There are plenty of SME accountants offering specialist, dedicated SME accounting services, but what should you be looking for from a professional accounting service?
You could consider managing your own accounts and doing your own bookkeeping, but by outsourcing these critical tasks, you can do a whole lot more than simply save time and money.
These two aspects of accounting are important ones though.
Bookkeeping and looking after your accounts will get more involved and demanding as your business grows. You’re likely to find that the time you would want to spend on core business activities needs spending on pressing financial issues.
This time comes at a cost, and calculating that you will save money by not outsourcing can turn out to be a false economy, when you factor in what your own time is worth.
And if you’re faced with complex accounting issues, these will take you a lot longer to unravel than someone who is a seasoned accounting professional.
If this is all you’re getting from an SME accounting firm for, then really you are under-using them.
Accountants have years of professional experience. They know the tax system inside out, and they understand the complexities of managing the finances of a business, including the challenges that start-ups face.
Firstly, there’s the tax advice you get from an accountant. This can include detailed knowledge of tax laws, including different liabilities and allowances. And it’s important for your business that you are fully aware of the exemptions and tax relief measures that can save you money and reduce your financial burden.
An accountant will also have a forensic, detailed approach to all aspects of your finances. This enables them to uncover any vulnerabilities or pinpoint weak spots.
It’s much better to be in a position to deal with these things earlier rather than later, because these issues are likely to grow and become more serious, or critical, if you do not attend to them sooner rather than later.
A good accountant can also act as a mentor for your enterprise, providing you with sound, strategic advice that goes far beyond filing returns for HMRC.
In this sense, an accountant becomes a clear asset to your business, helping it develop while keeping its financial foundations firm and healthy.
A good accountant is someone you can trust. When choosing a small business accountant, you need to look beyond paper qualifications and consider how you can develop a close working relationship with them.
This is because trust is an essential aspect of accounting services.
Personality matters. It is the basis of any solid relationship. You need to have a good, personal connection with your accountant.
In this current age of social distancing, this might seem harder to achieve, but it’s about finding suitable communication channels, and having the reassurance that your accountant will be personally contactable when you need them.
There are various qualities to look for in your accountant.
Based on the qualities listed, it’s important that you ask the right questions of your prospective accountant:
And, of course:
However, don’t base your decision on price alone. Remember, this is someone with whom you want to develop a good working relationship based on mutual respect and trust.
Your accountant could end up being one of the most important person you deal with in your business life.
Therefore, it’s absolutely crucial that you find the right fit.
Accountants offer different packages, and you should choose the option which will work best for you. But you should use them as a ready resource and a strategic asset for your business.
Our special focus as an SME accounting firm is on start-ups and (such as those within the technology sector) small businesses. We work with our clients to build close relationships that underpin our professional services.