Michael J. Fleming | Finding Your People and Navigating Sales Tax During Uncertain Times

Michael J. Fleming is the Founder of Sales Tax and More, a full service consulting and solutions firm with a passion for state tax. Although he is based in Texas, Michael serves all the 50 US States, and he also serves Canada and Puerto Rico. He has many years of experience working for a prominent firm handling state tax issues and is considered one of the country’s leading authorities on the topic and is an expert when it comes to Nexus, e-commerce, drop shipping, and service providers. Michael started Sales Tax and More with the goal of creating something different by providing flexibility, creativity, personalized service, accountability, and a commitment to education. 

In this episode, Julie Musgrave, guest host of the Smart Business Revolution podcast is joined by Michael J. Fleming where they talk about sales tax, the Wayfair decision and its impact on Michael’s business, effects of COVID-19 on businesses, and how working from home could create a nexus.

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Here’s a Glimpse of What You’ll Learn:

  • Why Michael Fleming started Sales Tax and More.
  • How the Wayfair decision impacted sales tax and Michael’s business.
  • Michael’s advice to startup companies experiencing rapid growth.
  • What Michael looks for when he’s hiring someone and how he addresses mistakes that’s made in the hiring process.
  • How can a new company find its niche and position itself as an expert in its industry?
  • How businesses should manage their finances and taxes during the current COVID-19 health crisis.
  • Michael‘s thoughts on what people should do with the relief checks they receive from the government.
  • How working from home can create a nexus and what companies should do about it.
  • What businesses need to look out for coming out of the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Where to learn more about Michael J. Fleming and Sales Tax and More.

Resources Mentioned:

Sponsor: Rise25

Today’s episode is sponsored by Rise25 Media, where our mission is to connect you with your best referral partners, clients, and strategic partners. We do this through our done for you podcast solution and content marketing. 

Along with my business partner Dr. Jeremy Weisz, we have over 18 years of experience with B2B podcasting, which is one of the best things you can do for your business and you personally. 

If you do it right, a podcast is like a “Swiss Army Knife” – it is a tool that accomplishes many things at once. It can and will lead to great ROI, great clients, referrals, strategic partnerships, and more. It is networking and business development; and it is personal and professional development which doubles as content marketing

A podcast is the highest and best use of your time and will save you time by connecting you to higher caliber people to uplevel your network. 

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Episode Transcript

Intro  0:14  

Welcome to the Revolution, the Smart Business Revolution podcast where we ask today’s most successful entrepreneurs to share the tools and strategies they use to build relationships and connections to grow their revenue. Now, your host for the revolution. John Corcoran.

Julie Musgrave  0:40  

Hi there. I’m Julie Musgrave guest host of Smart Business Revolution podcast where we talk with CEOs, founders and entrepreneurs of companies and organizations like YPO, EO, Activision Blizzard, Lending tree, Open Table, xsoftware, and many more. Our guest today is Michael Fleming, the Founder of Sales Tax and More, a consulting and solutions firm specializing in state and local taxes based in Texas. Mike is recognized as one of the country’s leading thought leaders when it comes to Nexus e commerce, drop shipping and service providers. We’re going to hear his great advice about small business and those tax dollars. Plus, we’ll touch on some COVID related tax issues you will want to know about. Before we get into this interview. This episode is brought to you by rise25 media, we don’t need to tell you that the world has changed. We all know that. The next question is what to do about it. And in this economy, it’s more important than ever to be able to connect and build strong relationships even when you can’t be face to face. At rise25 we have 20 years of experience in the b2b space connecting and building profitable relationships with clients, referral partners and strategic partners using a podcast. We’ve helped hundreds of b2b businesses get more clients and referrals and land collapse. With dream clients, Learn more at rise25 Media calm or email us at support at rise25media.com

And now onto our show. Michael Fleming is the Founder of Sales Tax and More a full service consulting and solutions firm with a passion for state tax. While he’s based in Texas, Mike still serves all 50 States, Canada and Puerto Rico. He has years of experience working for a prominent firm in a run of state tax issues, and is considered one of the country’s leading authorities on the topic. Mike started Sales Tax and More with the goal of creating something different providing flexibility, creativity, personalized service, accountability, and a commitment to education. He’s going to educate us today on some issues that can help your business grow as well. So we are looking forward to it. Mike, thanks so much for joining us.

Mike Fleming  2:55  

Thanks, Julie. Thanks for the opportunity to be with you today.

Julie Musgrave  2:59  

I know we’re going to get into a lot of good stuff here. So let’s talk, though about your start. Clearly you have a passion for taxes, what made you want to launch Sales Tax and More?

Mike Fleming  3:12  

You know, sales taxes. You know, no one ever, I think says When I grow up, I want to be in sales tax. So something that sort of fell into and you know, I worked as a director with a great firm for many, many years. But they weren’t great at making partners. And I decided that if I’m going to put this much time and effort and energy into it, I want to have more creative control over what the firm does. And I want it to be working for myself. So two things there. i decided to step out on my own two years ago last month. And if you’re in the sales tax business, my timing could not have been better. Better, I thought, you know, we get a nice slow start. But the Wayfair decision happened within two months of us opening our doors and we went from two employees up to 18 employees almost overnight. So can you

Julie Musgrave  4:14  

give a little background on the Wayfair decision? I know that was a big issue going on.

