The start of a new year is always a turning point for business owners, as it’s when they look back at the last twelve months and work out which areas of their day-to-day operations can be improved. This has never been more relevant, as the ongoing tier system, the rise in remote working and the end of the Brexit transition will all affect the way businesses work and perform in the future.
Being prepared for the expected and unexpected alike is key to the survival and continual growth of any type of business, regardless of its size and sector. From start-ups developing niche products, to large companies with offices and outlets across the UK, the protection of profit margins and expansion of services are dependent on a forward-thinking strategy.
“I come across so many business owners who find themselves flummoxed by sudden hurdles rather than quickly overcoming them,” says Aaron Gilmore, owner of TreyBridge Accountants. “It’s a common occurrence because being prepared takes a lot of time, skill, focus and planning, which can be hard to fit around everyday tasks and responsibilities. That’s why your accountant should offer more than just bookkeeping and payroll by acting as a business advisor too.”
When people think of accountants, they usually picture calculators, ring binders, tax returns and receipts. Very rarely will a business owner consider an accountant to be a specialist they can go to with questions, problems and ideas concerning their wider corporate infrastructure and business model. Essentially, a true accountant is always there to help you plan ahead as well as keep track of your income and expenditure.
“I believe that every accountant should take on the role of business advisor,” explains Aaron. “They should analyse your current finances and show you how you got where you are today, then offer detailed and practical advice on how to save money, improve cash flow, budget effectively, optimise spending, and essentially future-proof your business.”
Opportunities that may arise when it comes to looking after your finances are extremely wide-ranging. They could be very simple changes, such as ensuring that every receipt, no matter how small, is retained and logged as an expense. At the other end of the scale, it may be a case of shopping around for new suppliers, changing the way you recruit, or exploring sources of funding and tax relief such as the Coronavirus Bounce Back Loan scheme, apprenticeship incentive payments and R&D Tax Credits.
“It’s time to take a look at what your accountant brings to your business,” says Aaron. “If they’re simply a history teacher who tells you what you’ve spent, you need to switch to another one who will also act as a pathfinder. They’ll create a plan of action, maintain a financial checklist, guide you forward, and ultimately shield your business against obstacles and disruption. The world is rapidly transforming, so you need to anticipate trends and proactively adjust your business to stay ahead of the game.”