SMEs are leaning more and more on their accountants – looking for a trusted advisor 24/7. As you well know, your client’s idea of a trusted advisor includes much more than just help with their numbers.
In fact, according to Accounting Today the top 5 things SMEs look for in their accountant :
1.Being a trusted advisor (78%);
2.Responding quickly (74%);
3.Understanding the client’s business or industry (74%);
4.Being affordable (70%); and
5.Communicating clearly with non-accountants (69%).
* % ranking this feature “very important”
Accounting Insights Survey, Accounting Today, Oct 2018
The Clarity platform has been built by accountants, for accountants. With this in mind, the essentials package on the Clarity platform includes a business university with essential guides to help your small business clients build a world-class business. Whilst numbers are a key part of growing businesses, being able to support your clients in other important areas such and brand and culture, systems, legal and governance builds a stronger relationship and creates stickier clients as you are helping them with more than just their financials.
This step-by-step guide on ‘Your Vision’ is taken from the Clarity platform‘s business university:
“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.”Alice in Wonderland
A vision is a mental picture of the future. It is an idea of what the future can hold, but has not yet happened. A vision is when architects dream of new buildings and designs or when business people dream of growing their business. As the leader of your organisation, you need to have a vision of the future. Without one, there really is no place to go.
You need to understand what the future means for your business, what the organisation will look like, how your team will fit in and what everyone is working towards. It may be stating the obvious, but a business owner without a vision, who doesn’t know where they want to go, is far more unlikely to reach their destination than one that does. Think of a ship setting out from harbour. If the captain has no idea where he is going, then the crew and passengers are unlikely to get there, let alone get out of the harbour!
It’s pretty obvious, but when we apply this to business, many leaders either ignore the logic or just find it too difficult. “I don’t know what’s happening tomorrow or next week or next year, let alone when my business is finally done!” But having a clear vision of where you want your company to go, what you want your company to do for customers and team members and how you will assess whether you have made it or not, are essential elements for high performance and achieving your goals.
It’s not enough to manage your business with just the bottom line in mind. As an owner, you have to keep your eyes on bigger issues, like the future direction of your company. Your vision for the organisation, should stretch yours and your team members’ expectations, aspirations and performance. Our success didn’t happen because we had a great business strategy. It happened because we had a clear vision of what we wanted to achieve. That’s where it started, and that’s where you have to start if you want to experience a different reality than the one you have now. You have to get clear on what you really want. It should be compelling, exciting and real to reflect the way you see the world and define what success will look like for your organisation.
When you undertake a strategic or financial modelling session with clients, setting out a vision is the one area that most business find difficult to start with. However, through the years, we’ve learned that if you think about strategy first, it will actually inhibit your vision and stop you from thinking big, or like Apple “Different”. What you need is a vision that is compelling, not only to others, but to you.
Like the captain of a ship, you need to set your company on a course for success. If it’s not compelling, you won’t have the motivation to stay on course and you’re unlikely to be able to recruit others to help you. It doesn’t mean that you can never change that course, to navigate around tricky waters, storms or obstacles in the way. Or indeed, the ultimate destination may change over time. But you need to start with a course in mind. And the chances are, that you already have one, a vision that is driving you and your organisation. It’s perhaps just lurking in the dark recesses of your mind and in the corners of your organisational culture. Simply put, it is just too important to leave it to such an informal approach. Writing, clarifying and communicating your vision will set your company on a course for success.
So how do you get started with writing out your vision? Well first of all, you need to get away from it all. You need to get away, from the distractions of business and family, to a quiet and peaceful place. Make sure you can’t be interrupted – turn off your phones, email notifications, social media, television etc. Start by writing down all the things that you don’t like about your business at the moment. Do this individually and be brutally honest. Are you working too many hours, working with the wrong customers, doing the wrong things, not making enough money? It’s difficult to change unless you acknowledge what’s not working now. Then write down what you would like to see happen, again individually. To get started, project yourself 5/10 years into the future and picture yourself talking to me about your business. What is the market share? What is the reputation? Where are you operating? How has the organisation developed over time? What changes in strategy have you embraced? Who are the customers? What changes in products/services? How many employees? What changes in structure? What changes in site/location/resources? What are you known for?
Now, get together and pull out the strongest words in your descriptions. Look for those words that trigger emotions in all of you. What jumps out? What words generate anticipation and passion when you read them on the paper? These words inspire you, and they belong in your vision statement. Your words should reflect the type of client you serve, the service you provide, and the geographic coverage of your service. Now go write your vision statement. What do you want the business to look like when it’s finally done? What specific things do you want to achieve (i.e. to hire the best and brightest talent available, to make customers say “oh!” during every interaction with your business, to bring your product or service to xyz market, to be recognised as an industry innovator, maverick or leader)? Why did you start this business to begin with? What motivates you and makes you passionate about the business? What distinguishes your business from all the rest?Here are 8 criteria for success when creating your vision statement:
- Conveys what the business will look like
- Appeals to the long-term interests of you, your team members and customers
- Is realistic and attainable
- Qualifies and quantifies key elements so they are measurable
- Can be used as a guide when making critical business decisions
- Is not so rigid that it stifles innovation or initiative but has a strong set of guiding principles
- Is easily communicated to and understood by everyone in your organisation
- Makes strategic sense and does not cause dysfunction
Once you have brainstormed your vision, written a draft and checked it against the above criteria ask yourself these final questions: Is my/our vision realistic and credible? Is it well articulated and easily understood? Is it appropriate, ambitious and responsive to change? Does it direct my team’s energies and serve as a guide to action? Is it consistent with the organisation’s values? Does it challenge and inspire my team? Share your vision with the people who have a stake in the outcome. Creating a strong and formal vision is not an easy task but it can be a fun one.
The Clarity platform is empowering all of your team to deliver business advisory to all of your clients through our out-of-the-box solution. The Clarity platform provides accountants with the tools to scale advisory, that is appropriate for both the client and the fee involved. By making business simple, Clarity offers a conversation starter that empowers all members of your team to introduce advisory to 100% of their client base. If you would like to speak to a member of the team, contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org for more information, or sign up for your two-week free trial here.