What Does a Small Business Need From a Modern Accountant?

As technologies advance and communications evolve on social platforms, the old ways of working with accountants are no longer efficient, timely, nor convenient.  In-person meetings, telephone conversations, and email have transitioned to include Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Google Hangouts, Skype, FaceTime, etc.  Information is shared in collaborative environments, such as, Xero, QBO, Google Drive, Box, Dropbox, and OneDrive.   The continued adoption of cloud technologies has certainly changed the ways we communicate and work with clients.  Even as the processes and methods evolve, the core needs of small business owners remain constant.  We are inherently social people.  We need discussion and collaboration to be the best we can be.  A modern accountant should remain true to the following needs of business owners, while utilizing the best available cloud technologies in providing client-valued services. 

Identify and understand the vision, the why, and the purpose of their business.

A business owner is easily caught up in the day-to-day activities of working in the business.  Accountants should assist the owner in developing an entrepreneurial mindset by driving focus and strategy.  Define the customer service, the value proposition, and target market.  You can't be everything to everybody. Why are you in business,  how do you do it, and what is it you do?

Cloud technologies allow for frequent, convenient  and efficient video conferences and social communications.  Cloud document storage and file sharing options allow for collaborative review and revisions to the business strategy and marketing plans.

Drive focus on what matters. 

Establish clear goals for the year, quarter and week with developed metrics, key performance indicators, leading indicators, and other measurement criteria to keep the business on track.   Drive execution of the strategy and plans.  Active management systems should be available to produce the data and information needed to monitor results.  Stay on track, don't waste time.  Measure what matters.

Cloud technologies in areas of accounting and business analytics are creating a real-time, anywhere, anytime access to financial data.  Information generated should be meaningful, and communicated with purpose and relevance.  Accountants should assist management in reading and understanding available data so they know if goals and targets are being achieved.

Become value-driven, not cost-driven.

Focus primarily on creating services and products (outputs) your customers value:  Value-Driven.  Lessen the stress and focus on the costs of materials and labor (inputs) to develop and provide customer products and services: Cost-Driven.  Cost cutting in key areas of product development, team training and payroll for quality employees is not a valid growth strategy.  Focus on systematizing your business by involving everyone in the delivery of customer services and delegating processes.  Make sure the right people are doing the right things, all of which are providing superior customer service.  Don't drive profit margins through cost cutting.  Increase profit margins by creating and delivering what customers value, at prices that reflect the value.

Accountants can demonstrate "what if" scenarios of the potential combined effects of price changes, cost reductions, customer acquisitions and sales frequencies.  Cloud based financial analysis applications are available that can provide surprising information on why it is more important to focus on pricing than on cost reductions.  Business owners and accountants have the tools to work better together - timely assessments of pricing, customer levels and sales frequencies - as part of a larger value-driven strategy.

Adapt and evolve to achieve the vision.

Changes will occur.  Business owners must continuously analyze the market and what it seeks in terms of value, products and services.  What initially worked when the business started will inevitably change over time. Understand your vision and your why,  how your business operates, and what your business does.  Remain in a constant state of evolution to be the best you can be.

The internet provides a wealth of news and trends.  Modern accountants have access to market analysis, trend and industry data, and  knowledge of accounting technologies to assist in keeping your business future ready.  Strategies and goals should be reviewed with business owners on a periodic basis to make sure the business remains relevant in the market and is taking action to be viable in the future.

Are you a small business owner?  Are you working with your accountant on these critical items?  If not, what's stopping you?