Running a small business is tough. Not only do you face competition from larger, often better funded operators; but also having the time to work ON your business, rather than in it, can we a real challenge. In my work as an accountant and subsequently with accounting firms around the world, I have noticed three challenges that many small business owners relate to. They are:
1. Most small business owners fail to plan. I used to say to clients that most people spend more time planning their holidays than they ever do planning their business. Clients related to that. And when I started offering planning sessions to clients I was overwhelmed with the consistent feedback that it was the first time the business owners had set aside specific time to think about their business. They gained focus, direction and a sense of something to aim for. I receive similar feedback all the time from accountants when they step up and help their clients in this extremely important area
2. Many small business owners find it hard to grasp the numbers. A 2013 survey concluded that the most pressing issue facing small businesses is understanding and interpreting their numbers. The reason I wrote my book, Accountants – The Natural Trusted Advisors, is that (not surprisingly!) accountants ARE very good with numbers and inherently they possess the skills to create real value for their clients by preparing and discussing a business performance review and helping their clients put together a rough plan for the next 12 months – rather than simply sending out the tax and accounts for signing
3. I observe that often, small business owners have no-one to talk to. Accountability gets things done, so it is critically important to have an independent, unreasonable friend to keep you on track.
By addressing these three fundamental issues, a small business can grab a valuable competitive advantage. It never ceases to amaze me how business performance can be transformed by figuring out where you are going, putting some clear metrics in place to demonstrate performance and then building accountability into your day to day monitoring. It doesn’t matter if you are a builder, a retailer, a manufacturer, a wine maker or even an accountant. These principals apply to all businesses and with focus and discipline, will make a positive impact. Take action – you’ll be glad you did.