for clients to be picked up had to be thrown away and even our server had been slightly damaged. Fortunately, since our entire network is backed to the cloud storage every night, we did notlose any data. It was really stressful when it happened but looking back it just makes me laugh. Thanks to the investment in the right technology and utilizing the latest processes, we were able to preserve all of our data.(laughing) We were just lucky to have the right technology in place because things like this happen all the time to other businesses.


ONE Strategy: Name an entrepreneur you look up to and respect, and why?

Mardirosian: Actually, my clients inspireme every day, and I learn a lot from my clients. But if I were to choose an entrepreneur that I look up to, it would be Magic Johnson. He inspired me in many ways, both on and off the court. As I became older I followed how he used what he learned in basketball to become one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the city of Los Angeles.


ONE Strategy: Where do you go to “feed the brain”? Recommend a local food spot?

Mardirosian: Oh easy, Carousel in Glendale. I love that place. My favorite dish is their “Chikuftha”. (A strong runner up is Sushi Moto on Brand Blvd).


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