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It’s no surprise that small business owners rely on their accountants to guide them through the ins and outs of setting up their businesses and preparing their taxes. However, accountants’ roles have quickly developed into that of advisors and even trainers. In fact, many small business owners turn to accountants to learn how they can get the most out of their business.
Study Shows Small-Business Owners Rely on Accountants in Multiple Ways
Who would have thought accountants would be the saving grace? According to a comparison study from Intuit Inc., however, this appears to be the case.
For their study, Intuit polled accountants and small-business owners. What they found is that the accountant-small business relationship has expanded into several new areas. For example, many small-business owners now seek guidance from their accountant on personal money management as well as tips on how to weather the economy.
Intuit Inc. released this survey in 2008. In it, they queried 250 accountants and 250 small-business owners nationwide about challenges they face in growing their businesses and remaining competitive in the marketplace. Researchers also asked respondents about what it took to maintain accountant/client relationships.
In order to provide a more complete context around how the economy changed the way small-business owners operate and view their business goals over the previous six months, Intuit reissued a portion of the survey to 250 small-business owners again in mid-January 2009.
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Here Are Key Findings from the Later Intuit Study
- Nearly 80 percent of small-business owners said they would feel more confident having an accountant as a close business advisor during difficult economic times.
- Small-business owners’ biggest concerns changed. They no longer worried about finding time to develop and run their business. This previously was the second largest concern in the summer 2008 survey. This means it dropped more than 50 percent in the January 2009 survey. In the later survey, it lands right before “keeping up with the competition” (6 percent).
- The number-one thing that keeps small-business owners up at night is paying their bills. In fact, 41 percent say their bills keep them up at night. This is a nearly 10 percent increase over the previous six months.
- The number of small-business owners that are “not at all” optimistic about the continued growth and success of their business nearly tripled in six months, from 7 to 17 percent.
- 73 percent of accountants proactively advise their clients on how to conduct business during an economic downturn.
Accountants Offer Expanded Services
In order to help small-business owners weather the economic storm, 66 percent of accountants increased services they offer. These services now include:
- Business consulting.
- Payroll services.
- Tax services.
- Online accounting.
More than 90 percent of accountants and small business owners are taking almost identical steps to help maintain the success and growth of their firms, including:
- Increased networking.
- Adding new services or products.
- Training and education.