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Accounting for change

Most accounting firms will say they understand the needs of small enterprises. Fortunately, there are a number of steps you can take to determine just how well placed an accountant really is to help you address the challenges your business faces.

Most of us are averse to change, particularly when it involves making decisions about people we have known for some time. If you have been in business for a while, chances are you have got to know your accountant pretty well and trust them to do a good job.

Even when this is not the case, it can be daunting to move away from someone who probably knows more about your financial affairs than anyone else. The thought of having to start again can be enough to make time-strapped small business owners think twice.

The cost of doing nothing

As we have discussed in previous blogs, the perception of an accountant as a bean-counter is increasingly dated. Progressive accountants are as much business advisers as financial advisers and many have the skills required to become successful entrepreneurs in their own right.

A good accountant will give you honest, constructive advice. If they have experience working with companies in your industry or at a similar stage of development they will also draw on that experience to help you avoid common mistakes.

If your perception of your accountant is of a necessary compliance burden rather than a trusted advisor who can add value to your business, it might be time to start working with someone else.

No need for like-minds

Some entrepreneurs say they prefer working with accountants whose minds work the same way, who have the ability to ‘think outside of the box’. But in the same way that part of the job of a chief financial officer is to keep the boss in check, an accountant needs to work in a logical way and is therefore going to be more risk averse.

Entrepreneurs are blue-sky thinkers – they might have 100 bad ideas for every one great idea. An accountant who thinks like an entrepreneur won’t get excited about preparing a set of accounts or a tax return, even though these remain vital tasks.

There is also the question of scale. You might feel more comfortable working with a sole practitioner during the start-up phase of your business, but what happens if you experience rapid growth – will your accountant be able to handle the increased volume and complexity of work?

Looking to the future

In the same way that you need to future proof your relationship with your accountant, you also need to make sure your accounting package will be up to the job. One of the advantages of using a cloud-based accounting solution such as Big Red Cloud is its scalability, but not all systems have the necessary functionality.

Every small business should make sure their accounting solution has a direct link with their bank that enables them to download all transactions quickly and easily.

Marc O'Dwyer

After completing a Graduate program in Marketing, Marc’s impressive sales career began at Allied Irish Banks, Pitney Bowes and Panasonic where he received numerous Irish and European sales performance awards and consistently exceeded targets and expectations. In 1992, Marc’s entrepreneurial spirit led him to set up his own business, Irish International Sales (IIS). Initially, this company was a reseller for Take 5 Accounts and Payroll software. Within four years, IIS became the largest reseller of Take 5 in Ireland, acquiring four other Take 5 resellers. He also found time to set up two mobile phone shops under the Cellular World brand and a web design company offering website design services for small businesses. In 2001, he bought the majority share in a small Irish software business, Big Red Book. At that time, the company was losing money. The company became profitable within two months, and Marc then acquired a payroll company to compliment Big Red Books Accounting products. In 2003, IIS were appointed as Channel Partners with SAP for their new SME product, SAP Business One. Marc sold his Take 5 business and concentrated on developing this new market for SAP As a result, by 2007, IIS was recognised as the largest Channel Partner for SAP in EMEA (Europe Middle East and Africa). In 2008, the IIS Sales Manager bought the Company from Marc in an MBO. He launched Big red cloud in June 2012, the online version of big red book, to date the company successfully converts 59% of trials into sales and the number of customers is growing rapidly. Marc continues to run both Big Red Book and Big Red Cloud which now support 75,000 businesses. He is a very keen sportsman, having played rugby for 20 years, represented Leinster at under 16 and under 20 levels, and league squash with Fitzwilliam Lawn Tennis Club for 10 years. Marc has competed in 11 Marathons, including the London and Boston Marathons, and has completed several Triathlons and Half Ironman races. He has also completed six Ironman Races in Austria(x2), Frankfurt (Germany), Nice (France) , Mallorca (Spain) and Copenhagen (Denmark)

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