Mike Tombs's Blog

This blog provides information about tax, accounting and other issues affecting small owner-managed businesses in the UK. It is intended as a general source of information but you should not assume that everything applies to your specific circumstances. We are always happy to discuss providing tailor-made solutions to suit your individul needs. Visit www.tlaservices.co.uk to sign up for our free monthly Tax Tips and News newsletter.

Monthly Archives: August 2012

Please, Sir! I want some more.

Here’s a question for you. What does your accountant really contribute to your business? I don’t just mean all that pen-pushing and form-filling to keep the taxman and Companies House happy. That should be just the beginning; but so often it’s the beginning and the end of the service that so many companies receive from their accountants. The sad truth is that too many small businesses accept this; not because they are satisfied with a second-rate service, but because they are unaware of what accountants can and should do for their clients.

It’s not actually rocket science. As accountants, we are privy to the inner-most workings of a company. We have all the data we need to be able to make a real difference; to identify problems and opportunities; to advise on cash-flow or investment strategies; to add real value to a business. So, why do so many accountancy practices seem content to act as ledger clerks?

Perhaps part of the answer is that their clients, like Oliver, should ask for more.

I’m afraid my clients don’t get a choice. Whether they like it or not, I care about their businesses and I see the accounts we produce for them as just the beginning of a journey which will take them from where they are now to where they want to be in a year, two years’ or five years’ time.

I’ll always insist on getting to know more about a business than just the numbers. What are the main obstacles to growth? Is it resource or time; cash or competitive pressure? What are your personal aspirations? Do you want to grow a business that can be handed down to your children, or one that you can leverage to support your retirement? It all matters and it all adds colour and meaning to a bald set of accounts. It also makes my job much more exciting.

So, beyond preparing all the statutory stuff, we can produce a complete performance measurement and improvement system which includes a confidential report analysing all your key numbers and comparing your performance to others in your industry. We can identify exactly where your strengths and weaknesses lie and suggest an action plan to improve your performance in each of those key areas. And we’ll even calculate the potential for extra sales, profits and cash that those improvements will generate for you over the next 12 months.

And, because our generosity knows no limits, we’ll present it to you in a stylish binder that will build into an encyclopaedia of all the numbers that really matter in your business.

So, take a tip from George Bernard Shaw, who said: “Take care to get what you like or you will be forced to like what you get.”

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Looking forward to Rio

The extraordinary performance of the Brownlee brothers in the Olympic triathlon got me thinking.  It wasn’t their seemingly endless stamina or the fact that Alistair, after swimming 1500 meters and cycling 43 km, ran the 10km phase faster than the last man across the line in the 10k track final. It wasn’t their total commitment to the sport either, their youth or their infectious good humour. It was the fact that they were already looking forward four years to the next Olympics in Rio and talking about their preparations.

As businessmen, we can learn so many lessons from our great Olympians, but this is one of the most fundamental. It is all too easy to rest on our laurels. To succeed in business we should be constantly striving for the next goal, not dwelling on past glories. The previous month’s or year’s results might be important for fiscal reasons and as a source of data from which you can plan.  But rest on your laurels and you might fall asleep like the Flopsy Bunnies and end up in Mr McGregor’s sack.

Of course, much of the work we do for small businesses at TLA has to involve looking into the past. We have to report on results, prepare accounts and file returns.  The bread and butter of any accountancy practice.  But what we really enjoy doing, and we do it well, is helping our clients to look forward.

Like the Team GB coaches, we start by analysing how you are performing today, work out your real business potential and then create a plan to get you there. At the heart of this process, your new business plan is backed up by benchmarking reports showing where your competitors might be beating you and where your strengths lie. We can then apply specially developed tools to help you outsmart them.

As every successful businessman knows, there is nothing more enjoyable and exciting than achieving your goals and beating your competitors.  But, while we can definitely help you to make your business succeed,  I can’t promise to make you quite as excited as Alistair Brownlee, who woke up on the morning of his Olympic final feeling “…so excited – just like a kid at Christmas.”

For a free no-obligation chat about how we can help you set and achieve your goals email miketombs@tlaservices.co.uk or contact us through our website at www.tlaservices.co.uk.