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One year in

So, 9:00am exactly one year ago the doors of ChadStone Accountancy & Tax opened for business. Rob and I had both left secure jobs and regular salaries for the excitement of doing it for ourselves. As I type this blog I look around our fully kitted out office with the various electronic IT boxes whirring away doing their job, the art that we chose on the walls and our plants that we bought almost a year ago (that are somehow still alive) and I can’t help but wonder where the year has gone.

 

Exactly a year ago Rob and I both sat at one desk (as Rob’s didn’t get delivered) with our laptops that wouldn’t connect to the internet because we’re useless with anything IT hardware based that gets anywhere near technical. We had one client, a fairly hefty target for year one and were sporting brave faces. We will be the first to admit that we were nervous, I think if you’re not nervous about a situation like this then something is wrong, but excitement overshadowed our nerves, we were the ones that were brave enough to do this and we weren’t going to let it go easily.

 

One year on and we won’t say how many clients we have (mainly as it’s an irrelevant figure compared to turnover) but we can say we have reached and surpassed our target, we’ve taken on the fee block of a small firm in Shrewsbury and we’re now employing our lovely member of staff Jo. For anyone reading this who knows me or Rob well enough you will be surprised to hear that we’re now employers, we certainly wouldn’t have thought of ourselves as someone’s bosses anytime soon.

 

It’s been a tough first year, we’ve had massive highs (see paragraph above) and what we thought were low lows. However, after thinking about the lows, they were much lower in our heads than they actually were. The first time a potential client said they weren’t going to use us felt like the world needed to open up and swallow us. With hindsight and a bit more experience, we weren’t the right fit with that client, and that’s absolutely fine. The first time a marketing company turned out to be crooks (not saying all marketing companies are but with the amount of phone calls we get from sham opportunities we are definitely more tentative with them) we thought that someone was out to get us. Now we know, or we like to think we know, how to work people out and we will only use people we are truly happy with. All these experiences have made us the firm we are today.

 

We are still a very young firm with many years ahead of us, but if any of those years are like this one then bring them on, because we have loved this year and we will happily do it again and again.

 

Thank you to our clients, to Jo, to anyone we know in the world of business, but mainly thank you to our partners, our families and our friends as they are the people who allowed us to do this in the first place and have supported us through this adventure.

The 3 A’s Every Accountant Should Have – Does Yours?

The 3 A’s Every Accountant Should Have

Business is an ever moving, ever evolving entity. Business owners are always looking for new and innovative ways of operating; they may regularly update their internal systems, they may re-train staff or look at staff and team motivation, or they might look at their marketing strategy and budgets, among many other things, to help improve their brand and bottom-line. Regularly reviewing ones business is a great and valuable habit to get into, but for the sake of this piece, let’s throw a specific question out there:

Do you know and understand what your accountant brings to the table for you and your business?

 Some business owners are only with their accountant as they were part of their networking group or an associate may have recommended them a million years ago. Some business owners are with a big brand accountancy firm as it makes them feel safer and more secure. Some business owners will stay with the same accountant for forever and a day because ‘that’s the way we’ve always done things around here’, and sometimes, just sometimes, it might not be what you or your business needs…

Ask yourself: does your accountant possess the 3 A’s?

Does Your Accountant Have the 3A's?1. Is Your Accountant Approachable

If you had a problem with your business and needed financial advice, would you call your accountant? If you were business planning and designing a strategy for growth, would you talk this over with your accountant before pursuing?

In short, do you trust, and have a relationship with, your accountant?

Whatever the size of your business, the numbers behind it and the bottom-line are always important. Access to the correct financial information can empower a business owner to make decisions, or even reverse them; and bad financial information could put an end to the whole business quicker than you can say spreadsheet.

If you only see your accountant once a year, to sign off on account documents, and they have little to no knowledge of your business for the rest of the year, or you personally don’t feel you could involve them in your business throughout the year, you’ve got to ask yourself, what is your accountant doing for your business? How is your accountant adding value to your business if you don’t feel you can approach them?

Does You Accountant Have the 3 A's2. Is Your Accountant Accessible?

If you need something from your accountant, or you have a question you need to double check, can you pick up the telephone and reach them? Can you drop your accountant an email and receive a reply within the same working day? If you need a face-to-face meeting, can you get an appointment within the week?

How accessible is your accountant to you?

An accountant is a cost to a business. A good accountant is almost like a member of the in-house team. However you look at it, a business owner pays a fee for the accountant and should be able to utilise their experience and knowledge in order to grow or develop their own business. Not only are you paying for it, but it is almost in the benefit of the accountant to be accessible, as a happy, growing and successful business, keeps us accountants busy!

If you feel like you are very low down on your accountant’s list of priorities it may be time to think about gaining access to a more dedicated service.

Does Your Accountant Have the 3A's?3. Is Your Account Active?

Does your accountant have a regular blog or newsletter to keep you up to date with changes in the financial and business world? Does your accountant have a Facebook page or Twitter account where you can interact with them and follow them for their latest updates? Does your accountant let you know if the government is introducing a new piece of legislation that may affect your particular business? Does your accountant keep you abreast of changes to laws or tax systems?

If your accountant is not active in the business and finance world, in what way, other than making sure your figures all add up, are they adding value to you or your business? In this age of technology and social media, as business owners we want to feel connected and affiliated, we want to keep our fingers on the pulse and so it’s important to have an active accountant who moves with the tides and changes of the business world.

There may be many other reasons why a business may look at moving from an accountant and the Three A’s are a great starting point to thinking about what is working for you and what is not…

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If you would like to talk to someone about your accounting needs or you are thinking of changing accountant please contact us here . If you would like to know more about ChadStone please take a look the rest of our website or connect with us on Facebook or Twitter.

Taking the big step:

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On 6th May 2014, we (Rob Chadderton and Alex Stone) started trading as ChadStone Accountancy and Tax. We both worked in ‘big’ firms before and decided for multiple reasons that we wanted to start up on our own. The major reasons for leaving a comfortable, stable, and reasonably well paid roles, were the challenge of it, the thrill of providing for ourselves and our families, and the fact that we felt the personal relationship with clients was not enough of a focus at our previous firms merely due to their size. We both pride ourselves on knowing each one of our clients well and intend to instil that as a culture in our firm indefinitely. (more…)