What Small Businesses Wants from their Accountant
As an accountant to small businesses, having an attractive service package can help you retain clients, grow your practice through referrals, and build a profitable niche. In order to do that, you must tune into what small business owners want and need from their accountant. The list goes beyond traditional debits and credits and encourages you to step into the role of a strategic partner.
Here are some ideas to illustrate what small businesses want from their accountants.
- The story behind the numbers
Anyone can record transactions, but few accountants can turn the numbers into a story. Actionable analysis can be a powerful roadmap to making better decisions, creating agile plans, and adapting to external circumstances.
- Proactive approach
A stereotypical image of an accountant is one of a professional who’s focused on the past and tends to favor a reactive approach to problems. In order to set yourself apart, look at the client’s business proactively. Help them identify risks, brainstorm solutions, and guide their implementation. Stay ahead of the client by researching new regulations, legislature, and industry developments that may affect the business.
Responsiveness has been consistently identified as a critical element of a successful collaboration between a CPA and a small business owner. It’s not unusual for small business owners to wait for days for a returned phone call or a response to an emailed question. Committing to a 24-hour response turn-around sets you apart and provides a comfort level to your clients. Even if you don’t have an answer, simply letting the client know that you are working on the request can make a difference.
- Access to critical data 24/7
Gone are the days when annual financial statements were the only time a business owner had a comprehensive view of business performance. Today’s small business owners want 24/7 access to mission-critical data through client portals, convenient system interface, and actionable reports that help them look ahead.
- Business planning and strategic advice
As an external accountant, you have the benefit of having seen a variety of business models. That makes you a tremendous asset to your small business clients when it comes to business planning. From industry analysis to business succession, you are in a position to offer insights and save your clients time, money, and heartache.
- Cash flow management
Many small businesses fail because of cash flow shortage. An accountant can perform a cash flow analysis, stress-test assumptions for the budget, and offer suggestions for improving customer account collections.
- Tax planning
A reduction in the tax bill is always welcome news, but small business owners need tax planning just as much. Equipment purchases, financing, and other business decisions have tax consequences. Understanding those clearly and considering the tax side of key issues can save small business owners considerable money.
- Business analytics
From key performance indicators to benchmarking, accountants are in a position to help small business owners become more profitable, more agile, and more competitive.