We’ve seen some interesting shifts in what businesses want from the Peloton over the last 12 months. There are a lot of incredible, up-and-coming businesses on the horizon and they don’t want ‘just an accountant’, they want much more than that.
We believe we are at the forefront of that change and we believe we can offer what the modern growing business is looking for.
Here’s what we’ve observed at the Peloton throughout this year:
We’ve seen the normal stuff, people come, people go, but that’s not hugely interesting as it happens to all of us. Nothing new there. However, I spend a huge amount of my time looking at trends. I’m quietly fascinated by the weather and in particular, something called ’singularities’ – that is, it always seems to be the same weather on the same day each year. OK, massive generalisation, but every Xmas in Cornwall it seems that Christmas day is a blustery north-westerly with occasional heavy showers. brilliant. What’s that got to do with anything?
Well, for me it’s about trends or patterns. And I’m seeing a really interesting shift in our the behavior of our client base. (That begs another question, which comes first the trend or the behavior that causes the trend?) For many of you this won’t come as a surprise, but going to your accountant so that he can tidy up your bookkeeping and send your accounts to HMRC is beginning to look a little old-fashioned. And when you think about it, it’s hardly surprising. It’s a little bit like getting massively excited about taking your car for an MOT. Everything to do with MOT’s is a pain. It costs time, it costs money, the whole experience is dire. And in some places accountancy is very much the same. You enter the building where the staff have been trained to act as if they are working in a funeral parlor. Smiling (and laughing, god forbid) are strictly forbidden. As is any form of music or conversation above a whisper is strictly prohibited. I’ve noticed that people are asking for more. They understand that they don’t know everything and look for someone to help them with their business decisions.
The stages of business
If we stick with the car analogy just for a minute, what we know is that we are all interested in buying new ones, or making our existing one go faster. And what we really want help with is fixing it when its broken or getting rid of it. And this is precisely the trend I have been seeing these last 12 months. People want help to buy a business, to grow a business, help to turn their business around or help to sell their business.
We see these clear stages in a business that people could really do with some help.
If I’m honest, I’m not great with the term ‘business consultancy’. I see hundreds of business consultants some are absolutely brilliant and worth their weight in chocolate. But sadly there are one or two lurking around that aren’t really qualified to do what they do. If you can’t make coffee, don’t drink it, as my father used to say. So, if you haven’t had the absolute pain of running a business, working harder than everybody else, being let down time and again, losing money, taking it to the wire and dragging it back, then what the hell are you trying to do teaching it to others? Sorry. But ok, let’s accept that we all know what business consultancy means and that is what I see people really want. As opposed to need. Sadly, we all need to pay our taxes and we have to play by the ever-changing rules of HMRC. And frankly, accountants are great at that and always will be. My whole practice is built upon doing just that, so it would be totally disingenuous for me to dis it. It’s hard work, it has to be done and done well. No excuses, no options. Let’s keep the pain to a minimum and make it as enjoyable as possible.
But business consultancy, which is known at the Peloton as ‘Genghis‘ has become immensely popular throughout this year. And we believe that with the use of technology – particularly software like Xero is connecting business owners to their businesses, they’re seeing their businesses performance right in front of their very eyes. And this more than ever has encouraged business owners to get more involved in the direction of the business, they no longer want to stand still and they want to be apart of driving it forward.
Growing a business
The step we take when we decide to grow our business is a similar step to the one we take when we decide to do some exercise. We are (sort of) happy with the steady state we are in. We accept that we could do better, but it takes a quantum shift to get off the couch and do something about it. But unlike fitness, where there are thousands of models of how to get really really fit (when, it would appear, that you have nothing else to do all day but exercise and pull funny faces in the mirror) it’s difficult to relate your precise circumstances to someone or something that you wish to copy. I could be wrong but I don’t see an Instagram feed about pumping iron for businesses (yet?). And that is why I believe that real experience counts more than ever here. and what I don’t mean is someone who has shown someone before how to grow the business. But someone who has really done it. And just like making your car go faster it can be great fun to watch the increase in performance, but with it more things are put under pressure and its the ability to balance those as well as the performance (sales line) that really matters.
We’ve been helping clients to grow their businesses for years, and we’ve seen that many businesses are striving for bigger and better businesses.
Turning a business around
Let’s face it. This could happen to any of us. Sometimes we are completely to blame, and sometimes it’s totally out of our control, but either way, when it happens we have to do something about it before it’s too late. And the problem here is recognising that things are not quite the way they should be. It’s never as obvious as you might think. If, for example, you are in retail and you’ve had a great summer, part way through you acquire a new shop, fill it with stock. All is good. It is, other than you’ve used your winter cash to stock the new shop. And having scraped through the dark months and you have no cash to buy next years stock. Whatever the reasons you are probably going to need some business consultancy to find your way out of the mire.
Buying or starting a business
Then there’s the other end of the spectrum – buying or starting a business. Which comes in equal measures of excitement and terror. Those evenings armed with a belly full of wine and a spreadsheet you’ll find you can build the most amazing businesses. The ideas come flooding in. Oh my god, why has no one thought of this before? I could make an absolute fortune. Wait a minute. Have I really got to borrow that amount of money to make this happen? Who is going to lend that to me? How on earth am I ever going to repay it? What will happen to my house, my kids, if I don’t? Aaarrrgghh!!
Luckily we’ve seen this story play out a thousand times and we need to capture all that enthusiasm and optimism and channel it into making sure we focus on the main thing. But we are seeing a huge number of people looking for business advice from their accountant when it comes to buying a business, whether it’s buying a dental practice, a chiropractic clinic or buying a small business. I guess, just in the same way that you want to buy a new car with some kind of warranty, you want to be confident that what you are starting or buying turns out the way you imagine it should. No warranties here, but I can tell what will almost certainly make it fail, and what will certainly make it succeed.
Over this last year, we’ve been providing more and more advice for clients buying businesses and using our expertise to really get involved, negotiating terms, assessing the business’s finances, conducting business valuations etc.
Selling a business
Rather oddly, selling a business isn’t just about selling the business. It’s not a cliff edge that once you’ve gone over it that’s it. It’s merely a stepping stone to the next chapter (and the one after that, and the one after that etc). But when selling a business there is so much to think about. Well before you put it on the market you need to think about the way it presents. In the same way, you would not advertise your car if it was a mess having not been serviced for months and months and no MOT. There is considerable planning to be done and also the danger of letting yourself move out before its finally sold and your eye is taken off the ball. Equally, finding a buyer willing to offer the right money is still a very long way from the finish line. Rarely are sellers and buyers experienced in the process and the strict order in which matters must be dealt with. And as timelines drag, enthusiasm wanes and frustration increases, a cauldron of anxious, inexperienced, nervous people need hand-holding to get safely over the line.
2018 has brought wave after wave of people looking for help in one of these stages of business; starting a business, buying a business, growing a business, turning a business around, or selling a business. Let’s face it, the commercial market has never been more competitive, more impatient, more disruptive, more chaotic. Couple that with a shortage of people to actually do the work, an uncertain economic future (note to Editor – insert ‘B’ word here) and the fact that the average working week now is much closer to 50 hours than 40 is it any wonder we need some help?
If you need any help what so ever with buying a business, driving your business forward, turning it around, or selling, please do get in touch. We’d be happy to help.