Consultants take a holistic approach to strengthening the engine room for small businesses in the US

Will Buckley, Country Manager of Xero Australia.

Will Buckley, Country Manager of Xero Australia.Credit:Xero

Xero Australia country manager Will Buckley says the recovery from the pandemic has been a difficult road for many small businesses across the country.

“After enduring such a long period of uncertainty, small businesses are turning to their advisors for support in managing the impact of the pandemic,” Buckley says.

However, one of the encouraging effects was that it accelerated digitization.

Business owners needed to adapt their operations quickly, and many of them turned to technology to navigate the changing environment.

“This trend has continued, with more than a third (34 percent) of advisors now helping their clients adopt digital technologies like cloud accounting software, which can help run a business more efficiently.”

On the other hand, for practices as well, Xero’s research shows that growth companies are relying more heavily on technology to increase their scale.

Not only does the adoption of digitization help increase efficiencies and increase productivity, companies that use a range of apps and digital tools are more likely to generate higher revenues.

Consultants have become business partners

One of the key takeaways from Xero’s research is the changing role of accountants and accountants.

“Advisors are increasingly viewed as holistic business partners who support their clients in more ways than traditional compliance and tax services,” says Buckley.

“They have a wealth of knowledge and large business networks that can be a great resource to use in everything from recruiting and mentoring to reaching out to other small business owners for support.”

They now offer small businesses value-added support with setting up apps and software (34 percent), HR consulting (30 percent), and startup mentoring (26 percent).

All of that extra advice costs money, as almost half (45%) of companies expect they will have to increase service fees in response to inflationary pressures.

“While finding a consultant comes with an initial financial investment, the knowledge gained from a great relationship can yield significant returns over the long term, especially during tough economic times,” says Buckley.

The new world of work

Xero’s research also shows that hybrid working is here to stay for the foreseeable future.

“It’s clear that people want more flexibility when it comes to where and how they work and it’s great to see the industry accepting that.”

As the pandemic acts as a catalyst, hybrid work opportunities are attracting talent to the industry.

In fact, 35 percent of practices offer flexible work to alleviate hiring challenges.

As a result, consultants tap into a broader talent pool and can collaborate more efficiently across interstate and globalized teams.

The key to making this possible? Cloud technology and online systems.

“The remaining 17 percent of firms that require teams to work full-time in the office could begin to struggle with attracting and retaining talent.

The expectation from employees post-pandemic is that their work arrangements have some degree of flexibility,” says Buckley.

What does the future hold?

Data from Xero’s Small Business Index shows it’s been a slower few months for small businesses across Australia, with revenue and employment growth slowing,” says Buckley.

“This may bring some relief in the short term, but may impact consumers’ ability to spend locally in the long term.”

Staying on top of cash flow, responding to customer needs, and retaining employees will be key focus areas for business owners in the coming months.

“We encourage Australians to invest money in small businesses when they can, as they play such an important role in Australia’s economy,” says Buckley.

“For consultants, the State of the Industry report is a sign of what is to come.

Findings show that cloud technology is becoming increasingly important to allow consultants to free up time for expanded offerings for small business owners.

“Broadly speaking, we are seeing a shift from traditional ways of doing things towards a more strategic, digital and adaptable industry poised to power the engine room of our economy.”

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Brian Lowry

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