Should your accountant be involved in your business plan?
The short answer is yes. From a business case onwards, having a level of financial expertise on hand will likely relieve stress, and save you time and money in the long run.
A lot of people – even aspiring business owners – ask what the purpose of a business plan is. It’s not a new concept. A good business plan is a vital component of any plan you may have for growth. It is a carefully considered statement encapsulating everything you know and understand about what your potential market is, what your ‘big picture’ goals are, an how you plan to make it happen
No plan, no finance
If you are looking to launch a business which requires funding of any kind, your business plan is the most important document you will ever produce. It will be one of the critical factors which determine whether or not you will end up raising the funds you need to get off the ground.
A good business plan won’t necessarily guarantee you a loan or investment, but the lack of one will almost certainly guarantee you won’t be approved.
Seeking the right advice early in the process can help make sure the plan contains achievable outcomes, is organised and written in an expert way, and has a better chance at getting a positive result for you.
So, who, then? Is the job one for an accountant? Absolutely. A good accountant will be a strategic business partner who understands what your vision is and can help you achieve your financial, administrative, and business goals.
An objective opinion
Your accountant doesn’t have ‘skin in the game’ to the same degree you do, so can see your business for what it is, as opposed to the more optimistic appraisal you may give yourself. He or she will be skilled at being able to accurately assess your plans, including finances, address strengths and weaknesses, and identifying potential problems.
They will know what makes a realistic business plan: from its statement of purpose, a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis, and clearly defined goals, constructed in a way for it to be most appealing to its audience.
Business plans for start-ups should be a realistic view of the business’s immediate and long-term objectives and expectations. At the same time, they need to provide an operating framework within which you have outlined a clear and systematic path to success.
Your business plan needs to be tailored to a specific audience, and a good accountant will know what the significant factors are that influence its content, as well as its length, how complex it is, and how much of it needs professional scrutiny. They’ll be experienced enough to understand how all of your strategies and goals (be they working, structural, organisational, and financial) should be woven together within your plan.
As the financial status of your business is the most important element in understanding and determining its success, having it professionally reviewed is highly recommended.
Many small business owners will launch head-first into forecasting without any foundational knowledge of finance or accounting. Although well-meaning, they are often misguided and ill-equipped knowledge-wise; structures will be skewed, figures out of proportion, or forecasts inaccurate. They’ll then hire an accountant to guide them out of the labyrinth, clarifying data and setting them straight on the path they should have been on to begin with!
Sound financial planning will enable you to monitor, and hopefully help you achieve the financial forecasts outlined in your business plan.
Once you’re up and running, it’s makes sense to have an accountant on call. As your business grows and evolves, through taking on new staff, going into partnerships, or accruing debt – working closely with an accountant will assist your long-term outlook.
It’s sound advice for your business to check in with an accountant at least once or twice a year to update your tax strategy, as well as go over your finances, expenses and receipts that they’ll need to properly prepare your taxes.
Also, take note: your accountant should be properly qualified and certified, including being registered in Australia with a formally recognised industry body, like the Charted Accountants of Australia & New Zealand (CA ANZ), the Institute of Public Accountants (IPA), or CPA Australia (CPA).
Your business is your livelihood, so make sure you are collaborating with someone who knows what they’re doing and is qualified to do it.