10 Surprising Ways An Accountant Can Benefit Your Micro Business

If you run a micro business at some point you’ll probably take the plunge and hire your accountant.

However you may be surprised to know that they can do a lot more than just your tax return.

In fact, here are 10 ways your accountant can help you that you may not be aware of…

1.  Accountability

We’ve all been there.

Your to-do list, your goals, your deadlines. Do they get done, or do they get sabotaged by put-it-off gremlins?

Gentle reminders from your accountant can be the difference between your bookkeeping and tax return being a stress fest, constantly featuring on every month’s to-to list, and a task that gets done with no fuss.

Knowing you’re held accountable can be that bit extra that gets it done.

2. Help get rid of procrastination

Why do we procrastinate?

Often it’s a lack of confidence. Confidence can be the difference between getting on with it, or being scared or unsure instead so we put it off.

  • What if you knew which receipts could come off your tax bill?
  • What if you knew which networking events could come off your tax bill – and which can’t?

Suddenly a lot of those tatty receipts become cash going back into your business instead of a “boring-not-sure-what-to-do-with-these” job.

Feeling confident means knowing you’re doing the right thing with your cash flow. It can also ensure you make higher quality decisions about which purchases to make. Both of which makes it much easier to grow your business.

3. Help grow your business

You may be a micro business, but that doesn’t mean you don’t want more sales.

Growing your business isn’t just about leads, conversion rates, sales targets and SEO. It isn’t even about hiring a business coach, although that is a good idea.

  • Do you know your numbers?
  • Do you know what money you have coming in every month?
  • Do you know how much you have going out?
  • Do you know what you’re owed?
  • Do you know what to do about it if you’re not paid?

Anyone watching Dragon’s Den can see the difference between the people who know their business numbers and the people who don’t.

Running a business well and growing your business means having a really good understanding of what is going on at the bottom line. And that means your accounts and the flow of money.

You don’t need to be adept at the accounting jargon.

You do need to know which numbers matter, how to find out where to get them and what to do with them once you have them.

That’s what your accountant is there to help with.

4. Increase your profits

Profit is what pays your mortgage and buys you food and chocolate.

You’ll agree it’s very important.

Sales lead to profit and, assuming your profit margins are in order, more sales are what grows your business and gives you more money to spend on nice things, like coaching or chocolate (or gadgets).

The problem is that if you lack confidence, put it off or are scared of doing your accounts, then that’s time not spent on activities that lead to an increase in your sales and profits.

People recommend outsourcing for a reason.

You don’t need to outsource it all, just what you are comfortable with and what your budget will allow. You’d be surprised what a bit of hand holding and talking through can achieve.

THEN, away you go, ready to build your sales sheet and take on the world.

5. Reduce your expenses

Expenses are what takes money out of your business and we all have them. In fact we need them in order to provide our service or products to clients and customers.

It’s a complicated area though. What can come off your tax bill varies a lot, business by business and circumstances by circumstances.

There could be expenses that can come off your tax bill that you aren’t claiming for – that’s money that increases your profits.

It needs a detailed look, and you don’t want to fall foul of the Taxman so ask a professional to help you and review it every year to check it’s current and legal.

6. Eliminate fear of your accounts

Hands up, who gets in a panic when it’s tax time?

Fear is the experience for most people for their accounts and tax return. And with good reason, to be honest. It’s complicated, it’s important, it can be hard to understand, and most of the time there aren’t any hard and fast rules.

That can be stressful and when it is, that stops you getting on with making sales and profits and growing your business.

Fear is the difference between your accounts being an important but just do it task – like cleaning your teeth twice a day – and putting it off and procrastination.

Ask your accountant how they can help you.

Having a system for keeping records that really works for you, understanding what is important for your business accounts and knowing a bit of HMRC’s terminology can really make the difference.

Tax-deductible expenses anyone?

7. Give you time

Time.

You can save time by outsourcing your tax return, bookkeeping or accounts, or all three.

Think about what you can afford and what you need and ask for it.

There are a lot of helpful services out there you may not realise exist.

  • What about a review of your bookkeeping system?
  • Checking your tax return?
  • How about accounts mentoring and email support?

Ask around – Twitter is a good place and so is Micro Business Hub.

