By Georgeann H. Ikuma
Passion plus skill set equals success for Gwendolyn Standberry Evans, owner of Standberry Enterprises Inc. (GSE), a solution-driven, multistate and local tax consulting firm headquartered in Dallas, Texas.
“My passion is utilizing my skills to identify savings, and provide solutions to ensure businesses are paying only their fair share of taxes while remaining compliant with state and local tax laws and regulations,” said Evans, who has been in the tax industry for more than 20 years, both as a business owner and in corporate. “Our approach is to blend into clients’ environments as an extension to their teams and seamlessly guide and complete their initiatives from start to finish.”
Small but mighty, GSE’s client base consists of corporations with over $25 million in revenue, spanning a variety of industries — from automotive manufacturers to medical clinics, retail and retail utilities. It acts as either a prime contractor or subcontractor through strategic partnerships in order to add value and enhance a client’s profitability.
“During my tenure in corporate America, I found that many tax and accounting departments have limited internal resources and do not have the bandwidth to execute legislative changes, pursue credits and incentives, tax overpayments and other saving opportunities,” Evans said.
“I started GSE because I saw an opportunity to work with tax and accounting departments to pursue tax saving projects and minimize their multistate and local tax and operational cost,” she said. “Our expertise in multistate and local taxes includes sales and use, property, income/franchise, excise, insurance premium and other miscellaneous taxes.”
As a Black female business owner, Evans experiences unique challenges.
“Competing for contracts and attracting clients are my biggest hurdles,” said Evans, whose tax services include compliance, recovery and audit defense, exemptions and incentives, policy review and more.
“It is often difficult to market services directly to the decision-maker within a tax or accounting department. Corporate tax leaders tend to use the same state and local tax consultant year after year, and diverse suppliers are typically not on their radar,” she said.
However, Evans, has started to see a paradigm shift in the past few years due to both strategic changes in the business world, as well as corporate modifications due to the pandemic.
“In the past two to three years, corporations have made financial commitments to expand their list of diverse suppliers, which has led to increased communication with supply chains due to corporate diversity initiatives,” she said.
“The pandemic has also affected the labor market,” Evans said. ‘The ‘Great Resignation’ [of 2022] has led some corporations to use outside suppliers. In some cases, this change has opened up opportunities for increased marketing of the firm’s state and local tax services.”
Additionally, more firms are creating strategic partnerships, she said. GSE has an alliance with Randy Ellison of Cambridge Tax Services based in Atlanta, Georgia, to expand business location and services. The company also has partnerships with non-tax firms to expand their state and local tax reach, when needed, and play a role with diversity branding in the tax industry.
Evans is also active in industry efforts beyond GSE. She is an executive board member of Diverse Organization of Firms: Black Firms in Accounting and Beyond and a certified member of the Institute for Professionals in Taxation (IPT), serving as instructor at the Advanced Sales and Use Tax School.
Paying it forward
Evans’ future goals for GSE include pursuing more contracting prospects, increasing collaboration with existing strategic partners, and strengthening business opportunities between MBEs, WBEs and corporations.
She also wants to lift up other women and minorities entering the tax consulting industry today.
“In addition to creating a professional network and fostering important relationships, I recommend obtaining a business line of credit to ensure your firm is properly capitalized to fund capacity and growth, when needed,” said Evans about establishing a good business platform. “Most importantly, I advise two things to get you where you want to be — patience and persistence.”
To learn more about GSE, visit standberryenterprises.com.
To view or download full article in MBN Texas volume 1, please click here.
About Gwendolyn Standberry Evans
Hometown: Lawtell, Louisiana
First job: Sales tax auditor with the Florida Department of Revenue
Hobbies: Fitness and travel
Last business book read: “Harvard Business Review Guide to Thinking Strategically”
Best business advice received and from whom: Plan for today, prepare for tomorrow, pivot when needed … Be Flexible. From Cynthia Marshall, CEO of the Dallas Mavericks
What drives your leadership philosophy: My leadership philosophy is focused on building and maintaining trust, being authentic, providing exceptional client services and displaying ethical behaviors.