Survey By Exact reveals business worries

Forgotten invoices, Fighting for New Business, Not in Control of Accounts, Business Finances and Cash Flow Problems – sound familiar? Survey reveals business worries


The UK’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) could be losing out to the tune of £3.7 billion as a result of poor internal systems, according to an independent survey commissioned by business and finance software provider Exact.


Among the key findings were that 20% of SMEs admit to having forgotten to invoice for goods or services at least once. Incredibly, around 12% confess to not invoicing for a job worth between £5,000 and £10,000, while 6% admit to having forgotten to invoice for a job worth more than £10,000! (We aren’t sure how this could happen either!!)


The implication for the UK’s 4.8 million SME’s – which account for 99.9% of all private sector businesses in the UK – is that they are collectively out of pocket by as much as £3.7 billion.


The survey also revealed the biggest cause of stress for SMEs is fighting to get new business (31%), closely followed by worries over finances (23%), such as cash-flow issues, debtors and business planning.


One-quarter (25%) of business owners and leaders admit that they don’t feel fully in control of their accounts and business finances, with nearly half (45%) of SMEs say that they have had to defer payments of one kind or another due to cash-flow problems, including failing to pay their staff wages on time (12%).


Look at the survey findings more closely and they are overlapping and interlinked combining to create a fog in which business owners, if they do not take action and address the problems quickly, could struggle to operate and navigate their way out of successfully.


Fighting to get new business, not knowing the business numbers, finance concerns, debtors and business planning, cash flow worries and the knock on implications that these have – is also a snapshot of just how challenging running a small business is and the multitude of pressures that ultimately sit with the business owner.


We know from speaking to small business owners that the concerns highlighted by this survey are very real indeed.


And as we say to new clients who we start to work with who face these issues – the good news is that they can be addressed and overcome – and businesses put on a very positive forward looking footing – as long as the business owner is willing to seek the right advice and act upon it.


So how do you achieve this? First of all there’s no magic wand solution – instead it’s more about identifying the problems and issues specific to the business and addressing them with the most appropriate solutions that could include:


  •  Understanding your business numbers and what they are telling you
  • Planning – in the short, medium and long term
  • Putting better processes in place
  • Defining a very targeted sales and marketing strategy
  • Specifically defining and targeting who your best customers are and targeting them and those like them
  • Stepping back and mapping out where you ultimately want your business to go and putting a plan in place to help you achieve this goal so you have clear and critical objectives with short and medium term goals mapped out along the way to help measure your progress
  • Chasing debtors and minimising future debtor risks


But perhaps most interesting (and most contradicting for us) was that the survey confirmed that more than half (54%) of SME leaders trust their accountant more than anyone else, including their own business partners (38%), when it comes to broader business issues.


On the surface that’s a very positive thing for us accountants! However it’s all very well 54% of business leader trusting their accountant on broader business issues – but if the accountant was playing the type of proactive role we do with our clients, then surely a lot of these concerns and issues really shouldn’t be there in the first place!!


An effective accountant should have the type of proactive and positive relationship with their clients where the business owner knows their business numbers because their accountant has walked them through, highlighting and explaining just what they are saying. They should be using that knowledge to work with the accountant to develop a tailor made plan for the business growth, built on this information. Debtors would be known in detail and addressed if any issues arose, processes put in place for invoicing amongst other things and a new business strategy planned and rolled out, using the business intelligence, customer profiling and the business numbers that are there for every business owner to use.


A business will be built, thrive, stagnate or fail on its numbers – no matter what it does, sells or offers.


Small business owners need help and support – as the survey results highlight – because running a business is a challenging and hugely rewarding role at the best of times – and at the worst of times it can be downright overwhelming.


Take a minute to ask yourself these questions about your business,  the relationship you have with your accountant and the role they play within your business:

  • Do I really know my business numbers
  • Have I set out a plan for my business – one that includes short and medium term benchmarks and goals
  • Do I sit down on a regular basis with my accountant and discuss not just the historical business performance, but the future business performance using what the numbers say to address issues and seize opportunities
  • Is my accountant adding value to my business
  • Is my accountant doing considerably more than processing the historical data and giving me back a set of numbers
  • Have we sat down and analysed the intelligence that we have to build a clear picture of the business and who our best customers are and where they are


If you are answering no to most of the questions above –  then one more question you need to ask is what impact is my accountant having on my business? And if you don’t think they could have a positive impact on your business from a planning, strategy and delivery perspective – then why are you using them?


An effective accountant can be one of your biggest business allies, one that can help clear the fog and set you moving forward in a clear and developing way, addressing the challenges that you will face before they become the problems that can drag you down.


If you want to know just what your business numbers are telling you and by using them what they can tell you and help you achieve so that you can move forward with clear vision then we’d love to speak to you.


For more information visit or call us on 01872 560326.





About Exact

Exact is a leading global supplier of financial and business software. The company develops industry-specific on-premise and cloud solutions for manufacturing, wholesale and distribution, professional services and accountancy businesses. With its headquarters in Delft, the Netherlands, it has been listed on the NYSE Euronext Amsterdam since June 1999 and reported a turnover of EUR 217.1 million in 2012.