This is a guest post by Andrew Van De Beek, Founder and Head of Purpose at Illumin8 – a Xero Platinum Partner and XPAC member.
For those of us in advisory, ‘quick questions’ from clients are part and parcel of what we do. But if your practice is anything like mine, the number of enquiries at EOFY – and subsequently, the time it takes to respond to all of them – skyrockets. So in the months before June, I’ll assess what clients are already asking and predict other possible queries (before they hit my inbox) to prepare thoughtful responses.
Below is my roundup for FY22, featuring 10 questions you’re likely to come across in the lead up to tax time. Simply take what you need from this list to do what you do best.
1. “What’s different about this EOFY compared to previous years?”
The turbulence of recent years has forced many small business owners to continually adapt to disruption. As a result, change has become the new norm. But unlike last EOFY, we’re not as laser focused on the pandemic. Instead, several global and local crises are also front of mind. As we lead into EOFY, I like to set the scene with my clients by reminding them that current affairs have a wider impact on the economy, and in turn, small businesses. However, just remember to keep a balanced perspective by offering some positives – like opportunities for growth, innovation and connection.
2. “What will you look out for when reviewing my numbers?”
I find clients like to phrase this question in all kinds of ways. But as advisors, our answer is often the same – we’re looking for outliers. In FY22, these could include state government COVID-19 support grants and costs associated with business transformation. As always, it pays to communicate whether these are deductible expenses early on.
3. “What could I improve on in the new financial year?”
As we know, many small business owners have become more financially savvy since the pandemic’s arrival. And I’ve noticed this newfound confidence is shifting clients’ attitudes towards EOFY. They’re no longer asking what’s wrong with their business, but rather, how we can help them improve their understanding. Take this as an opportunity to showcase your expanded service offerings. This could mean helping them create a digitalisation strategy or implementing a talent attraction program. Whatever it is, make sure you outline all that your practice has to offer.
4. “I’m ready to grow my business – can you help me?”
This is the first EOFY in a while where many small businesses will ask themselves, “How can I grow over the next year,” rather than focusing solely on survival. But the real question is, can they afford to grow? Start talking to your clients about what they want to achieve in FY23 early on. Then, assess whether they can fund their growth ambitions on their own or whether they need to seek out external funding through options like grants, a loan or an investment round.
5. “Should I go bananas investing in tech and training?”
Since the Federal government proposed new tax deductions for small businesses to invest in tech and digital skills training, I’ve had clients ask whether this is a green light to spend big on digitalisation. The first thing to note is that these programs haven’t yet passed as legislation. Secondly, if the bills pass, small businesses could have to wait until the end of FY23 to claim their deductions, which is a long time to be out of pocket.
With the right guidance from an advisor, tech and digital skills training can be worthwhile investments (regardless of tax deductions). But – like all purchases – small businesses need to be mindful of a few things before they reach for their wallets.
6. “Will the upcoming Federal Election impact my business?”
The simple answer – as we know – is yes, the Federal Election will impact almost every small business owner. Before 21 May, it’s a good idea to encourage your clients to research what policies each party is proposing, and to think about what appeals to them.
If you have the resources and time, you could even write a blog post or send a newsletter that explains the election campaign in layman’s terms. Just remember to keep a neutral stance to avoid any awkward conversations.
7. “I’m struggling to find team members – what should I do?”
Finding new team members is ridiculously challenging for any business owner right now. So my advice to clients is twofold; always be on the lookout for talent, and offer them something unique like flexible work perks or training opportunities. If your clients can build a pipeline of people who have plenty of potential, and they’re willing to invest the time and energy into upskilling them, they’ll have a better chance of finding (and keeping) team members.
8. “Can I take time away from my business to travel in FY23?”
After recent years, we know better than most that many small business owners are due for a well-earned holiday. But, if clients are coming to us with this question, they’re really asking if they can afford to travel in FY23. And the best way to answer this is by doing what we do best – laying out the facts.
Sit down with them and look at their current cash position, and what shape their numbers will be in when they return from a holiday. If they have team members, ask them what systems and processes they have in place (or suggest some they could implement) to keep everything humming along smoothly while they’re away.
9. “How do I navigate this new world of remote work?”
Whether your clients want to take a working holiday or make a permanent lifestyle change, remote work is something we’re all learning to navigate. As advisors, it’s a great way to start the digitalisation conversation, introducing them to apps that’ll enable connectivity and collaboration from anywhere. The Xero App Store is a valuable resource for exploring all the different options available.
10. “I can do my tax return myself, right?”
This is a classic question, and one that I use to remind my clients about what services we offer beyond the finances. All while gently outlining the risks involved in tackling a tax return without the guidance of a qualified professional.
Instead of an admin burden, I’ve come to consider every ‘quick question’ at EOFY as a chance to form deeper working relationships with our clients. Every call, text or email is an opportunity to build trust, reinforce our value as advisors, and show them we care as much as they do.
To see last year’s list of questions – some of which still apply to FY22 – check out this blog post.