Too many business owners under-utilise their accountants. This means that they are missing out on the benefits that a good accountant can bring to their organisation.
As an accountant with over ten years’ experience in the profession I have observed a common theme to client relationships in general. The client brings their records in to the accountant’s office once a year for the preparation of annual accounts and tax returns, the accountant duly prepares them, they have an all too brief chat about it and the documents are signed and submitted to HMRC etc. This process is repeated every twelve months without any significant contact in-between.
Why is this bad for business?
Accountants are multi-skilled professionals. They have a skills set that covers areas which could be missing from your organisation. The absence of these skills could be a competitive disadvantage for your business.
Thinking ahead, making informed decisions and reflecting upon the outcome of those decisions are essential to surviving, growing and competing in business. Finance is a big factor in all of this because ultimately, when it comes to running a business cash is king.
You could be missing out. Tax legislation changes all the time with the introduction of new tax planning opportunities and withdrawal of old ones nearly every year. It may be possible to change your business structure to save tax or improve efficiency. Your accountant doesn’t know everything that’s going on in your business and the less you speak to them the less likely they are to come up with ideas to help you.
What can you do about it?
It doesn’t have to cost a lot.
You may not want to implement a full blown budgeting and management reporting system but just keeping in-touch with your accountant and discussing the financial impact of the decisions you make in business throughout the year will help you to keep focused and make the right decisions. It will also give your accountant a better insight into your business.
Who can help?
You need an accountant who has a long term perspective when it comes to client relationships. They are easy to spot. Taking your phone calls, making time for meetings, showing a genuine interest in your business and offering relevant ideas for improvement are all signs of a good accountant. This level of service shouldn’t have to be at a premium price because it is as good for your accountant’s business as it is for yours. Helping your business succeed should be part of the service.
Earlier this summer the Chancellor announced fundamental changes to the taxation of dividends from shares held in limited companies. These changes will become effective in the next tax year starting 6th April 2016 and will mean that many shareholders will have higher income tax bills to pay. Owner-managed companies pay dividends as a more tax efficient method than say profits from a partnership or sole trader. With the tax saving offered by dividends set to reduce under the new rules is incorporation still an attractive proposition?
There is more to running a business than saving tax. It is often said that tax shouldn’t be the reason for business decisions but instead should be taken into account when considering how to achieve your goals and objectives. You wouldn’t invest in new equipment unless you had a commercial need or use for it. However, you might select energy efficient equipment qualifying for enhanced tax allowances if that made the numbers more advantageous. On the other hand you might simply select energy efficient items for reasons of corporate social responsibility.
Limited companies will still offer strong tax planning advantages over partnerships and sole traders despite the obvious tax saving on dividends set to reduce. Aside from tax the other advantages of running your business through a limited company include:
Limited liability status – good insurance policies go a long way to protect you from the consequences of unfortunate events but what if an employee, member of the public or customer had a claim against you that wasn’t fully covered? In most cases the claim would be against the company and not the owner personally thus protecting personal assets such as the family home. Compare this to partnerships where partners are personally, jointly and severally liable for their shared business. One partner’s mistake could lead to another partner being sued.
Professional image – limited liability status may be perceived by some to indicate a more established and professional business. This can help with marketing.
On the other hand there are disadvantages to limited companies. . .
Companies are registered at Companies House where records are open to inspection by members of the public. This means that restricted details about the identity of the directors, shareholders and the company itself are in the public domain and freely available on the internet. This includes annual financial statements. Small companies are only required to file simple financial statements with far less detail.
It can take time for a new company to build up a track record and credit rating. This can make raising finance more challenging if required during the early stages. This applies to the incorporation of a long established business as well as a new start-up.
Companies and directors must comply with the Companies Act and Corporation Tax legislation. The rules affecting directors and shareholders are more complex and in particular care should be taken to observe the distinction between company and private assets and transactions. These rules also bring what is commonly referred to as additional “red tape”.
Deciding which legal form is right for your business is a personal choice. Accountants are trained in this area and good accountants will be only too happy to guide you through this process.
More and more people are leaving the comfort of employment to try life as an entrepreneur in today’s society. The number of new businesses registering at Companies House was at an all-time high in 2014.
The rewards of running your own business can be tremendous. The potential to earn your true worth, the freedom that comes with being your own boss and the opportunity to build something of value to sell or pass on when you retire are just a few of the key benefits.
Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance
But wherever there are rewards risks are never very far behind.
That’s where a high quality accountant comes in. Having the right advice from the outset can help you to make sure you are ready to take on the challenge of being a new business owner and to set-off on the right foot. Accountants are about much more than numbers. We can help you formulate a strategy, prepare a business plan, obtain finance from a lender and set your business up in the most suitable form from the start.
It’s not just what you know, it’s who you know
Through our training in business and experience helping numerous entrepreneurs at all stages of the life cycle we are well placed to help you think everything through. We also work with other professionals who can provide legal advice, compliance with relevant legislation, obtaining grant funding and IT etc. In short finding a good quality accountant is a great place to start when you are setting up your new business.
Death and taxes
If your new business requires a substantial outlay on new equipment, you may be able to claim a tax refund on previous earnings. With careful planning you can minimise the tax burden on your cash flow. Cash is king when it comes to business, especially growing businesses, and this could be the difference between success and failure.
Whats good for you is good for me
Forward thinking quality accountants really like fledgling businesses because if they can help them grow its good for their business too.
Speak to me for a free initial consultation without obligation. My affordable fees and high level of service suit new business needs and new business budgets alike.
As a local independent accountant in Norfolk I offer an affordable, professionally qualified and personal service to small businesses and specialist sectors. Please contact me on 01379 308832 or firstname.lastname@example.org for a free initial no obligation consultation.