You’re not an accountant; you’re an advisor

Businesses want more from their accountants than just the numbers. They want advice about what the numbers mean in the long-term. This is why accountants need to start thinking of themselves as consultants and strategists who tap into the technology and talent that future-proof their own businesses, and also their clients’.

Clients want their accountants to guide them on what they need to do next, and what the likely consequences of certain decisions are. They need help with scenario planning and identifying risks and opportunities in their businesses and markets.

To offer this level of trusted service, accountants need to shift their focus from numbers to how they can add value and help their clients to grow their businesses.

Here are a few ways to do that.

  1. Move to the cloud

Cloud-based accounting software makes business sense. Multiple teams can access the same data at the same time – securely, from anywhere. This allows your teams to work faster and more efficiently, which positively impacts customer service.

The cloud shortens the distance between you and your clients, in that you can access their data on your mobile and respond quickly to queries and business and market changes. This means you spend less time bound to a desk and more time engaging with your clients.

  1. Go mobile

You probably use your phone to order food and book a ride; why wouldn’t you want this same convenience in your business? Mobile applications give you real-time access to your information, keeping you informed and connected while you’re on the go.

Customers in all industries are already demanding mobile and flexible solutions from service providers, and accounting is no different. Give your clients the convenience they want by making it easy for them to engage with you and access their information in real time.

  1. Change your mindset to advisor and partner

Accounting firms offer a lot more advisory services today than they did even five years ago, and a big chunk of their revenue comes from services that have little to do with core accounting. Today, quarterly tax returns and financials are the bread-and-butter work. The real value comes from being a year-round business advisor. This is how you retain clients, not by balancing books, which businesses can easily do themselves with cloud-based accounting software.

  1. Don’t waste time on tasks that can be automated

Time tracking, invoice chasing, billing, project management – all these tasks consume valuable time and resources but make little difference to the bottom line, despite them being necessary to run a successful firm. Cloud-based accounting software automates many of these processes, freeing up your time to consult with your clients.

Changing the way you work also means changing the way you bill. Move from billing by the hour, to charging a fixed fee for the value you add.

Become a year-round consultant

Client demands and expectations are changing. Accountants need to evolve their approach to better meet these needs. If your firm is not getting the same results it did in the past, it might be time to adapt.

Tips to reduce recruitment costs

Recruiters are under pressure to find the best talent without blowing the recruitment budget. Yet, many businesses still use outdated recruitment software, inefficient processes and systems, and ineffective advertising techniques. This prevents them from properly leveraging digital recruitment channels and increases hiring costs.

Finding the ideal candidate for a position takes time, which is something recruiters have little of. Rushing a hiring decision often results in bad hire, which is not only expensive and inconvenient, but also impacts the entire team’s performance, productivity, and morale.

Businesses need to improve the way they collect and analyse recruitment data if they want to make the right hire the first time, every time.

Here are three ways to reduce recruitment costs when sourcing top talent:

  1. Know who you’re looking for

When looking for a candidate, focus on the quality of applications, not quantity. This is easier said than done, since an advert for a corporate role receives, on average, 250 applications. You can outsource recruitment to a hiring agency but this could end up adding to your recruitment costs.

If you know what you’re looking for in a candidate beyond their qualifications and experience (think personality traits, preferences, work ethic, values, willingness to learn, etc), it’s easier to categorise them – especially if you use the right tools, recruitment software, and targeting strategies.

Spend some time researching and really understanding your target audience, so that you can find the right person faster.

  1. Make people want to work for you

Use social media to give potential candidates a glimpse into your company culture and your broader industry. Before applying for a role, the average job-seeker reads six reviews about the company, and 69% of candidates would turn down an offer from a company they perceive as having a bad brand.

Treat your social media platforms as marketing channels: balance engaging, relevant, and useful content with stories about what goes on inside the office on an average day. A successful social media strategy should make people want to work for you. The aim is to get talent to come to you so that you can build a pool of potential candidates, rather than you having to hunt them down when you need them.

  1. Dive into your data

Data is everything. The first two points will not be effective if you don’t regularly measure your recruitment success against the business’s wider goals. If you’re not finding people whose values match your own, you might need to tweak your audience personas and social media targeting.

