By Mark Gold, chairman of ACCA’s Global Forum for SMEs
I gave a keynote speech at the SME/SMP forum held by ACCA Uganda, in Kampala, recently.
As the chair of ACCA’s global forum for SMEs, I know that small businesses are critical about global growth because they feel there are many obstacles in their paths, such as lack of finances; absence of trusted advice in overseas markets; and scepticism of the unknown.
My speech was about these key issues and how this business sector is much more likely to use an accountant, because the advice they get from their accountants is the most trustworthy of sources.
ACCA has launched two campaigns in the past year to try and allay some of these concerns – public value and the complete finance professional. Both aim to show the wider public, including businesses, just how dependable the accountancy profession, specifically ACCA qualified accountants, is.
Due to the continuing global economic crisis, it has been hard for small businesses to find the funds to aid global growth during its time of need.
Banks are also being cautious with their money and so are not lending as much to SMEs, which fuels financial hardship for small businesses.
Accountants need to be on hand to advise those who seek it, before any “crisis” arises, not just when a problem has occurred. Problems need to be stopped in their paths before they develop into bigger problems.
Charles Ocici, executive director of Enterprise Uganda, came up with solutions for accountants and SMEs alike:
- Cultivate the culture of taking professional advice FIRST, not only when there is a problem, or when they need a loan!
- Offer solutions in a phased manner – if you gave a baby ten injections all in the same spot on the same day you kill it!
- Use a language easily understood by your client
- Take time to get into the guarded space of the entrepreneur to secure their trust.
- Keep professional distance to be respected
- Systems run the business – but people run the systems, so check how professional are your OWN internal and external team.
- Price is not the main reason customers leave
- An increase of 2% of sales equals a drop of 10% in costs.
We also had a panel discussion about why small business will not use small and medium practices (SMPs)
- Taxes – they don’t want to register and risk having to back and regulate and pay for previous years.
- Non-disclosure – cutting corners and don’t want transparency
- So many fake accountants
There is concern over finding legitimate accountants, but the best way to check their credentials is to search for them on the internet and ensure they are ACCA approved, or contact the ACCA national office in the country you live in and they’ll be able to help you.
SMEs must include in their investment strategies good financial advice. It is key to investments and without it, decisions will not be made properly without the necessary guidance.
There should also be government support for SMEs to help them become competitive.
There is a need to educate small businesses that accountants are needed throughout their business lives, not just to get things going or to resolve any issues that may occur along the way.
SMEs are at the heart of our global economy, they have helped greatly in restarting the economy where national, and even global organisations, couldn’t.
Accountants and small businesses need to work together to keep things going. They are vital assets to the economy.