Are You Under-Utilising Your Accountant and Letting a Valuable Resource Go to Waste?

Kathy StanleyIn the current business landscape, where SMEs face so many business challenges – from ATO debt crackdowns to government red tape to access to credit – your Accountant is well placed to add real value to your business!

The September 2019 SME Growth Index conducted by banking analysts East & Partners, on behalf of national working capital funder Scottish Pacific, has found that 82.9 per cent of business owners who nominated accountants as their most trusted advisers said they had helped the business, compared to 68.8 per cent who nominated family members, 58.8 per cent for business colleagues and 27.1 per cent for friends.

Accountants like the team at Harbour City Accounting, who are part of an accounting body such as the CPA, are more likely to strongly positioned as trusted advisers because of their knowledge, integrity and experience.

While compliance-related tasks, including compliant and year end accounts and tax returns remain very important, accountants have so much more to offer business owners when it comes to expert advice, strategic input and education about funding options.

Kathy Stanley, Senior Accountant at Harbour City Accounting, says, “We often talk to business owners who’ve had applications for funding rejected by banks, and are struggling to self-fund because they don’t know about all the options that are available. This is an area where accountants like us, who have many years of business experience, can really help.”

“Right now,” continues Kathy, “the Qld Department of Employment, Small Business and Training are offering Round 2 of their Business Growth Fund Program, where funding of up to $50,000 (excluding GST) may be provided for eligible businesses to purchase and implement highly specialised equipment or services, to enable them to move to the next stage of growth. This funding closes on 17th February 2020. We’re supporting our eligible clients to apply.”

“There’s a lot you can do to get the most out of your relationship with your accountant,” says Kathy, who recommends the following tips:

Let your Accountant be part of the team

Take the time to talk. This involves asking the right questions and bringing concerns and opportunities to the table. Your accountant can highlight the risks that your business may face and can get involved with business planning and funding to ensure all areas are covered and pitfalls avoided.

Work closely together in the early days

You may have many years of experience, but if it’s your first time on your own, your accountant can offer invaluable advice that will improve the chances of your business surviving this most risky time. They can also save you a lot of work down the line by helping you set things up correctly from the get-go.

Get help with your break-even analysis

Many SMEs undertake such analysis but don’t have the expertise to identify all the costs – it’s often a multitude of small holes that sinks the ship! Entrepreneurs can often have too rosy a view, so it is important to understand the worst-case scenario and have plans should that scenario eventuate. Your accountant has the experience across many businesses to help you with this vital exercise.

Be prepared to change and adapt

Have periodic meetings with your accountant to review the budget and how it is actually tracking, and to consider tweaks necessary to keep on top of cash flow and profitability. Rarely do plans “go according to plan” so it’s important to implement periodic reviews of the success of business plans and forecasts with a trusted and experienced professional. During these reviews it is essential that changes are made to your strategy should it appear that goals aren’t going to be met.

Have the hard conversations

As an entrepreneur, you can be very emotionally as well as financially invested in your business and may not see the writing on the wall. A good accountant is perfectly placed to be objective and initiate the hard conversations around disposing of non-performing assets, laying off staff where necessary, or cutting back on expenses that are damaging working capital.

Look for the win-win

Having accountants fill the role of trusted adviser will not only strengthens your business, it provides a range of new and deeper business opportunities for the accountant. Their own practice will reap the benefits, from referrals from satisfied clients through to other business opportunities you as your business grows and thrives (such as succession planning, mergers and acquisition deals and investments). Your success in in our best interest!

It’s time to start viewing your accountant as a business investment rather than a cost point! Speak to our friendly team at Harbour City Accounting and find out what we can do for your business.

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