Mountain View, Calif. (Aug. 27, 2004) -- The adage "You have to spend money to make money" holds true, according to a new study of small business owners and accountants.

Nearly three-quarters of accountants (73 percent) and 64 percent of businesses who invested in their business reported growth in the last 12 months, according to Intuit Inc.'s third annual "Voices of Small Businesses and Accountants Study." As in previous years, business owners working with an accountant were more likely to describe their growth as "significant" than those who did not, according to the survey, based on responses from 250 small business owners and 250 accounting firms, and conducted by Decipher Inc.

The most common investments made by both groups included: Increasing advertising or marketing efforts (40 percent); hiring new employees (25 percent); acquiring new technology (23 percent); and offering new products or services (20 percent). Intuit said that accountants also invested in their ongoing education and training.

Reinforcing that businesses rely on their accountants for more than just tax preparation and bookkeeping, 49 percent of business owners said that their accountants helped them better understand their business or implement new technology to improve performance. In addition, 62 percent said that they looked to their accountant to help find ways to save time and money.

While tax (78 percent) and bookkeeping (37 percent) remain among the most requested accounting services by businesses, 65 percent of accountants said that their clients needed consulting services beyond traditional tax prep and bookkeeping. And 30 percent said that they added at least one new service to their firms as a result of client demand.

Accountants and business owners had other views in common, the survey showed. Sixty-three percent of business owners say that dealing with customers takes up most of their time, while 59 percent of accountants say the same thing about dealing with clients. Seventy-two percent of business owners are optimistic about the future of their businesses and their industry; 76 percent of accountants feel the same way.

When asked about their biggest pressing challenges, small business owners cited generating new business and revenue streams, dealing with rising insurance costs and keeping up with competitors. Accountants said that they're faced with how to better manage their time in order to be more productive, managing employees and keeping up with technology.

-- WebCPA staff

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