Helping small businesses set financial goals is really important for their success, and that is where you come in as an accountant. You are great at making financial plans and budgets, and you know how to use the latest tech to make things easier. When you teach your clients about finance, it helps them a lot, especially with their taxes.
This article is designed to help you boost your support to clients as they plan for 2024, setting them up for growth and success, and more efficient tax outcomes.
1. Client Economic and Industry Trends
Begin by getting a clear picture of how your client’s business works and the market they are in. Look at how they make money, their costs, and what is happening in their industry. It is necessary to consider things like inflation, supply chain issues, and changes in what customers want.
Consider the unique challenges and opportunities your client might face. Is their industry volatile? Are there regulatory changes on the horizon? Understanding all this helps you offer advice that is relevant to their business situation.
2. The Art of Goal Setting
As the saying goes, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” This really shows how important it is to set goals. As an accountant and business advisor, one of the best things you can do for your clients is to make sure they understand why setting goals is key. Financial goals are the foundation for a business’s growth and success. Helping your clients to set clear goals means you are helping them turn their big ideas into real results.
When you talk to your clients about setting goals, remember there are many ways to do this, not just the well-known SMART method. For example, CLEAR goals encourage working together and being flexible, while OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) are about setting big goals and finding ways to measure success.
Each of these methods, among others, offers a unique way to define and pursue success. So, whether you guide clients to a specific revenue increase or a broader business transformation, choosing the right framework can make their goals more focused and achievable.
3. Strategic Planning and Forecasting
Next, help your clients make a financial plan that matches their goals, including a yearly forecast. You are already great at using past data, industry standards, and market trends to make realistic predictions. It is important to remind your clients to think about the long-term and to adapt when things change quickly.
Forecasts need to change as the business world does, especially for clients who are not used to making these plans or have had trouble before. Your guidance can really make a difference, helping them be ready for whatever comes their way.
4. Budgeting for Success
We all know how important and sometimes difficult it is to stick to a budget, both in our personal lives and in business. Creating a budget is one thing; following it consistently is another challenge altogether. Yet, a solid budget is essential for the stability and expansion of any business.
Encourage your clients to approach budgeting with specific techniques. For instance, employ zero-based budgeting where every expense must be justified for each new period, aligning spending closely with current needs rather than just historical patterns.
Furthermore, stress the importance of periodic budget reviews. Regularly analyzing these variances can provide feedback for future budgeting and help your clients make more informed decisions about where to cut back and where to invest more. This active approach to budget management keeps your clients on track and allows for timely adjustments to their financial strategies.
5. Tax Planning
As an accountant, a key area where you can provide immense value is in tax planning. As you know, tax planning goes beyond year-end tax returns. They must establish a twelve-month strategy to improve their tax situation. Helping them understand the ever-evolving tax laws and regulations can greatly benefit small businesses.
6. Utilizing Technology
Leveraging technology can give anyone a significant edge. Introduce your clients to financial tools and software that can help them save time and provide valuable insights—encouraging businesses to use software with tools to simplify cash flow management, payroll, accounting, and more.
However, be mindful of their tech-savviness. Recommend software that is intuitive and has easy-to-follow online instructional videos. Another great feature offered by companies like FINSYNC is unlimited free customer service that provides the one-to-one attention some clients need. It is important your client is comfortable and can use these software tools effectively.
7. Empowering Clients Through Education
Consider offering workshops, in-person or online, to empower clients and save you valuable time. With a deeper understanding of their financial reports and the importance of reconciliations, your clients will better grasp and appreciate your guidance. This, in turn, makes your interactions with them more efficient and productive.
Other options include creating or recommending podcasts or online webinars. You could also record training videos, post them online, and then refer to both current and prospective clients. This investment in their financial literacy will foster a stronger, better client relationship, ultimately streamlining your workload.
Your role as an accountant or bookkeeper is evolving and becoming more essential than ever. You do more than just manage numbers; you are a trusted advisor and a key player in the success of your clients’ businesses.
By guiding them to set and meet strong financial goals, you are helping their businesses flourish. The growth and success of your clients are a testament to your skills and dedication as a financial professional. Working with your clients and giving them the right tools can help 2024 be more successful for both of you.
FINSYNC Accounting Partner Program
We understand accounting professionals’ critical role in a business’s success. This is why we have designed the FINSYNC Accounting Partner Program. Where a dedicated Account Manager will help you achieve your firm’s goals. FINSYNC’s platform consolidates all financial operations into an all-in-one system, ensuring smooth financial management while connecting businesses with the right financial experts.