[ Effectively sell your business to attract the ideal client ]

You're at a networking event or a friend's barbeque and inevitably the question comes up "what do you do for work?"

When you answer with your job title you can watch people's eyes glaze over as they make assumptions on what an "accountant" or "plumber" or "teacher" does on a day to day basis.

Or you give your elevator pitch [for me] "I work with small business owners using proven strategies to ensure their business success and peace of mind" and can practically see them thinking "yeah, but what does that exactly mean?"

There are numerous articles and video tips about how you can "sell" or "present" your business to attract the ideal client, however, I'm not sure this shows prospective clients what their experience will be if they work with me, so I have put some thoughts below.

For me, an accountant is not someone who crunches the numbers or keeps the tax office happy, but rather is someone who provides accountability.

This means:

  • Being available for clients to run ideas or concerns past;
  • Being able to offer fresh perspectives;
  • Offering expert analysis or advice from a financial, cash flow, funding or taxation point of view;
  • Ensuring clients have the tools they need to plan, budget, record and measure both their financial and non-financial Key Performance Indicators;
  • Introducing other experts where required to ensure clients can meet their goals and obligations, be it obligations to themselves, their families, their employees or the tax office.

I have been working with a small business owner, Tom [name changed to protect the innocent], for a couple of years now. During this time, Tom has been able to increase his business' turnover, run more efficiently, retain key employees and begin to reduce his business debts rather than building on them. Clearly, Tom has made all these changes happen. He knows his business, his employees, his obligations and his aspirations far better than I could ever hope to.

So where do I come in? On a regular basis I have enjoyed the privilege of reviewing his financials, making observations about costs or revenue [or other areas] and these better business meetings have helped him set and maintain targets. I have often been on the phone whenever something changes in his business or when different opportunities come up. He even calls me when he knows I won't necessarily give him the advice he'd like to hear. Tom has trusted me to be a sounding-board, even though he knows more about his chosen industry than I could ever learn. He has allowed me to test out various techniques regarding planning, goal-setting and working with monthly targets, and has even been subjected to my draft blogs!

So I'm thinking about changing my elevator pitch.

Perhaps, it goes more like this: "I work closely to encourage, support and provide external accountability to business-owners. We talk on the phone, sit down over coffee or muddle through their computer software together until we can define, plan for and implement their business goals. Oh, and I can also do your tax return!"

Toowoomba Regional Council Budget 2015-16

Yesterday I was lucky enough to attend the TRC’s budget presentation to the Australian Institute of Management in Toowoomba and thought I’d share an overview of what was presented.

The regional council is subject to the accounting regulations and is overseen by the Qld Audit Office, the Department of Local Government and the Queensland Treasury Corporation. The TRC was pleased to have recently had its financial strength reviewed by the Qld Treasury Corporation and received an improved ‘sound rating with a neutral outlook’. The Toowoomba region has one of the lowest unemployment rates in Australia and credits the region’s economic viability to the diverse range of industry and development opportunities available in the area. Although the general feeling in the small business seems to have been one of uncertainty, the TRC is confident this outlook will improve rapidly now that Nexus has been announced as the preferred tenderer. Development of the inland rail from the Port of Melbourne to the Port of Brisbane then further West seems set to go ahead, which will provide more opportunities both the new airport and the inland transit centre at Charlton.

The council’s budget is designed with consideration of the 5 year corporate plan and 10 year financial plan for the region and is developed throughout the financial year. Currently the majority of income is sourced from rates and charges, which is the ideal for local government and contributes to the TRC’s sound financial rating. Other income comes from operating grants, fees and charges and capital income. Rates have increased just 3% for the financial year, which is down on the 4.5% and 4% in previous years and council is continually looking for ways to increase efficiency in order to keeps costs down for ratepayers.                                       

This income is used to maintain infrastructure, develop the new library and cultural precinct, maintain parks and develop recreational facilities, such as the new Highfields Sports Precinct as well as developing council itself to encourage future development in the region. One interesting point for accountants is that local government must allocate funds to depreciation within the budget as a funding source. Depreciation accounts for approximately $2m in costs and as such much more of a financial impact than the non-cash entries we usually see.

The below video is an interesting summary of what our council has planned for the 2015-16 financial year.

How to become your accountant's favourite client

It's tax time again!

Many small business owners and salary and wage clients become frustrated at this time of year with the time it takes to lodge their tax returns. Add to that the problems with the Australian Tax Office's MyTax this year and we end up with a lot of grumpy people.

The Tax Practitioners Board is encouraging the use of registered agents this tax time to avoid being caught out by agents who do not have the required qualifications or experience or are not covered by professional indemnity insurance in case something does go wrong.


If you do use a registered tax agent to prepare your income tax return, what can you do to become their favourite client?

Business clients

1. If you use accounting software, make sure all the information is complete and that bank accounts are reconciled to the 30th June 2015.

2. Provide all supporting records such as:

  • Bank and loan statements at 30 June for all accounts you use in the business
  • Closing stock balance (if required) as at 30 June
  • PAYG Payment Summaries for your employees as lodged with the ATO
  • Debtors and Creditors as at 30 June 
  • Details of any equipment purchased during the year
  • Loan or equipment finance documents for new loans/financing

Individual clients

1. PAYG Payment Summaries received from employers

2. Details of interest or dividends received during the year

3. Details of any partnership or trust distributions 

4. Details of any assets sold which may be subject to capital gains tax

5. Details of any deductions including:

  • Motor vehicle expenses, km and/or logbook kept
  • Uniform or protective clothing
  • Self-education expenses
  • Tools, stationery or reference books purchased
  • Donations
  • Accounting fees

6. Bank account details for your refund

If you ever have any questions, check with your accountant. They will love you if you bring them exactly what they need and your return will be prepared and lodged that much quicker!



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