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Meet Maribel Salazar of Del Real Tax Group, Inc. in Lyons

Today we’d like to introduce you to Maribel Salazar.

Maribel, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Prior to starting my practice, I worked for PricewaterhouseCoopers as a Tax professional. When I wanted a lifestyle change, I went to work as a Tax Consultant for a boutique company in Chicago downtown (R&M Consulting). I was working with very large companies including BP, Abbot, Anixter, Tetra pack, Porsche and Morton Salt among others. I loved my job but when I had my first baby, Paulina, I couldn’t be on the road as much and have such an intense job. Instead, I started my own practice in 2012 focusing on servicing the Small Business community in the area. I never thought my practice would turn into a business. I really was just looking to do some work “on the side” to earn some income. So I rented a tiny spot in Berwyn that was under 400 sq. feet. I started to work and my business grew. At the beginning I was doing everything from answering the phone and booking appointments to consulting with clients – it was really just me. The business has grown and we are now four accountants and looking for another one. We recently purchased an office space and finally enjoy a 2000 sq. ft. office.

Owning my own business gives me a lot more flexibility to attend teacher meetings during the day, etc. Although since starting my business I have focused on growth each year and have found myself very busy, it is amazing that as a business owner I can choose how busy I want to be.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
My journey has not been an easy one. For starters I had no idea about the skills needed to run a successful business. When I started my business I knew that I was a well prepared tax professional and it didn’t really occur to me that this was not enough for successfully running a business. Many of us start out as technicians and when we are employed by others we fail to see all the other functions involved in operating a business. But when we are on our own, we are forced to jump in to lead generation, sales, customer experience, human resources, Information Technology, management, accounting and whatever else comes up. Oh, and all this as we are doing the actual work that we are in business to do. Sometimes I think that the first two years that I was in business I was scrambling trying to figure out what to figure out. Needless to say, I ended up working just as much if not more the first few years that I owned my business. I hated to see that my daughter was the last one to be picked up from aftercare & she was also one of the first ones to get to before care.

There were a few times early on when I thought I would just close shop and go back to consulting. My mom kept saying to hang in there. And I did…

Over time, I found better ways to run my business. I found mentors, read books, took courses and I can honestly say that I am at a much better place in my business. Now I can enjoy things that I don’t think I would have if I worked downtown for someone else. Now my daughter doesn’t go to before or aftercare,

We’d love to hear more about your business.
Our accounting firm is different in that we only work with small business owners and we specialize in helping our clients maximize their profit and save money in taxes. We show clients how to use accounting information to grow their business.

Our offering to clients is a structured fixed-fee monthly accounting package. Our “Accounting Program for Small Business Success” starts with two initial strategy sessions where we address common issues for small businesses. During those two initial strategy sessions we go through our client accounting manual, show them how benchmarking and financials are important, review their entity structure and prior year tax returns, and make recommendations to lower their tax bill. Our clients receive monthly financial statements and we have a third quarter meeting where we do a tax projection and strategy. At year, we take care of income tax filings. We also process payroll and sales tax as part of our package.

Sometimes clients are doing things for lack of a better alternative. Things that might be obvious to us may not be to the client.

We have won various awards including Expertise Best Accountants in Chicago 2016, Expertise Best Accountants in Chicago 2018, Negocios Now 40 Under 40 2016, Best of Berwyn Accountants 2015, I have a Certified Tax Coach designation in addition to my CPA.

I am proud of my team of accountants. We strive to provide great customer service. I am a small business educator and present for City of Chicago Small Businesses, UIC Entrepreneurs, Women Development Center and Accion Chicago among other.

What were you like growing up?
I grew up in Mexico and my family migrated to Houston when I was 12. When I was growing up, I was very quiet and shy but I always loved school. I didn’t really have any interests.

When I was in High School I worked full time in the summers and also worked during the school year. My family didn’t have money so I never thought I would go to college. My friend Angela Freeman (I’ll never forget) asked me casually where I had applied for college… and I said nowhere. She said, run to the counselors’ office right now and pick up a generic application. I applied late to University of Houston and they accepted me barely. After one semester I thought I had to drop out because I didn’t have money but soon after I received grants and scholarships which paid for my first double undergraduate degree in Management Information Systems & Accounting. I was able to get a loan for my masters.

I also had to support myself through my college years (since I was 18). It was not easy, I was lucky to always have jobs/internships. I graduated top of my class Summa Cum Laude with my undergrads & with Honors from Graduate School. I have been a CPA since 2006.


  • Our Accounting Program for Small Business Success Starts at 200/month

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