Why are we here?
AccountsPLUS was formed to help Irish business owners use their accounts to drive growth and profits.
Your accounts contain lots of useful data and if they are set up and managed correctly they can be hugely important in helping you build and grow the business.
I’m driven and motivated by efficiency. How can I help people – and their businesses – become more efficient and effective? How can we simplify things so that there is more clarity about what’s happening in the business?
I started out as a Civil Engineer. When I was in secondary school, I had no idea what I wanted to be. I knew I was good at organising and felt that I would something in management so a teacher suggested I become an engineer as most engineers wind up in management. So I went into Engineering.
Coming to the end of University, I was looking a job and still keen on management so I interviewed for positions as a trainee management consultant. They suggested that having an accountancy qualification would help me understand business and be a better consultant.
Accountancy – practice and industry
So I joined Coopers & Lybrand (now PwC) in Dublin and trained as a Chartered Accountant.
However, I wasn’t too keen on auditing and left practice once I was qualified. I felt that in auditing we were getting involved after the event and I wanted to be involved in planning and creating the event.
From there, I started working in finance for multinational manufacturing plants where I got great experience. I finished up as financial controller of a large medical device manufacturing plant.
While in the multinationals I was heaving involved in Lean Projects, leading multidisciplinary teams to identify and implement operational improvements and in selecting and implementing management informtion systems.
Moving to Accounting and Business Advisory
In 1998, I left the multinationals and started working as a freelance business consultant. Initially, I worked as a team member on change projects and on system selection and implementation projects – both of these working with larger businesses.
As time went on, I started to get more work with smaller, owner managed businesses. I found I got more enjoyment from these clients. Working with these businesses it was possible to make significant improvements and they and I could easily see the benefits of the work being done.
Now, my business has three main parts. I provide part time controller services for ambitious growing companies, helping them to plan and manage their businesses; I support SMEs implementing improvement projects; finally, I complete annual accounts and tax returns for some clients.
My approach to accounting
Your accounts are a database
Early on in my working career, a colleague in IT commented that “accounts were the first IT system”.
I like that approach. Essentially, your accounting system gathers all of your business transactions and summarises them for you.
There is a lot of useful data in all those transactions and if you design your accounts well, then you will have access to a lot of valuable data to help you manage your business.
W. Edwards Deming, considered a leader in the field of business improvement, is quoted as saying “Without data, you’re just another person with an opinion.”
I believe that business decisions should be based on solid data and your accounts can be a great source of that data.
Accounting is about communication
Many business owners feel their accounts are not giving them the information they need to manage the business and to make good decisions.
Somehow, accountants have got bogged down in number crunching and have lost the ability to communicate the data that the accounts contain.
I feel that this communication is a critical part of the service we provide.
As a latecomer to accounting, someone who didn’t even do accounting for secondary school, I understand how difficult and incomprensible a lot of the jargon seems to non-accountants.
I try to keep away from jargon and to explain things using the language clients are used to.
Your business is a process
It is very helpful to view your business as a process.
Your business takes inputs and converts them to outputs.
The inputs and the outputs can be materials, methods, manpower, machinery or money.
The process can be manufacturing, distribution, retail, professional services or whatever.
When you understand your process and the inputs and the outputs, you will be in a very good place to start making predictions about your business.
You should be using your accounts to help you understand how your business process is performing
They are your accounts
Too many business owners look on the accounts as something they have to produce for the tax man, the bank manager or an investor.
The most important purpose of your accounts is to help you manage your business. If you have good management accounts, they will have everything you need for the tax man or the bank manager or the investor.
However, what you prepare for the tax man or the bank manager or the investor, will not always have the insights that you need to run your business.
Make your accounts work for you!
Your accounts should confirm what you expected.
Many businesses need their accounts to tell them how they did.
The better businesses are able to use their understanding of the business to make predictions as they go and then they use their accounts to check on their predictions.
The way to do this is to start by having a formal set projections. To prepare those you need to make assumptions about what happens in your business.
Then you design your accounts to give you feedback on what happened. Your accounts should be designed to provide information on what you have identified as the key assumptions.
This process provides a feedback loop letting you adjust your assumptions so that eventually you have a really good understanding of how your business work.
Then as you run the business, you see what is happening and you are able to predict what the accounts will look like.
As you improve at this, you get to the point where your accounts will be confirming what you expected.
Understanding Profit versus Cash
No business can survive without cash, no matter what other advantages it has.
As a business manager, you have to manage both profitability and cash.
As your business grows, it will consume cash. You need to understand that and be prepared for it.
You will need to understand what affects the cash in your business and to know what you can do to improve cashflow.
Good financial projections will help you to do this.
The more you can generate cash internally to fuel growth, the less you will need to fundraise from banks or investors.
Tax versus After Tax Incomes
Many business owners have a major focus on the amount of tax they have to pay.
I sometimes find that this leads to poor decisions in that they miss out on opportunities to improve profits because their attention was on the tax bill and not on the profit.
I think it is much more healthy to focus on the after tax income.
Look on it as an equation – “profit before tax” less “tax” = “profit after tax”
Which situation would you prefer to be in? Making € 100,000 profit before tax and pay € 30,000 tax or make € 200,000 and pay € 60,000.
Many people focus on the pain of paying over € 60K in tax but the miss out on the fact that in the first scenario they retain € 70K but in the second they retain € 140K.
They key issue is to understand what the tax bill is likely to be and to plan for it so that the money has been kept aside for the tax bill and not already spent.
Are we a good fit?
With almost 20 years of experience of working with Irish SMEs, we’ve worked with a lot of clients and know when we’re a good fit, and when we’re not.
In order to help you better understand if we are right for you, we’ve grouped a few main characteristics of our good-fit clients to help you make that decision. We feel that if we set good expectations from the start, then we will have a better chance of having a successful and satisfying working relationship.
A great fit with us are companies that value:
– the importance of keeping good accounting records
For us to be able to get timely, reliable and insightful data to help you manage your business, you need to have an accounting function that keeps up to date records, that has checks to ensure accuracy and that has set up your system to easily provide the key information that is needed.
For most businesses, this will require appropriate accounting software, well set up and well maintained.
– an approach of Continuous Improvement
The best clients we have are those who have a constant focus on getting better in all areas of the business. They understand that no business is perfect so they are constantly on the lookout for improvement opportunities.
– Planning and Review
The best clients appreciate the value of taking time out to review what is happening in the business and to plan going forward.
Depending on the size of the business, this can be a 1-2 hour process or it can take from half a day to several days. For most SMEs, short review and planning sessions are sufficient but they should be regular and consistent.
– Good, motivated staff
A business is only as good as the people who work in it. Selecting and retaining good staff is essential for all businesses.
We find that our good have staff who are enthusiastic and committed. These staff will have a clear role, they will receive good feedback, they will feel adequately rewarded and they will be given appropriate training to do a good job.
Size is not everything
We work with businesses that range in size from one man bands to 30-50 person companies. What they have in common is an ambition to grow, an attitude of doing things well and a willingness to try to improve.
What do you do next?
If you think we are a good fit, pick up the phone and give me a call – my number is 086 2323 525.
If you are not sure, have a look through our blog articles to get even more insights into our approach.
I think this one is a good place to start – Understanding the nuts and bolts of accounting.
You could also review our testimonials on the home page