You’re the client. What do you need help with? See how a bit of support can release lots of time for you to get on with what you really need to be doing. It doesn’t need to be expensive.

8. Show you how to save

Saving may not be required by HMRC, but you’ll need it if you’re going to stay solvent.

You need to be able to pay your suppliers, pay your tax bill (in advance or with your tax return), pay VAT, pay subcontractors, pay yourself!

Your accountant can help you with how to manage this and not get in a pickle with paying bills in the short terms.
Savings now are to prevent cash flow stress later, so think of it as stress prevention rather than that boring thing you really ought to be doing but seems just a bit too grown up.

There are savings for your business, savings for the taxman, and savings for you (and your family) to consider, so have a think about where your life priorities are, and then pick up the phone and ask to book a chat about it.

Depending on your arrangement with your accountant, it might not even cost you anything.

9. Get you paid

Every business needs to get paid.

Getting paid on time is the difference between a business and going bust.

Cash flow is crucial – that’s having enough money to pay your bills when they’re due. Your accountant can help with managing your cash flow (e.g. paying the mortgage and paying your business suppliers) and how to maximise the chances of getting paid, and on time, and what to do when you aren’t.

Cash flow problems are one of the biggest stressors out there, so please ask.

10. Send you a brownie 😉

Ok, ok, I admit, most accountants won’t send you a brownie (I will).

A lot are genuinely appreciative of your business and will treat you well and say thank you in their own way.

A big thank you goes a long way in micro business.

What do I do if I don’t have an accountant and want one?

Many accountants are very friendly and will appreciate you being honest and asking for what you need – help with the numbers, what to do with receipts, etc. Paying for some help is much cheaper than wasting time and the stress involved in doing it all yourself, so just ask. You may be pleasantly surprised.

micro business actionToday’s Micro action

Who are you going to ask to hold you accountable for those action decisions you’ve taken as you’ve been reading?

 

Rosie Slosek

Rosie Slosek runs One Man Band Accounting, supporting one man bands in the UK with hassle and fear-free accounts mentoring, with a home made brownie for every client. Start your week well and sign up for her free Accountability email every Monday morning at 8am.

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Comments

  1. Always good to have someone on your back giving you gentle nudges to end procrastination and to help you save money – especially if they give you chocolate brownies!

  2. It’s worth spending some money on a good accountant indeed. It all comes back in the pocket, and more (which is always good).
    Oh and the brownies are oh so yummy …

  3. Amanda Crawford says:

    Anything and anyone that can help me save a few pennies (and pounds!) is okey doke in my book – especially when they provide you with nummy bakery goodness to boot!!

    • Haha! When I’m having a bad day, a look at the amount of activity (productive activity!) you manage on your Facebook page always amazes me. If Mandy can do it, I say to myself, so can I.

      By the way, if anyone works from home and gets cold hands in the winter, I bought a pair of fingerless gloves and gauntlets from Mandy, and they keep me toasty warm. I even have a crocheted mug warmer for when it’s really cold. Bit of a sales pitch from me, but they’re very good.
      Rosie Slosek recently posted..Thinking about your tax return?My Profile

  4. Saving money for chocolate (and brownies) is always a good idea! That in itself may be enough to get me to look at my accounts…
    Jan recently posted..Are You A Kindle Author? Kindlegraph It!My Profile

  5. Really good article,

    Procrastination is a big fault of mine so I can relate to get getting gentle (or not so gentle!) prods to get things done!

  6. You don’t know how your business is performing if you’re accounts aren’t up to date. If you want to grow, you have to know how you’re performing now so you can plan where you want to be.

    • Now that’s a challenge Robert!

