On this episode of Behind Her Empire, ComplYant founder and CEO Shiloh Johnson discusses her journey to building a multimillion dollar business and making knowledge of taxes more accessible.
Prior to starting her own business, Johnson worked at a large real estate conglomerate that was in the middle of a massive audit. After submitting her calculations, Johnson ended up saving the company millions of dollars, but with little personal reward.
“I realized two things as a result of that,” she said. “I can do this at the grand level and B, they are never going to pay me what I’m worth. At that point I was like, I’m pretty sure I can do this on my own and make way more money and be good. I don’t need to have the biggest firm in the world. I just wanted to be able to help people and I wanted to be able to be the master of my own domain.”
While Johnson stepped away from the corporate world, her time spent in her previous roles proved there are accessibility gaps in the tax industry. Johnson recognized that there was a need to support small business owners in a more accessible and effective way when it came to taxes and thus, ComplYant was born.
“The sole goal is to sort of grapple all of the tax under one umbrella and serve it up on a very simple platter for the small business owner,” she explained.
Founded in 2019, Johnson’s startup, ComplYant, is a tech platform that provides small business owners with all the information they need to properly manage their business taxes.
“We take tax code at the local level, the state level, federal level and we truncate it down into a searchable database that returns back to you all of the tax types that would matter to your business,” Johnson said. “And then calendars them all out throughout the year for you so that you get email and text reminders.”
The fruits of Johnson’s labor started during Johnson’s college career when she worked for a large international retailer and her boss advised her to switch her major from business to accounting.
“I started to realize very quickly that it was a superpower,” Johnson said. “Tax information was not widely known in the U.S. Nobody teaches accounting. They don't teach tax unless you're at the collegiate level and then you really even then don't get it unless you are really deep in the industry. I know these secret things that no one else knows and I can teach other people. So I took on the challenge.”
Her passion for spreading this knowledge has helped catapult her success. Johnson saw the vision and value in ComplYant and said that helps fuel her confidence when it came to pitching to investors.
“You'll notice if you've ever tried to raise money and you're a minority listening to this, it's very hard to get the first check,” she said. “The first check is unbelievably difficult because it requires you to have an advocate that sees the thing you're doing when no one else sees value in it and says yes.”
So Johnson shifted her approach, instead she moved away from reading from a script and leaned into her strength.
“I stopped trying to pitch,” Johnson said. “My strong suit is naturally just being me and just talking. That is how I can connect with the investor the best.”
dot.LA Reporter Decerry Donato contributed to this post.
This podcast is produced by Behind Her Empire. The views and opinions expressed in the show are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect those of dot.LA or its newsroom.
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