Steven Mugglestone

The more I learn, the less I know

Accounts, Tax and Business Advice Sale ……… Must End Sunday!

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Accounts, Tax and Business Advice Sale ……… Must End Sunday!

  • The McGregors Business Advice Sale …….. Must End Sunday at 5pm.
  • Think Accounts, Tax and Business Advice, think McGregors.
  • Happiness is an adviser called McGregors.
  • McGregors refreshes the business parts other Accountants cannot reach.
  • Don’t start a business without them.
  • Probably, the best Accountants in the Midlands.
  • You’ll like us so much, we’ll help you buy the company.
  • I think therefore I’m McGregors.
  • Businesses wouldn’t give a XXXX for anyone else.
  • Make the most of your business, now.
  • McGregors, the best a business-man (or woman) can get.**

I am not going to say that I have seen it and done it all, as I am a great believer in the saying that every day is a school day.  I have, however, worked a bit, in audit, tax, accountancy, finance and business from both sides of the desk and (hopefully) seen what works and what does not.

Back in the 1990’s some Accountants came out of the closet and declared that they were “Business Advisers”.  The successful ones spotted the niche in the market, acted on it and built their businesses around it.  They proved that they were real businesses and, perhaps, real entrepreneurs.  I worked for one of those businesses at the time.

The issue (I will not say “problem” as I subscribe to a business life philosophy that a glass is half full with us striving to fill the glass, we intentionally avoid the negatives) is business is a broad subject, whilst centred on a very easy basis of customers, sales, products or services, staff, costs, profits and cash.  Accounts, audit and tax are only part of the world of business.  How can an “Accountant” claim, with any degree of experience, confidence or gravitas that they are a Business Adviser.  Well, I have looked at the theory, been on some courses, spoken to one or two people and my answer is …… Experience…. Real World Experience….  Real World Varied Experience….. Sometimes helping with success and sometimes helping after failure….. Something gained out of the box and away from the text books.

Can you, therefore, put all of your experience together and produce a business offering that is relevant to today and of real worth to a business, to be able to again create a niche and really become a successful Business Adviser and, dare I say a successful entrepreneur.  I believe that you can.

Leadership

Leadership and dynamic change management is crucial.  I agree with the theory and I have lived and worked the theory in businesses that I have worked with as an adviser and as a Finance Director.  Time and again I return to the basics to help businesses achieve and these are the key foundations to success.

  • Love your employees; include them in the decision making.  Ensure that you have appropriate appraisal and development programs.  They are the life blood and success of the business
  • Building capacity; Documented systems and process really do help, but it is the competencies, resources and motivation of the team that is crucial.  Get the right people on the bus and the wrong people off the bus, with the right people in the right seats.
  • Connect peers with purpose.  Your team need to learn from you and each other.  Your business adviser and accountant also works with lots of other business and can help match your team members with other business to improve without the fear of losing staff.
  • Learning is the work, consistency and innovation.  The depth of understanding in your team is crucial and an absolute key to not only improving the business but also in adding to the capital value of a business, ensuring that the business owner can leave or sell the business and that business can continue without them.
  • Transparency and openness:  Do not treat your team as mushrooms.  Information, seeing how the business is performing with some key performance indicators is very powerful and for the more developed businesses a 360 degree appraisal system to allow the business leaders to be appraised by the more junior members of the team is revolutionary.
  • System learn (and improve); Once established your systems will and must improve and develop.

Knowledge and information

Knowledge and information is accepted to be vital in driving a business.  It is alarming, however, how many businesses do not have appropriate systems to give them key information, to help them control and drive a business.  It is also quite remarkable at the number of businesses people who believe that they know their business only to be proved wrong when the accounts are produced, often months after a period end and too late to act upon.  Large and established businesses use accounting and key performance indicators for a reason and SMEs should do the same if they really want to drive and improve their business.

The key to this is to have timely information that is relevant to monitoring, controlling and driving a business and an experienced Accountant and Finance Director will be able to help with this.

Cash

Working capital and cash control, live it and breathe it.  It is the life blood of a business.  Easy for an adviser to say, perhaps, however, a real adviser that can help and add value to your business is one who has controlled a business and has controlled the cash and working capital and one that can help steer you through this challenge, one that can help you control the cash also can find and source solutions, banking and facilities with you.

Ensure your Audit adds value

An audit is an opportunity to get an independent review of your business and to obtain some key and helpful observations and information to improve your business.  It should not just be a matter of signing an audit report.

