Haines Watts

Business is about people, not just numbers

I’m glad to say that I’m in a people business, not the numbers game. I am an accountant, but my main job is to know my clients, and their dreams and aspirations, not just their bottom line.

To do that, I spend a lot of time getting to know them and the senior teams they work with every day. I’m the outsider looking in and I see things they don’t.

Why is this important? I’ll tell you about one business which came to me for help.

Communication between colleagues

This was a hugely successful firm that had grown organically, so it’s not hard to understand why the Directors, some now approaching retirement age, would look to cash in a lifetime of hard work.

But, I discovered, the Directors and their senior team had never sat down together to discuss the strategic future direction of the business. There wasn’t even a verbal business plan, let alone a well-considered document that everyone could feed into and get behind. And the Directors certainly didn’t know how each other felt about the future.

The first thing I did was to call a meeting, where we explored the business’s strengths and weaknesses, and drilled down into what each of the Directors wanted – and I quickly discovered that this was a group of people of different ages, who all had different aspirations and so were pulling in different directions.

Strategic look at exit

By clarifying the Directors’ perceptions and aims, I could fully understand what they wanted to achieve and explore a number of different options.

In fact, while they did want to wind down, some Directors didn’t want to leave the company altogether. So, the priority was to look at exit strategies that allowed them to stay in the game but also bring in fresh blood to manage the day-to-day. Talent within the company has been identified, with the opportunity to progress, yet experience will not be lost from the business.

They have now realised the importance of talking to each other and not to always put these conversations on the backburner. There are monthly management meetings with senior staff where they share their strategic plans, which are founded on more accurate reporting.

The company is now being seen internally as a unified entity with common goals which, regardless of future planning for eventual business exit, is good for ongoing business.

Yes, I’m an accountant, but I’m passionate about helping my clients with the story behind the numbers too.


What do your numbers say about you and your business?