      My take on it, is look at the numbers once a month, you dont’ necessarily need to have done all the data entry part, it’s knowing roughly what’s going on. Be honest with yourself, no matter how good it may be, is it going to be a perpertual put-off item on your to-do list? If so, try updating every quarter or bi-annually. Procrastination is a big energy sink and that energy could be used for more interesting things like a little light invoicing 😀
      Rosie Slosek recently posted..Thinking about your tax return?My Profile

  7. this article is amazing Rosie. Maybe I do need an accountant after all (I am an accountant and yet I don’t do half these things for myself….) And I would do almost anything for a brownie – what a great selling point x
    Debbie O’Connor recently posted..Win a Daewoo Washing machine with C&M Domestic AppliancesMy Profile

    • Debbie, I don’t do my own accounts. I do my own bookkeeping as I want to know my own data and make my own decisions. I’ll be the first one to say that crunching your own numbers is not very interesting. Beyond knowing profit, loss, expense levels etc, it’s all for HMRC not me, so hello outsourcing and hello more time for clients. And drinking tea.

      For that matter, Debbie runs Motivating Mum and Mum’s the Boss websites and writing about cake for those blogs (with my accounting bio) is a brilliant gig!

      Oh, and thank you, *blushes*
      Rosie Slosek recently posted..Thinking about your tax return?My Profile

  8. Cracking stuff. Many small businesses view an accountant in much the same way that car owners view replacement tyres and exhaust systems – necessary expenses but not exactly exciting or productive.

    It’s good to have some clear pointers on how to turn that necessary (and it is ncessary) expense to actual, measurable, profitable progress.

    • Thank you, Adrian.

      The actual numbers aren’t that fascinating, but what they mean is different. That tax-deductible expense (if you know it is one) is cash in your pocket/business. An expense that isn’t tax-deductible (and you need to know what isn’t) is money away from your business. Knowing the difference just for that one thing can make a big difference in decision-making.

      For example, networking. BNI, NRG and Business Biscotti are all treated differently. That is probably another blog post in itself.
      Rosie Slosek recently posted..Thinking about your tax return?My Profile

  9. Good accounting makes all the difference, of course so do brownies!

    • It does show the importance of the right support, Sam. We all need help and reminders, and since (via Google checking) you’re the Mrs of the above-mentioned Mr Higgs, families and friends are often not mentioned but very important. It’s their income too after all.
      Rosie Slosek recently posted..Thinking about your tax return?My Profile

  10. Wow, I really had no idea that an accountant could help with all these things. To be honest, it’s just what I need. What a brilliantly clear, concise and well written piece Rosie.

  11. Very good article and tips, Rosie! I don’t run a micro business at present, but if I did, and lived in the UK, I’d want to hire you. (The promise of a brownie would clinch the deal!)

  12. Really good points Rosie. If you’re going to grow a sustainable business you have to keep focused not just on your sales numbers, but also your costs and bottom line. It’s easy to get carried away with being busy and not realise that your not making enough profit. Having someone focusing on that for you and being honest with you about those numbers is crucial. It’s all part of building a great business rather than just buying yourself a job.

    By the way, the brownies sound great! 🙂
    Robert Peters recently posted..3 Simple Steps to Add Personality to Your Small Business WebsiteMy Profile

    • That’s exactly the point, Robert. What is often so valuable about a small business coach is teaching how to price according to many factors – including market conditions, what people will pay, ability to pay, payment options, cash flow need, income need, and how much it costs you to provide.

      Profit margin is great, but if you need a volume of clients you can’t manage, that won’t get you far 😉
      Rosie Slosek recently posted..Thinking about your tax return?My Profile

  13. Good article Rosie. I agree with all point above, I would like to also add that an accountant can also provide a business with customers/clients (probably linked to turnover). Think of how many different clients an accountant will act for, with such a diverse client base there is a very good chance those clients require the services your business provides. As an accountant I am always keen to refer a client to another client – business to business if you like.

  14. I’m all for the brownies! No, but in all honesty, having an accountant is such a relief. I’m pants at numbers and keeping track of taxes (even the language and words used confuse me).

    I’m glad you’ve helped me get started, Rosie!

  15. I looked hard to find a good accountant and then they emigrated! Seriously, mine aren’t the best organised in the world and there are some good tips here I can start on straight away.

  16. Thank you Rosie for a really refreshing article on the subject of Accountants and Micro businesses. There is so much more to it than “just” a tax return at the year end. Like many other things in a very small business you could do it yourself, but you will save so much time and headaches if you get someone to help you out. If you have no idea how to do graphics you’d get a designer to do your logo or website and never really consider it.

