Life after lockdown: How accountants can help SMEs adapt

In association with UKBF and ACCA

What we can learn from business owners

As the end of the year brings new challenges, accountants are still needed for crisis support.

If the first phases of accountants’ coronavirus response were about helping businesses access emergency financial support, the next phase will be about helping them to manage without it.

Users on UKBF are now looking ahead and judging how viable their businesses will be over the winter months as consumer activity changes and the support offered through Government-backed schemes is reduced.

This is a chance for accountants to let their expertise shine, by supporting new business strategies and looking ahead, rather than tracking past performance. Your existing and prospective clients might not be aware that you can help them with this.

This report includes:

  • A summary of key challenges businesses are facing
  • Insight into the conversations and sentiments from business users on the forums
  • Practical tips and guidance on marketing the value of your firm and what you can offer to help these business owners.
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      About this report

      This report was created by Melissa Tredinnick who alongside her role at PracticeWeb, is the content editor for UK Business Forums (UKBF).

      Introduction

      At the start of this year, we published a report looking at the main SME challenges for accountants to solve in 2020. Little did we know what the year would really have in store, not only for the UK’s small businesses, but for people all around the world.

      Even though the coronavirus pandemic has impacted almost every aspect of running a business, most of the key concerns we covered still hold true.

      Business owners still need to understand company tax rules, navigate the VAT system, manage their staff, work out their expenses, and seek finance. The difference is, they now need to manage all of those things while dealing with the financial pressures caused by the pandemic.

      Existing issues like late payments appear to have worsened this year, leaving small business owners choosing between time-consuming payment chasing procedures and serious cashflow disruption.

      Meanwhile, difficulty obtaining Government-backed loans has left many businesses feeling let down by their banks, and others are anxious about the risk of fraud, and the costs that will eventually fall to taxpayers.

      And with financial support schemes gradually winding down, simply staying afloat is the priority for many business owners.

      At the same time, many people have taken the opportunity for a fresh start. Some have spotted an emerging business opportunity created by unusual circumstances or pivoted their business to suit the changing times.

      And as redundancies creep up and vacancies remain low, some have decided to take the plunge and start their own business for the first time.

      For accountants, the next few months are likely to be about balancing that support for new ventures and opportunities with the urgent assistance that other clients need to stay on their feet.

      Melissa Tredinnick
      Assistant Editor, PracticeWeb

      About the research

      UKBF

      UKBF is the UK’s largest and most active forum for startup and micro-businesses.

      It’s a platform for discussion and networking, with more than 1,500 posts a week and 1,200 new members joining the site every month.

      The content is community-driven, so it’s always relevant to the small business agenda, and covers every facet of owning and running a business.

      In 2018, PracticeWeb took ownership of UKBF with the simple purpose of turning this insight into knowledge for accounting firms.

      Most of the site’s activity takes place in its various subforums, where users can post questions, calls for advice, and discussion points on business topics. We also run weekly articles, round-ups of user activity, and email newsletters to engage with the audience.

      PracticeWeb’s relationship with UKBF – and the insight we can draw from it – offers a unique advantage to our clients, helping them to better market themselves to micro-businesses and SMEs.

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