By Sophie Cross Bookkeepers 4 Bookkeeping challenges faced by small businesses that you can solve 16 Oct 2019 Many clients look to their accountant for business direction and advice as well as just crunching the numbers. Startup and small business owners face lots of challenges on a daily basis and accounting related tasks are some of the main ones that most struggle with. We explore four of the most common bookkeeping challenges that small businesses face that you have the ability to offer solutions to. Take these tasks off your client’s plate and let them focus on what they do best – whether that’s manufacturing, merchandising or offering a service. Problem 1 – Cash-flow It can be very hard for small businesses to keep tight control of their finances and outgoings. They might not know the smart ways to spend money when they haven’t got much experience. Suggest a review of the following with your client to keep their cash-flow healthy. Are they keeping on top of expenses?Are they getting multiple quotes and recommendations for any sizeable investments – whether that be marketing support or a new printer?Are they keeping track of how much they need to cover recurring payments and are they focused on how they generate enough income to cover those as a minimum?Are they invoicing as soon as they can, asking for immediate payment and chasing early for overdue payments?Are they setting aside money for tax bills?Have they tried to think about any expenses that might come up in the future so there aren’t any nasty surprises and do they have a contingency fund?Are they tracking and reviewing the return on investment of any marketing to see if it’s working and worth repeating?Do they know the value of their customers/clients so they are ensuring that the majority of their effort is concentrated on their most lucrative customers or products and are they doing any work for free?Do they have the confidence to price themselves in line with the market? What you could offer: A cash-flow health check Problem 2 – Having irregular financial reports Having financial reports that don’t match up can be a huge problem for a small business. They will not be able to get an accurate picture of how they are performing as they could be missing data, have the wrong information or be misinterpreting it. On top of this, they may not be compliant. Help your clients to get into good habits and strict processes in place for all their accounting and make sure they keep on top of regular reviews of their ingoing and outgoing transactions. You could help them to implement software or make the most of systems that they already have but might not be using to their potential. What you could offer: Financial report audit Problem 3 – Being investor ready If a business is looking to attract investors for growth – are all their accounts and plans in order? What is their business model for growth, what are their USPs and what specialist experience do they have – why should an investor choose them? You can help them to complete their business plan with a detailed cash-flow forecast, profit and loss and break-even account for the next five years. Analyse the current state of their finances to review their current position in the market and find anything that could be hampering their business growth – before an investor does! What you could offer: Business plan creation Problem 4 – Payroll management Typically, small businesses can feel confused about payroll (what is the best system to implement, what tax codes should they be using?). They will often find that it is a real admin overload and something that they don’t want to be doing when they should be focusing on growing their business in other ways. The most common problems that clients have related to payroll are; tracking employee absence, over- or underpaying, compliance, tax filing and using incompatible software. You can help your clients to change and innovate – to choose software that will report to HMRC or you can run payroll for them to remove the administrative burden. What you could offer: Payroll systems review and recommendations In summary When a small business is selecting an accountant, they will look for someone dedicated to taking their business further and to help them optimise the systems that they are using. By offering a direct service to solve these problems and others for your clients you can build a really good reputation and stand out from other accountants in your area. Further reading Career profile: Practice bookkeeper How to make money while you sleep Why you’re working for free and how to stop Sophie Cross is the Editor of Freelancer Magazine and a freelance writer and marketer at Thoughtfully.