It’s rightfully said that there’s no such thing as standing still in business. We’re either growing or declining, and there’s simply no in-between.
This is probably even truer in the area of accounting, as there have been a number of important developments in recent years that demand change and a willingness to adapt.
Probably the most important of these developments have been the concept of machine learning and the arrival of the phenomenon that is Big Data. The immediate challenge of Big Data is how to obtain it, so there is a gradual move to robotic processing of information.
These new challenges should not be faced with fear or trepidation, as they are opportunities as much as challenges. So with that in mind, let’s have a look at how innovative accounting solutions – such as introducing small business accounting software like Sage 50 – is just one of the routes you can take to greater innovation.
- Innovate Your Processes And Look To New Technologies With Confidence:
Unlike bygone days, the modern-day accounting firm is a partner to its clients, and much more is expected of it outside the sole area of financial bookkeeping. Today, accountants are expected to provide a highly informed view of the client business, plus the sector it operates in.
Accounting innovation, of course is one of the keys to unlocking this additional time by automating repetitive tasks that don’t add much value to the client relationship. This and other ways of reducing time inefficiencies is by embracing the benefits of small business accounting software such as Sage 50.
- Be prepared to experiment:
One of the biggest problems with doing something for the first time is that there’s no road map – nobody to tell you that this is how it should be handled. So, it stands to reason that the failure rate for genuinely innovative offerings will be higher than a ‘safer’ route, where you keep on trotting out the same offerings.
In other words, you have to build in an element of trialling. For example, you might invite a small handful of clients to take part on a pilot programme, so these will be the only ones who know if the programme is not as successful as first thought, but maybe not all of the idea needs to be discontinued.
- Make sure it starts from the top:
Genuine innovation involves a big change for the company – and for its staff. In order for it to be truly embraced at the earliest possible stage, the commitment to innovate needs to come from the very top. If it’s seen that there’s a genuine hunger for innovation at senior management level, then there’s a much greater chance of getting your staff on board.
- Look to services outside your normal offering:
One of the greatest contributors to stagnation and decline is the notion of ‘sticking to what you’re good at’, i.e. trotting out the same old services, even though the demand from the market may have moved on. You may always have been regarded as the go to guys for Mergers and Acquisitions, but this doesn’t have to mean that you can’t be considered in other fields as well? And remember that the greater the number of services you offer, the greater your income stream, and the greater the opportunity for cross-selling or upselling.
- Change your markets:
For some accounting firms, they tend to make a name for themselves in a particular market sector – especially in the early years. Once they’ve landed their first Distribution Company, for example, there’s a danger of seeing themselves as a Distribution Company specialist. This is fraught with danger, however, as it tends to blind you to other opportunities. Could small business accounting software such as Sage 50
help you to become a master-partner for all SMEs, for example, or become the go to firm for start-ups?
- Look to other industries for inspiration:
If you want a long-term relationship with a client, there’s a lot to be said for copying the best practices of companies who do this well. The advertising industry, for example, will frequently have a dedicated Account Service Director, who takes a helicopter view of the relationship, and looks after the big picture elements of the business. Having this form of relationship in place can yield real results in cementing the relationship. For example, if a particular client is cash-poor at a particular time of the year, reflecting this in your monthly billing could be hugely appreciated – and lock in the client for the long haul.
- Innovation takes time:
We all get bogged down in the day-to-day minutiae of our jobs. But if fostering innovation in accounting is to be given a chance to flourish, there is a need to put aside quality time. This could be a company away day, for example, when the brightest minds in the organisation are given free rein to come up with the ideas that will drive the business tomorrow. Also, don’t forget that the best ideas can come from any source, whether it’s the office junior, an intern, or even a client. So make sure that everybody has easy access to management if they come up with something big. This could be anything from an old-fashioned Suggestion Box to a quarterly Ideas Lunch where staff can chew the fat with each other and see what comes up. So there you have it – seven great tips for making sure that your company constantly reinvents itself – and constantly remains relevant to your client. If you even introduce one or two of these practices, we’re confident that you’ll be well on the way to a more innovative and fearless company.