Accountants can play a pivotal role as a trusted adviser in a start-up. A strong partnership between the accountant and business founder can be the cornerstone of a new business - but how do you achieve that?
At CA Catalyst’s Small Firm Big Impact event held in Sydney, moderated by John Stewart FCA, a panel of three CAs and two entrepreneurs discussed the many ways accountants can tailor their services to add value to founders and start-ups.
The too hard basket
One panelist was Derek Condell, founder of Mafematica, a financial services investment platform. Through the CA Catalyst mentoring program at Stone & Chalk (where the Sydney event was held), Condell was paired with Steven Watson CA.
While Condell has a strong background in financials, Watson helped him set up a data room with documentation needed to raise capital and provided introductions to other services.
“It's great to have a CA to help with the stuff you often throw in the ‘too hard basket’ such as paying super correctly, setting up STP and documentation for the R&D rebate. The reassurance from an accountant saying you’re doing the right thing is highly valuable,” Condell said.
Tending the fire
Debra Taylor, founder and COO of Open Sparkz - a digitally disruptive awards program - and a resident at Stone & Chalk, said that business owners are often “attending to the fire that is burning the brightest and chasing those milestones you need to meet to please investors”.
However, a CA can see what’s happening under the surface and help remove the hurdles, Taylor said. She described her involvement with her accountants as “an education process” and an impetus for her to up-skill.
Taylor encouraged CAs to get involved in the CA Catalyst immersion program. “Start-ups want and need help,” she said.
How to appeal to startups
Stacey Price CA gave practical examples of how CAs can appeal to startups. Price charges up-front for a one-hour session on ‘understanding your financials’ and from that has an impressive conversion rate to ongoing clients.
“CAs should feel confident offering more holistic business advice,” Price said. “There are already a lot of people out there doing this who don’t have the qualification that you do.”
Finally, Stewart, the evening’s moderator, summed up the discussion by pointing out that start-ups may not be looking for traditional accounting help and want to be more involved understanding the numbers.
“Your client may need to get investment ready but more importantly, your role is to get them investment savvy,” he said.
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