Why the man down the pub won’t cut it

As a small business owner, you’re working hard to build the best business possible. Part of this process is finding knowledgeable partners who can help you make big decisions. When it comes to something as important as your company’s finances, you want to be confident that you’re getting the best advice possible. But in a world full of so many self-proclaimed experts, how do you know who to turn to? 


Be careful who you trust

Not all advice is good advice. Your mate down the pub or the two men in sharp suits on the tube may seem to know it all, but when it comes to your finances it’s important you’re getting only the best, most accurate information. 

When you’re choosing a financial expert for your small business, think about the following:

  • Experience: A chartered accountant goes through years of education, testing, and on the job training to qualify for their position. On top of this, they’re also required to set aside time each year to spend on their continued professional development. It’s this level of experience that allows them to give you the best financial advice for your business. Its likely that your mate has nowhere near this amount of accounting knowledge. 
  • Potential fallout: HMRC is not an organisation you want to mess with. While plenty of people may claim to know about a special tax loophole that will save you thousands, what recourse are you going to have if you act upon this advice? Will the men in suits from the tube be there to support or protect you if you end up receiving penalties from HMRC? It’s unlikely. At the very least, a qualified accountant will have Professional Indemnity Insurance, and many also offer a fee protection service or similar sources of redress if required. 
  • Up to date knowledge: Did you know the VAT registration threshold has changed six times in the last 10 years alone by a total of £12,000? Laws and legislation are constantly changing, and thus accounting guidance is as well. Your friendly next door neighbour who retired from accountancy just five years ago could be giving you outdated advice. Particularly with the introduction of Making Tax Digital (MTD), it’s imperative your financial advice is coming from a qualified and up to date expert. 


Don’t hire just any accountant, but the right one

It’s clear from the above points that a qualified accountant is best equipped to give you the most beneficial tax advice for your business. But not all accountants are created equal. When choosing which accountant is best for you and your business, here are a few questions you can ask: 


Do they know my industry?

Different industries have different rules, allowances, requirements, and opportunities when it comes to their finances. Where a tech company with fewer fixed assets may be most concerned with operating expenses and employee wages, a serviced based business might instead prioritise collecting unpaid invoices and airtight bookkeeping. 

The best accountant for you will be knowledgeable about your unique industry and have proven experience working with business owners like you. For example, at Starfish we work primarily with business in the Tech, Fashion, Professional Services, and Hospitality industries. 


Will they make me a priority?

Your business is a huge priority to you, and you deserve an accountant who treats it as such. You don’t want to be waiting days or weeks to get a single question answered, or be passed along to a different member of the team every time you contact them so you have to explain the intricacies of your business all over again. The best kind of accountant for your business will feel like a genuine partner. 


Are they tech savvy?

The year 2020 demonstrated to all of us the importance of being able to work from home. Even if you already have or are planning to return to the office, having a cloud based accountant means you don’t have to be chained to your desktop to get up to date advice. A tech savvy accountant means you’re prepared for anything, any time. 

Within that, it’s also vital that your accountant demonstrates solid security and data protection. Are they using encryption, two factor authentication, and their own agent Government Gateway account per HMRC’s recommendations? Do they have data retention policies in place? These are all important questions your ideal accountant will have answers for. 


Find a partner who empowers you

You didn’t start your small business to spend hours filling in a spreadsheet. Your ideal accounting partner will be someone you trust to take care of pesky filings, keep up to date data, and stand shoulder to shoulder with you as you navigate your business journey. As a result, you’ll be free to focus on what you do best. 

At Starfish, we help business owners like you make small, consistent improvements towards the lives they want to live. To learn more about how we can take you from chasing your tail to chasing your goals through expert advice and services, check out our Who We Are page.