    And a free Brownie?? Genius 🙂
    Jenny Braithwaite recently posted..Your home page: blog or not?My Profile

    • I got someone in to do the speciality stuff for my website, after all, I’m not a php coder. Twiddling about in my theme’s php file is not something to be messed with (so I hired Robert Peters).

      Nothing wrong with asking for help in what to do so we can do it yourself next year, and then get it checked. It’s a cheaper option if you’re on a really really tight budget.
      Rosie Slosek recently posted..Thinking about your tax return?My Profile

  17. Like any small business I questioned the economics of paying someone to complete a ‘simple’ tax return for me and one year I decided to do it myself.

    After much procrastination I focused on the simple maths. What was the opportunity cost of the time I would spend on my tax return? If I could make one sale in that time or create one product, the potential return to my business would be much greater than the savings made by not employing an accountant.

    I haven’t questioned the economics again since.
    Andy Lopata recently posted..The Nelson Mandela EffectMy Profile

    • That’s a good point. It’s the same with networking. A small amount of investment with a networking coach about your strategy can save vast tracts of wasted time, energy and money in going to networking events.

      Looking at the tax-deductible costs of networking is worth an exercise in itself. It can make a difference of hundreds, even thousands of pounds.
      Rosie Slosek recently posted..Thinking about your tax return?My Profile

  18. Until I read this it never occurred to me that cashflow is something that I can control. Always thought it was a mysterious and scary force of nature that needed to be propitiated! I look forward to learning more
    Cila recently posted..New Business CardsMy Profile

    • Only just seen this Cila! I could have covered it during our session.

      For a micro business, cash flow is the be all and end all. If it’s bad, you go bust. On the other hand, by knowing how it affects your business – and how you are likely to get paid – you can include it in your business model.

      For example, big business have an ‘interesting’ (read horrific) reputation for paying late, very late, or very very late. Knowing this, and having strategies, is crucial to prevent you running out of cash. As a one man band (all my clients), there is much to be said for it being easier to manage as the sums involved are smaller and we can set our own payment terms and conditions.

      If anyone would like a chat about cash flow and getting paid, email me 🙂
      Rosie Slosek recently posted..Thinking about your tax return?My Profile

  19. Hi Rosie

    Nice article and lots of good points. As a young man in Italy I trained as an Industrial Chemist and I used to think that accountancy and tax were really boring subjects. When I came to England I re-trained, the Personell Manager of the company I used to work for realised that I had an aptitude for figures and suggested that I should become an accountant, which I did. I left my job and I went back to college never to look back. I have been an accountant for more than 25 years. I agree with all the points you make plus I believe “tax is fun” especially when you win a good argument with the taxman on behalf of your client. That makes him/her really happy and me proud to be an accountant.
    Giuseppe Colombi recently posted..Self-Employed vs Limited Companies: The Contractors GuideMy Profile

    • I take the approach that it needs to be done. Not doing it is stressful and gets in the way of activity like eating chocolate and growing my business. Therefore, it is a good idea to change my mindset to my accounts mean *insert nice activity here* by association. It’s just a matter of better understanding and training our brains.

      I have a research methods degree and applying those techniques to doing a boring task like data entry for expenses turns it into an exercise in quality decision making for your business. Much more exciting.

      I can teach how to do this for your business (or personal finances) if anyone is interested.
      Rosie Slosek recently posted..Thinking about your tax return?My Profile

  20. Hi Rosie,

    Truly brilliant article, many young businesses will benefit from this as this is what gives most businesses a massive headache, finances!
    Accountant in Bolton recently posted..What to expect from your Bolton Accountants – Stafford and Co.My Profile

  21. Accountant plays a vital role at each step of business.Information you provide regarding the various accounting steps where accounting concerns is much useful.Thanks for sharing!

  22. Spending money on accountant is investment for future,But the point to notice is that we should have a right accountant.Only than we can have all of above benefits.Thanks for sharing!
    Alice recently posted..Risk ManagementMy Profile

  23. You’ll have more time to focus on other stuff on your business knowing that some tasks are already handled by professionals.

  24. Hi,
    Nice, I have no idea that an accountant can you help me with all these things. To be honest, it’s just what I need. What a nice explain, concise and well written piece Rosie (good).
    Toronto Tax return

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