Top Tips When Choosing a Successful Accounting Practice

The Right Accountancy Support Adds Power to Your Business

Choosing an accountant is one of the most important decisions for a small business. Get it right, and you will have a valuable ally and partner.

For small businesses and start-ups, sorting out the finances is often seen as a cumbersome side-issue. It is something that has to be done, but that business owners and managers are more than happy to delegate or outsource to someone who understands the ins and outs of finance, so that they can get on with the day to day running of the business.

It is a philosophy that makes a certain amount of sense. After all, one of the rules of modern business is to focus on your core skills and outsource peripheral functions to those who do these things for a living. Yet when it comes down to it, every business has the primary purpose of making money, so the role of the accountant is one that it would be dangerous to underestimate. To take one of the country’s most important small business hubs as an example, there are numerous accountants in Peterborough. How can a small business in the city be sure it is making the best choice?

The right expertise

In this day and age, we all know enough to ensure we are working with finance professionals who are properly accredited and regulated. However, simply checking that the firm is a member of ACCA or similar only tells half the story. A small business, particularly one that has only recently started up, has very different needs to a larger, more established organisation.

Look for a firm that has experience in dealing with companies of a similar size and structure, that way you can be confident they will understand and be able to pre-empt some of the challenges you will undoubtedly be facing.

Location, location

Modern communication platforms mean we can have virtual meet ups with people anywhere in the world, and that physical location is not as important a factor as it once was. Be cautious, however, when it comes to taking this approach to extremes. For one thing, whatever anyone says, there is still no substitute for a face to face meeting. For another, finance and taxation are at something of a crossroads in terms of hard and soft data. By appointing a local accountant, you have the comfort of knowing you can pop round for a chat any time and can easily drop off that mountain of paperwork if you have to!

Check you are compatible

There’s no need to compare astrological signs (unless that is particularly important to you), but when it comes to the digitisation of accounting, compatibility is key. Whether you have thousands of pounds worth of cutting-edge software or are simply using a basic spreadsheet, one of the first things you need to discuss with your potential accountant is your system, their system and compatibility between the two. If your current accounting practices are on the more old-fashioned side, keep an open mind and listen to suggestions. A system upgrade may be exactly what your business needs to stay competitive in 2019.

investment partnerships

Getting Business Funding Is Easier Than the Dragons Den

Real World Funding for Entrepreneurs

There is a wealth of opportunity for today’s entrepreneurs to fund their business dream without having to face the ridicule of the TV Dragons.

Dragons Den has been one of the TV success stories of the past decade, and has been the inspiration for the similar Shark’s Tank in the USA. But while it has made plenty of money for the broadcasters, this is, at heart, entertainment first and business funding second.

Back here in the real world, there are certainly angel investors around, and according to research by Nesta, they make around 22 percent per annum. In today’s economy that is stratospheric compared with other forms of investment, but as any business finance brokers in Essex will tell you, that means they are extremely choosy about the businesses they invest in.

Fortunately, the businesses themselves can afford to be choosy too. There are plenty of other ways to raise finance, so let’s take a first principles approach.

Look before you leap

Before you start searching for investment, it’s vital that you lay the groundwork. You must understand your business completely, and have a clear vision of what you need and why you need it.

A carefully crafted business plan, complete with realistic projections for the medium term is the perfect way to wrap it all together. Take your time over it, and don’t be shy about asking friends and associates for their input.

Government initiatives

The government has been vociferous in its support for entrepreneurs and there are numerous government grants available for a variety of purposes. This is why it is so important to be clear about how much you are after and what you need it for.  Most grants will match the amount that you are willing to put in so if, for example, you are seeking a £10,000 grant, make sure you have the same amount available.

There are also government-backed business startup loans whereby you can borrow up to £25,000 at a rate of interest that is vastly lower than anything you would find from a conventional lender. The typical repayment period is five years, and you also get some free business mentoring for the first 12 months as part of the deal.

Do you really need a loan?

Most small business and startup owners look at debt financing, or loans, in the first instance. It’s a logical enough place to start, and most of us are familiar with how it works from our domestic experiences. But for a new business that has no history or track record, it is not necessarily the best choice.

It could be that equity financing represents a more sensible option. There are tax relief opportunities that can help make your business a highly attractive proposition to some investors. Examples include the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) and Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS), both of which permit investors to receive significant tax breaks.

Another form of equity financing that might be worth considering is crowdfunding via a platform like Crowdcube. Just be aware that this type of funding works better for some enterprises than it does for others. It is most effective with consumer-facing businesses, but it takes energy and involvement to really make it work.