Many accountants believe that business advisory work is the way ahead for the profession. Compliance work is increasingly less valued by business owners and brings in lower and lower returns. So business advisory has become a kind of holy grail.
And those forward thinking accountants are right. Your skills with numbers can make a big difference to a business. You can help them to understand their figures, to grow and generate better profits.
But all too often, business owners don’t see this. They don’t think you can offer them anything other than a set of accounts and a tax return.
Why is that? And what can you do about it?
More new businesses than ever
Bear with me if I digress a little.
You will be all too painfully aware that the Covid-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on the economy. Thousands of employees lost their jobs as businesses across many different sectors were forced to close or make redundancies. While some of the newly unemployed found new jobs, others decided to set up in business for themselves. In fact, an unexpected result of the pandemic was that nearly half a million new businesses started up in the UK between March and September 2020. That’s almost 45,000 more than in the same period in 2019. And you can see the appeal; it’s an opportunity to take control of their working lives and make their own decisions.
And of course, it’s easier than ever to set up in business. Website designers, virtual administrators and content writers are only an online click or two away. Technology, and the ease of outsourcing, means that anyone can set up a business in their spare room and start selling their products or services in a matter of days. Next, they simply need to create ads on social media or – using only their smartphones – create a sales video to drive people to their websites.
What do business owners need?
Or at least that’s the way it seems. Even before the current crisis hit, the reality for most of these business owners was a little different. Very few of them survived more than five years and, of those that did, very few did more than just survive. In fact, the majority were barely ticking over, with their owners gaining no enjoyment from it whatsoever. In the situation we’re in now, the potential for failure is higher than ever.
So what do these new business owners need in order to flourish and grow, so they can employ more people and help to raise the economy up again? They need help to understand their business, to understand their cashflow, VAT, tax, running costs, debts and payroll, otherwise they’ll be shutting up shop again pretty quickly. And the good news is that – as we said earlier – as an accountant you’re in a wonderful position to provide this help. But first there are a few hurdles you need to overcome.
Chief amongst these, perhaps, is that your clients and potential clients see you as ‘just’ an accountant.
Do you look like just an accountant to your clients?
Do you appear overworked and too busy to respond to them within working hours? They’ll see you as not being in control of your time and just as frantic as they are. If your fees are rock bottom they won’t really value the service you provide.
If this describes your situation, to suddenly offer them advice on running a better business would come as a surprise. And they’d also probably question what – if anything – an overworked ‘mere’ accountant could teach them.
That’s why you need to reach a position where you not only practice what you preach, but where you can demonstrate to clients and prospects that you’ve created a successful accountancy business that enables you to work fewer hours for a better income.
You’ll find strategies that will help you to do that in my Amazon best-selling book, Putting Excellence Into Practice – in fact this article is based on Chapter 2 of the book. Download your free copy here.