Running your own business is tough, fraught with challenges, but hugely rewarding.
At the same time, it can be stressful and lonely, with multiple pressures and a constant sense of nagging self-doubt made worse by statistics which show just how many companies fold in their first few years of operations.
So where do you go for support? Many people don't realise that as technology has evolved over the years, so have the insights that your accountant can give you on your business. In fact, your accountant should be actively working with you to harness these insights and propel your business to the next level, as well as ensure that any fear and self doubt that's riddling you is relieved.
RightWay Senior Business Advisor Greg Hughes explains that accountants servicing small businesses and start-ups (99 per cent of all Kiwi companies employ fewer than 50 people) are increasingly pivoting to provide advisory rather than merely keeping track of incomings and outgoings.
"The traditional role of the accountant was the 'bean counter', but a good accountant looks beyond the numbers, providing business support rather than merely totting up the incomings and the outgoings," he explains.
In fact, if your accountant isn't providing you with insights beyond what tax you have to pay you could be in trouble. Research from one of the big banks suggests 82 per cent of business failures are due to running out of cash. And of those that run out of cash, 70 per cent are profitable businesses.
With the multiple challenges faced by any business owner, leaning on your accountant means freeing up time or reducing the stress of the unknown. If they can free up some headspace, that can then be invested into optimising, growing and expanding the business. This is popularly expressed as 'working on your business, not in your business' and involves activities such as forecasting, planning and looking out for new opportunities.
But not all issues are about money. Some of the other commonly-faced challenges experienced by businesses owners are not utilising their time effectively, undervaluing their product or service, not having adequate systems and processes in place, and not having a clear vision and direction on their goals.
All the while, meeting all regulatory and legal requirements remains a constant, which is often difficult to navigate, resulting in some anxiety and stress. An 'accountant as an advisor' should be skilled in all these matters, providing valuable perspectives and advice to relieve the fears you'll naturally face.
"Think of it this way; while you're the captain of your ship, your accounting provider should be the first mate and navigational expert," says Hughes. "Yes, we do still count the beans, because it remains a necessary service. But where our clients get real value is through our engagement with their problems of all kinds, where we're able to share the load, provide advice and act as a partner on the road to success."
In his view, a good provider delivers accounting as a 'base' service. "The numbers are and always will be important, but there's a lot more behind it. Real value comes from working with business owners on solutions to the many challenges faced with the understanding that positive outcomes means mutual success. Sure, fear is a great motivator, but only if you can understand and master it so your business moves in the right direction."