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by David Tattersall from Handpicked Accountants

When you hire a qualified accountant to help you in your business it may be for a specific reason, but this valuable support can be more beneficial than you first realise. As well as taking the burden of financial administration away from you, and ensuring your general compliance, a good accountant can also be a trusted business adviser.

They will take an objective view of your business, and assess where improvements might be made. Simply having someone there to discuss ideas and help you plan, is surprisingly reassuring and motivating.

This level of support is important at any stage of business, and allows you to focus on generating revenue rather than doing the books. So what are the signs that you might need to hire a qualified accountant?

1.       You are about to launch a start-up

An accountant will provide professional guidance on the best business structure for your start-up. Choosing the wrong set-up at this point can result in paying more tax than you need, and limit the ways in which the money can be withdrawn. Furthermore, it is not always easy to change the structure once the business is established.

2.       You are not good with figures

If you find that you are working long hours simply to finish the bookkeeping, or figures just are not your strong point, an accountant will take this burden off your shoulders. They will help you set up financial systems and processes, and make sure you have easy access to vital management information on which you can base your business decisions.

3.       You need to focus on generating income

You may be a ‘numbers person,’ but is that the reason why you started your business? Bookkeeping and accounting can be time-consuming, taking you away from the income-generating activities that are crucial to long-term growth. By hiring an accountant you will be able to focus on marketing, sales, and customer service, and more readily achieve your goals.

4.       You have been fined for late filing

Maybe you have received a fine for late filing or payment of tax, and realise that you need professional support to avoid the situation worsening. A qualified accountant will help you deal with HMRC by ensuring you comply with your obligations and also be there to support you if you have to undergo a tax inspection.

5.       Your business is growing

Business growth brings with it issues you may not have dealt with before – sourcing additional finance, for example, or taking on new staff. You will also need to think about tax planning and investments once your business starts to grow, as well as the increased complexity of financial reporting.

6.       Business growth is faltering

On the other hand, if your company has already grown but is now faltering, an accountant will look at your business overall, and advise on what you are doing wrong. The problem could be connected to cash flow, or difficulty in collecting your own debts, but an accountant’s objective view will help to pinpoint what going wrong.

7.       You are planning to sell your business

If you are going to sell your business, prospective buyers will need to see formal financial reports and statements as part of their due diligence. These vital documents guide their purchase decision, so it is crucial to hire a professional who understands the situation and can provide accurate and timely information.

8.       You are facing a tax inspection

Maybe you have been randomly chosen for a tax inspection, or it is the result of fines and penalties. Either way, a visit from HMRC is a daunting proposition. A qualified accountant understands how HMRC operates – theywill be present at the inspection, and to help you discuss their findings.

9.       Cash flow is poor

Even if you are making a profit, if there is not enough cash coming into pay the bills, you could still enter insolvency. An accountant will review your books andidentify the causes of this issue.

You may be experiencing difficulty in collecting payment from your debtors, for example, or there could be a lack of management information. The accountant will be able to forecast your cash needs over the coming months, so you can take action if you need to boost the level of working capital.

10.   You are seeking new finance

If you are sourcing additional funding, an accountant can help you prepare the necessary documents and information about your business for potential financiers. Depending on the type of funding you are looking for, you may need to produce a business plan and professionally prepared financial statements to illustrate how your business can repay the money.

11.   You are going to be an employer

If you donot understand your duties as an employer, you could face scrutiny from HMRC, or even an employment tribunal for failing to meet your employment obligations. The increased administration when you take on staff can also take your focus away from running the business if you donot have accountancy support.

A good accountant will save your business more than they cost, whether or not you are at the start-up stage or more firmly established. There are many benefits of obtaining accountancy help – the objectivity of a professional who can assess your business as a whole, for instance, as well as identify the financial drainsand suggest improvements.

Written by David Tattersall from Handpicked Accountants – a website which helps business owners and company directors find a reputable and reliable accountant in their local area.  

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