As we’ve just celebrated Halloween, here’s a story to strike horror into the heart of any accountant or bookkeeper.
John (named changed to protect privacy), a chartered accountant, was recently contracted by a small business to “sort out” their accounts. The job was only planned to last a few weeks. On his arrival, however, John discovered boxes and carrier bags stuffed full of unsorted documents; from contracts and purchase orders, to invoices and bills. As he later found out, the in-house bookkeeper had left the previous December, and for the last nine months not a single document had been processed.
No one used (or knew how to use) the two different legacy software systems, and passwords and activation keys had long since expired or been lost.
This may seem like an extreme example, but the reality is, many small businesses are still drowning in paperwork. In fact, Intuit’s recent global survey* of 2000 small businesses found that Aussie business owners spend 25 per cent of their time on admin work, and only 22 per cent of their time actually growing their business. Admin was listed as the “biggest barrier to business goals.”
So, you may ask, how can trusted advisors help?
Throw their clients a life raft
Small businesses need trusted advisors. They don’t have the time or resources for manual bookkeeping, nor the in-house expertise to find a digital solution to their problems. This is trsuted advisors come in.
Research shows that four out of 10 business owners don’t know who to turn to for advice on how to improve their business, particularly for financial measures and strategic planning.** Experienced accountants or bookkeepers, with the know-how to bridge these gaps in knowledge for small businesses, are in a position to offer strategic advice and alleviate pain points for them. And, of course, this is made so much easier by using a cloud accounting software solution.
Identify pain points
Small businesses are in need of skilled and forward-thinking accountants and bookkeepers, who are able to identify their pain points and provide a reactive business strategy, moving forward. The ultimate goal for strategic advisors is to gain customer loyalty and be proactive about finding areas where they can assist their clients:
Not all small businesses are aware of the value their accountant of bookkeeper can provide them as a forward-thinking and highly skilled financial expert. It’s up to trusted advisors to educate the business world about the new roles they can play for your clients.
Finding unsolved customer problems and addressing their unmet needs will help build trust with small-business clients – this will lead to long-term business relationships and, ultimately, guaranteed customer loyalty.
* July 2016 QuickBooks Apps Survey (internal document Global and AU perspective small business survey 250816)
** 2016 Accountants Research Report (by Bstar)
*** See source #1 (Calculations for this figure: 32% small businesses from Intuit survey not using any apps to run their business. Of these, 57 per cent not using Cloud yet. 57 per cent of 32 per cent = 18 per cent – effectively “one in five”)
**** Intuit Guide to Cloud Accounting (pg. 3 & 5)
Nicolette Maury, Vice President and Country Manager, Intuit Australia