Nestled in the heart of the Spirit Valley neighborhood in Duluth, MN, is a woman-owned and operated tax and bookkeeping business focused on meeting clients at their level.
When she was just 16 years old, Serenity Tax and Bookkeeping owner Deni Lorenzi found herself doing office work and filing for the group home where she was living. She learned about accounts receivable, accounts payable, purchasing and more.
“I come from a hard childhood and without getting into too many details, I wound up in a group home and they needed help in their office,” Deni said.
She remembers when she started doing her own taxes.
“I took them to HR Block to see if I had done them right,” she said. “Well, they charged me $160 to tell me I was right. I thought, well, that’s never going to happen again.”
After gaining decades of accounting experience, she began offering to do other people’s taxes on the side at her dining room table in the evenings after work. She recalled having over 200 people walk in and out of her house one tax season. It was then that Deni decided to leave her full-time job and take her side business to the next level. She found an office space and launched her business in 2014.
Entrepreneur Fund business advisor John Acheson first started working with Deni in 2016.
“At that time, Serenity Tax was doing decent business, but had very high expenses,” Acheson said. “Unfortunately, over the next few years, expenses (rent, payroll, debt) got even higher.” Acheson worked with Deni to refinance her business, implement new systems and improve cash flow projections.
“There were times I didn’t want to hear what they had to say,” said Deni about working with the Entrepreneur Fund. “I respect them and may not have wanted to hear it, but I put the things they suggested into practice and it has made me a better person and a better businesswoman.”
The Entrepreneur Fund also assisted Deni with gap financing when it came time to move into a new office. Her lease was up, demand for her business was growing and it was time to purchase a larger space.
“It almost didn’t happen, but the Entrepreneur Fund ended up pulling together different funding sources. That process was a learning experience for sure,” said Deni. “Even as an accountant figuring out expenses and where to put your money is challenging.”
Serenity Tax and Bookkeeping now employs eight people. In 2021, the team worked with about 75 bookkeeping clients and over 1,000 tax clients. They work with a diverse array of local businesses and prioritize learning about each business to determine what their needs are.
“We want our clients to feel confident in what we’re doing for them,” said Deni. “We want to help them understand where their business is going and know why and how they can make strategic improvements.”
EF has built a partnership with Serenity Tax and Bookkeeping through its EF Expert Network and will refer business owners who may need more training to better understand their finances to Deni and her team.
“Deni has really made great strides, paid off debt, and developed a profitable business,” said Acheson. “I’m very impressed by her devotion to support local businesses.”
But Deni was sure to mention that she couldn’t have made the business improvements on her own and that there is nothing wrong with seeking help. “It’s okay to reach out to the Entrepreneur Fund,” Deni said. “It’s okay to reach out to other businesses like yours or ask for referrals. People want to help.”
If you are looking to make improvements to your business or have questions about Entrepreneur Fund resources and training, you can contact a business advisor by filling out this short form.