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Give a man a fish....

12th September 2018

What to expect from your accountant - part 1

A while ago, small business owners were surveyed and asked what they most wanted from their accountant. The most commonly used word was ‘proactive.’

Not long after this, every accountant’s website started describing themselves as proactive, knowing it was what their target audience wanted to see. 

But that’s just the copy on the website. What should you expect from your accountant, over and above the basics, for them to deserve to describe themselves as proactive?

In these next four articles, we’ll be covering your working relationship with your accountant and what you can expect from each other. Let’s start with Education.

 Give a man a fish…

Now we all know that well-used adage: give a man a fish and you will feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you will feed him for a lifetime. But what does that mean to you as a business-owner and what has it got to do with your accountant?

Well, teaching you is not about doing them out of a job - far from it. What you can expect of your accountant though is to educate you about your rights and responsibilities, your position as a business owner, the work you can expect of them and what they expect of you.

Plus, when they present you with accounts and reports or discuss your cashflow planning, they should be explaining what they mean and why they are important.

Together you can create the best way to communicate effectively and efficiently to not only get all you need to be done, done, but also support you in accomplishing a steady growth in your business.

Learning from their experience

Don’t accountants just crunch numbers? That’s only part of the picture. Your accountant will have a wealth of knowledge from a whole range of networks.

Whether you are a start-up business or a well-established company, you will have varying degrees of experience in your particular field. Your accountant’s experience will be far more wide-ranging.

They will have been involved in many different businesses, each with their own unique set of practices, problems and successes, and what your accountant can bring to you is that wealth of knowledge to your situation. It’s like they’ve done all the hard work for you!

All you have to do is tap into their well and even difficult decisions, once discussed with them, will become clearer.

How do you find all this out?

Simply by talking to your accountant.

Open and honest engagement from the start is key to having a positive relationship with them. So, start off by setting out clear expectations for both of you.

But it’s important that you are open to being educated. Yes, you will know about your particular business. But what your accountant will see, with the benefit of the long view in mind, will be very different to you, having your nose to the grindstone, busy with the day-to-day running and growing of your company.

What you need to know

So, what will your accountant do for you? And what will they teach you? Our top three questions for them would cover:

1.     Experience: how long they’ve been in business and their vision for their own company. That will give you an idea of how they look after themselves – an indication of how they will look after you.

2.     Knowledge: How do they keep themselves and your clients up-to-date?

3.     Approach: How will they view and help and teach you to improve your company’s bottom line?

All you have to do is pick up the phone, ask and learn. Easy, right?

In my next article I’ll talk about helping you to be proactive with a bit of gentle nagging.

By the way, my new series Third Thursday Knowledge launches next week. These FREE online training courses will give the small business owner a range of information to help them grow. Click here to sign up.


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