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Transforming your firm in a market disrupted by COVID-19

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Many experts are reinforcing the need for business owners to “pivot” and “be agile,” and this is smart advice. Accounting professionals who embrace a willingness to adapt are the ones more likely to emerge successfully from today’s volatile market. This could mean anything from adjusting the way you work with clients to making smart investments that can further your business and career.

Still, a recent article in Accounting Today reported that many firms are taking a wait-and-see mentality, indicating that accountants remain cautious about making changes. While this may seem like a safe approach, forward-thinking professionals and business owners see this time as an opportunity to create new paths for both short-term and long-term success.

Here are some strategies to help transform your business in a challenging market:

1. Think creatively. Challenge yourself to think outside the box about how you can create new revenue streams and offer better counsel. Perhaps you can introduce a new service or program to help you stay top of mind. In a survey from Inovautus Consulting, 55 percent of respondents indicated they had created and launched new services as a result of the pandemic. What new service can you offer to your clients?

2. Upgrade your at-home office. Even as you slowly reconvene face-to-face consultations with clients, safety precautions are likely to continue dictating a reliance on technology and working remotely. Are you working efficiently and effectively? If daily living interferes with your ability to be productive, then create an in-home office space that can better meet your business needs and help create boundaries between work and life. From upgrading an existing space with new functional furniture to completely renovating an unfinished space, you deserve an at-home office that can help you be your best professional self.

3. Invest in technology. Assess your and your staff’s at-home technology and determine if it’s time for an investment. Don’t sacrifice certain equipment in the hopes that you’ll return to the office soon; instead, replicate at home what you were used to in the office. Arming yourself with the equipment you need will help you be more successful and efficient.

4. Hire the best. The national unemployment rate remains at an unprecedented high. While this is discouraging news, your next best hire could be from that pool of people. Consider what type of talent can help you add to your bottom line. Perhaps it’s someone who specializes in a specific area of accounting and can provide a new source of clientele and revenue, or someone with a marketing background to help you gain visibility.

5. Chase your dream. The pandemic is accelerating the path to retirement for many professionals, and you may be able to acquire or buy into a firm at a reasonable investment. And with many people and businesses fleeing major metro areas, the right opportunity to make your dream a reality could be closer than you realize.

6. Improve your skill set. Set aside time to learn new skills or brush up on existing ones. From continuing professional education courses that can add value to your accounting credentials to learning how to build better presentations for all of the Zoom calls you’re leading, look at how you can productively spend the extra time the pandemic has afforded you in order to conquer your career.

7. Tackle your debt. If you’re juggling multiple debts, now could be a good time to consolidate to help improve your overall financial standing, boost your credit score, and lower what you owe overall. Debt consolidation can help create simplicity and ease, enabling you to bundle multiple payments into one so you have less to manage.

Obtaining the right financial resources

Once you’ve identified how you can improve your accounting business, there are a number of financing options that can help you make them a reality. When it comes to establishing financial security in a time of uncertainty, accounting professionals — and especially those who are business owners — can’t afford to wait to position themselves for success. Here are some solutions that can help:

  • A business loan can provide a cash flow injection for immediate operational and overhead costs, and can also help with debt consolidation.
  • A personal loan can help with debt consolidation and non-business expenses.
  • An SBA 7(a) loan can provide larger-scale solutions to help your business not just maintain, but grow. What’s more, as part of the government’s CARES Act, the SBA will cover six months of payments — including principal, interest and fees — on any new 7(a) loans disbursed prior to Sept. 27, 2020.

When exploring your financing options, inquire about the following of your lender to ensure you’re clear on the terms:

  • Type of credit pull: Does the lender conduct a hard or soft credit check, and how will it impact your over credit score if you choose not to borrow from them?
  • Interest rate: Does the lender offer fixed or variable rates?
  • Repayment terms: Can you get a longer term for a lower monthly payment?
  • Collateral required: Is personal collateral required to secure the loan?
  • Speed to acquire funding: How quickly can you get the funds you need?

As we continue to experience many fast-moving changes, accounting professionals can either chug along as usual, hoping for a return to our previous normal, or uncover new ways to thrive and make strategic investments to help them achieve their goals. Assess, prioritize and invest smartly to make a positive impact on your bottom line.

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