It is sometimes said that accountants can’t and don’t make good business owners, but that is not true, and lately, more and more successful businesses are being led by people with an accounting background. There are many reasons why an accounting background is a great thing to have behind you when you are starting a business – here are just a few:
- Not only do they run their own businesses, they are dealing with business owners every day
A typical accountant acting for business clients has between 100 and 150 business client groups on their books — some more, some less depending on the focus of the firm. What this means is that every day of the week, they see clients who are extraordinarily successful. Equally, they come across businesses that really should not be in existence. Because of their analytical nature, accountants are able to evaluate what works and what doesn’t work. They have a rare exposure to the ins and outs of business, and when they make a recommendation to help you improve yours, you can be sure that it is well thought out, considered and based on something that has been successful somewhere else.
- They understand the numbers
You know what every business needs? Accounting. If you are an accountant and you start a business, you know what your business already has by default? An accountant.
Never underestimate this quality. Accountants might sometimes be slower to make decisions or provide recommendations, but that is often because they are doing the calculations to be sure an idea stacks up and the benefits outweigh the risks. Often when a change of strategy is proposed, everyone jumps on the bandwagon, but very few consider the potential downsides. There is a reason there are many accountants in highly paid roles in public companies. They are experts in risk mitigation and a valuable addition to any management team.
- Understanding the difference between profit and cash flow
Accountants do not get blindsided by ideas that look great on paper. What they want to know is, is this project cash flow positive? How are we going to finance the new strategy? What if the sales teams’ projections do not come through as planned? Their obsession on cash keeps them afloat as business owners. They understand that just because there is a profit on paper, it doesn’t mean they can pull as much cash as they like out of their businesses. They reduce the risk of the business being bled dry
- They are well educated
One challenge accountants sometimes have is that they are not taught business skills at university, and much of their training is technical in nature. Because of this, the very best accountants continually invest in themselves to develop new skills and display great curiosity when working with their clients so that they understand how business works. However, in saying that, to qualify as a Chartered Accountant is no mean feat, and accountants are exposed to a wide variety of stretching exams. They must also keep up to date with continual professional development to maintain their qualifications. This means they are well read, are often abreast of developments in business and changing landscapes and attend several conferences and seminars a year. All of this, whilst perhaps sounding mundane, is of vital importance in keeping their business skills sharp and benefits them enormously in running successful businesses.
- Instant Credibility – They are well respected and trusted
All of the surveys show that accountants are the most trusted advisor. They spend much of their time when they work in practice talking with clients. They are calm, collected, and entrusted with information that often no one else has access to. For the most part, they also develop excellent networks within their client bases and spheres of influence. As such, when they venture into the world of general business, they are able to take those skills and use them in a different environment to build their businesses based on those same important bedrocks. They might not be the most entrepreneurial of folk, but they are certainly able to influence others and create win-win scenarios to the benefit of themselves, their businesses and most importantly, their customers and clients.
By being an accountant, you already have the skills, the drive and the ideas to help you start your own business, but you also have the best back up plan if it doesn’t work out. Use the skills you have to start your own business – your qualifications make you a great candidate for success.