Latest advice for family businesses

“The owners of small family businesses are often very good at what they do; be it technical knowledge about their product or service, the production process or selling and marketing, but not always the financial aspects of running a business. Often they have a blind spot when it comes to admin and accounts. Sometimes this can be due to a lack of knowledge, or merely that running the business and doing what they are good at is more interesting or all-consuming.

“Small business owners who cannot afford to employ an in-house accountant should acknowledge that they cannot do everything and get help. In addition to helping with bookkeeping, a qualified external accountant will be able advise on sales growth and profitability; accounting systems; taxation; cash flow management; funding and, if necessary, business survival strategies. The effectiveness of this advice will depend on the accountant’s familiarity with both the owners and the business. The better the accountant knows the business, the better advice they can give.

“To do this there must be trust between the family and their external accountant. Business owners need to be able to trust the accountant enough to discuss matters affecting the business as well as in the owner’s personal life and what plans are in place for both. The accountant needs to know they are being told everything upfront and the business owner needs to know that having made full disclosure of any relevant matters the accountant will give them the best and most reliable advice available.

“The better the relationship between small family business owners and their accountant or other business advisor, the better the outcome. An accountant can produce year-end accounts and tax returns if that is all required but they can also help with so much more. They see a wide range of different types of businesses and can use that knowledge to give advice and new ideas on how to improve sales and profitability. They can assist in preparing strategic plans by asking the key questions to help businesses develop and grow.

“Many accountants provide a free consultation so I would advise those small family businesses without a trusted accountant to talk to a few and decide who is best suited – it can make all the difference.”