Five things your accountant should be doing for you

Date: 31st July 2014

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Your accountant should be more than just that guy you see once a year to do your annual accounts and taxes.  A good accountant should be a trusted advisor, guiding you through a business start-up and helping you with forward planning, strategy and streamlining of your business.

Your accountant should be available to you year-round, know your business inside out, and offer regular advice that assists you to improve your profits and grow your business.  Here are the five key things your accountant should be doing for you besides your taxes according to David McKellar, chartered accountant and director of accounting firm Allied Business Accountants, in a recent article from Smart Company.

1. Benchmarking

To outpace your competitors, you must know how they are operating. Your accountant should be examining your competitors and reporting back about how you stack up on sales volume, market reach, production costs and overheads, staffing costs and turnover, pricing, and profitability.  This vital intelligence will identify your pain points, show you where you can cut costs, reveal market gaps in your sales strategy, and help you set a highly effective business strategy.

2. Budgeting

Most business owners can tell you about the soul-destroying feeling of watching your budgets blow out and your profits dwindle away with them. Your accountant is a key player here. Utilise their deep knowledge of your business and market position to help set achievable budgets and revenue targets that you can rely on. They should be able to help identify your costs, forecast your sales and implement and monitor a realistic budget aligned with your financial goals.

3. Cost reduction

Your costs can have as much impact on your profits as your overall revenue, yet many business owners neglect to keep a close eye on costs. Consult your accountant to help implement an effective cost reduction strategy based on prior benchmarking intelligence. You’ll want to focus on improving the management of existing contracts, reducing waste and overheads, and boosting productivity across your organisation.

4. Pricing advice

Setting price points can make or break your business. Too high and you’ll price yourself out of the game; too low and your profitability could take a fatal hit. This is another area your accountant should be consulting on. Again, intelligence taken from prior benchmarking should place you well for setting competitive price points, while understanding what it will take to achieve your specific business goals will help keep enough meat in your bottom line.

See Value Based Billing for your professional services business and Working out your charge-out rate for your trades business for more about pricing.

5. Succession planning

Whether your plan is to sell your business, leave it to your kids or retire as a silent partner, all business owners need an effective exit strategy. Your accountant should be your go-to adviser here with extensive knowledge about tax compliance, tax minimisation strategies, business valuation, due diligence and estate planning.

If your accountant is not stepping up to the plate in these five key areas, perhaps it’s time to ask yourself if they really are worth the invoices they send.

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