The decision to hire an accountant is not one that any small business owner takes lightly. And rightly so.
You are basically inviting an unknown individual to go through every detail of your business finances, often a very personal and well-guarded subject for SME’s.
But the truth is that the job of an accountant is not to judge your finances but to make life easier for you and help you at every step of the way.
So beyond the traditional crunching of numbers, filing tax returns and producing annual accounts, what should you expect from your accountant?
Your accountant should know your business
Your accountant should act like a business partner, helping you to achieve growth and advising on system optimisations where necessary.
In order to do that they need to learn your business inside out, form trusting relationships with key personnel and be aware of what your future plans are for your business (i.e. planned expansions, mergers or even sell-up).
Your relationship with your accountant is unique from other service providers and when you interact with them it should not feel like you are dealing with an outside party but rather a trusted partner who’s got your best interest at heart.
Your accountant should be proactive
You shouldn’t always expect to ask for advice before you get it. Your accountant should periodically review your financial position, look out for red flags and give advice on cash flow optimisations where necessary.
Apart from that, they should also be reminding you about reporting and other important financial related deadlines, not the other way around, so you can concentrate on the day to day running of your business.
Your accountant should be responsive
The last thing any business owner wants to do is to wait days just to get an overview of their accounts or to get a report that would normally take less than a minute to extract. Popular American businessman and keynote speaker, Stephen R. Covey, said: “The key is in not spending time, but in investing it”.
Communications with your accountant should be effortless and not feel like wasted time but an investment with an expectation that something useful, valuable and actionable will come from it.
Your accountant should be flexible
Rigidness is the biggest suppressor of innovation and in today’s fast-moving business world that’s a one-way street to failure.
There are various new technologies available to accountants that can automate many of the mundane and time-consuming activities of the finance function. Your accountant should be utilizing these where applicable to bring greater cost-savings and efficiencies to your business processes.
Your accountant should also be flexible in the advice that they give you. You don’t operate in a one size fits all industry and the advice that your accountant gives you should reflect this. What works for one business might not necessarily work for you and what worked last month might not be applicable anymore this month. Your accountant should have the foresight to know what strategies will work for your particular organisation in the particular industry that you work in, and be able to adapt these strategies to achieve long-term growth.
Your accountant should add value
When we talk about value here, it’s not just making sure your bookkeeping is up to date, taxes are accurate, filing annual reports and providing payroll administration. Although these are very important core services, the truth is there are hundreds of accountants that can provide the same service.
You should, therefore, expect your accountant to go above and beyond and broaden their scope of services to perhaps include advising on a business plan, advising on the legal structure of a company, help you with loan applications, etc.
Why a cloud accountant is the ideal solution
A cloud accounting solution can provide a robust basis to ensure the above expectations are met. It will further increase the flexibility and accessibility of the services available to you.
Being able to log in from anywhere means you can access your accounting information at any time and see your financial position in real-time as it gets updated. You don’t have to wait for your accountant to provide you with the details, meaning communication with your accountant is instantly improved.
A cloud accounting solution is also likely to use the latest tech, such as frictionless receipt and expense uploading through mobile apps (instead of manually entering stacks of documents), which means a faster and altogether more efficient process. Being tech-friendly also future proofs your organisation by making your accounting systems flexible enough to adapt to an ever-changing business environment.
Data and file storage in the cloud is not only far more secure than physical storage alternatives but advancements in the technology also mean it’s now significantly cheaper and easier to
Finally, with a cloud accounting solution, you don’t have to worry about storage backups or expensive software upgrades and the solution should be able to work seamlessly alongside your existing accounting package.