Insight, advice, news and chit chat

Working with small businesses in 2020

Learn from others: An accountant's unique perspective of small business in 2020

Riz runs 2E Accountants Ltd, a boutique accountancy practice specialising in small businesses.

Having run this business over 11 years, with fast initial growth that now affords him to be more selective, his practice takes care of 150 small business clients. These are 75% owner managed companies, 5% charities/social enterprises, 20% private individuals/sole traders.

With his unique view on businesses, I was keen to learn as much as possible from him. In this article I share Riz’s outlook, insight and tips based on what he saw in small business land in 2020 – when the pandemic hit!

How Riz works

Riz and his team are known to be great at proactive support for their clients – (which means they have a talent for spotting issues and are able to help before clients even realise they’re going to need it! In addition to accounting services, they talk to the HMRC on behalf of their clients and assist their clients with software migration. He offers regular advice and consulting on ideas and strategies. His clients even ask his opinions when acquiring other connected professional services.

He has built his business around good communication, efficient procedures and attention to detail!

(You can see why we like him – he shares our values!)

What Riz has noticed (Q+A)

Has anyone had to close their business or who have suffered intensely?

Yes few businesses have closed. Some due to lockdowns and some for other reasons. Also, note that in any given year, there are businesses that are struggling and all those have simply fallen off the edge this year. Others hit hard are those in industries such as retail, recruitment, hospitality, travel, exhibition and corporate gifts. We have clients in travel industry who are struggling.

Have you witness any interesting pivots?

One client in luxury consumer products saw increase in online sales and sales to the US. One client went into the ‘cloud kitchen’ business due to increase in takeaway food demands and Deliveroo & Uber Eats partnering.

Who’s been doing better?

Those 2 “pivot” examples, and some other clients such as; ones who serve multi-national companies like Apple don’t seem to have been affected much or those providing consulting services to large organisations.

An IT business client was able to acquire another smaller IT business this year and we helped with due diligence. Another client in care industry has been doing fine. One start-up app business continued to raise investment via EIS scheme.

Have / how have other world events affected businesses this year?

Brexit caused some changes, eg. A client importing goods from China and selling in UK and EU decided to open another office in Netherlands to separate shipments to two different tax territories.

Couple of clients moved out of UK personally.  

Have you seen any example businesses who are doing something interesting we can learn from?

Most people are definitely increasing their marketing efforts online. Another interesting trend was businesses building new partnerships via acquisitions or mergers to increase their chances of survival. One client is even working on forming joint venture partnership of their product in Asia.

So there is definitely some interest in diversifying into other lockdown proof business models or exporting abroad where possible.

3 pieces of good news?

1- we are in the process of buying an office for which we are excited about and also anxious if the pandemic situation prolongs.

2- Government COVID relief packages helped quite a few people, not everyone but we were pleased to guide many with furlough schemes or bounce back loans etc.

3- we were also able to act as ‘Gateway’ for clients to apply for over 30 placements for young individuals under governments Kickstarter Scheme

Any positive stories?

One start-up client that was building an app for over 6 months was able to launch it successfully.

Within our own business we initiated regular weekly zoom knowledge sharing sessions firstly because we are in knowledge business but it also proved to be a good tool to stay connected and keeping a good morale during this difficult period. We also adopted an app Wurkr that has virtual rooms where you can be present when working and simply go and meet or virtually co-work with colleagues.

Personally, I did some podcast interviews, some additional online training courses and certifications.

Share your wisdom – 7 tips from Riz

Riz has a very specific insight within the small business world, especially as he has such strong relationships with them and is so hands on with their accounting needs. I asked Riz what he thinks businesses should prioritise in order to survive, based on what he’s seen so far – and he’s generously given us 7 tips:

  1. Diversify: The going wisdom pre-covid was to always specialise but now I would recommend diversifying. If your business can diversify into other areas by region or industry definitely try it. Otherwise, personally take some interest in other industries.
  2. Learn: The quiet times this year were the best opportunities to do training courses and it’s never too late to learn new things and develop new skills especially in times when you have to be innovative to survive
  3. Government Grants: Apart from furlough or self-employed grants etc, I think the Kickstarter scheme where the government pays for hiring young people and their salaries is a big opportunity that many businesses should consider.
  4. Go Online: Exploring new online based sales whether providing online courses or other services Or as mentioned in the examples before, utilising Deliveroo or Ubereats platforms for a ‘cloud kitchen’ since take away industry was unaffected during Covid lockdowns.
  5. International: Selling online and if possible, to other countries. Someone once said that in future East will be the new West.
  6. Partnerships: Buying or partnering with other businesses – don’t be afraid to venture into new businesses especially if your own industry has been affected, then you don’t have much left to lose anyway.
  7. Have an Accountant: Always have an accountant when going into business and build good relationship with them. They have insight into businesses and regulations. They’ll protect you, coach you out of troubles and give strength to your business.

We’d like to thank Riz for sharing this with us, it’s helpful for other owners of small businesses that we are not alone (if we’re struggling) and there are ways to thrive in challenging times – hopefully this has helped you in some way too!

Connect with Riz:

2e Accountants LinkedIn Company Page

2e Accountants Facebook Page

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