Mike Fleming  4:20  

Yeah, absolutely. And, you know, we use a term in the industry called Nexus. And Nexus is just a fancy word that means link or connection. And it’s the link or connection that has to be present with the state before the state can require you to collect and remit its taxes. Prior to the Wayfair case, which was decided on June 21, of 2018. There had to be some sort of physical component. So you know, if you had a physical presence in a state then you are required to collect and remit taxes on all of that one out the window when we The Wayfair case because the Wayfair case, the US Supreme Court stepped in and said, You know what, we made a mistake. All of these previous cases where we said you needed a physical presence, we never should have introduced that it doesn’t say that anywhere in the Constitution. So now just making sales into a state or just making a certain number of transactions into a state can give you enough of a connection, so that a state can now say that you have a requirement to collect and remit their taxes. So it literally stood the entire tax world on its head.

Julie Musgrave 5:38  

So you timed it pretty well. You said?

Mike Fleming  5:41  

I said better lucky than smart. So I did not know that was coming.

Julie Musgrave  5:47  

Right. But what was it like to kind of step away from something that was already established and then just go off on your own?

Mike Fleming  5:55  

Well, it was, it was a little bit scary. And I told my wife that You know, we’ll probably have to wait six months or so before we can start, you know, making some decent money. You know, unfortunately, or fortunately, I planned on hiring one or two people and you know, just having a nice little consulting practice and start putting policies and procedures in place and building out the processes in building it slowly. What I didn’t realize is that once I made this announcement, you know, fortunately, I got a good reputation out there in the industry, and people started calling me on day number one, so I never had that slow start. I never had the time to put the policies and procedures in place and that’s a really great feeling. When people you know, on day number one, you have more businesses and you can handle the downside. He is trying to struggle to get two people in place. While you’re actually doing the work, but you know, it’s a great feeling to see that people care enough about the way that you do business that you’re getting that type of growth. And this is well before the Wayfair decision, you know, two months before that.

Julie Musgrave  7:19  

So what did you learn from being kind of sounds like a little over your head, but you came out successfully. So what advice would you give to someone who maybe wasn’t expecting the big burst right at the beginning,

Mike Fleming  7:30  

start hiring before you need people, because it’s really tough to train people while you’re in the middle of things. I mean, you want to be training people year round. If you’re trying to train them at the peak of when you need them. It actually slows down the process. And the other thing is, be smart. When you’re hiring. Make sure that someone just doesn’t have the skills, but they’re going to be a good fit into The culture of the company or what you’re looking to build, you know, I’ve learned very quickly that, you know, no matter how good someone is, if they’re going to be disruptive in the firm with everyone else, if they don’t fit in, well, you know, no one person is that important. And it’s the team that we really have to look out for the most because they’re going to get the majority of the work done. The team, so everyone’s got to be, you know, not only work well, with me, with the team also. So we now rely on the team to actually be involved in the interviewing process, and everyone gets feedback. Now, not everyone at the firm, but we have three, four or five people that they’re going to be interacting with. As part of the interviewing process. You know, we do a group interview here and we listen to the feedback you have, you know the people who are going to be working with these applicants?

Julie Musgrave  9:07  

So how do you find those right people? What kind of questions do you ask when you’re going through the interview process? When you’re looking at resumes? Obviously, what qualified people but as you mentioned, you want someone that fits in with the team, what do you look for

Mike Fleming  9:19  

For me, and it’s a little bit of a gut feeling. So I don’t have any set questions that I asked. I just want them talking about themselves. So for example, I’ll say, you know, I can see your resume, you know, I can see the cover letter you’ve written, you know, what can you tell me about yourself that, I wouldn’t know, just by looking at your resume and you know, it can be business can be personal. So a lot comes out when someone’s talking about themselves and you just get a good feel for the person that and you know, you get a feel for Okay, yeah, this is someone I’d like to work with. When you ask him business type questions and you know, they usually have the standard answers and you know, some people are professionally viewed and some of them are going to slip through the cracks. But when we’re, we’re asking them to just tell us something about themselves. You can see through who they are into who they really are, or at least a better glance. I mean, when it comes right down to it, sometimes we don’t know until we actually hired them. But we weed out a lot of people in this informal type question.

Julie Musgrave 10:36  

Have you ever gotten it wrong?

Mike Fleming 10:39  

Of course,

Julie Musgrave 10:39  

What did you do? How did you fix it?

Mike Fleming  10:42  

Um, some questions. You know, sometimes not questions, but some scenarios. I think this is really important too. If you make a mistake. You got to act on that quicker rather than later. Anytime I’ve waited anytime I am given I’m going to change to come around or, or fit into the program. It’s just gotten worse, it’s never gotten better. So I’ve learned to correct my mistakes as quickly as possible. I had this one woman, we hired her as a marketer. And she came in and said, Everything sounded great. But she was still working for another company, so she let me know. And then tried to get the other company to hire me. Me to hire other companies. So I hired her to do this work. I didn’t hire her to tell me to hire her former company. So she was like, oh, that afternoon.

Julie Musgrave  11:44  

And that’s tricky, though. It can be complicated. And it’s kind of hard to lay out what your expectations are when you don’t see that kind of thing coming. Right?