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Navigating the next 12 months: Proactive advising for small businesses

As we shut the door on an atypical tax season and look toward the future, firms are continuously striving to add more advisory and consulting into their business model. As a result, clients are constantly seeking out firms with those offerings, especially small businesses. Here are the effects COVID-19 has had on small businesses, and tips to consider when introducing them to advisory services.

COVID-19 has required small business owners to get creative and approach challenges a little differently, and the next year is crucial in helping clients bounce back and come out stronger. A recent survey from Intuit® QuickBooks® on what’s next for the small business economy found the following:

  • Twenty-three percent of small businesses starting in the next 12 months will have 100 percent remote workforces.
  • New business owners wanting to start ventures in the next 12 months intend to hire seven contractors and 10 employees, on average, within their first 12 months.
  • The top three financial processes small business owners wish they’d invested in sooner are expense tracking, inventory, and invoicing.
  • Twenty-eight percent of people who want to start a business in the next 12 months say COVID-19 has accelerated their plans.
  • More than one in 10 prospective business owners do not intend to write a business plan, yet 69 percent of people who own a small business recommend it.

With this in mind, small business owners are going to need more guidance from tax and accounting professionals not only on financials, but through advisory services, whether it’s to start their business, build a business plan, or discuss how to employ a remote workforce.

As a result, you should start fostering relationships with clients, as soon as possible, to allow for more forward- thinking mindsets beyond the normal tax return and filing deadlines. It’s important to help clients plan for the future beyond the next tax season with budgeting, forecasting, cash flow planning, and more.

Here are a few tips to consider when introducing advisory services to your firm and with your clients:

  • Automate compliance work: Within your firm, this will give employees and tax professionals more time and flexibility to work with clients on long-term goals.
  • Train your staff: Introduce cloud accounting and software tools to ensure knowledge and efficiency with the programs.
  • Create ongoing check-ins: Creating monthly check-ins with clients opens the door to engage with them on long-term goals and showcase expertise beyond taxes.
  • Create a vision: Work with clients and within your firm to have a documented vision and strategy, looking into the future on how to improve your practice and your clients’ plans.

All of these tips allow for more time for advisory work for tax professionals, and more time to connect one-on-one with clients to grow their businesses. As the year comes to a close, it’s important to start initiating conversations on advisory and how to implement it. Start fresh in the new year and create a plan to lay out advisory goals, and help clients reach their goals in return.

Editor’s note: This article was originally published on the Intuit® Tax Pro Center.

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