by Sandra Larson from Insightful Accountant
Most new small business advisors ask themselves, “How can I help businesses develop better financial strategies? What do I need to know?” Well, accountants are arguably the most reliable people when it comes to various business issues, from financial forecasting to taxes, to so much more. Aside from professional knowledge, one needs to have well-developed problem-solving and communicational skills, to be able to guide your small business owner client. As you know, talking to your clients and discussing all kinds of aspects related to their business with them is a great way to improve your client relationships, and learn how to communicate with your clients better all at the same time. What are those issues you need to address as a trusted advisor? In this article, we are going to suggest a number of key questions that should become a part of your communication with clients.
Let’s start with a common issue for many small businesses – risk management. The problem is that a huge number of developing companies don’t pay too much attention to possible breakdowns that can interfere with their business activity. Some risks are predictable, the others are not, so your task is to make sure that your customers realize the importance of risk management planning. However, even when a thoughtful approach is taken, there is always a set of possible risks that need to be predicted. It’s necessary to be prepared and avoid at least a part of possible troubles that might disrupt the company’s work. So consider asking the following questions:
- Do you pay enough attention to privacy and security issues?
- Do you have your insurance contract updated?
- What are the methods of control that help you track inner business processes?
- What are your current fraud protection strategies?
While budgeting is crucial, the financial future of your customers goes far beyond this. Most business owners put their budget on the top of the list, but your aim is to remind them of some other possible issues. The suggested discussion themes are the following:
- Investments your customers are planning to make
- Bank loans and if they are necessary at this point
- Any charitable giving plans
- Plans for wealth management and retirement
- Plans on how to improve the flow of funds
To make taxes less burdensome, your customers should have a clear regulation strategy that works efficiently. Make sure that their tax regulation processes are well-organized. Also, remind them about new laws (if any) and ask if they know how to meet the requirements. Here are some tips you may give:
- Make sure that customer’s tax practices are compatible with nexus rules
- Check if there is a necessity to make a turnover tax audit
- Remind them that all treasury bills should be kept in order
Stock-taking is extremely important for all businesses that sell products. When your customers track the trading attentively, they are more likely to reduce stock-taking taxes. Not only do you have to remind them about this, but also discuss that regulations change frequently and staying up-to-date is crucial. Your aim is to make sure that all inventory issues are in order. Offer your customers to do the following:
- Reassure that spot goods are recorded in a general balance report
- Check if ordering and restocking processes are well-organized
- Make sure that all current taxes are considered and collected in a proper way
Company’s Further Development
Last but not least, it is necessary to talk to your customers about their future plans. You need to know whether they want to implement any new strategies or change the existing ones to suggest effective decisions and discuss possible outcomes. Changes that require your professional assistance might be the following:
- Entering a partnership with other businesses or merging with them
- Changing full-time personnel
- Opening branch offices
- Selling their business
As a small business advisor, you need to think ahead of your customers to help them keep everything in order. Your mission is not only to fix the existing problems but to do your best to predict and solve them before anything unpleasant happens. Actually, this is something your clients will pay for. Always remind them that it’s necessary to keep documentation organized, plan the budget, and follow the current laws. Using the list of the best business practices we have described above, you and your clients should be able to reduce risks, save time, and increase income. Start your dialogue with customers as soon as possible and implement your brilliant ideas!
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