This insight was co-written by our partner Hawkins & Co. Learn more about their accounting firm here.
Technology has become more pervasive in our lives over the past few decades. New ways of communicating, sharing information, and providing services virtually have been rapidly evolving - and, in some cases, sped up by the remote work environment. Small and medium sized businesses (SMB’s) now have quick access to countless tools and platforms that all promise to make their lives easier, save them time, or give them insights that they didn’t have before.
It’s no secret that business owners don’t have enough hours in a day - and the hours they do have are dedicated to working in the business, and not on it. With (often) limited resources and certainly limited time, understanding the “bigger picture” of the business is quite often not a priority for many SMB’s - and hiring a finance team to help with this likely isn’t in the cards at their size.
The good news is: tech can help.
While many tech platforms will automate processes and save time, perhaps the most valuable component of tech in the SMB space is the accessibility of data. Historically, understanding the business’ health, interpreting the underlying metrics and ideal targets, and access to industry comparables was only available to large companies whose finance departments were tasked with these very things: gathering data, evaluating trends, and reporting to executives on a regular basis. Now, with technology more accessible than ever from both a cost and ease of use perspective, even very small businesses can function and have access to data that they just didn’t have before.
Of course, while access to more data is great – what does it actually mean?
Business owners often aren’t accounting experts, and many don’t enjoy the day-to-day components of bookkeeping, tax filings, and reconciliations. Leveraging technology can make understanding their business simple and more appealing - and lessen the reliance on having to know things that aren’t in their wheelhouse.
Using a platform to do some of the heavy lifting and analysis means that business owner’s don’t need to be an expert and can - at the very least - get access to better insights and understand the health of their business.
In the accounting space, advisors can take this even further, contextualizing financial advice that they may even have already been giving - but now can measure and track progress with their clients to demonstrate the impact of certain decisions. With access to more and better data, advisory discussions with a client are a natural jumping off point, allowing accountants to bring value to their clients in a variety of ways, while supporting their business ownership journey – not just their tax filing.
Accountants are constantly looking for ways to be more proactive, to have more frequent touchpoints with their clients, and to be a truly “trusted advisor” more often than once a year. Putting data to work - to be packaged in a way that is easily consumable and able to be analyzed to understand the current status - allows the accountant to be in a position where they can support their clients in a more proactive way, and provide expertise when the moment is right.
Business owners, alongside their accountants, can now have “bigger picture” conversations with data at their fingertips, and opportunities to better understand their business health, all without taking extra time or effort out of their day. It’s a win-win!