- photos by Anthony Jinson
Accounting Plus educates the community on finances.
Success is difficult to avoid when you are determined put hard work, open arms, and a friendly smile at the forefront. This is the mindset that co-founders Denise Nelson and Tina Marso brought when they founded Accounting Plus in the heart of Missouri.
Since the firm was established in 1992, Accounting Plus has integrated into the business community with a variety of services. From tax planning and preparation to business advising and accounting, the firm offers the common and necessary services in accounting — but Accounting Plus also actively cultivates close, personal relationships between its staff and their clients.
The idea for Accounting Plus began with Nelson, who grew up in Columbia, watching her family. “My parents owned their own business as contractors, and my grandparents had been self-employed,” Nelson says. “So it made sense for me to start my own business. It was my dream.”
But Nelson’s dream didn’t come to light immediately. Instead, she worked for the Boone County Auditor’s office, as deputy auditor, after graduating with her bachelor’s degree in accountancy from MU in 1990. Two years later, after spending some time in Kansas City, she decided it was finally time to launch her dream. So, in August of 1992, Accounting Plus came to life.
Starting off Small
Her first customers were her parents, for whom Nelson did bookkeeping and payroll. Shortly after starting the business, Nelson met her longtime business partner and friend, Marso.
“Tina was the instructor for a tax class I took at H&R Block in 1993,” Nelson says. “I told her about my idea for the business, and we decided to launch it.”
But within months of ramping up their firm, Nelson got engaged and needed to move back to Kansas City once more.
“I knew Tina was going to take good care of the business,” Nelson says. “I trusted her, so when I needed to move back to Kansas City to be with my husband, there was no doubt that she could conquer this.”
Marso moved Accounting Plus into the basement of her home, where she grew the firm’s clientele from a few dozen to hundreds in less than a decade.
After starting her family and working as the director of finance and administration for an IT systems company in Kansas City, Nelson decided to move back to Columbia again in 2001, joining forces in person with Marso. By this point, the two were ready to expand the business. In 2002, when Accounting Plus had become established as a corporation, Marso and Nelson set up shop in their own office and filled it with a staff to serve its growing list of clients.
As the office began to grow, so did the number of services offered. Like any traditional firm, they offered tax and accounting services to local businesses, individuals, and nonprofit organizations. However, Nelson and Marso also decided to add and keep some services not typically found anymore in most accounting firms. One of these services included full payroll services for small businesses.
“The majority of accounting firms have dropped this service because it is deadline driven and laborious,” Nelson says. “We don’t know the challenges faced by other firms around town, but this service is unique for us since many of our clients still use it.”
The defining feature of the firm can be found in the two women who created it and carried it forward: inspiration to help educate the community.
“From the beginning, I know that our most unique feature is that we’re always friendly and open with our clients,” Nelson says. “When we provide them with our services, we also want to educate them, teach them to read financials, and have them feel comfortable to have a say in their taxes or accounts.”
The drive for providing understanding in finance is what pushes Accounting Plus’ staff members.
Embracing the New
The firm thinks that it’s just as important to hold onto more traditional tax services as it is to expand with new ones as technology continues to grow. Regardless of which service the client needs, Accounting Plus seeks to educate them.
One of the newer services the firm’s staff teaches its clients is QuickBooks accounting.
“We embrace that about 80 percent of our customers see or use QuickBooks accounting,” Nelson says. “We are more than happy to train our customers on QuickBooks with no questions asked.” They have QuickBooks certified trainers on staff.
Nelson and Marso also add on a staff of about 25 accountants and tax preparers during their busiest months of the year.
Samantha Dent, who has worked at Accounting Plus as an accountant and senior tax preparer since 2011, says that she loves the personality of the staff.
“We are here for our clients as well as each other, and I love that,” Dent says.
“Especially when we are busy during tax season, our staff is always willing to step in where help is needed. We are a very close-knit group.”
Accounting Plus continues to grow in the heart of Missouri. In 2017, the firm will be celebrating 25 years of their ongoing success.
“We love the growth that we have seen each year,” Nelson says. “Years from now, Accounting Plus will still be strong and thriving, and hopefully we will be passing it over by then. Until then, we will still be here doing what we can do for the community.”
1604B Business Loop 70 W.