Small Business Advice

Necessity is the mother of all invention

14 Jan 2014

Or to put it another way, when the need for something becomes imperative, you are forced to find ways of getting or achieving it.

In 2013 a survey carried out by Accounts and Legal found that an astonishing 80% of small businesses wanted more commercial guidance from their accountant and overall only 10% were happy with their current bean-counter.

There is a need for change.

The necessity: Commercial Guidance

Crunching the numbers is all very well, but it’s no use to companies at all if it’s only the taxman who sees them. But that seems to be what happens: 90% of our interviewees told us that the service they received from their accountants was “valueless compliance”.

Our interviewees told us that the ability to analyse their numbers and draw useful commercial conclusions would be a real advantage.

This might be things like looking at revenue growth by product line or profitability by location. Or it might look how your employee productivity compares with the competition. But in all cases, it should tell you something useful about your business that helps you shape your strategy.

Commercial Insight and business analysis reports

At Accounts and Legal, at the same time as your yearly statutory accounts are being prepared, one of our Business Consultants will work with the accounts team to prepare a Commercial Insight report, which aims to deliver actionable commercial guidance.

An accountant will help you put together a forecast for the next financial year by pulling together the results of strategic review and also spend time thinking through the prospects for market growth and the local competitive dynamics.

What’s more is that we’re able to draw on our broader commercial experience to help review your employee incentive schemes, benefits and training as well as looking at the major categories of expense to check that you are getting good value from your suppliers.

Accountants help plan for business growth

Nearly every single one of our interviewees said that given the choice between a firm who could offer good commercial analysis or one that was simply cheap, they would opt for the one that would help them understand and grow their business.

One of our interviewees who had tried a few different accountants and told us, “You are less price sensitive when you realise what you don’t know”. He’s now signed up to Accounts and Legal.

But does an accountant who can see beyond the balance sheet actually cost more? Maybe not if you consider the benefit that they might bring to your business in terms of growth and pro-active tax advice.

Accounts and Legal

Our survey confirmed what we thought we knew: that small businesses are just not getting what they need from their accountants.

Since we launched last year, we have helped all of our clients shape their strategy and helped them write a lot of business plans. One we did just before Christmas helped raise £100k in equity whilst another one of clients managed to raise just over £1m in bank financing. 

Keir Wright-Whyte


Managing Director

0207 043 4000

About the author

Originally graduating with a degree in geography from Edinburgh University, Keir claims that he was then tricked into becoming an accountant by one of the UK's top 5 accountancy practices.The deception extended to the usual training in audit and associated activities.

Keir subsequently worked in a number of advisory roles with clients including in the energy trading, pharmaceuticals and financial services sectors.

He loves working at Accounts & Legal because of the variety of work and clients, the excellent team ethos and morale, the importance placed on genuinely helping and being useful for clients and because he believes what he does matters to clients and helps the firm.

Keir's primary role is to ensure that new clients with complex businesses or needs are on-boarded in the best way and he is a "trouble shooter" both for clients and where complex issues arise internally. He also helps the accounting teams strive to improve what we do for clients, whether processes or services.

When not debiting or crediting, Keir has a penchant for fixing old buildings, skiing, surfing and cycling.


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