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Brian Paulson

Brian Paulson
Brian began working at CSI in 1996, and he purchased the business in 2002. As Owner, his primary role is in the management and growth of the firm. Since 2002, the firm has more than quadrupled in size. In 2009, Brian started CSI’s payroll service to complement CSI’s accounting and tax services. Brian received his Bachelor’s degree from the University of North Dakota, with a double major in Accounting and Financial Management. He’s a member of both the National Society for Tax Professionals and the National Society for Accountants, and he serves on the board of directors for the Professional Association of Small Business Accountants, where he was once president. Brian also serves on the business advisory council for Opportunity Partners, an organization that helps people with disabilities find employment. He’s also contributed to several business books, including Six Steps to Small Business Success and The Lean Mean Business Machine. Fun Fact: To help put himself through college, he used student loans, delivered pizzas, and worked summers in a salmon processing plant in Alaska.

Recent Posts

Top 3 Small Business Accounting Mistakes

Jun 20, 2022 10:15:00 AM / by Brian Paulson posted in small business taxes, small business accounting, problem


What makes you want to DIY your business’s accounting? There are a few reasons why some small business owners want to go with a more affordable option. However, what you pay for is what you get – and cheap accounting can often result in record inaccuracies, a short-term focus, and fear of change. Don’t even get us started on missed opportunities!

Working with small businesses in Minneapolis and beyond for more than 50 years, we’ve seen our fair share of accounting mistakes by owners and operators. Most of these small business accounting mistakes are simple to correct, but even easier to avoid (once you’re aware of them).

Cut out mistakes before they happen! This article touches on the top three accounting mistakes made by small businesses, along with a bonus mistake to avoid at the end.

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How to Transition from In-House to Outsourced Accounting

May 19, 2022 9:33:00 AM / by Brian Paulson posted in small business accounting, how to


If there's one thing that we all can agree on, it's that it's nice to have someone else do your taxes - but actually taking it one step further and outsourcing all of your accounting can seem like an obstacle that most of us would rather delay. However, there does come a time for most small businesses when it makes more sense to outsource.

For more than 50 years, CSI Accounting & Payroll has served thousands of small business clients. After talking to so many business owners, we've found that there are some common scenarios when it comes to outsourcing accounting for the first time. They tend to fall under these two categories:

Not many small businesses have their own internal accountant and still consider outsourcing unless there's an issue with employee retention, their quality of work, or it's too much for them to handle on their own. (In fact, it costs less to outsource accounting than to host an accountant in-house.)


Some small businesses will have an internal bookkeeper and also use an external annual accountant, or maybe the owner even does the bookkeeping themselves. In these cases, they might outsource for some of the same reasons, but they're also seeking the year-round tax strategy and advice that only a monthly accountant can provide.

Transitions are tricky, but we hope that we can relieve your nerves a little bit by discussing:

  • Choosing the right small business accounting firm for you
  • Planning ahead for the transition
  • Setting the standards for your new accounting firm

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How to Change Accountants

Apr 27, 2022 9:22:00 AM / by Brian Paulson posted in small business accounting


Do you ever wonder if there's an accounting firm that's a better match for your small business than your current one? Chances are, there probably is. If you're considering switching, then you already have enough of a reason to take the next step - as scary as that seems.

CSI Accounting & Payroll has talked to thousands of small business clients over the past several decades. When new clients express their concerns with their prior accounting firms, they're usually mentioning communication issues - and the surprises, confusion, and frustration that they cause.

Small business owners who want to know more about how to change accounting firms asked us:

  • How do I feel confident in my decision to change accountants?
  • What steps do I take to change accounting firms?

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Thinking About Changing Accountants? Don’t Let These Fears Hold You Back

Mar 22, 2022 10:15:00 AM / by Brian Paulson posted in small business taxes, small business accounting


Trust your gut. If you’re already thinking about leaving your current accounting firm, then you’re ready to move on.

When you work with an accounting firm, you should treat the relationship as an investment. The performance that you get out of them should line up with the fees that they charge you, otherwise the investment isn't a good value. The sooner you find a better-value accounting investment, the better off you'll be.

Many small business owners who discuss working with CSI Accounting & Payroll say that their relationship with their current accountant has them feeling overcharged for poor communication. They don't feel like what they pay lines up with the service they receive. Don’t settle for inconsistent or lackluster service; the success of your business relies on timely and accurate bookkeeping, accounting, and tax preparation.

In this article, we'll discuss some reasons why someone should switch accountants, as well as the things that may hold them back.

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Top 12 Red Flags for Income Tax Audits by the Government

Jun 22, 2021 1:00:00 PM / by Brian Paulson posted in small business taxes, small business accounting


Have you been subjected to a tax return audit before, or are you curious about what leads to an audit? Here are the top 12 red flags that might lead the government to examine your tax return. Please note: these are in no particular order. The more obvious each point stands out on your return, the more likely you are to be audited.

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Top 10 Tips to Maximize the Value of Any Business & Have it Ready to Sell For Top Dollar

May 12, 2021 9:33:37 AM / by Brian Paulson posted in small business taxes, small business accounting, small business operations


If you own a business but haven't read Built to Sell: Creating a Business That Can Thrive Without You by John Warrillow, we highly recommend it! Its concept is to run your business as if you are going to sell it tomorrow. You should maximize what your business is worth at all times, not just when you're getting ready to sell. CSI Accounting & Payroll's owner, Brian Paulson, took inspiration from this book while creating some of these tips.

Small businesses tend to miss the mark on this and consequently are not worth very much. Sales and profits can be high, but the purchase price can be low at the same time. The following blog post is a list of tips to maximize the value of your business to a potential buyer.

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What You Need to Know About the American Rescue Plan Act

Mar 25, 2021 4:28:35 PM / by Brian Paulson posted in small business taxes, small business payroll, small business accounting


The following blog post is based on a letter from CSI Accounting & Payroll's owner, Brian Paulson, to our clients.

As we all know, 2020 and 2021 have been very challenging years in many respects. Along with everything else, Congress has been doing more things than ever before that have implications on the taxation of both businesses and individuals. It has been very challenging to do so, but we pride ourselves on staying on top of what is coming out of Congress so we can quickly summarize it and convey it to our clients.

NOTE: This information was up-to-date at the time that this post was written, but COVID relief laws are constantly being updated and changed. Please contact us directly for updated information.

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Surviving a Small Business Tax Audit

Jun 15, 2017 9:31:00 AM / by Brian Paulson posted in small business taxes


Who's afraid of the IRS? Almost everyone. The key to surviving a tax audit – and even coming out on top – is not to panic or ignore the situation, but to prepare.

If you receive an audit notice in the mail, it's time to set yourself up for success.

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10 Small Business Accounting FAQs

Jun 1, 2017 2:38:21 PM / by Brian Paulson posted in small business accounting


We chat with a lot of small to medium-sized businesses in the Twin Cities regarding bookkeeping, accounting, payroll, and tax preparation services, and we’ve found that many owners have the same questions and pain points during the evaluation process.

Here’s a breakdown of the most frequently asked questions from small business owners during initial conversations with us.

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Outsource Accounting and Get Back to Business

May 4, 2017 7:59:00 AM / by Brian Paulson posted in small business accounting


Dreams of owning your own company or starting your own business probably didn’t evolve from an inner passion to keep a general ledger or to prepare tax documents. You likely started a business to focus on something you love, but now you spend more time tracking reports and keeping the books than getting out and working on your business.

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