Combining the experience and expertise of a formal audit approach from larger audit practices with the commercial experience of a Finance Director, an audit can produce an effective key issues memorandum that gives a business some serious food for thought including:

  • Explanation and clarification of financial performance for key areas and Key Performance Indicators
  • Use of valuable benchmarking data to see where our improvements will be crucial
  • Explanation of your tax position and assistance with a tax strategy
  • Improvements to your working capital
  • Assistance to groom and improve your business and business systems
  • Tell you about current and future legislation and tax changes affecting you and your business
  • Identify key control improvements and, more importantly, controlled delegation to help the business owner to work on the business and not just in it

Access to Finance

Whether it is helping develop your business plan (and I will refrain from going on about how a business is there to improve a business and to drive a business, not just for raising finance), Accountants have access to finance and we have access to a whole range of financial solutions which we help to source and secure for our clients.  Whether this is bank lending, asset or alternative finance lending or business angel and private equity/venture capital investment, we can provide the expertise, support and opportunities that businesses need.  Corporate Finance, whether raising money or buying and selling a business is not for the inexperienced and real professional independent help and support is vital.  A successful Business Adviser must have this support in their locker.

Tax and business structures

Back to what we are trained to do, it is remarkable, however, at the number of times we see advisers either not explaining what tax and business structures are appropriate and what are currently available; either because they do not know what is available; or because of internal commercial agreements that mean that they are only prepared to tell you about their own specific “product” ranges.

Tax is complicated, but it is not impossible to deal with.  Structures are available to help a business grow, whilst keeping the tax costs down.  Remuneration and cash extraction is possible without having to reach levels of tax that make it prohibitive.  Wealth management, pension maximisation, wealth preservation and maximisation are still key tools available to the accountant and all of these possibilities should be brought to a client’s attention and discussed.  Open and honest, what can be done and what cannot, some accountants do not do this as they believe that they really know their client and they would not want to participate in such structures or that their own business only offers a limited product range. My view is that the client should be made aware and the client should decide for themselves, with appropriate guidance and advice being given, including a review of the risks and opportunities.

Our role is to ensure that our clients and their businesses succeed and become as profitable and cash generative as they can be and this has to include a tax strategy.  Another key part of providing relevant professional tax support is the ability to stand up for our clients and represent them in dispute, arguments, minor tiffs or just day to day frustration in dealing with HMRC.

Costs control

Again, there are routes and strategies to keep costs down and a real Business Adviser must have access and knowledge of these to really help a client.  To name a few:

  • Specific cost reductions from utility and key supplier review and sourcing
  • Modelling key purchase usage and assisting with tendering
  • Outsourcing of certain functions (including IT and accounts processing)

Sales and business development

It is all well and good looking at keeping costs down in these austere times, but for a business to really succeed, sales, marketing and business development has to be at the top of the agenda.

Accountants are not sales people are they, and what do they know.  Well again, as a Finance Director, I was an integral part of the sales and marketing process.  I had to be, as I needed to be able to see the results of bigger sales and more cash, or not as the case may be.  Internet optimisation, online marketing, social-media marketing strategy, targeted marketing, knowing your customers, prospecting, cross selling and up selling, rolling marketing initiatives, networking, the pipeline, converting, keeping and improving business with your customers, cross referring and introducing our clients to our other clients and our clients to our key contacts.  Applying techniques from professional services businesses, retail businesses, technology business and manufacturing businesses and understanding what works.  That is why I am a real believer that helping our clients with building their business is crucial to our own success and is absolutely key to being a real Business Adviser.

My last blog I wrote about why Accountants are not boring.  I am an Accountant, but first and foremost, I am a Business Adviser and some have even called me an Entrepreneur, which according to Lord Sugar is a title that has to be earned and referred to by others and not one that you can call yourself, so it is a start.  Accountant, Finance Director, Entrepreneur, Sales-Person, Business Adviser is a heady mix, but one, I believe, that seeks to provide real and relevant support to my clients and customers.

To take advice out of the DFS book of marketing, surely such service and product sale must end soon, yes it must end on Sunday at 5pm !!!!!

** Theft of any advertising strap line is not intentional and McGregors apologise profusely to all those wonderful businesses that we borrowed their creativity from.

Steven Mugglestone BA FCA, McGregors Corporate, More than just Accountants!

McGregors Corporate are a Member Of Probiz Tax.  We provide Innovative Tax Solutions to Owner Managed Businesses.  We are relentless in helping businesses.  Here are some examples of how we do that:

Midlands Investor Network – 18th May Spring 2011 Event and Current Businesses
http://wp.me/pQyUg-3S

How an FD drives a business when sometimes Accountants are just catching up
http://wp.me/pQyUg-j

We like to keep things simple, for ourselves and our clients;
We build our business by reducing our clients’ business and taxation costs;
We build our business by increasing our clients sales;
We build our business by helping our clients succeed in their business;
It is that simple and we meet you to discuss all these things for free;

http://uk.linkedin.com/in/stevenmugglestonefca/
http://twitter.com/McGsCorporate
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nhC0wlglePE
http://www.mcgregorscorporate.co.uk/contact-us.html
http://www.mcgregorscorporate.co.uk/

T: 0845 519 5659
T: 0121 236 3317

steven@mcgregorsbirmingham.co.uk

Connect, call, talk, email, contact us, send a messenger pigeon and arrange a discussion, review and free meeting.

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