Start planning for the future with your accountant

Start planning for the future with your accountant

Accountants do a lot more than simply crunch numbers, writes Chris Harland of Barlow Andrews. They can be trusted partners who’ll help you draw up a compelling business plan.

When I started out in the accountancy profession, business planning was not an essential part of life. The small businesses we dealt with didn’t recognise the importance of looking forward and planning for the development of their company.

Times have changed and, today, business planning is very much an essential part of corporate life. Why the transition? Well, the most common reason to prepare a plan is to explain your business priorities, capabilities and ambitions to an external lender, such as a bank. In an era of reduced access to finance and the application of rigorous lending criteria, a professional approach is absolutely essential.

A business plan is, however, important at other levels too. It is an essential business management tool which provides a structure and guidelines for the running of your business.

From my own point of view as a professional advisor, assisting clients with the preparation of their plans is an ideal way of developing a close relationship with them and their staff.

The preparation of a business plan naturally involves financial information, but it also enables us as accountants to show that we are business advisors with commercial awareness, rather than simply number crunchers.  A well-written plan will get behind the numbers.  It will include comments on the aims and objectives of the business, as well as the personal ambitions of the owners.  We will make reference to the key people in the organisation, the state of the company’s assets and planned capital expenditure.

A good plan will include observations on marketing strategies and risk management – the latter being an essential part of today’s business life.  Working with clients to produce a business plan is therefore a highly rewarding and fulfilling exercise.  It is also an excellent way to demonstrate how chartered accountants are trusted business partners for their clients.