Until as recent as two years ago, I can recall how much effort it took to convince a business owner that he or she needed an accountant. It was and to a large extent, still is an absolute grudge purchase.
This view point not only applied to outsourced accounting services but also to internal finance departments. The grudge purchase feeling stems from most of the small businesses we connect with, that are all facing similar challenges: Their systems and processes are totally disconnected from what happens in the business itself.
Very little if any integration between systems exists which results in masses amount of time wasted on duplication or manual input at different levels of the process itself. Business owners are frustrated by the amount of effort and money it takes to get meaningful insight into how their businesses are performing, how many staff members it takes to process all the data and how time consuming the processes are. All of which in the mind of the business owner are administrative processes not adding any value to the business or its bottom line!
Luckily cloud technology has arrived to the rescue of the business owner like knight in shining armor.
Cloud technology is currently disrupting the business and accounting world and at times it seems that there is new technology available every other day. This in itself makes running a business with properly documented systems and processes extremely challenging.
The biggest mind shift we have seen happen (in some cases still having to happen) is to no longer treat your accountant as your enemy, but to rather welcome him/her to the trusted board of advisers. Although you may think that this is not necessarily a new concept and purely driven through cloud technology making its magic appearance – it is very well due to the fact that the financial function has now become the heartbeat of your business. So although in some cases your accountant might have already made the step-up to your board of trusted advisers, he or she will no longer only advise on financial or tax matters.
Your accountant now finds him- or herself as the custodians of bringing your business’ digital strategy to life. Almost never before – and if so, in very few cases – has accounting departments sat on so much data, integrated with so many other systems or processes. This brings a completely different picture to the accounting scene that in my opinion is twofold:
- Accountants now have access to all of this data and in very few cases know what to do with it or work that into meaningful management reports. This is the most underutilized value-add opportunity missed by business owners.
- Old fashioned desktop based accounting software that used to be an even bigger grudge purchase than hiring the accounting service itself, has now been replaced by a cloud accounting interface that gives the user 1st point of contact access to all its connected data and no longer performs an accounting function only.
So if you are a business owner reading this article, you really have to ask yourself where your business fits into this new business world?
The irony is that I have spoken to so many business owners over the last two years, that feels their businesses aren’t impacted by the cloud drive and won’t be affected. I really do feel for them – the reality being that change is happening whether we like it or not. Just like a roller coaster we either get onboard or we stand and watch this thing move at a lightning speed.
Many of them also feel that this sort of technology is more aimed at the larger businesses, employing hundreds of people. This couldn’t be further from the truth and although there may be a case made for that statement, the real benefits to be reaped are by small business owners. They now have access to software that fills so many voids previously left by staff they couldn’t afford to appoint. Having access to CRM, payroll, accounting, timesheets, website data, online store orders and stock movement – to name but a few – all on one platform has significant increases in productivity and efficiency.
The end result where business owners see impact of this can only be in one place – the bottom line…increased profitability!
Accountants play such a pivotal role in all of this as they are the ideal service providers to bring this digital strategy to the small business owner…as soon as they understand your business model they can advise on what the best way would be to unlock the true potential of your business!
So I guess that really only leaves you with the question you have to ask and answer yourself…
Can you continue to run your business without this digital strategy?
Luan van Rhyn is a registered Professional Accountant (SA) and Chief Dreamer and Founder of Calypso Accounting. Luan and his team are passionate about helping SME’s grow and streamline their businesses and are continuously looking for ways to help improve their clients’ bottom line.