Accounting weekly

Your accountant is more than a number cruncher – they’re an indispensable business partner 

By Viresh Harduth, Vice President, Small Business, Sage Africa & Middle East 

Small and medium business (SMB) owners know they need an accountant’s help when it’s time to file compliance returns and compile annual financial statements. Yet, many may not realise the role they can play in improving the lives of SMB owners and employees throughout the year, not only when it’s time to meet a compliance deadline. 

Whether an in-house finance director or an external accounting practice, your accountant can add enormous value to your business, helping it grow into a thriving, compliant entity. Today’s accountants can record and crunch the numbers for you, but they can also do so much more. They are also leaders, strategists, technologists, advisors, and business specialists who can give you invaluable advice.  

Here are seven ways an accountant can support your growth: 

Keeping you abreast of changing laws and regulations 

Your accountant ensures you don’t miss tax filing deadlines, but they can also help you develop accounting systems and processes that make it simpler for you to remain compliant with the latest labour and tax laws and regulations. This can remove much of the pain from liabilities such as sales tax, VAT, income tax, and pension funds. What’s more, your accountant can help you minimise your tax bill by helping you to identify tax deductions, tax exemptions and incentives you were not aware of. 

Advising how to structure your business 

As your business grows, the legal structure that worked for you in the past may not be ideal going forward. Your accountant will look at the advantages and disadvantages of each business structure, considering its tax-saving and non-financial considerations. They can advise you on whether to set up as a sole proprietor, partnership, or limited company. 

Increasing profitability 

Accountants play a role in supporting SMBs to save money by delivering insights that can increase profitability. Your accountant can analyse expenses and find ways to improve cash flow management, reduce debt, negotiate with suppliers, control costs, budget and forecast, optimise pricing, and streamline reporting to facilitate better decision making. 

Monitoring financial reporting 

Your accountant can help deliver business insights from your financial records. An accountant will work with you to understand whether financial performance tracks your goals and budgets. They can clean up your records, get them up to date, and assist you in keeping track of expenses and debt. Your accountant can also help allocate your budget appropriately. 

Planning for the future 

The accuracy of your budgets and forecasts can make or break your business. Projected financial statements look at past financial trends, market and economic conditions, changes that are likely to happen in the market, and business expectations to arrive at a future financial scenario. These statements will help you plan for the future. Your accountant will not only produce them but collaborate with you to interpret them.  

Best use of technology 

Accounting practices and accountants these days are at the cutting-edge of technology. They can provide you with good advice as you digitally adopt automated solutions and move your business to the cloud. For example, they can help to automate repetitive, low-value activities so you can focus on what truly matters to your business. 

An asset to your company 

The focus for today’s accountant is to help SMBs grow, not just to comply. A commercially-minded and business-savvy accountant can be a huge asset to your growing company. They can help you achieve visibility, flexibility, and efficiency to manage finances, operations, and people in the best way. Their advice can assist you to improve cash flow, forecast financial performance, and provide a clear picture of the levers you can pull in your company to increase profitability, resulting in increased shareholder value.