Tap into your business intelligence to track performance and identify opportunities to improve your team’s skills, reduce hiring costs, and improve processes.

Find the needle in the haystack

Recruiters can spend almost an entire day screening CVs for a single hire. Of the hundreds of applications they trawl through, a staggering 88% are not suitable for the job.

While the digitisation of recruitment certainly has its benefit, like making it easy to apply for multiple jobs at once, or finding a potential candidate through a quick LinkedIn search, it has also brought a number of challenges to the hiring process.

In South Africa, for example, where 27.5% of the population is unemployed, there’s a tendency for people to send applications to as many positions as possible, regardless of whether they’re suited to the role. This ‘spray and pray’ approach means recruiters have to sift through hundreds, if not thousands, of applications.

There is an easier way – with recruitment automation. A considerable 62% of companies intended to invest in AI-powered recruiting software in 2018 to help them write job descriptions, sort through applications, source and screen candidates, schedule interviews, and run background checks. And it does all this in minutes. This frees up recruiters’ time to focus on relationship-building and selling the company to the best candidates.

In the digital age, recruiters may be bombarded with choice when it comes to new hires but they’re also competing for the right hires with companies from all over the world, thanks to mobile teams, online collaboration, and remote working.

Lean on cloud-based technology to find every shortcut possible to get to the right candidate before anyone else. And remember, if you position your company as a great place to work, the best people will come to you.

Escape busyness burnout with a virtual assistant

As a small business owner, you know all too well what it means to be so busy that it feels like you’re spinning in place. Wearing many hats as an entrepreneur is par for the course, especially in the early stages. But it’s not sustainable – for you or your business. Soon, you’re going to burn out and that’s not going to serve anyone.

The solution? A virtual assistant.

Not the type that lives on your computer, like Siri. We’re talking about hiring someone who specialises in assisting small businesses, but works offsite.

Virtual assistants (VAs) take the load off by doing the tasks you hate doing, can’t do, or shouldn’t be doing. Things like managing your emails, booking appointments with clients, answering calls, chasing payments, booking flights, conducting research, and managing your blog and social media. In fact, most administrative and time-consuming tasks can be outsourced to a VA.

The benefits of a virtual assistant

 To name a few benefits, VAs:

  • Help you to buy back time to focus on growing your business;
  • Save on recruitment and employee-related expenses, training costs, and additional office space;
  • Let you budget better by only paying for the services you need, when you need them; and
  • Are usually a 24/7 resource, which is especially handy in emergencies or during busy periods.

You can use a VA agency or a private VA. The benefits of the latter are that they charge per hour and general have specific skill sets, like finance and tax, or knowledge about patent and trade mark law.

Not sure if a virtual assistant is right for you?

If you’re hesitant to hand over control of some tasks to someone else, start with the little things, like:

  • Research. If you’re thinking about launching a new product, a VA can research what’s already in the market and what the unmet needs or gaps are. If you have a business trip or vacation coming up, a VA can hunt down the best deals, book flights, and arrange accommodation
  • Email management. Rather than spending hours each day sifting through hundreds of emails, a VA can pick out the most important stuff and respond on your behalf, and delete and unsubscribe from any junk that’s cluttering your inbox.
  • Bookkeeping. Give your VA access to your cloud-based accounting software so that he or she can send and follow up on invoices, record transactions, generate reports, and ensure that the books balance at month-end.
  • Blogging and content creation. If you want customers to find you – organically – on Google, you need to regularly post relevant, useful content on your blog. But that’s just one more thing you don’t have time for. A VA can craft your blogs for you, with little guidance or input.
  • Social media management. Posting on Facebook or LinkedIn is probably low on your list of priorities as an entrepreneur. A VA can compile posts, run them past you for approval, then schedule them and respond to comments. This expands your network and builds your brand among potential customers.

With all the digital tools available today, supported by mobility and flexible, remote working arrangements, you don’t have to do it all anymore. Entrust the time-consuming stuff to someone who’s good at what they do, so you have one – or ten – less things to worry about.