As a financial professional, you have the skills to help businesses at various stages of their growth. But how do you get small business owners to recognise your value and hire you? It starts with a little understanding.
Time is money
You know you can help companies throughout the different stages of their growth. From business plans to company formation, loan applications to tax audits, a partner like you makes life easier. You can improve any company's business prospects – every step of the way.
But despite these advantages, some business owners may not understand the value you provide. They may simply think that they can't afford your services.
It’s important to explain how accountants and bookkeepers can improve efficiency and increase productivity. Those benefits can save or earn your clients much more than the cost of your services.
Take the end-of-year close as an example. Starting a tax return often begins with countless hours catching up on past reconciled transactions or hunting down missing expenses. But you can do all of this much faster, thanks to cloud-based accounting software.
In fact cloud accounting simplifies the end-of-year close by improving client collaboration all year round. This means the data is always up-to-date. Partners save time through automated processes such as live bank feeds, and by working with clients using accurate accounting data.
But that’s just the start. Here are ten ways that you can add value to your clients' businesses.
1. Business plans
Small businesses are discovering the value of involving an accountant when writing their business plans. That’s because you can provide useful insight into key business indicators and your clients' target markets.
Your expertise in these key areas can help businesses become financially stronger and more agile. This puts them in a better position to take advantage of new opportunities as they arise.
2. Legal structure
Not all small businesses fit into the same legal box. Every structure, whether it's a sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC or corporation, has different considerations with respect to liabilities and taxes. You can explain these legal business structures in simple terms. That will help your clients choose the one that provides them with the greatest benefit and protection from risk.
Small business accounting can quickly become complex, particularly when managed in-house. It can be easy to lose control of invoicing and other financial responsibilities. This is where you can help. You can get the company back on track, with additional work on payroll, cashflow and other areas. A cloud-based accounting solution can give you a quick and comprehensive overview of this vital financial data.
Small business owners love control. But as their company grows, so do their responsibilities. You can take on some of those duties. By focusing on finance and accounting, you can let business owners concentrate on the parts of their business that they love.
You can give them the freedom to improve their customer service, do more creative work, and grow their business. After all, few business owners started their company out of a desire to do lots of bookkeeping.
You can complete and file the required legal and compliance documents:
- Keep the business owners up to date with the latest tax laws.
- Prepare annual financial statements.
- Keep the company's status updated in the government's company register.
- maintain a roster of current employees.
- Record all share and stock allocation transactions.
- Handle payroll and ensure that all employees' tax codes and payments are recorded correctly.
“Penalties for missing wage reporting and tax payment deadlines are among the most costly compliance issues for small businesses,” according to Isaac O’Bannon, the Managing Editor of CPA Practice Advisor and long-time follower of compliance issues facing business owners.
“As businesses grow, the complexity and labor involved in compliance can increase dramatically. By ensuring small businesses stay in compliance with even just these two issues, an accounting professional provides a highly visible and tangible example of their value to a small business.”
In addition, your knowledge of tax laws and legislation is highly valuable. You can use it to suggest ways to free up cashflow, save money and raise capital for expansion.
Small business accounting can quickly become complex, particularly when managed in-house.
It’s statistically unlikely that a company will face an income tax audit. The IRS reports that about one percent of US small businesses are audited per year. But if it does happen, a smart business owner will hire an accountant.
You can steer them through the auditing process. You can also help ensure future compliance with tax laws – and perhaps add value by providing audit insurance.
Businesses must also pay attention to other audits, such as sales tax audits. With many states seeing shrinking budgets, they are increasingly focused on collecting sales taxes from businesses. Some of those businesses may be unaware of their responsibilities when it comes to collecting taxes from online sales, for example.
7. Business loan or overdraft
Every business needs a sound business plan when it comes to applying for credit or seeking capital investment. You can help here, by reviewing loan terms and conditions to identify the best option.
Your presence alone tells the bank that the business is serious about its finances. And with a reliable, cloud-based accounting solution, you can present facts and figures and answer questions to support the funding application.
8. Business growth
Armed with your knowledge and a cloud-based accounting solution, you can:
- Help with growth transitions, such as hiring employees or taking on more office space.
- Review all important details, including payroll, employee tax management, property tax and utility payments. This frees the business owner to focus on growth.
- Analyze cashflow, inventory management and pricing.
- Become your clients' expert accounting partner.
With your strategic perspective, you can provide insights on how best to grow the business. For example, you can determine the best time to introduce a new product or service.
9. Pre-purchase advice
Some people start their new business with an idea scribbled on a napkin, and build it from the ground up. Others prefer to purchase an existing business. When it comes to buying a business, you can study the target company's accounts in detail – and highlight any areas of concern.
For example, you can confirm if a company’s assets are fully owned, leased or part-paid for. You can also check whether the company has any outstanding debt.
Just as when starting a small business, your accounting expertise is important when an owner is ready to sell their business.
Using cloud-based accounting software, you can build charts and tables to position the company in the best light. You can interview potential buyers and structure the company's financial affairs in a tax-efficient way. All of this will help your client get the best possible deal from the sale of their business.
You have so much to offer your clients
As you can see, there are many reasons for a small business to hire you. So make sure you highlight the time and money savings you can provide across their entire business – including planning, legal and financial advisory services.
Ultimately, peace of mind is the greatest service you provide. You and your accounting knowledge provide small business owners with peace of mind about the state of their finances. That leaves them free to devote their attention to running and growing their business.